Tips for Traveling to Bhutan

Early fall is a great time to visit Bhutan — a tiny Buddhist kingdom nestled in the Himalayas. But it’s hard to get to (with only a few flights to and from the country each day) and even harder to know what to expect.

I was lucky enough to make the trip to the famously happy nation last fall on a two-week trip with Boundless Journeys, and caught up with Joanne Bromwell, one of my travel companions, to see if we could come up with some advice to help you make the most of your time in this idyllic country.

Here’s our best advice (click through the photo gallery for additional tips):

1. Bring sun screen, and plenty of layers of clothing. Temperatures can vary dramatically between a morning hike at 10,000 feet, and an evening stroll in a lower-altitude valley. Bring altitude sickness medication, too.

2. Bring cash. Exchange it at the airport as there are no ATM machines and no way to use credit cards.

3. Admire the artistry, color, and workmanship of the Dzongs. Only skilled artists are allowed to paint religious murals in Bhutan’s holy places.

4. Bring a book — or Kindle, or iPod. It takes a long time for buses to navigate the windy mountain roads, and traveling from town to town can take hours. Don’t forget to ask your bus driver if he has some CDs of local music to play on the bus, too.

5. Get up early and walk to school with the local children. They are always happy to chat with a curious visitor.

Want to know more about Bhutan? Check out this photo gallery, or Costas Christ’s latest Tales from the Frontier column in National Geographic Traveler, “Happy Talk in Bhutan.”


  1. Christian Rene Friborg
    November 26, 2012, 12:03 am

    Bhutan is actually included in me and my wife’s must-see countries, and it’s good to know that they already have ATM machines in almost all towns. Otherwise I guess it would be such a hassle for tourists who do not have enough cash and have no means of getting money aside from the airport itself.

  2. BridgeToBhutan
    New York
    November 13, 2012, 1:04 am

    Thans Jeannette for sharing your useful tips on traveling to Bhutan. I guess, the best travel advice/tip is to always travel with an open mind. Happy travels & good day!

    October 17, 2012, 8:52 am

    Really good always happy to chat with a curious visitor.Only few flights to and from the country each day and also know what to expect

  4. Miketyson
    October 13, 2012, 7:26 am

    Hi Jeannette Thaks for sharing these things. i do agree with you that in the day temperature is very humid here. but this time niall is right now bhutan has enough atm machines all over the main streets.

  5. Niall Murtagh
    October 8, 2012, 10:59 pm

    In relation to point two, Bhutan has now over 48 ATM machines in every main town across the country, where you can take out cash using a Mastercard or Visa.