Bhutan Festival Dates

The Tshechu is a religious event celebrated on tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However the exact month of the Tshechu varies from place to place and temple to temple.

Tshechus are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. . In addition to the mask dances tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment.

It is believed that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Every mask dance performed during a Tshechu has a special meaning or a story behind it and many are based on stories and incidents from as long ago as the 8th century, during the life of Guru Padmasambhava. In monasteries the mask dances are performed by monks and in remote villages they are performed jointly by monks and village men.

There are many other festivals that are celebrated in Bhutan. Some of the festivals of Bhutan are listed below:

Festivals in spring:
Paro Tshechu (End of March)
Bhumthang Ura Yakchoe (third week of April)

Festivals in summer:
Haa Summer Festival (end of June or first week of July)

Festivals in autumn:
Thimphu Drubchen (third week of September)
Wangdue Tshechu (third week of September)
Bhumthang Thangbi Mani (End of September to first week of October)
Bhumthang Jambhay Lhakhang Drup (end of October to first week of November)
Bhumthang Prakhar Tshechu (end of October to first week of November)

Festivals in winter:
Trongsa Tshechu (third week of December)
Punakha Domchoe (mid-February )
Punakha Tshechu (third week of December)

Click here to view Bhutan Festival Dates 2019
Click here to view Bhutan Festival Dates 2020
Bhutan Festival Dates 2021 (Coming soon)

Payment System in Bhutan

Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) and Indian currency is also accepted as legal tender in the country.

ATMs are located within all main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard. In addition, POS (Point of Sale) services are available nationwide, meaning visitors can pay by credit card at most hotels and handicrafts stores

High Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a pathological effect of high altitude on humans, caused by acute exposure to low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitude.

Symptoms
Headaches, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue or weakness, swelling of hands, face and feet, nose bleeding etc are the primary symptoms of altitude sickness while the severe symptoms includes persistent dry cough, fever, shortness of breath even when resting, headache that does not respond to analgesics, unsteady gait, gradual loss of consciousness, increased nausea and vomiting, retinal hemorrhage.

Prevention
Ascending slowly is the best way to avoid altitude sickness. Avoiding strenuous activity such as skiing, hiking, etc. in the first 24 hours at high altitude reduces the symptoms of AMS. Other way to prevent altitude sickness is Acclimatization. The pre-acclimatization helps the body to develop tolerance to low oxygen concentration before ascending to an altitude. It significantly reduces risk because less time has to be spent at altitude to acclimatize in the traditional way. Altitude acclimatization is the process of adjusting to decreasing oxygen levels at higher elevations, in order to avoid altitude sickness. For high altitude climbers, a typical acclimatization regimen might be to stay a few days at a base camp, climb up to higher camp slowly, and then return to base camp.

Getting into Bhutan

There are two options in entering the Bhutan it’s either by land or by flights as Bhutan is a landlocked country so there is no provision of entering the country by seaways.

By Air:
The Paro Airport is Bhutan’s only air field and many consider it to be one of the most beautiful in the world. The airport offers the flights to destination like Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, BodhGaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai. There are also domestic airports in Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan.

The flight between Paro and Kathmandu is one of the most exciting ones as the aircraft passes over four of the five highest mountains in the world. In fine weather you can enjoy the spectacular view of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga at their best.

By Land:
If your are planning to enter Bhutan by overland then Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar ar the only land borders areas open to tourists. You can either enter from Phuentsholing while coming from the west, Gelephu is the entry point if you are travelling from the ventral region and Samdrup Jongkhar is the only option to enter the Dragon Country from the east.

Frequently Asked Question

Where is Bhutan?
Bhutan is tucked away in the folds of the mighty Eastern Himalayas. It is land locked country surrounded by on three sides by Indian states – Arunachal Pradesh in the east, Assam and west Bengal in the south and Sikkim in the West. The Tibetan Autonomous region of China is in the North. The country lies between latitude 26 40” and 28 20” north and longitude 88 45” and 92 10” east.

Do I need to use a tour operator to book my travel?
It is a government regulation that you must use a Tour Operator to book your travel to Bhutan or one of their international partners.

Do I need a visa to enter Bhutan?
All International tourists wising to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a license Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners. Visa clearance must be obtained through your tour operator prior to travel. For Indian Passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives may obtain a visa on entry.

