Wednesday, February 25, 2015

[VISA] Bhutan (Single Entry)

Bhutan is like North Korea, in the sense that you cannot just fly in and have a DIY tour. The comparison ends there. Despite being reclusive, Bhutan is not really notorious for giving the world a big headache. People there actually value happiness a lot, even having their own Gross National Happiness thingie. Anyway, how do you even start planning for a trip to the last Shangri-La? No need to worry, everything is online nowadays.

The first thing you have to do is save up. Bhutan is not cheap, that I can assure you. Everyday rates are standard across the board, with a surcharge if you decide to upgrade your hotel from 3-star to anything higher than that. Off-peak rates are valid until the end of February and would cost you USD220 a day. From March onwards you have to pay around USD50 more on a daily basis. I believe these figures already include the surcharge for being a solo traveler.

What does that fee include? Everything EXCEPT the visa fee (USD40) and the airfare in and out of Bhutan, which is another sad story for your wallet. If flying in from Bangkok, expect to pay no lower than USD400 one way. Flying in from either Kathmandu or Dhaka would set you back around USD230 one way, and I believe that is the cheapest you could get as far as Drukair is concerned. Given that the minimum tours are 2 nights longs, this means you would be spending a minimum of USD1000.

If you have the funds, the next thing to do is find a tour agency online. Not everyone would offer the same routes. Some accept credit cards, while some would require you to transfer money to their account, after which they would take care of everything. You could find a complete list of tour operators on the website of Bhutan’s Department of Tourism: There are so many of them, it would take you quite a while to find your match.

I chose 7 Brothers Tours because their name is at the beginning of the list, HAHA! It also helped that they have the two-night tour I was looking for. It just feels a bit weird contacting them by email because what you send keeps on bouncing back, but then you’d be surprised to receive a quick reply from them regardless. They just asked for a copy of my plane tickets as well as my passport info page, after which they immediately sent me the Route Permit and Visa Number, WITHOUT asking me to pay anything.

We just agreed that I would give them the money when I arrive in Bhutan. Wow, I mean, trust-based system much? I’m already impressed. Their website is: Make sure to print a copy of the Route Permit and Visa Number. I believe Drukair WILL NOT let you board without those documents.
[VISA] Bhutan (Single Entry)

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