Frequently & Rarely Asked Questions
1. Why should I choose Bridge To Bhutan?
Traveling Bhutan with Bridge To Bhutan is taking the journey with a twist. Bridge To Bhutan was founded by two brothers who wanted to combine work and passion. Even as it makes a historic transition, Bhutan is met with unique challenges. By advocating sustainable tourism, our intent is to be part of the solution by helping address some of these burgeoning issues related toour environment, culture and youth.
Being in the business, it's no surprise that our top priority is visitor care and personalized services; we care less about handling a large volume of visitors. Our tours and treks are not only cultural and sightseeing trips, but also offer a deeper spiritual experience. Therefore, most of our tours are education-oriented and provides room for "self-discovery."
Our guests are accommodated in comfortable hotels/guest houses approved by the government. To better understand the Bhutanese way of life, you will also have an option of living with families in rural homes and farm houses. Bridge To Bhutan is equipped with quality trekking gear, backed by knowledgeable guides and cooks, who can create various kinds of palatable cuisine. For those who wouldn't want to miss the experience, yet yearn for luxury accommodation, we arrange Boutique Travel as well. We work with four luxury resorts/hotels namely, Aman, Uma, Taj Tashi, and Zhiwaling. Write to us for details.
But we take it even further. Under our program, Bridge To Bhutan Cares, we let you connect with people and issues that matter to you. We welcome you to be part of the solution...together we can make a difference!
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2. How can I book a package tour to Bhutan?
There are two ways you can book a Bridge To Bhutan package tour:
a) Choose any of the tour programs and send us your passport details
b) Consult with us to create a customized trip and then send us your passport details
We will try to place you in a group of a minimum of three persons and a maximum of twelve persons if you don't already belong to a group. For groups of less than 3 persons, there is a surcharge over and above the minimum daily tariff (Refer question 3).
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3. What is the tariff for Bridge To Bhutan tours/treks?
In keeping with the "high value-low impact" sustainable tourism policy, the all-inclusive, daily base tariff is set, regulated and monitored by the government. Bridge To Bhutan offers the best value for your money.
a) The base tariff for a group of 3 or more persons is:
Base Tariff: US$ 255 per person per night
For solo traveller: $40 per night
For a group of two persons: $30 per person per night
b) The daily package rate INCLUDES the following:
■ Accommodation on twin sharing/double room basis
■ All transfers and sightseeing within Bhutan
■ Visa Fee
■ Services of an accompanying trip leader/guide
■ All meals (but not beverages)
■ 35% Welfare Levy (used for free education and health facilities in Bhutan) to the government
■ Tourism development fee to the government
■ Riding ponies and pack animals on treks
■ Fees for museums and permits to enter temples & monuments
c) The daily package rate does NOT INCLUDE the following:
■ Airport taxes
■ Excess baggage fees
■ Travel insurance & Emergency evacuation expenses
■ Personal expenses such as laundry, phone calls, shopping, etc.
■ Small offerings at temples
d) The rates given above are applicable per tourist per night in Bhutan. On the day of departure, the local agent’s obligation shall be limited to breakfast only and any extra requirements shall be payable on an actual basis.
e) The above rates apply uniformly irrespective of location and the type of accommodation provided/requested. All accommodation establishments are approved by the government.
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4. Can I travel as a free individual in Bhutan?
Tourists are not permitted to travel freely without a tour guide in Bhutan. While all tours in Bhutan are pre-arranged, our itineraries offer ample flexibility. Tours to most parts of Bhutan can be arranged for an individual tourist and small groups of less than three persons in accordance with the travelers' interests and desires. Such tours are subject to a surcharge, over and above the minimum daily rates applicable, as follows:
Single individual - US$ 40 per night: Group of two - US $30 per person per night.
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5. Are there any DISCOUNTS?