How much does the visa cost?
International tourist visas a cost of USD $40 applies. This can be paid in advance to you tour operator or travel agent. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives there is no cost incurred.

How do I get to Bhutan?
There are a number of airports where you can fly into Bhutan from (Thailand – Bangkok; Nepal – Kathmandu; Singapore and India – Delhi, Kolkata, Bodh Gaya Dacca, Guwahati). At present Drukair, the national airline is the only airline to operate flights in and out of the country. Also, there are three land border crossings which you can travel into the kingdom overland. All crossings are along the Indian border only – Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar. All travel arrangements to Bhutan must be made through a tour operator. We will make all the necessary arrangements.

What do the $200/$250 per day minimum daily package include?
The $200 per day (low season) and $250 per day (high season) package includes a minimum of 3 star accommodations, costs for food, an experienced guide and transportation (with driver) within the country. Also included in the price is a $65 per day royalty that goes towards free education, free healthcare and poverty alleviation. All of these services will be arranged by your tour operator.

What currency is used in Bhutan?
Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum. Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee which is also accepted as legal tender. However Indian notes in 500 and 1000 denominations are not acceptable.

Is there a limit on the number of tourists that can enter Bhutan each year?
There is no limit on the number of tourists admitted into the country each year. In order to protect our culture, traditions and natural environment the government has adopted a strict policy of “High Value, Low Impact Tourism”. This policy is aimed at attracting discerning tourists that will respect the unique culture and values of the Bhutanese people while also providing the visitors with an unforgettable one of a kind experience.

What’s the food like in Bhutan?
The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chilies are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy.
Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are the meats that are eaten most often. A wide selection of western and Indian food is also available in many of the restaurants around the country.

When is the best time to go?
Go anytime – you won’t be disappointed. However If you are prepared to travel outside of the peak season periods (APR-MAY and mid SEP-NOV) there are fewer tourist visitors & you will enjoy a more rewarding experience. We especially recommend June – July (summer) and December-March (Winter/Spring). If you are trekking you will need to generally travel in the peak season months for suitable conditions.

Can I travel totally independently in Bhutan?
It is not possible to gain an entry visa for Bhutan unless you pre-pay for a pre-arranged land package itinerary with a licensed and approved inbound operator and pay the appropriate nightly tariff. Bhutan prohibits independent backpacker style visitors to maintain its strict cultural and ecological values. However please be aware you can enjoy a degree of flexibility during each day to hike, visit markets & villages and interact with locals as you wish.

Is it possible to join an archery game and also visit the villages and farmhouses?
Yes, you can join in an archery game and also visit the villages and farmhouses.

I am a vegetarian, is this problem?
If you are vegetarian, there is no problem. Though there are very limited varieties of vegetables available, most of the hotels will serve you good vegetarian dishes.

Flights to Bhutan

With only one international airport in Paro, there are only two airlines operating flights into Bhutan; the government-owned and the national flag carrier ‘Druk Air’, and the other privately owned ‘Bhutan Airlines’. Both of the airlines schedules changes by season but there are several flights per week from Kathmandu, New Delhi, Singapore and Bangkok, either direct or via Dhaka, Kolkata or Bagdogra.

Due to the geographical location and operating challenges into the Paro airport, flights are dependent on weather conditions, the schedule timings are subject to change without prior notice. Therefore, all passengers are advised to maintain a minimum of 24 hours connection time to avoid disconnection.

The airport where Druk Air has most flights/connecting flights are as below:

      • Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu (KTM)
      • Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand (BKK)
      • Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore (SIN)
      • Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi (DEL)
      • Bagdogra Airport, Bagdogra (IXB)
      • Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata (CCU)
      • Shahjalal International Airport, Bangladesh (DAC)

Communication In Bhutan

Major towns and cities in Bhutan provide basic communication facilities including telephone, fax and internet service. The rated hotels in Bhutan provide email, internet and WIFI facilities within hotel premises. Public phone booths and hotel provides free local and international calls. Cell phones with a Bhutanese SIM car can also be used on a commonly available pre-paid mobile voucher.

Bhutan Postal Service provides the service of parcel which is commonly found in most of the places in the country. For express services people can use DHL of FedEx which is located in capital city.

