Geographically, Bhutan is a land of dramatic contrast. From the near tropical southern border with India, steep slopes climb to snow-capped heights of over 24,750 feet / 7,500m at the northern border with Tibet. Consequently, temperatures vary greatly between day and night and at different altitudes, so layered clothing for changing conditions, is recommended. In the central valleys, the summer rains are not as heavy as in the south and occur mostly in late afternoon and at night. From mid-May to the end of September, the weather is warm at night (60-64F/17-18C) and in the day (72-78F/22-26C). In winter, the sky is bright and it is sunny but cold, especially when the sun hides behind the mountains in the mornings and evenings. At night, the temperature falls below zero. Spring and Autumn are very pleasant with warm days and cool nights.
As a traditional society, the Bhutanese follow a highly refined system of etiquette, which is called “driglam namzha.” This traditional code of conduct supports respect for authority, devotion to the institution of marriage and family, and dedication to civic duty. It governs many different sorts of behavior, including how to send and receive gifts, how to speak to those in authority, how to serve and eat food at public occasions, and how to dress. A royal decree issued in 1989 promoted the driglam namzha as a means of preserving a distinct national identity and instituted a national dress code.
Hinduism is practiced by the southern Bhutanese. In 1980 King Wangchuck declared Dussera, one of the sacred festivals of Hinduism, a national holiday.
There are ten thousand Buddhist monks and they are vitally involved in both the religious and social lives of the Buddhist population. Because of the religious significance of nearly every important event in the life of a Buddhist, the monks visit households and perform rites on such occasions as birth, marriage, sickness, and death.
Rituals and Holy Places
A number of annual festivals highlight different events in the life of Buddha. Many of the festivals feature symbolic dances, which are thought to bestow heavenly blessings on the participants or viewers. During religious festivals, tourists are allowed to enter the Dzong (monastery/fortress) and view masked and sword dances; most of the dances date back to before the Middle Ages and are performed only once or twice a year. A fire dance performed at Bumthang is intended to help childless women who are at the festival conceive during the following year.
Death and the Afterlife
Both Buddhists and Hindus believe in reincarnation and the law of karma. The law of karma dictates that an individual’s decisions and behaviors in one life can influence his or her transmigration into the next life; for example, if someone lived life in harmony with others, that person would transmigrateto a better existence after death. In contrast, someone who had lived selfishly would inherit a life worse than the previous one after death.
|FAMOUS FOOD OF BHUTAN||FAMOUS INDIAN CUISINE|
|Ema Datshi||Chula Restaurant|
|Norzin Lam | Bhutan Observer Building, Thimphu,Bhutan|
|Jasha Maru||Norzin Lam | Opposite Clock Tower Square, Thimphu,Bhutan|
|Goep (Tripe)||Mid Point|
|Wogzin Lam, Thimphu|
|Chhota Bheem’s Fast Food|
|Momos||City Bus Stand | City Bus Stand, Parking, Thimphu110011|
|21-Jan||Wednesday||Traditional Day of Offerings|
|19 & 20-Feb||Monday & Tuesday||Losar|
|21 – 23-Feb||Saturday, Sunday & Monday||Birthday of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck|
|2-May||Saturday||Birthday of King Jigme Dorje Wangchuck|
|2-Jun||Tuesday||Coronation of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck|
|15-Jun||Monday||Parinirvana of Buddha|
|26-Jun||Friday||Birthday of Guru Rinpoche|
|20-Jul||Monday||First Sermon of Buddha|
|Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital Tel: +975 2 324 817|
|3 STAR||4 STAR|
|Pedling Hotel||Terma Linca Resort & Spa|
|Chhoten Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan||Babesa, Thimphu, G. P. O. Box 2009, 00975 Thimphu, Bhutan|
|Hotel Riverview||Khang Residency|
|Dechhen Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan||P.O.Box 474, Lower Motithang, Thimphu, Bhutan|
|Osel Hotel||Hotel Norbuling|
|Phendey Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan||Bldg #5, Chang Lam Street, PO Box 1187,, 11001 Thimphu, Bhutan|
Join hundreds of pilgrims from all over Bhutan and enjoy the most colourful and vibrant festival. Watch re-enactments of the Bhutanese victory over invading Tibet. Firecrackers explode as battle scenes are acted out, culminating in the colourful Serda (procession) to the river. Punakha Dzong (fortress) is the magnificent backdrop, probably the most beautiful building in Bhutan.
In Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, visit its colourful weekend market and quirky shops, museums and landmarks like the National Memorial Chorten, built by the third king His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This small city was established as the capital in 1961 and is famous for being the only capital in the world without traffic lights!
Dochu La Pass
Dochu La pass with its fluttering prayer flags and views over the majestic Himalayas, takes your breath away on a clear day. Visit the highly ornate Drukwangyal Lhakhang (temple) and the 108 chortens, built by the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to honour the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed when fighting the Indian rebels in 2003.
This beautiful glacial valley lies at 2900m. After climbing up through dense forests dripping with lychen, the wide, open expanse of dwarf bamboo can come as a surprise. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu and Gay Chhu. Perched overlooking this beautiful, almost flat valley is the village and monastery of Gangtey. As well as the black-necked cranes that roost here in the winter, there are also barking deer, wild boar, red fox, leopard and Himalayan black bear.
