Foreign Currency Exchange
For Foreign Currency Exchange, you can do the exchange at the airport, or you can ask your guide to bring you to the Bank or Local Currency Exchangers upon arrival. Some Local Currency Exchangers in Bhutan are uniquely located and may be worth a visit 😉.
It is advisable to bring cash, as ATMs in Bhutan may not accept most international debit cards, and only larger shops in Thimphu may take international credit cards.
Bhutan's unit of currency is called Ngultrum (BTN). A Ngultrum has the same value as the Indian rupee, which is also legal in Bhutan. One US dollar equals roughly 73 Nu, and One Singapore Dollar equals roughly 53 Nu (as of November 2018).
You can check the current exchange rate here: https://www.xe.com/
When travelling with us, most spending such as food, lodging and transport is already prepaid in your package, so the only cash you need in Bhutan are for souvenirs and any extra activities.
Remember to spend or exchange your Ngultrum back to your local currency before you leave, as it is not widely accepted yet in most places outside of Bhutan.
Wifi – Hotels that we arrange for you to be in will have Wifi available.
Mobile Network – To get local 3G/4G SIM Cards, you can ask your guide to bring to a local mobile shop to buy one. There are 2 mobile network operators in Bhutan(B-Mobile and Tashi Cell/T-Cell). We would recommend that you get Tashi Cell as the internet connectivity is known to be better.
Altitude in Bhutan are between 2000 and 3000m above sea level for most parts. Even though the altitude is higher than what most people are used to, altitude sickness is not common in Bhutan.
However, some guests have experienced slight symptoms when they come here. Though the symptoms are usually not very serious, we strive to give our guests the best experience they can have while here. If you experience any symptoms while on your trip here, our guides can bring you to local pharmacies in the cities and towns to get some medication.
For guests who live near sea level and are not acclimatized to higher altitudes, as well as those who are prone to altitude sickness, you may consider taking preventive medication such as ‘Hong Jing Tian’. ‘Hong Jing Tian’ is a Traditional Chinese Medication that is commonly taken by travellers to higher altitudes to prevent altitude sickness. They are normally taken 2 to 3 weeks before travel to be effective. For Singaporean Guests, you can find it any most Traditional Chinese Medication Shops, or buy online from DaBaoOnline.com and TCMshop.sg.
Important note: Do consult your physician or doctor before taking any medication. Zamu Travels do not have any connections with the shops/products, and will not be responsible for any medical complications from taking them.
Transportation is included in your package(s) in the form of a private vehicle and driver. The type of vehicle may vary depending on the number of people coming in your private tour. Types of vehicles includes SUVs, Mini-vans and Buses.
We will arrange for the vehicles that will be comfortable for your group size. However, if you have any special requests for vehicles, you may also let us know during booking so that we can make the necessary arrangements.
Zamu Travels takes your food safety very seriously and monitor the safe travels of our guests. (Food and Water will be included in your package)
The food typically served to tourists is mostly buffet style, and some may find rather bland.
We would advise you to tell your guide what kind of food you prefer, especially if you like spicy or more flavourful food (Try out Bhutanese Cuisine!). In Paro and Thimphu, you can go to a local restaurant, and even plan a dinner in a farmhouse for local food, or other cuisines such as western and indian.
Bhutanese food is very simple but delicious and each region has its own specialities. Most meals consist of meat (yak, chicken, pork or beef) and vegetables, which are accompanied with rice, and chilies feature in almost all recipes. A popular dish is Ema Datshi which is simply made of cheese and chillies - it's tasty but very hot. When it comes to snacking, fried yak skin is a popular choice. Tibetan specialities such as momos (a type of dumpling) and noodles are also popular in Bhutan and western food is becoming more prevalent in cities.
The biggest problem most travellers have with Bhutanese food is the liberal use of chilli in almost every single dish. For those with a sensitive palate, try and ask for food without chilli and if you have no luck there, stick to rice and momos. As to food safety, if you are served something that looks old or unclean, it is best to avoid it. It is good practice not to eat salad during your trip as it may have come into contact with unclean water. You should also request that your drink have no ice in it as the cubes might have been made using tap water and could make you sick.
