The Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan has initiated a travel and medical plan solely for the visitors. Hence it is important that you get detailed information about the insurance scheme from your travel agents here in Bhutan. You may also visit the web site at www.ricb.com.bt.
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu) that is at par with the Indian Rupee. It is however recommended that you carry travelers’ cheque or cash, preferably American Express and US dollar instead, as the ATM facilities for foreign currency is limited to just few towns including the capital city Thimphu. Visa and American Express credit cards are also widely accepted.
Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have a number of banks that caters to the needs of the people. Some of the banks that you can avail of services and facilities while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB, Bhutan Development Bank Limited, and the Tashi Bank. Many of these banks provide you with SMS and internet banking facilities. There are also ATM facilities that you can avail of and ATMS are located in a number of places where you can withdraw your money especially in Thimphu and in the border town of Phuentsholing. Traveler’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged into local currency. However, as you travel into the interior,
ATM and internet facilities are almost non-existent and we suggest that you do your banking facilities while in Thimphu.
The following articles are exempt from duty:
(a) Personal effects and articles for day to day use by the visitor
(b) 1 litre of alcohol (spirits or wine)
(c) 200 cigarettes, on payment of import duty of 200%
(d) Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use
(e) Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use.
You have to complete the passenger declaration form on your arrival before checking out. The articles mentioned under (d) & (e) must be declared on the declaration form. If any such items are disposed of in Bhutan by sale or gift, they are liable for customs duty.
On departure, visitors are required to surrender their forms to the customs authorities.
Import/export restrictions of the following goods is strictly prohibited:
(a) Arms, ammunitions and explosives
(b) All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
(c) Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
Imports of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival. Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate.
Bhutanese speak a variety of languages but Dzongkha is the national language and one ofthe most widely spoken languages. English is also a medium of communication and most Bhutanese speak English. Communicating in English especially with the people in the urban areas and the towns will enhance your knowledge on Bhutan.
Most Bhutanese dishes are rich and spicy with a lot of cheese and chilli. It is advisable that visitors stick to the Chinese, Continental or Indian cuisine that is served in most restaurants. Visitors can also choose among the various vegetarian and non-veg food. You can also try out momos, the Tibetan dumplings and for those daring, you may try out the ema datshi dish served with cheese and chili and other typical Bhutanese dishes.
Weights and Measures
Bhutan has a standard system of weights and measurements in place and most weights are measured in gram (g) and kilogram (kg).
With better and efficient measurement systems readily available, most of the shop keepers in the capital city make use of electronic and weighing scale. However, as you travel further east, you will find the ordinary weighing scale in place.
All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. Our energy is clean and green energy generated by hydropower
The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Almost every town has an internet cafe and IDD calling booths from where you can log on to and send messages home and to your loved ones. Also most hotels have internet access. Mobile (cell) phone is also widely used with international roaming facilities.