Do’s and don’ts in Bhutan

Popularly known as The Land of Happiness for its Gross National Happiness, beautiful landscapes, friendly and delightful people, imposing architecture, mystical religion, and interesting arts and culture. Bhutan is open and welcomes any tourist wishing to visit Bhutan so for anyone planning to visit, here’s another list that you should go through before reaching the country!

  • Taking photos/filming inside Dzongs, monasteries, temples, or any religious institutions is usually prohibited. Check with your guide before clicking around randomly whether it is permitted. Ask permissions while clicking people.
  • Take off your hats in front of the Dzongs, temples and national flags.
  • Visitors should be properly dressed with long sleeves shirts and pants to visit dzongs, temples, monasteries, schools and any government institutions. Singlet and miniskirts are not well accepted norms.
  • Always walk clockwise well crossing the dzongs, temples, monasteries, prayer flags or religious artifacts.
  • Do not give sweets, money, pencils, pens etc, to the children.
  • Although Bhutan is safe, we advise you to keep your valuable items like wallets, cameras, passport etc in safe place.
  • Public displays of affection are not common. Please refrain from doing this in public places.
  • Bhutan is the only country in the world that has banned the consumption and sale of tobacco, resulting in smoking being largely disallowed in public places. Having said that, consumption is not completely prohibited in Bhutan so if you want to smoke, bring your own cigarettes and ask your guide where you can light up.
  • Tuesdays are considered the national ‘dry day,’ with the sale of alcohol prohibited.
  • Locals are very sensitive, you may not want to sound rude. Refrain from any negative comments on religion, the royal family and chief abbot.
  • Use your right hand or both hands to give or receive.
  • Buying of antiques from Bhutan is strictly monitored by the custom at the check points. Please always buy goods with cash memo or original bills/invoices.
  • Don’t wash, swim or throw objects into lakes, many of which are considered sacred.
  • Most hotels have WiFi, but if you need more connectivity you can get a local SIM card from Tashi Cell or B-Mobile and top up with prepaid cards.
  • The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, but most Bhutanese are fluent in English as that is the medium of education so communication shouldn’t be a problem.
  • There are ATMs in Bhutan, but only in the main towns. A word of caution, the ATMs do not always work and if they do, one is usually only able to withdraw small amounts.
  • Visitors should be able to pay via credit card at most hotels and handicraft stores
  • Do pack warm clothes, especially if you’re travelling between the months of November and March. As a general tip, it would be wise to always have a jacket when travelling in Bhutan regardless of the seasons as you will experience huge changes in elevation, with certain valleys colder than others. It’s best to be prepared!
  • Prepare some of your own entertainment for the flight as well as trip. Bring some books to read and save movies to watch on your laptop or tablet. Apart from Thimphu and Paro, nightlife is non-existent.
  • 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 and Driver.
  • The roads tend to be windy so if you are prone to motion sickness, bring Dramamine or other medication to prevent nausea as you will be spending a lot of time in the car travelling around Bhutan.
  • Bring along a multi-purpose electrical plug and a universal travel adapter. Most hotel rooms have limited electrical plugs, so it’ll be wise to take along if you have many devices.
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