Dos and Don’ts
DO marvel that Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures its success by its index of GNH, Gross National Happiness, not by its GDP, Gross Domestic Product.
DO be aware that some of the Himalayan Mountains in Bhutan are off limits because of the ancient belief that gods dwell on the peaks.
DO be prepared to carry Bhutanese currency with you. There are no ATM machines in all of Bhutan, and most small shops do not take credit cards. US dollars, traveler’s checks and other currencies can be exchanged at major banks in larger towns, but remember that banks will typically close at 1:00 pm in Bhutan.
DO remember that while chefs in Bhutan traditionally make food extra spicy, they will also try to lessen the spice when preparing food for consumption by westerners.
DO know that GSM and satellite phones work in Bhutan.
DO be cautious about anything old or antique that you may wish to purchase in Bhutan. Customs will not allow anyone to export anything that is not certified as non-antique.
DO enlist the help of your guide or driver in selecting good quality items to purchase. They know what is the best, but they are often too polite to say anything unless you ask.
DO know that all visitors to Bhutan must have a visa approved prior to arriving in the Kingdom. All visa applications must be routed through local tour operators in Bhutan or a generating agent in your own country of origin.
DON’T wear shorts in public buildings and monasteries. It is a sign of disrespect. However, wearing shorts for hiking in the country and walking in towns is perfectly acceptable.
DON’T forget that all personal videos, cameras, personal computers, portable telephones or any other electronic device should be registered with the customs authorities on arrival in Bhutan, and will be checked again on departure.
DON’T forget that smoking is not allowed in most areas of Bhutan and the sale of tobacco products is prohibited in Bhutanese stores. Visitors are allowed to bring 100 cigarettes into the country, but they will be subject to a 200% tax.