ABOUT While Bhutan is definitely one of the smallest countries in the world, yet the cultural diversity and its richness are profound. As such strong emphasis is laid on the promotion and preservation of its rich cultural diversity. The main points of entry are through Phuentsholing in the south that links Bhutan with the Indian plains of West Bengal, through Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar that links with the Indian state of Assam and through Paro, where the entry is through Druk Air, the National airline of Bhutan. The country has so far only one airport that caters to the needs of visitors coming in through flight. However, an international airport is under construction in Gelephu that will eventually provide passengers with a choice of their entry to Bhutan.
The clean and clear rivers of Bhutan are one of the kingdom’s best kept open secrets. Fed by the Eastern Himalayas, the six rivers (Wang Chhu, Sunkosh, Puna Tsang Chhu, Mangde Chhu, Kuri Chhu and Dangme Chhu and their tributaries) have been scouted for kayaking and rafting. Mountain biking in Bhutan is a whole new sport that is steadily gaining popularity amongst the Bhutanese and visitors alike. The country’s topography, especially in the western, central and eastern regions, are not the most cycle-friendly but that is precisely why mountain biking is gaining momentum amongst more and more visitors. The mode of transport itself calls for a certain intimacy seldom experienced in vehicles.
CLIMATE Bhutan can be planned throughout the year but best months are Mar, April, May, September, October, November. Also there are several festivals taking place during these months, offering an added attraction. Winter in Bhutan is from mid November to mid March and at this time of the year, climate is dry and sunny for the most parts with perfect blue sky, temperatures peaking at around 15c in the daytime and falling below zero at night. The monsoon usually arrives in mid-June, with light rain falling mainly in the afternoons and evenings.
BEWARE Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. It is illegal to sell or purchase tobacco products in Bhutan. Up to 200 cigarettes may be imported, on payment of tax and import duty of 200%. You must have your customs receipt on your person if in possession of tobacco products. If you cannot produce it on demand by police you will be charged with smuggling and can expect a prison sentence of three years. Smoking is forbidden inside public spaces such as hotels, restaurants and bars. Personal computers, cellular telephones, cameras, or any other electronic device must be registered with Bhutanese customs upon arrival. These items will also be checked upon departure. The export of all antiques is strictly monitored. You will need a passport and visa to enter and exit Bhutan. Keep a photocopy of your passport visa pages and flight ticket separate from the originals when travelling. Foreigners (apart from Indian nationals) may only enter or depart the country through certain towns such as Phuntsoling, Samdrup Jongkhar and Gelephug (by road) or Paro (by air). Certain areas may only be visited with a special permit which will be obtained by your tour agent. Prior authority, also obtained by your tour agent, is also required to visit some of the religious and administrative buildings (Dzongs).