A Simple Guide to Bhutan Tourist Visa and Regulations
Bhutan tourist visa may be quite complicated. However, Bhutan is an amazing country rich in culture and hospitality. Moreover, it is now the happiest country in the world for many reasons. Tourism is hence the most important source of income for this small Himalayan kingdom. Bhutan has a policy of “High Value, Low Impact” tourism which ensures that the country’s unique culture and environment are priorities. If you want to visit this amazing place, you will need a tourist visa. In this article, we will look into areas of concern for tourists when it comes to Bhutan tourist visas.
Apply for a Visa in the Form of Visiting Relatives
Under this category, a tourist may apply for visa under the following circumstances:
- A person living in Bhutan or a member of his/her family wants to meet relatives outside Bhutan. In this case, a copy of the bio data of the applicant and the relative must be with the application. Also a letter from any responsible authority at place of work is required if employed.
- A person living abroad wishes to visit close relatives permanently residing in Bhutan citizens can apply under this category as long as the sponsoring by “any responsible authority” such as employer, village headman etc. In this case, a written assurance/guarantee from the sponsor that they will bear all expenses during their stay in Bhutan is necessary.
The visa application form can be downloaded from the website of the Royal Bhutanese Embassy. The form must be duly filled and submitted with the following documents:
- Valid passport with at least 6 months validity from the date of travel.
- 2 recent passport size photographs
- A copy of your return air ticket or itinerary.
- A copy of your hotel confirmation in Bhutan.
Apply for a Bhutan Tourist Visa Through a Tour Company
Bhutan tourist visa gets lets complicated if you choose to apply through a tour company. First of all you will need to choose a travel agency in your home country who can facilitate the application process with the Royal Government of Bhutan. After that, you will have to contact the tour operator and go through details about their services in Bhutan. The most frustrating part is that tour companies are still cannot finalize your itinerary until they receive visa approval from the Ministry of Tourism in Thimphu. They also reserve the right to refuse or cancel your trip at any stage if they find out that you have an incompatible profile with their requirements for this trip.
Travel agencies are specifically instructed by the government of Bhutan not to negotiate on the cost of your travel package because it connect with the approval of your visa application. All travel agencies charge a premium service fee for their services and it is advised to go through multiple quotes before finalizing on one.
You must bear in mind that tourist visa is not an entry permit; it is only a permission by the Ministry of Tourism (MoT). This permission is either through the tour operator or directly from Royal Government of Bhutan, if you choose to apply under relatives category.
Visa Regulations and Costs of Staying in Bhutan
The cost of Bhutan tourist visa is USD 200 per day during the low season and USD 250 during the peak tourist season. The visa fee is inclusive of all your expenses while in Bhutan such as accommodation, food, transportation and entry fees. However, it does not include the airfare to and from Bhutan.
The Royal Government of Bhutan has put a regulation that every tourist must spend a minimum of USD 200 per day while in Bhutan. You cannot spend this amount on hotels, restaurants, souvenirs or any other expense. If you are traveling as part of a group then the daily minimum will be divided equally among all the members of the group. If you happen to spend less than USD 200 in a day then the difference will have to be made up before you depart from Bhutan.
Visa Regulations for Tourists
Before applying for Bhutan tourist visa, it is important to be well aware of the visa regulations. In order to avoid any inconvenience or refusal of your visa application, please read and understand the following:
- The tourist visa is non-extendable and non-convertible.
- The visa is valid for 14 days from the date of arrival in Bhutan.
- You do not have permission to work while in Bhutan.
- You do not have permission to purchase or own land in Bhutan.
- Possession of narcotics and weapons is illegal in Bhutan.
- Public nudity and indecent behavior will have strict punishments.
You must bear in mind that a tourist visa does not permit entry into Bhutan, it only allows you to stay for up 14 days with the possibility of extension if granted by the Ministry of Tourism.
The decision to extend your visa or not is solely at the discretion of the Ministry of Tourism and it cannot guarantee that you will have an extension even if requested.
How to Find an Embassy in Your Country?
First things first. It is important to find the nearest embassy to your home country. If you are not sure where it is or how to get in touch with them, then visit the website of the foreign ministry of Bhutan. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and there will be a list of all embassies and high commissions around the world who represents Bhutan. Once you have found the embassy closest to you, give them a call and schedule an appointment.
