Nestled in a high pocket of land between Nepal, Tibet and Northeast India, Bhutan is an extraordinary country, home to a fascinating and unique culture, stupendous scenery and a truly charming people. Cut off until the 1970s from the rest of the world through geography and its own political desires things have barely changed at all over the last 500 years. Thus, Bhutan has been doubly protected from external influences, and as a result, the traditional way of life has survived largely intact, making it the perfect destination for a tailor made holiday.
Whether it's the 17th century dzongs that perch spectacularly atop high cliff-tops, thundering rivers, the colourful festivals of dance and story-telling, the clusters of prayer flags or the mighty mountains, they all contrive to transport you back through the centuries to a land of demons and spirits that still lie at the heart of Bhutanese culture.
Kandoo offer an exclusive range of adventure and walking holidays in Bhutan. Blessed with incredible scenery from majestic mountains, blue pine forests to crystal clear lakes it offers an overwhelming visual experience. Unchanged for hundreds of years, the way of life in Bhutan remains a cultrual treat. Measured by the local Government, GNH (Gross National Happiness) is a vibrant cultural statement evident in the people you meet that a huge pride exists backed by stunning architecture and a rich history.
The "Land of the Thunder Dragon" is one of the last remaining strongholds of Tantric Mahayana Buddhism and its rich cultural heritage is visible in the white-walled dzongs, the decor of peoples' homes and the ornately painted wall motifs. Bhutan holidays have something to offer all types of travellers. Festivals full of colour and culture take place in Paro (March) and Thimpu (October) providing a delightful and fascinating experience. Given the time, if you can plan around these events it will add another dimension to your trip with us.
The Druk Path trek is a six day trek, which leads from Paro to Thimphu, crossing stunning natural landscapes through blue pine forests, dwarf rhododendrons, high ridges and crystal clear lakes. There are many opportunities to view ancient lhakhangs, dzongs and quiet unspoilt villages.
The Snowman trek goes to the remote Lunana district and is considered to be the most difficult trek in Bhutan. The attributes making it a tough trek are; distance, high altitudes, weather conditions and remoteness and should only be considered if you have experience and a good level of fitness. The trek is subject to closure because of snow and is almost impossible during winter. The recommended season for this trek is March-May and September to November.
The Chomolhari trek is fantastic for trekkers looking for an off-the-beaten path, high altitude experience that isn't too long. And with Kandoo we make sure to build in enough time to soak in the cultural gems of the Tiger Monastery and the sites of Paro and the capital, Thimphu.
Q1What is the accommodation like in Bhutan?
Tourism in Bhutan is heavily regulated by the government. There is no 'Star' system as such, but all hotels need to be approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. You can expect reasonably decent lodgings, which are clean and comfortable in Western Bhutan (Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangduephodrang) and in the Southern town of Phuentsholing. Food is delicious and service very attentive. As one ventures further East (Mongar, Trashigang & Samdrup Jongkhar), accommodation gets more rudimentary. There are a few international luxury hotel chains namely Aman, Taj and COMO, where we can offer upgrades.
Q2What is the local currency of Bhutan?
Ngultrum is the local currency of Bhutan. It is pegged to the Indian Rupee, which is frequently used in place of Ngultrum (except large bills of the Indian currency Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000). All major currencies like US Dollars, Sterling Pounds and Euros can be exchanged at Paro Airport, or at Banks and Hotels in major cities. Please note: Nepalese currency is not accepted in Bhutan.
Credit and debit cards have limited acceptability. There are ATMs in Bhutan but currently they only operate with their respective Bhutanese banks. Traveler’s cheques / cash are the best option for your travel monies.
Q3What is Bhutan's timezone, dialling code and electricity voltage?
Bhutan has only one time zone. It is six hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+6 GMT), half an hour ahead of India (IST) and one hour behind Thailand. Bhutan is eleven hours ahead of New York city.
The country dialling code is 975.
Electricity runs on 220 / 240 volts, with circular two‐pin and three‐pin power outlets. Please make sure to carry the appropriate adapters for your electrical appliances.
Q4What food options are readily available?
Most Bhutanese cuisine consists of steamed rice (red and white) with a varied choice of spicy curries, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. Most hotels provide meals in a buffet‐style setup. There are usually continental, Indian, Chinese and Bhutanese dishes. The food in hotels is often the best in town, but in some of the main towns restaurants are increasingly becoming popular.
All tourist hotels have good selection of international and Bhutanese beverages.
Q5Are there any health precautions?
Yes, please make sure you have read our before you trek section on acclimatisation and altitude sickness. We make sure to build acclimatisation days into your tour, but for elderly travellers or those with high blood pressure / weak heart conditions, please consult a doctor before trekking in Bhutan.
Please avoid tap water and stick to mineral or filtered drinking water.
If you suffer from motion sickness then you might want to take medication as the roads between cities are winding. You should also pack an adequate supply of any prescribed medications you may require while traveling.
Q6What are some do's and don'ts in Bhutan?
The Bhutanese by and large are conservative in their thinking. Here are some do's and don'ts
1. In public areas please avoid displays of affection (like hugging / kissing) and do not wear sleeveless t-shirts or mini skirts.
2. When visiting monasteries, temples and Dzongs you are not allowed to take pictures inside (you can take pictures in courtyards though).
3. Please take off your hat while entering religious sites. Sneakers, jeans, mini‐skirts and shorts are not allowed.
4. For smokers, you have to declare your cigarettes at the airport and pay 200% tax. You will be given a receipt to smoke. Smoking without a receipt is illegal in Bhutan and smoking is not allowed in public areas. There are designated smoking areas.
5. Always walk in a clockwise direction while visiting religious places or objects like temples, monasteries, Stupas, prayer flags etc. Please do not point a finger at a sacred object or place. It is considered being disrespectful.