Bhutan is 30 minutes ahead of India
Official Currency “Bhutanese Ngultrum “
The best seasons to visit Bhutan are during Spring (March, April & May) and Autumn (September, October & November). The major bhutanese religious festivals are held during these seasons and fine Spring and Autumn weather makes it an ideal time for trekking in Bhutan and for traveling throughout the country enjoying great views of Himalayan mountains peaks.
Spring Season-March, April and May
In Spring the trekking season commences in moderate altitudes. Above 3000 metres spectacular rhododendron forests bloom. It is also the perfect time for a rafting tour. In Paro, one of the largest monastic festivals – Paro tshechu takes place.The temperature is pleasantly mild even up to the Alp regions. Rain comes only in May as the harbinger of the approaching monsoon.
Summer Season- June, July and August
The Summer brings with it the monsoon, but this weather should not deter Bhutan travellers. In the settled areas of the medium ranges of Central and Western Bhutan, pleasant summer temperatures without heat or humidity can be found. Rain falls for short periods daily but is manageable with adequate planning and equipment provided by Bhutan tour Operators / Bhutan travel agents like World Tour Plan. Treks in high mountain areas, e.g. the Snowman Trek, are characterised by mild temperatures, verdant green meadows, and pastures of Blue Poppies and Edelweiss. Nomads tending their yaks in the high Alps are a common sight.
Autumn Season- September, October and November
Autumn is the traditional high season in Bhutan. September and October have the highest number of tshechus (monastic festivals). Trekkers particularly enjoy the clear view of the mountains in October and the low rainfall. Rice harvest means a picturesque landscape remarkable terraces and changing colour.
Winter Season-December, January and February
In Winter the South beckons. Dry and pleasant conditions make this the best time of year for bird watching in the jungles, village to village trekking in the lower altitudes or a bicycle trip along quiet mountain roads. The trekking routes in the high mountains are covered in deep snow and are impassable at this time of year. The impressive and endangered Black Necked Crane spends the winter in the high valley of Bumdeling (in eastern Bhutan) and Phobjika (in central Bhutan).
Bring sun screen, and plenty of layers of clothing. Temperatures can vary dramatically between a morning hike at 10,000 feet, and an evening stroll in a lower-altitude valley. Bring altitude sickness medication, too.
Bring cash, Exchange it at the airport as there are no ATM machines and no way to use credit cards.
Admire the artistry, color, and workmanship of the Dzongs. Only skilled artists are allowed to paint religious murals in Bhutan’s holy places.
Bring a book —or Kindle, or iPod. It takes a long time for buses to navigate the windy mountain roads, and traveling from town to town can take hours. Don’t forget to ask your bus driver if he has some CDs of local music to play on the bus, too.
Get up early and walk to school with the local children. They are always happy to chat with a curious visitor.
Pack warm clothes especially between November and March. You will experience huge changes in elevation when travelling in Bhutan, with certain valleys that might be colder than others. It’s best to be prepared!
Want to listen to music? The best radio stations for Western songs are 92, 965 and 99.9 FM. You can also enjoy the local music on other local stations in the radio.
You can haggle in most shops but don’t expect more than 10% discount. Generally speaking, prices between shops don’t differ substantially.
You don’t have to tip in restaurants and hotels, unlike Western countries. The guide will take care of tipping on your behalf. However, do take note that you have to tip your guide.
If you are prone to motion sickness, bring Dramamine or other medications to prevent nausea. Remember that you will be spending a lot of time in a car when travelling around Bhutan.
Bring an electrical multi-purpose plug. Most hotel rooms have limited electrical plugs so you will need a multi-purpose plug if you are using a number of devices such as laptops, tablets and mp3 players. It’s also wise to bring a universal travel adapter.
Bhutan Travel Dont’s
DON’T wear shorts in public buildings and monasteries. It is a sign of disrespect. However, wearing shorts for hiking in the country and walking in towns is perfectly acceptable.
DON’T forget that all personal videos, cameras, personal computers, portable telephones or any other electronic device should be registered with the customs authorities on arrival in Bhutan, and will be checked again on departure.
DON’T forget that smoking is not allowed in most areas of Bhutan and the sale of tobacco products is prohibited in Bhutanese stores. Visitors are allowed to bring 100 cigarettes into the country, but they will be subject to a 200% tax.
Bhutan Travel Do’s
DO marvel that Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures its success by its index of GNH, Gross National Happiness, not by its GDP, Gross Domestic Product.
DO be aware that some of the Himalayan Mountains in Bhutan are off limits because of the ancient belief that gods dwell on the peaks.
DO be prepared to carry Bhutanese currency with you. There are no ATM machines in all of Bhutan, and most small shops do not take credit cards. US dollars, traveler’s checks and other currencies can be exchanged at major banks in larger towns, but remember that banks will typically close at 1:00 pm in Bhutan.
DO remember that while chefs in Bhutan traditionally make food extra spicy, they will also try to lessen the spice when preparing food for consumption by westerners.
DO know that GSM and satellite phones work in Bhutan.
DO be cautious about anything old or antique that you may wish to purchase in Bhutan. Customs will not allow anyone to export anything that is not certified as non-antique.
DO enlist the help of your guide or driver in selecting good quality items to purchase. They know what is the best, but they are often too polite to say anything unless you ask.
DO know that all visitors to Bhutan must have a visa approved prior to arriving in the Kingdom. All visa applications must be routed through local tour operators in Bhutan or a generating agent in your own country of origin.