You will need to take with you:
- Passport (with at least 6 months validity from the date of travel)
- 2 passport size photos
- Application form (You can download from the website of the embassy)
- Visa fee (cash only)
Embassy Website And Visa Form
To apply for Bhutan tourist visa, it would be advisable to take a peek at the Bhutan embassy website of your home country. There you will find all the information you need in order to submit a successful visa application. The website usually provides a downloadable application form, which you can fill up and take with you to your appointment. Make sure that you have read and understood all the visa regulations before submitting your application.
In most cases, the decision whether or not to approve a tourist visa is within 3-5 working days. However, it is best to apply for your visa at least 2 weeks before your planned departure date just to be on the safe side.
If everything goes as planned, then the next time you will hear about Bhutan is when you’re landing in Paro International Airport!
Contact the Bhutan Embassy :
Below are the contact details of the Bhutan embassy in Bhutan.
If you have any further queries or need more information, then feel free to get in touch with them.
Telephone: +975 2 323591
Fax: +975 2 322890
Bhutan Government Regulations You Need to Know
Before you make any hasty decisions, you will first have to be aware of all proceedings that the Bhutan government is currently implementing. As with every country, there are rules and regulations which you must know when planning a trip to Bhutan.
Below you will find some of the most important facts about traveling to Bhutan
The 14 Days Visa is Non-Extendable and Non-Convertible
This means that if for some unfortunate reason you are not able to leave Bhutan within the 14 day time frame, then you will have to apply for a new visa – which could potentially mean more waiting time and more hassle. So, make sure that everything is in order before you depart for your trip!
You Cannot Work While in Bhutan
It is strictly restricted to work on any kind of employment while in Bhutan. This includes working as an English teacher or doing any other form of paid work. If you violate this rule, you will have to deport from the country and blacklisted from ever returning again.
Possession of Narcotics and Weapons is Illegal
If you are carrying or trafficking any narcotics or weapons, you will face severe punishments and could face imprisonment or even the death penalty. So, make sure to leave all your contraband at home before you depart!
You Must Have a Valid Passport
Your passport must be valid for at least six months following the date of your arrival to Bhutan.
You Need a Bhutanese Visa to Enter and Exit Bhutan
All foreigners, with the exception of Indian nationals, must possess a valid visa to enter and exit Bhutan. The decision to extend your visa or not is solely at the discretion of the immigration officer at the point of entry.
So, those are some of the key points that you will need to take into account when planning your trip to Bhutan. Make sure to read all the relevant information on the embassy website before submitting your visa application. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with the embassy staff. They will be more than happy to help you out!
More Facts to Know Before Traveling to Bhutan
Bhutan is officially a Hindu monarchy with Buddhists making up two-thirds of the population.
- The currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum, pegged 1:1 to the Indian rupee. Indian currency is possible in transactions anywhere in Bhutan but change for rupees will have to be in Ngultrums/Indian Rupees. ATMs do not exist and credit cards are only possible at major hotels – so make sure that you have cash on hand!
- The electricity supply is 220 volts AC 50Hz throughout the country. Plugs are either of British/European standard or Dzongkha type with two round pins.
- The best time to visit Bhutan is during the dry seasons from October to March. The monsoon season runs from June to September and is quite wet, with occasional landslides.
- There is no mobile phone coverage in most of Bhutan – the only place where you will be able to get a signal is in Thimphu and Paro. So, make sure that you are aware of this before you leave!
- Bhutan is one of the most expensive countries in the world to travel in – a basic meal can cost anywhere between $10-20, and a hotel room can easily reach $200 per night. So, make sure that you have enough funds saved up before embarking on your trip!
Did You Know that Bhutan is Officially the Happiest Country in the World?
It is a small, completely landlocked kingdom nestled between China and India. Surrounded by some of the most amazing landscapes in Asia, it is famous for its monasteries and majestic mountains – not to mention that it’s also one of the most unspoiled ecosystems remaining on our planet today. That said, tourism there had strict control since 1974 in order to preserve its rich culture and natural heritage. Bhutanese are popular as friendly and happy people.
Bhutanese people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, and you are sure to leave with a smile on your face. The country is also popular for happiness and well-being, which is evident in the way that the locals go about their lives. So, if you’re looking for an adventure off the beaten track, Bhutan should definitely be at the top of your list! Traveling is an ultimate benefit for all travelers as it teaches you confidence, independence, and freedom.