There is a huge number of vegetarians in Bhutan so finding delicious, meat-free meals is easy. All kinds of plant life is included in Bhutanese cooking such as nettles, ferns, orchids and a huge variety of mushrooms. A common drink found across the country is yak butter tea – an acquired taste but certainly something worth trying.
A lot of people become sick on holiday by being exposed to bugs and germs that they are not used to so do pay particular attention to washing your hands well before eating. Having antibacterial hand wipes are great for this.
Food and Water are included in your package(s)
The tap water in Bhutan is safe to drink but must be boiled. Please don't drink water directly from tap or from river. Our tour guide will provide you with bottles of water. You should also avoid salads which may be washed in unhygienic water.
While tipping is not compulsory in Bhutan, the majority of workers, especially those in the tourism industry such as guides, only have work for around half or quarter of the year and therefore tips are incredibly valuable for making up their income. USD$15 per day for tour guides and USD$10 per day for the driver is a suitable amount to leave as a tip from a group of two. In restaurants it is an acceptable practise to leave 10% on top of the final bill. Taxi fares should be rounded up and hotel porters are normally tipped USD$1 per bag.
Bhutan is a very safe country for tourists.
Solo travellers, especially Women travelling alone will be accompanied by a guide. This makes travelling here even safer and eliminates many of the problems solo females encounter in other countries. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to have your wits about you whilst travelling and to dress conservatively to avoid causing offence.
In Bhutan the power plugs and sockets are of type D, F and G. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Type D: mainly used in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and some African countries. This socket only works with plug D.
Type F: also known as "Schuko". This socket also works with plug C and plug E.
Type G: This type is of British origin. Used in Singapore. This socket only works with plug G.
We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor.
The sale of tobacco is banned in Bhutan. Tourists can import 200 cigarettes or three 50g tins of tobacco for personal consumption, but these are subject to 100% tax.
The following are banned from being imported: Narcotics, pornography and antiques. Restricted imports include arms and ammunition, drugs and pharmaceutical products, used and second-hand goods and equipment, gold and silver in excess of baggage allowance, live animals and their products, plants and chemicals.
Time zone in Bhutan (GMT+6)
Travelling to Bhutan
With exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors travelling to Bhutan need a visa, and can only apply it through taking up a tour package with a license travel operator such as Zamu Travels.
You can find out more information about it here: Bhutan Visa
You can enter into Bhutan either by Flight (direct flights from Singapore, Bangkok and other countries), or by Car(through India).
The handicraft industry is much smaller in Bhutan than neighbouring countries as less tourists visit the destination but there are plenty of shops in Thimphu which sell a range of goods including wooden bowls, handmade paper, jewellery, masks, prayer wheels and thangkas. Bhutan is renowned for it's brightly coloured and boldly designed stamps, so it's paradise for stamp collectors.
Bargaining is not acceptable in Bhutan and goods are offered at fixed prices. Bartering is seen as offensive so should not be tried.
Vaccinations and Medical Treatment
You should seek medical advice from your local health practitioner before travelling to Bhutan and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide Diphtheria, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Polio are strongly recommended.
If you plan on visiting the southern part of Bhutan so anti-malarials should be taken as there is a high risk of malaria there. Atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline or mefloquine are recommended when visiting risk areas. Generally, it is a good idea to avoid mosquito bites as much as possible whilst there. This can be achieved by wearing long sleeves and trousers, sleeping under a mosquito net and covering yourself in an insect repellent that contains at least 50% DEET. For more information on the malaria risk in Bhutan visit the NHS Fit to Travel page or the CDC Traveler's Health page.
There are numerous hospitals and smaller basic health units scattered across the country however the main medical facility is the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital located in Thimphu. Basic treatment and care at the hospital is free, even for tourists (this is where part of your daily spend goes). The standard of care and hygiene varies with some travelers experiencing minimal to no hygiene in facilities outside Thimphu.
If your condition is serious, contact your travel insurance provider immediately as it's likely that you will need to be evacuated to Thailand or India due to the lack of emergency level facilities in Bhutan.
If your ailment is minor, it can be easy to treat yourself so it's worth packing a travel medical kit and any medicines you take. Pharmacies are in various towns however not all medications may be available for purchase or quality may not be to the standard you obtain at home.