Yes, we are glad to extend you the following maximum discounts allowed on daily rates:
a) There will be no charge for CHILDREN up to the age of 5 years, while those between the ages of 6 and 12 years, accompanied by elders/guardians, will be given 50% discount on daily rates.
b) Full time STUDENTS below the age of 25 years, holding valid identity cards from academic institutions, may beeligible for upto20% discount on daily rates.
c) Discounts are also available depending on the size of the group and the duration of stay in Bhutan. Contact us for details.
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6. How can I process my VISA for Bhutan?
Upon confirmation that the full payment for your trip's been received, your visa application will be processed by the government. You will need to fill out our Visa Application Form and email it to us along with a COLOR COPY of your passport. Bridge To Bhutan will apply on your behalf, and after approval, your "Visa Approval Letter" will be emailed to you. This process confirms your visa for Bhutan. Remember to PRINT and save a copy of this approval letter with your passport and NOT pack with your check-in luggage. The actual visa will stamped on your passport on arrival at the Paro International Airport.
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7. Why is there a fixed cost for travel to Bhutan? And why is it relatively more expensive than neighboring destinations?
The fixed cost that you pay is not just a fee for entry to Bhutan. This cost is a package that covers all your accommodation, meals, land transportation, guides, sightseeing, inland permits and fees and not to forget the service rendered by Bridge To Bhutan to make your holiday a memorable one. If you are trekking, this sum covers all expenses for the treks, such as the cost of transport animals carrying your equipment and material, camping equipment, meals and transport. The fixed tourist tariff is set by the government and is applicable to all tour operators in Bhutan. The government controls the cost in order to manage tourism in a sensible and sustainable way, avoiding negative effects on both the environment and the culture. The major share of the tariff that goes to the government is used for providing health and education services as well as maintaining the infrastructure for tourism.
Working directly with Bridge To Bhutan will provide the greatest flexibility without compromising comfort and authenticity. The only way to visit Bhutan is by purchasing a package tour from a reliable and licensed tour operator at these rates. For the last 20 years, Bhutan has marvelously preserved its age-old traditions, sacred monasteries and temples. The pristine air and environment, without large cities and slums, add more value to Bhutan as a tourist destination. For many visitors, Bhutan is refreshing; since they find here something that many other countries lost years ago, and will probably not be able to retrieve again. Therefore, it would be best if you support our government's noble goal of sustainable high-value, low volume tourism, which all of our visitors enjoy when they come to Bhutan. B I I B will be a strong proponent of this policy and in fact wish to see the minimum tariff go even higher. We just can't afford to be like any other tourist destination. You will know once you arrive in Bhutan.
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8. Can I find cheaper rates for travel to Bhutan?
Yes, it may be possible. But any other rates below the minimum tariff set by the government are illegal and you would be taking a serious risk. The tourism authority strictly monitors any kind of undercutting, and will impose severe sanctions on anyone found guilty, such as revocation of business license, disruption of tours, and even deportation of visitors who use these agents. In any case, cheaper rates would inevitably lead to poorer customer service, as tour operators or touts would herd as many guests as possible in large groups, put them up in sub-standard hotels to cut expenses, and hire unqualified guides to haul their visitors around.
It is also in tandem with our mission to be both socially and economically responsible. Unlike most travel destinations aorund the world, Bhutan offers a unique opportunity for travelers to contribute significantly in sustaining the values of the destination that we all hold dear; in Bhutan's case, they are Bhutan's age-old tradition and culture, and its pristine environment. The moment you commit to visiting Bhutan, you become a proponent of responsible travel. In Bhutan, tourism is a major source of revenue, second only to hydro-electricity. It thus plays a mojor role in nation building. Add to that our personalized services, including our knowledgeable, government certified guides, and refreshing itineraries. Now that's priceless!
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9. When do I make the tour payment?
Tour payments must be made at least two months before the start of a tour. The visa process will begin only after receipt of the full tour payment, as mandated by the government. Please click here for payment details.
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10. How do I cancel my trip?
