Bhutan has welcomed travelers looking for deeply immersing experiences in a natural haven since 1974, guided by the unique, environmentally friendly tourism philosophy of “High value, Low volume.” Here’s an update on all the latest Bhutan Travel Restrictions for tourists.
Bhutan will reopen to international tourists for the first time since the pandemic began more than two years ago on 23rd September 2022.
Known for its unique development philosophy of Gross National Happiness, this tiny Himalayan Kingdom is a world leader in conservation and sustainable tourism practices.
So, if you are planning a trip to the only carbon-negative country in the world, there are certain Bhutan’s travel restrictions for tourists you must know.
That’s why we at Norbu Bhutan will help you answer frequently asked questions regarding Bhutan’s travel restrictions for tourists. Discover everything there is to know about Bhutan’s travel restrictions for tourists only with Norbu Bhutan Travels!
What are Bhutan Travel Restrictions For Tourists?
Tourists who want to visit Bhutan must follow the Bhutan travel restrictions for tourists, which include producing a COVID-19 negative certificate upon arrival. For unvaccinated travelers, you will still need to quarantine for five nights at your own expense.
All travelers to Bhutan visiting Bhutan will have to follow the following Covid-protocols set forth by the National Covid-19 Task Force (NC19TF):
- Provide a Covid-negative RT-PCR test result from a certified laboratory
- Stay in 24 hours quarantine
- Must pay for all tests as required by COVID-19
- Strictly adhere to COVID-19 Protocol
- Must have health insurance
Additionally, overseas tourists will need a Bhutan visa, whereas regional tourists will need entry permits to enter Bhutan.
Norbu Bhutan provides excellent Tour Packages to groups of all sizes! Enjoy our premium service whether you’re a solo traveler or coming with a group!
Do visitors to Bhutan have to pay a Sustainable Development Fee?
The Royal Government of Bhutan levies SDF or Sustainable Development Fees to all tourists visiting Bhutan. This is set to promote sustainable yet luxurious tourism aligned with Bhutan’s “High value, Low volume” tourism policy.
With the revised tourism levy bill, all visitors must pay a sustainable development fee of USD 200 per person per night and additional payments for your hotels, meals, transportation, and guide.
Regional visitors from Bangladesh, the Maldives, and India will have to pay an SDF fee of Rs 1200 per night, plus the cost of a guide and transportation. While children under the age of five will be exempt, those aged six to twelve will only receive a 50% concession.
Why the change in Bhutan Travel Restrictions For Tourists?
COVID-19 has allowed Bhutan to reset — considering how the sector can be best constituted and operated while keeping carbon footprints low.
Furthermore, before the Covid-19 pandemic, Bhutan received approximately 274,000 tourists, with regional tourists from India accounting for 66% of the total.
This was a significant untapped revenue source for a small country like Bhutan. It resulted in introducing the revised tourism fee for regional and overseas tourists.
Bhutan Travel Restrictions For Tourists: Restricted Area
When you arrive in Bhutan, you will be given a 7-14 day stay permit that will only allow you to travel within the Thimphu, Paro, and Southern districts. Beyond these districts, the rest of Bhutan is categorized as restricted areas.
So, if you want to explore Bhutan’s hidden gems, Norbu Bhutan can help you obtain a Restricted Area Permit from the Immigration office in the capital.
Bhutan Travel Restrictions For Tourists: Visa Requirements
Under Bhutan’s tourism regulations overseas, visitors can apply for their tourist visas through a licensed tour operator or your hotel. Bhutan Immigration now accepts direct visa applications for tourists through the Department of Immigration.
After completing and submitting all your visa documents, you will receive a Bhutan visa confirmation from your travel operator.
Documents required for Bhutan visa:
- Scanned color copy of your passport.
- Your full name
- Email address
- Contact information
Let Norbu Bhutan help you plan your Bhutan tour, including having access to the most up-to-date Visa information for tourists, and guide your trip to the Land of Thunder Dragon without hassle or confusion!
Bhutan Travel Restrictions For Tourists: Visa Application
It will take up to 7 working days to process the tourist visa. However, the visa’s approval is contingent on your tour operator’s full payment. The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) levies a one-time processing fee of USD 40 per person.
Here is a breakdown of the Bhutan Visa application process:
- Find a licensed tour operator in Bhutan. Norbu Bhutan is one of the leading tour agencies in the country with decades of experience, including streamlining visa applications for our guests.
- Discuss and confirm your travel plan, including hotel & flight reservation and itinerary confirmation.
- Finalize and agree on the tour cost.
- Traveler must wire the total amount of the tour cost and the visa processing fee to the tour operator and share a color scanned passport copy.
- The tour operator will initiate the visa application process on behalf of the traveler after receiving the visa fee payment.
- The Tourism Council of Bhutan will verify the submission of the visa application once the payment is received.
- TCB will endorse the tourist visa upon successful fee payment to the tour agency.
- A copy of the tourist visa will be shared with the traveler via email.
Bhutan Travel Restrictions For Tourists: Travel Accessibilities
There are three ways to enter Bhutan based on your convenience, whether you are a regional or international tourist- by air, by rail, and by road.
1. By Air
You will have to book a flight with either Drukair or Bhutan Airlines because these are the only two airlines that fly in and out of Bhutan.
2. By Rail
One of the most cost-effective ways to travel from India to Bhutan without a Bhutan visa for Indians is by train. The nearest railway station to Hasimara is in Jaigaon, an Indian town on the Indo-Bhutan border. Tickets and schedules are available on the IRCTC website of the Indian Railways.
3. By Road
Another way to travel to Bhutan without a Bhutan visa for Indians is by road via Jaigaon, West Bengal. It is only 4.3 kilometers from the border town of Phuentsholing in Bhutan.
You will need to obtain a proper Entry Permit, produce a negative Covid-19 test result, and stay in quarantine at your own expense for one day.
You can learn more about airfare accessibility to Bhutan with Norbu Bhutan.
While visiting Bhutan is certainly an adventure of the greatest value, experiencing Bhutan through tailored excursions the country offers will enrich your entire travel experience.
As Bhutan reopens its borders to tourists, with new Bhutan travel restrictions for tourists in place that are aligned with Bhutan’s GNH policy, you can now begin to plan a well-seasoned tour operator like Norbu Bhutan.
We offer several family tour packages to spend holidays in Bhutan tailored to your needs to help your stay in the last Shangriila memorable.
Stay up to date on all the latest Bhutan Travel Restrictions for tourists only with Norbu Bhutan Travels with our Important Travel Updates before booking your Bhutan trip with us!