The Host Country

LOCATION

Bhutan is a small landlocked nation located in the eastern Himalayas between India and China. Its landscape ranges from sub-tropical plains and forests in the South to sub-alpine forests and snowy mountains in the North. Bhutan is a predominantly a Buddhist country and is known as the last stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism.

WEATHER

Bhutan experiences great variations in its climate. In general, summers are warm with average daily temperature ranging from 20°C to 25°C, while winter temperatures are usually below 15°C. Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan is in the northern region of the country which is colder than the tropical southern region and it is recommended that delegates carry clothing accordingly. Thimphu is supposed to be warm by April with temperatures ranging between minimum 7.1°C and maximum 20°C. Paro, where the International Airport is located is about 54 kms from Thimphu, where there will be a maximum temperature of 17.7 °C and a minimum of 4.6 °C

LANGUAGE

Bhutanese speak a variety of languages with Dzongkha being the national language and one of the most widely spoken. English is also spoken by the majority of Bhutanese making communication very easy.

CURRENCY

Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum. Its value is equivalent to the Indian Rupee which is also accepted as legal tender. However, old Indian notes in 500 and 1000 denominations are not acceptable. The current exchange rate is 1 USD=Nu. 67.1 (Bank Buying rate) approximately as of Dec 2016. The exchange rate is subject to change. Currency exchange services are available at the airport, banks and hotels. The hotels may also accept VISA card, American Express card or Master Card.

FOOD

The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chilies are an essential part of nearly every dish. Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are the meats that are eaten most often. A wide selection of western and Indian food is also available in many of the restaurants and hotels around the country.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

Flying into Bhutan provides delegates with a breathtaking view of snowcapped mountains, valleys and river as you enter Bhutan from the southern plain. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are two Airlines operating to and from Paro International Airport, Bhutan. The check in time is two hours prior to flight departure. The respective WHO country office may also facilitate in arranging flight ticket reservation for delegates and participants supported by the WHO. However, as April month is a tourist season, early reservation of air ticket is suggested.

GETTING TO BHUTAN

There are a number of airports where you can fly into Bhutan from (Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai). At present two carriers operate to Bhutan, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines. Also, there are three land border crossings from where you can travel into the kingdom overland. All crossings are along the Indian border only - Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar district of Bhutan.

VISA

All delegates must be in possession of a valid passport (validity not less than 6 months). Delegates from India, Bangladesh and Maldives can obtain a visa at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6-months validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC). Visa is exempted for delegates holding Diplomatic/Official Passports of Thailand and Switzerland. Others need Visa Clearance to enter Bhutan.

A copy of Visa Application form can be downloaded from the website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bhutan at the following link http://www.mfa.gov.bt/visa.

A copy of the Visa Application Form duly filled by the delegates along with a photocopy of their passport has to be forwarded to the nearest Royal Bhutan Embassy or directly to the contact address of the organizers for visa arrangement purposes:

Mr. Samten Lhendup
Human Resource Officer, Ministry of Health Bhutan
Email: slhendup@health.gov.bt, Mobile: +975 17461810

Mr. Karma Phuntsho
Desk Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Email: kphuntsho@mofa.gov.bt, Mobile: +975 7736 8138

The respective WHO country office may also facilitate in visa process for delegates and participants supported by the WHO. In addition, Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan ensures to facilitate and extend support in arranging visa for delegates and participants for the Conference.

ACCOMMODATION

A wide variety of accommodation is available ranging from luxurious 5-star hotels to cozy little hotels in Thimphu (the list of hotels can be found below). The month of April is the peak tourist visiting season in Bhutan and therefore, early booking of hotel rooms is recommended. Delegates/participants may reserve the accommodation from the list of hotels attached. Visitors can be assured of their warmth and comfort at the hotels. Similarly, the ambience and hospitality offered by the hotels are incredible. Pick up and drop off from the Hotel to the Conference Venue will also be arranged accordingly.
Each delegate, unless specified by the Conference organizers, would be responsible for their own accommodation expenses and other services provided by the Hotel.

HEALTH

Before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, please seek advice from your doctor with regard to vaccinations and appropriate medication you should have prior to your travels. As a minimum you should have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis-A inoculation.