Cancellation of a trip should be notified in writing directly to Bridge To Bhutan
Tour programs booked and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as follows:
a) 45 days or more prior to start of the tour - Full refund
b) 30-45 days or more prior to start of the tour - 20% of the rate
c) 22-29 days prior to start of tour - 30% of the rate
d) 15-21 days prior to start of tour - 50% of the rate
e) Less than 15 days prior to start of tour- 100%
f) After arrival in Bhutan, or cancellation without notice - 100%
A separate administration fee of $75 will be applicable for all cancelled tours.
Your flight tickets, if bought, are governed by a separate Drukair cancellation policy. Drukair tickets are valid for one year from the date of issue and are subject to the following cancellation and refund rules:
a) Full refund (minus administration charges) for tickets cancelled more than 45 days prior to arrival date in Bhutan
b) 50% refund for tickets cancelled between 30 and 45 days prior to arrival date
c) No refund for tickets cancelled within 30 days of arrival date in Bhutan
d) An administration fee of $25 per ticket will be applicable for all cancelled tickets
e) Passengers who fail to show up for a flight will not be eligible for a refund
f) Flights can be rescheduled for a $30 re-booking fee; however, once rescheduled, tickets are non-refundable and non-reroutable
g) Lost tickets are non-refundable
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11. What happens in the case of delayed arrival/departure?
There shall be no charge for the number of days of delay in the departure of visitors due to bad weather conditions, Drukair problems or road blocks. However, you will be charged any actual expenses for accommodation, food, transportation and any other services required.
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12. What kind of vehicles are used for tours?
For individual travelers and a group of less than three persons, we use Japanese Toyota- cars, 4WD land cruisers, Hilux and Prado, Hyundai and Honda cars and SUVs. For groups of 4-6 persons, we have Toyota Hiace buses. For larger groups, we use Deluxe Toyota Coaster buses.
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13. What kind of hotels will we stay in?
We arrange the best available accommodation in each valley for our guests. These may not be comparable with multi-star hotels in developed countries, but will be clean and comfortable, with proper bathroom facilities and a good range of food. They are selected for their character and accessibility to interesting experiences. Bhutan's tourism infrastructure is in its infancy, which is one of the country's greatest draws, but it doesn't make for the most luxurious accommodation. Expect traditional Bhutanese style lodges with private bath, but without air conditioning or central heating. As a Bridge To Bhutan guest, you will also get to stay in farm houses/home stays, experiencing rural Bhutan and its rustic lifestyle. Farmhouses are very basic with no attached bathrooms. Nevertheless, they can be a fun experience and a great insight into traditional Bhutanese lifestyle. Of course, upon extra payment above the minimum tariff, you also have an option to stay in the few boutique hotels/luxury resorts in Bhutan. Please indicate your interest while communicating with us.
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14. When is the best time to be in Bhutan?
Spring and fall are usually the best times in Bhutan as far as weather is concerned. You will get spectacular views of the mountains with clear blue skies in winter and the best diversity of fauna and flora in the spring. In July and August there is more precipitation due to the famous monsoons. Nonetheless, these months are ideal if you like to be alone and you don't want to get bumped into other tourists. You will still enjoy fabulous scenery and above all experience greater flexibility, be it the guide, accommodations or the type of vehicle used.
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15. How do I get to Bhutan and is there a direct flight into Bhutan?
There are no direct long-haul flights to Bhutan. The best way to enter and exit Bhutan is by:
Drukair, the national air carrier, which links Bhutan’s only airport at Paro Valley with flights to/from Bangkok, New Delhi, Kolkota, Gaya, Bagdogra, Kathmandu, and Dhaka. You will have to buy international plane ticket and book hotel room in any of the above gateway cities that you choose to connect to Drukair.
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16. What is the best way to carry my money?
Travelers checks are a safe way to carry your funds although they can sometimes be more difficult to change than
cash. VISA and MasterCard are now acceptable in selected ATM's and POS terminals. It is a good idea to always have a back-up of cash. We therefore recommend that you bring as much cash as you feel comfortable carrying. You may want the extra cash for incidental costs like shopping, drinking, tipping, etc.
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