Clothes and Equipment

Due to the geographical condition of Bhutan, the weather and climate of Bhutan remains inconsistent so one must be very cautious about the clothing and equipments while traveling to Bhutan. The clothing depend or varies according to the month you are planning to visit as warm clothes are recommended during winter months while light clothes are suggested during the monsoon and summer months.

October-February: Warm clothes including thick overcoats and tweeds are recommended on these months as Bhutan is coldest during these periods and gets very chilly during winter in the high altitude regions.

March-September: Light clothes are recommended during these months as they are warmer. We also recommend you to use layer clothing as the higher altitude places in Bhutan might have cold nights and mornings so that you can adjust your clothing. Also you are highly recommended to carry rain gears during the rainy season (June-August).

For Regular Tours

  • Running shoes, sandals of flip-flops
  • Shorts and trousers or skirt (However ladies are recommended to use long skirt and avoid shorts to follow the dress code of Bhutan while visiting religious places)
  • Wool-blend socks, liner socks and under wear
  • Thermal Underwear (not cotton)
  • Sunhat
  • Fleece Jacket
  • T-shirt and shirts

For Trekking Trips

  • Trekking boots and spare laces
  • Hat (warm) scarf and gloves
  • Waterproof jacket, poncho or umbrella
  • Windproof Trousers

Equipment

  • Sleeping bag and silk liner
  • Maps, compass and guidebook
  • Water Bottle
  • Torch (flashlight), spare batteries and bulbs
  • Duffle bag (we provide this free of cost)

Miscellaneous Items

  • Toiletries
  • Quick-drying camp towel
  • Laundry soap powder or bar
  • Toilet paper and cigarette lighter
  • Sunscren and lip balm
  • Polarising sunglasses
  • Pocket knife
  • Sewing/repair kit (for tent and mattresses)
  • Iodine, water-purification tablets or filter
  • Medical and first-aid kit (see details here)
  • Insect repellent (for lower elevations)
  • Emergency kit including a whistle and waterproof matches/lighter
  • Locks for bags and lodge rooms
  • Stuff sacks
  • Earplugs

For Treks above 4000m

  • Thermal Underwear
  • Woolen hat (or balaclava)
  • Gloves

Bhutan Visa Information

With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors travelling to Bhutan need a visa. The VISA processing for Bhutan requires a readable color copy of passport via email that has at least six month of validity from the date of exit from Bhutan. The file (Scan Copy) should be forwarded to via email in JEPG or PDF format. The passport number and picture of the applicant should be visible in the e-document.

The application should be processed at least 10 days prior to the date of entry to Bhutan. The tourism council of Bhutan then issues a VISA clearance letter and fax or email it to the local travel agent. Please note that the VISA service is not offered in Bhutan, travelers have to buy full service package from the local tour operator. Travelers traveling by air are required to produce a printed VISA clearance copy at the time of check-in for Druk Air flight. People traveling by land to enter Bhutan via Phuentsholing or Samdrup Jongkhar are required to produce a VISA clearance letter at the immigration center. The actual VISA is stamped in your passport on your arrival in Bhutan.

VISA fee: USD 40 per person (included in your tour package)

Note: There is an additional charge for Visa Extension.

Best Time to Visit

Bhutan lies in South Asia between Tibet Autonomous Region, China and India. Climate and weather vary according to the altitude, season and place of visit. Bhutan is open all year around for the visitors but it is better to make travel arrangements as per your preference and nature of visit.

Spring (March-May) and Autumn (September-November) are the ideal time to visit Bhutan to get the maximum adventure and trouble free experience. Throughout the spring the weather mostly remains clear and climate is fantastic and serves as the best time for nature lovers to experience the mystifying beauty of nature.

Summer (June-August) in the other could get tricky at times due to the early arrival of monsoon. Usually monsoon is in full swing by early July. Travelers who would strive to get some trekking experience on muddy trail while witnessing swollen rivers, green forests and flourishing paddy filed could choose late summer to plan their adventure.

Winter Season (December to February) is not that crowded in comparison to other seasons. One who prefers the isolation from the hustle-bustle of the peak season might plan your adventure during the winter. During some winter the temperature level goes down (even below freezing point) in Bhutan.