Bhutan

Useful info

Time
Bhutan Time (BTT) is the time zone of Bhutan. It is +6:00 hrs ahead of Universal Time Coordinated (UTC+6). Bhutan does not observe any daylight saving time.

Electricity
Bhutan uses 230 volts AC (50 Hz)

Money
Ngultrum (Nu) = 100 chetrum (Ch). The Ngultrum is pegged to the Indian Rupee (which is also accepted as legal tender). Notes are in denominations of 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of 1, 50, 25 and 20. Smaller denomination notes and coins have been discontinued but are still in circulation and are legal tender. US Dollars are also widely accepted.  Leading foreign currencies are accepted but traveller's cheques are preferred and receive a better exchange rate. Major hotels in Thimphu, Paro and Phuentsholing will also exchange foreign currency.Most credit cards have limited acceptability. ATMs only accept Bhutanese bank cards.
Bhutan has two banks, the Bank of Bhutan and the Bhutan National Bank, each with branches throughout the country where money can be exchanged. Read more >

Tipping
Tipping has been officially discouraged in Bhutan, but it’s becoming a common practice and it’s OK to do so, if you want to reward good service. You will usually be accompanied throughout your visit to Bhutan by the same tour guide and probably the same driver. Though it’s against the official policy, these people expect a tip at the end of the trip.

Weather
Although the country is quite small, the weather in Bhutan varies from location to location, depending upon the elevation. In the north of Bhutan on the borders with Tibet, it is perennially covered with snow. In the western, central and eastern Bhutan (Ha, Paro, Thimphu, Wandue, Trongsa, Bumthang, Trashi Yangtse, Lhuntse) you will mostly experience cold European-like weather. Winter lasts here from November to March. Southern Bhutan bordering with India is hot and humid with a sub-tropical climate. The monsoon is the determining factor for rain here. Spring and autumn are the best season to visit Bhutan. There are four distinct seasons similar in their divisions to those of Western Europe. The Monsoon occurs between June and August, when the temperature is normally between 8° and 21°C. Temperatures drop dramatically with increases in altitude. Days are usually very pleasant (average about 10°C) with clear skies and sunshine. Nights are cold and require heavy woolen clothing, particularly in winter. Generally, October, November and April to mid-June are the best times to visit – rainfall is at a minimum and temperatures are conducive to active days of sightseeing. The foothills are also very pleasant during the winter...

When to go
The ideal time for trekking and for travelling throughout the country is autumn, from late September to late November, when skies are generally clear and the high mountain peaks rise to a vivid blue sky. While the climate is best in autumn, in Bhutan an umbrella is usually never far from reach, and no matter when you go, there is likely to be rain periods.

The winter is a good time for touring in western Bhutan, bird-watching in the south’s subtropical jungles, and whitewater rafting. The days are usually sunny, cool and pleasant, but it’s quite cold once the sun sets and you will need to pack warm clothing.
From December to February, there is often snow in the higher regions and occasional snow in Thimphu. Spring, from March to May, is recognized as the second best time to visit Bhutan for touring and trekking. Summer, from June to August, is the monsoon season. And what a monsoon! During these three months 500mm of rain falls in Thimphu and up to a metre falls in the eastern hills. The mountains are hidden, the valleys are shrouded in clouds, and roads disappear in heavy downpours and floods.
 

Health
No vaccination is currently required for entry into Bhutan. However, if you are arriving from an area infected with yellow fever, you are required to have a yellow fever vaccination.
If you are arriving from cholera infected area, then officials may ask for evidence of cholera vaccination. Anti –malarial medication is recommended for all travelers to Bhutan who are visiting rural areas in the districts, that border India.
It is suggested that you assemble a traveler’s medical kit, appropriate to destination, length of trip and general health. On a tour in Bhutan, there are long drives and roads are winding, so medication for motion sickness is strongly suggested. You should also pack an adequate supply of any prescribed medications you may require while traveling.
Travelers, who plan to visit Bhutan, should consult a physician about high-altitude travel. After a brief period of acclimatization, most people do not suffer from altitude sickness; but elderly travelers or those with high blood pressure or heart conditions need to exercise caution at high altitudes.
Recommended vaccinations: Adult diphtheria and tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio, Typhoid, Chickenpox.

Water
Water, used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice, must be boiled or otherwise sterilized. Bottled water is widely available. Milk should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available

Security and Safety
There is a low threat from terrorism.  You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those, frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Food & Drink
Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Traditional Bhutanese food always features spicy red and green chillies, either dried or fresh. Most Bhutanese love eating spicy food. The national dish, ema datsi (chili, cooked in cheese), is popular among Bhutanese and foreigners alike. For meat, ott is easily available in most restaurants. For vegetarians, there are restaurants who serve vegetarian meals and almost all the restaurants have a vegetarian option in their menu.

Indian-style sweet milky tea, ngad-ja, is widely available and may be served in a pot, but more often it appears as a cup with a tea bag. 
Liquor is easily available in bars with the exception of Tuesday (dry day). The legal drinking age is 18 years and above.
The only beer, brewed in Bhutan, is the very good Red Panda Weissbier. The popular local strong alcoholic drinks are: XXX Bhutan Rum; Crystal Gin and Pacham Gin. Wine is available at the duty-free shop in Thimphu, but it is likely to be expensive and dissapointing.

Public Holidays
*  2 January  (not fixed) - Winter Solstice (Western Bhutan only)
*  27 January (not fixed) - Traditional Day of Offerings (a day to offer food to
    hungry creatures - celebrated as new year in Eastern Bhutan)
*  21-23 February  (every year) - Birth Anniversary of HM the Fifth King Jigme
    Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck
*  25-26 February  (not fixed) - New Year (losar)
*  2 May  (every year) - Birth Anniversary of Third king Jigme Dorji
    Wangchuck
*  4 May  (not fixed) - Shabdrung Kuchoe (commemorates the passing of
    Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1651 CE)
*  7 June (not fixed) - Commemoration of Lord Buddha's Parnirvana.
*  2 July  (not fixed) - Anniversary of the Birth of Guru Rinpoche
*  24 September  (not fixed) - Thimphu Drubchen (Thimphu Only)
*  28 September  (not fixed) - Hindu ceremony of Dashain
*  28-30 September  (not fixed) - Thimphu Tshechu(Thimphu Only)
*  1 November  Coronation of the fifth Druk Gyalpo (king of Bhutan)
*  9 November  (not fixed) - Descending Day of Lord Buddha
*  11 November  (every year) - Birth Anniversary of His Majesty, the fourth
    King Jigme Singye Wangchuck
*  17 December  (every year) - National Day, commemorating the 1907
    coronation of the first hereditary king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck
In addition to the above national holidays, there are also Tshechu holidays which are celebrated regionally.