A truly unique country, Bhutan is a lush green land of Himalayan mountains, landscapes, monasteries and temples. It is the only Buddhist region where Mahayana Buddhism is still practiced, where a concept of Gross National Happiness exists and while the largest economies of the world struggle with global warming, Bhutan is carbon negative! Tourists have been allowed in the country only since the 1970s and the government believes in “High Value, Low Impact Tourism”. The Tiger’s Nest, the Chele La Pass, Dochula Pass, Punakha Dzong and Norzim Lam Street are some of the top places to visit in Bhutan.
So here’s how you plan your solo trip –
Every memorable trip is possible only after laying down quality groundwork. Maintaining its uniqueness, Bhutan requires tourists other than the nationals of India, Bangladesh and Maldives, to pay a minimal daily package charge of $200/250 depending on the season, in advance, to your mandatory tour operator. You can start here http://www.tourism.gov.bt/plan which is the official website for Bhutan tourism and has the updated information about everything from the minimal daily package, legitimate tour operators to festival dates of the year.
Permits and Travel
If you’re from any of the three aforementioned countries, you don’t need the $40 visa but only a permit. This can be easily obtained after filling out a form at the entry point of Phuentsholling if crossing over from India, or on arrival at Paro international airport. There is no entry over land or air from China.
Once you book a local tour operator, they’ll appoint a tour guide for you who takes care of your visa and ensures you travel without breaking any regulations. The prepaid Bhutan tour packages cover the accommodation, meals, tour guide and internal travel as deemed under the minimal daily package by the government.
International withdrawals or transactions can be quite expensive and there will be other expenses on the go, so ensure you carry cash in the Bhutanese currency Ngultrum or the Indian rupee. International flights to Paro via Drukair – Bhutanese airways, are available from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand and Singapore. Get a local calling card for cheap and easy communication with the locals. Ask your guide, about the dress code and the scope of photography while visiting sacred sites. Ensure you’re inoculated for tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A, and carry a mosquito repellant cream. It is a good idea to have medical insurance in place in case you plan hiking or cycling.
Solo-traveling here is not possible in its truest sense but having a native of the country constantly along certainly has its advantages.