18 Things you must know about Bhutan before traveling to Bhutan

18 Things you must know about Bhutan before traveling to Bhutan

Bhutan is the only nation in Asia where the king rules the kingdom. The Druk Kingdom has its own uniqueness in government administration to tourism bureau policies.  Bhutan holds the different cultures and traditions of the rest of the world. It is always necessary to know facts about your destination before your travel start. So, you can show your respect for their culture and religions. Himalayan Wander Walkers always provide the following extra information to our guests who are planning to visit Bhutan.

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Individual traveler is prohibited


Bhutan is not an option destination for budget travelers. If you are a backpacker then Bhutan is not the right destination for you. Since the 1970s Bhutan opens its door for foreigners. You must travel on an organized tour from travel agencies and must pay in advance of your whole tour which includes all the entrance fees, accommodation, food, transportation, and guide.

Dine at the farmhouse


If you feel monotonous with the normal meals serve in your Bhutan’s hotels and restaurants then ask your guide to arrange a dinner or lunch at the farmhouse. The farmhouse is mostly run by a family and they are nice and friendly with visitors. The food serves in the farmhouse depends on the season that you visit. Normally the locals seat on the floor and eat with their hands. Probably this is the best way to experience the real culture of Bhutanese which creates your trip more memorable. 

Bring Dollars or Indian rupees


Although your tour cost covers everything except your personal expenses. If you like shopping stuff then it’s always better to bring some cash because ATMs withdraw are limited. Dollars and Euros can easily exchange in the main towns or some shops even accept them. If you are coming from India then you can bring Indian currencies as well where the rate is equivalent to Bhutanese currency, Ngultrum.

Bring your own smokes


Bhutan is the only country in the world that bans the business of Tobaccos. Smoking in public is strongly prohibited but some hotels and restaurants have separate smoking rooms. If you are a smoker then ask your guide to seek places where you can smoke. Both the tourist and Bhutanese elites are allowed to bring only 200 cigarettes when traveling by flight.

Try the legal stimulant


Doma Pani is betel which is also called Paan in Hindi, a mixture of areca nuts and lime paste wrapped by betel leaf. Doma is ubiquitous in Bhutanese cultural festivals and ritual ceremonies. It is serving as a dessert after most of the meals in Bhutan. You will see locals chewing it on the streets and markets where the people’s teeth turn red after consumption of it. Don’t be surprised by it as 25 percent of the country consumes it daily.

Ema Datse (National food)


Bhutanese believe that a meal is not a perfect meal without the ingredient of chili. The popular Bhutanese meal Ema Datse or Datshi is a national dish prepared from fried chilies and farmer’s cheese where Ema means chili and Datshi means Cheese. Normally it is served with red rice.

Don’t be afraid of Bhutan’s phallic obsession


You will see the massive paintings of erect penises on the walls of houses and monasteries. Don’t misunderstand that as pornographic because it is painted and carved on the wood to worship for a religious purpose. It is believed that circumambulating the Chimi Lhakhang in the Punakha by carrying the giant penis will help to give birth to a baby for couples who are seeking a child.

Getting a Tattoo is Illegal


The government of Bhutan has a ban on tattoo parlors and it is against government law. The public health issue is the reason to prohibit illicit tattoo business. Youth are getting more interested in the tattoo. Even though the artists work in their private homes but it's better not to get inked as it is considered illegal.

Best time to visit during the festival celebration


Everyone knows that Bhutan’s beautiful culture and its popularity as a tourist destination. Traveling during the festival celebration will be your best vacation ever in Bhutan. The highlighted festivals like Thimphu Tsechu, Jambay Lhakhang Drup, and Paro Tsechu are the most popular and colorful festivals of Bhutan.

Bring your jacket /hood in your backpack


It is always good to have your pullover clothes during your tour because the weather in Bhutan is unpredictable. If you don’t bring your own then the ultimate option is to get one from the nearest market which is an extra cost for you. Whatever dress you put on must be decent enough because the locals believe in dressing conservatively.

Not to buy antiques but handicrafts


Exporting any antique things is prohibited in Bhutan and if anyone found doing will get punished according to the government law. Handicrafts are allowed to buy and you will find them everywhere in the tourist locations. So, every traveler must aware of this thing before your trip to Bhutan.

Respect the Royals of Bhutan


Bhutanese believe that the royal families are the reincarnation of gods. Even though Bhutan became a constitutional monarchy in 2008, but the locals still respect their Royal families as before. If you don’t know yet read The History of Bhutan Monks in Bhutan work out at the gym in starred hotels is normal and makes sure you don’t say anything negative about them in any way.

Mind your guide


Every day you will see that your guide put on his traditional dress (Gho/Kira) which is a national official dress. The guide will introduce you to various touristic sites from heritage to religious monuments and you can ask any questions unless it is controversial. You must tip your guide and drivers on your final day of the Bhutan trip which is $15-20 per day.

Get Bhutanese Sim card for your cell phone


Even though wifi is available in most of the hotels and restaurants, sometimes when you hike or walk away from the cities you may need an internet connection to keep in touch with your families and friends. For that, you can ask your guide to buy one for yourself.

Bhutanese doesn’t kill animals for meat


If Bhutanese don’t produce meat then you may be surprised with where the meat comes from. Tibetan Buddhism is a practice in Bhutan and strict interpretation of Buddhist religion won’t butcher animals. All the varieties of meat that you found in Bhutan’s restaurants and hotels are imported from India. The locals consume mostly dry meats which are freshly imported from India during the season and use in the offseason.

Traditional hot stone bath


This traditional bath is called “Dotsho” in the Bhutanese language. It is mostly used in the Himalayan region of Bhutan. This special bath has a healing power for joint and muscle pain. Besides this If you want to experience hot springs then you can include Gasa Hot Spring in your trip itinerary. Gasa is located on the bank of the Mochu River.

Try Bhutanese national sport, Dha


Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and you will see locals match at the towns or village’s ground in the evening. Though Dha is a male-dominated sport both male and female tourists are encouraged to try it by locals. If you don’t want to try it then you can be a part of an audience. Watching Dha in public events is one of the interesting things to do in Bhutan.

Learn a couple of Bhutan’s official languages - Dzongkha


Even though there are many sub-languages in Bhutan, Dzongkha is well understood by all Bhutanese because of the official language. Speaking with locals in the local language is the best way to interact with them. So, learn some words of Dzongkha before your trip starts. It will definitely add colors to your memories in Bhutan and also help to understand the culture in a better way.

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