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Country Guides for Asia

Bhutan

Bhutan Tucked in the Himalayas south of Tibet and north of India, this tiny mountain country is most interesting not only for its remote location but also its strong environmental ethic. Trekking and mountain climbing are popular but the limited number of visas issued annually keep tourism from growing too quickly. This bio-diverse location is home to red pandas and tigers, rare takin and langur, blue sheep and snow leopard in the northern mountains, and the south offers wonderful birding and a wealth of rare plants and herbs. More than a quarter of the country has been preserved for national parks and sanctuaries, and plastic bags are forbidden! Ancient monasteries in the traditional Buddhist design cling to mountainsides, and many of the mountains are considered holy and have never been explored or mapped. Often called Shangri-La, Bhutan is a gem hidden high above a busy world.

Language: Dzongkha (official), Tibetan and Nepalese dialects

Major International Airports:

City

Airport
Airport
Code
Distance
From City
ParoParo Int'lPBH3 miles E

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout the region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites.

Travelers to malaria-risk areas, including infants, children, and former residents of the Indian Subcontinent, should take an antimalarial drug. NOTE: Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in the Indian Subcontinent and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.

Dengue, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, and plague are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

If you visit the Himalayan Mountains, ascend gradually to allow time for your body to adjust to the high altitude, which can cause insomnia, headaches, nausea, and altitude sickness. In addition, use sunblock rated at least 15 SPF, because the risk of sunburn is greater at high altitudes.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.

There is no risk for yellow fever in the Indian Subcontinent. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Japanese encephalitis, only if you plan to visit rural areas for 4 weeks or more, except under special circumstances, such as a known outbreak of Japanese encephalitis.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • typhoid vaccination is particularly important because of the presence of S. typhi strains resistant to multiple antibiotics in this region. There have been recent reports of typhoid drug resistance in India and Nepal.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not receive the series as infants.

To stay healthy, do...

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filters” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • If you are going to visit areas where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
    • Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
    • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
    • DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
    • Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

Those traveling to Bhutan are at risk from dengue fever, malaria and other diseases transmitted by mosquito bites, as well as leishmaniasis and sand fly fever from sand fly bites Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing.

The water supplies in first class hotels and resorts are generally safe, but a risk of parasitic contamination exists elsewhere, and travelers are advised to treat water before drinking.

Safety and security : For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

CRIME INFORMATION: There is relatively little crime in Bhutan . Petty crime, such as pick pocketing and purse snatching, is occasionally reported. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to the local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" for ways to help ensure a trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington , D.C. 20402 , via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.



Source: U.S. Department of State

Bhutan's climate is as varied as its altitudes and, like most of Asia, is affected by monsoons. The climate is humid and subtropical in the southern plains and foothills, temperate in the inner Himalayan valleys of the southern and central regions, and cold in the north, with year-round snow on the main Himalayan summits. Annual precipitation ranges widely in various parts of the country. In the severe climate of the north, there is very little, increasing in the temperate central regions, and becoming heavy in the humid, subtropical south.


City
Annual
Precip. Days
Annual
Precip. Totals
Bumthang13828"
Mongar7734"
Wangdi Phodrang10129"

Bhutan's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Independent travel is not permitted. Further information cam be obtained through the Department of Tourism, P.O. Box 126 , Thimphu , Bhutan, telephone (975) 2-32351, 2-32352; fax (975) 2-323695 or at www.tourism.gov.bt. Entry is available only via India , Bangladesh , Nepal , and Thailand . The border with China is closed.

Visitors to Bhutan are required to book travel through a registered tour operator in Bhutan . This can be done directly or through a travel agent abroad. The minimum daily tariff is set by the Department of Tourism, Bhutan and cannot be negotiated. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available. The rate is the same for both cultural tours and treks. The only carrier servicing Bhutan is Druk Air, the Bhutanese government airline. Corporate headquarters address: Druk Air Corporation Ltd., P.O. Box 209 , Thimphu , Bhutan . Further information is also available at www.drukair.com.bt. Druk Air will board only travelers with visa clearance from the Tourism Authority of Bhutan.

A passport and visa are required for entry into and exit from Bhutan . Most visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, should obtain visas prior to entering the country.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian.

For additional entry/exit information, please contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consul General), 763 First Avenue , New York , NY 10017 , telephone (212)682-2268, fax (212)661-0551.



Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Bhutan is 6 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Bhutan would be 11:00 pm

The unit of currency in Bhutan is the ngultrum (BTN); Indian rupee (INR).

Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter

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