Asia and Oceania

Bhutan Flag of Bhutan

Still current at: 10 June 2008
Updated: 23 April 2008


This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Health section (HIV and AIDS). The overall level of the advice has not changed.  

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • There is no British representation in Bhutan.  The nearest consular office is the British Deputy High Commission in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).  Contact details are below.

  • There is a low threat from terrorism.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. See the Terrorism section of this advice for more details.

  • You must arrange any visit to Bhutan through an authorised travel agent.  Those travelling independently on British passports are not permitted to enter Bhutan.

  • In 2007 there was one case where a British national required consular assistance in Bhutan.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.  For further information see Terrorism Abroad.
 
While the threat of terrorism in Bhutan remains low a series of bomb blasts occurred in Thimphu, Samste, Chukha and Dagana on 20 January 2008, injuring one person. The Royal Bhutan Police have also confirmed that an unexploded bomb was found in a vegetable market in Dagana.

There have also been bomb attacks and several attempted attacks in and around Phuntsholing (South-western Bhutan on the Indian border). On 10 August 2007, a suspected explosive device was discovered opposite a hotel and was removed by bomb experts. On 12 March, 23 April and 28 May 2007, bombs were found and removedc by the police. On 23 May 2007, a further bomb exploded in Phuntsholing but there were no reported injuries. In December 2006 a bomb exploded, injuring four people.  No one has claimed responsibility for any of these attacks.

Political Situation
 
Bhutan Country Profile

Air Travel

Druk Air is the only scheduled carrier into Bhutan, with services from New Delhi, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Dhaka and Bangkok.  Its services can be subject to disruption.  You should be flexible with your travel plans if you intend to fly into Bhutan.

Local laws and customs

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict.  Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

It is illegal to sell tobacco.  Offenders will be charged with smuggling and can expect to be fined. Imported tobacco products demonstrably for personal use are subject to a 100 percent tax.

Personal computers, cellular telephones, cameras, or any other electronic device must be registered with Bhutanese customs upon arrival.  These items will also be checked upon departure.  The export of all antiques is strictly monitored.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You

Entry requirements

Visas
 
A visa must be obtained (or authorised) prior to travelling.  Business visitors and tourists must make their arrangements through a recognised travel agent and pay at least US$200 for each day they spend in Bhutan.  Foreigners (apart from Indian nationals) may enter the country only at Phuntsoling (by road) or Paro (by air). 
 
Certain areas may only be visited with a special permit.  Prior authority is also required to visit some of the religious and administrative buildings (Dzongs).

Health

Bhutanese hospitals provide only basic health care.There are no particular health concerns but you may find the high mountain altitudes demanding.  You should familiarise yourself with the dangers of High Altitude (Mountain) Sickness especially if you are trekking in remote areas.
 
You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.
 
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Bhutan and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
 
For more general health information see Travel Health.

General

Insurance
 
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check that your policy includes the costs of medical evacuation by air.  If you are trekking then you should ensure that your travel insurance covers emergency helicopter evacuation to India.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See Travel Insurance.
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is how we can help.
 
Consular registration
 
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.  More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.
 
There is no British representation in Bhutan.  The nearest consular office is the British Deputy High Commission in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), (Tel: +91 33 2288 5172 or 73 or 74 or 75 or 76; Fax: +91 33 2288 3435 or 3996).

Travel advice for this country

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contacts

India, Kolkata (Calcutta), British Deputy High Commission

Address:

1A Ho Chi Minh Sarani
Calcutta 700071

VFS Office in Kolkata

Telephone:

(91) (33) 2288 5173-76
(91) (33) 2288 6536 After office hours

Fax:

(91) (33) 2288 3435 General
(91) (33) 2288 3996 Visa Section

Email: kolkata@fco.gov.uk

Office hours:

GMT:
Mon-Fri: 0300-0730 / 0800-1030

Local Time:
Mon-Fri: 0830-1300 / 1330-1600

Website: http://www.britishhighcommission.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1017170902251