The mytherious Kingdom of Bhutan is so exotic that only a few people have been there. I remember when I was in the Netherlands, I met Rager, who visited Bhutan because he knew the previous king! I told me myself, “I have to be in Bhutan.” and here I am.
1. There is a visa limit
Yes, there WAS a visa limit. 5000 visas but that was in 1999. We now live in the 21st century and this visa limit no longer valid! You can go to Bhutan as many times as you want and bring your family, extended family and friends to Bhutan. The visa costs US40. “Bhutan visa is 200USD” is a myth. Read Point #2.
2. It is very expensive to travel to Bhutan
Alright, alright. Let’s get this myth straighten out. Bhutan has a minimum spending per day, depending on the season. During the low season, it is US200 per day. That sounds a lot, but comparing to other premium destinations like Venice (US271), New Delhi (US326), Tokyo (US351) and New York City (US665), it is a premium destination at an affordable price.
What does the price include then? It includes your hotels, professional English speaking guide, your very own car, a driver, 3 meals per day and all other government taxes. Do you still think that US200 per day is expensive? It is basically an all inclusive fee for US200.
3. It is difficult to travel there
Did you know that there is a direct flight from Singapore to Bhutan? All you have to do is to get on that flight, sit for 6.5hours and you will arrive in the land of happiness! When you arrive in Bhutan, you will be greeted by your friendly guides at the airport. Your guide will accompany you to all the destinations in Bhutan.
Not only that, you will your very own driver and car to bring you around. There are direct flights from Singapore (3x a week), Bangkok (daily), India (daily) and Nepal (daily).
4. I’ll get altitude sickness
That is a common worry for most people. Although most of Bhutan is at a higher altitude, the tours bring you to places in ascending altitudes. Thimphu, the lowest altitude in Bhutan, to Punakha and Paro. Tiger’s Nest is at about 2000m above sea level, that is usually experienced during your last day. If you are doing more intense activities with hiking in the Himalayas, that could be more challenging.
When I did the Bumdra Trek, we went to 3,900m above sea level. Some people might get altitude sickness then and feel discomfort. Just tell your guide if you are not feeling well. They are experienced enough to know how to handle the issue. Also, please get your travel insurance when you travel in Bhutan.
Although Bhutan is in the Himalayas, the places you will be visiting on your cultural tour is lower than the mountains of Switzerland (Jungfrau area) or even Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. So relax and enjoy what Bhutan has to offer!
A good tip is to take your time and climb up slowly. That is easy to do because the landscape and scenery in Bhutan is gorgeous, you can use a few moment to take in all her beauty!
5. I can’t feel full freedom because there is a guide
If you are a usual solo traveller, you might think this way. Nonetheless, fret not. Your guide is not an authority figure at all. In fact, he is more like a local friend when you travel in Bhutan. He will give you all the information about the fascinating country. I enjoy travelling alone but I did enjoy having Sangay as my guide. We connected on social media and continue to keep in contact!
No one can answer better about why Bhutan is such a happy country than a local Bhutanese. Curious about why there are so many phallus paintings on the walls in Bhutan? Is Bhutan still a polygamy culture or has it shifted to monogamy? How does Bhutanese feel about the lush forest in the country? Your guide is your local friend and feel free to ask him anything! He is not there to restrict your freedom, rather, allow you to be as curious as you possibly can in Bhutan!
The guide’s main purpose is to ensure that tourists and travellers do not litter the country, set fires in the forests or destroy the country’s flora and fauna. When you are in the city, you can always have time on your own to explore. For instance, I had lots of time on my own in Paro city and explored the area on my own. I even met a Bhutanese artist and visited his gallery!
Bhutan is a fabulous destination with tiny mountain villages, traditional cultures and fascinating festivals. The people are also very friendly and love to share more about their country. It is definitely a place to add in your bucket list!