AIRPORT ASSISTANCE

All delegates will be received from the Paro International Airport as per the travel itinerary. Pick up and drop off will be arranged for the delegates from the Paro International Airport to the Conference hotels in Thimphu. The distance from the Paro International Airport to Thimphu is approximately 54 km and it takes around 1 hour to reach Thimphu. Hiring a Taxi to reach Thimphu may cost around Nu. 1000 (Approx. USD 20). The help desk at Paro International Airport will also facilitate delegates upon their arrival and departure.

CUSTOM DUTIES

The following articles are exempt from duty:

  • Personal effect and articles for day to day use by the visitors
  • 1 liter of alcohol (spirit or wine)
  • 200 cigarettes, on payment of important duty of 200%
  • Instrument, apparatus or appliances for professional use
  • Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic good for personal use
You have to complete the passenger declaration form at your port of entry. Delegates 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. If you are importing any items to Bhutan which are for sale or gift, they may be liable for customs duty. On departure, visitors are required to fill out a departure form, which will be asked for by Customs authorities.
Import/export of the following goods is strictly prohibited:
  • Arms, ammunitions and explosives
  • All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
  • Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
  • Antiques
  • Import of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These item must be cleared on arrival

BANKING

Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have a number of banks that cater to the needs of the people. Some of the banks that you can avail of while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank. Traveller’s cheque can be easily withdrawn and exchanged for local currency. Most of these banks also provide internet banking facilities.
ATMs are located within all main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard. For concerned travelers, a list of ATM locations throughout Bhutan is found here: http://www.bob.bt/contact-us/atm-locator/. In addition, Point of Sale (POS) services are available nationwide, meaning visitors can pay by credit card at most hotels and handicrafts stores. http://www.bob.bt/contact-us/atm-locator/

COMMUNICATION

The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Most hotels and cafes offer Wi-Fi internet access. Bhutan has a comprehensive mobile (cell) phone network with global roaming also accessible.

MEASURES, WEIGHTS & TIME

All delegates will be received from the Paro International Airport as per the travel itinerary. Pick up and drop off will be arranged for the delegates from the Paro International Airport to the Conference hotels in Thimphu. The distance from the Paro International Airport to Thimphu is approximately 54 km and it takes around 1 hour to reach Thimphu. Hiring a Taxi to reach Thimphu may cost around Nu. 1000 (Approx. USD 20). The help desk at Paro International Airport will also facilitate delegates upon their arrival and departure.

ELECTRICITY

All delegates will be received from the Paro International Airport as per the travel itinerary. Pick up and drop off will be arranged for the delegates from the Paro International Airport to the Conference hotels in Thimphu. The distance from the Paro International Airport to Thimphu is approximately 54 km and it takes around 1 hour to reach Thimphu. Hiring a Taxi to reach Thimphu may cost around Nu. 1000 (Approx. USD 20). The help desk at Paro International Airport will also facilitate delegates upon their arrival and departure.

SHOPPING

Some popular handicraft items available for purchase are hand-woven textiles of raw silk or silk, carved masks of various animals, woven baskets of cane and bamboo, wooden bowls known as Dapas, handmade paper products or finely crafted gods of silver. Other items of interest are the exquisite Buddhist Thangkha paintings or Bhutan’s wide array of colorful and creative postage stamps. These items are available in many handicraft shops in and around Thimphu and in other major towns. Please remember that buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden in Bhutan.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Bhutan offers immense opportunities for photography especially during outdoor sightseeing trips. However you should check with your guide before taking pictures or filming inside Dzongs, temples, monasteries and religious institutions as in some areas, photograph/filming is not permitted. Delegates are free to capture images of the landscape, the panoramic views of the mountain ranges, rural life, flora and fauna, distinctive Bhutanese architecture and the exterior of Dzongs and Chortens in particular.

SUGGESTED SIGHTSEEING PLACES IN AND AROUND PARO & THIMPHU

PARO VALLEY
...

Paro valley is situated in the north-western part of the country from the confluence of the Paro Chhu and the Wang Chhu rivers at Chuzom upto Mt. Jomolhari at the Tibetan border to the North. It lies at 2200 metre above the sea level. The beautiful valley is bordered by Thimphu Dzongkhag to west, Haa Dzongkhag in east and Chukha Dzongkhag in south. The fertile valley of Paro is wide and it lies at an elevation of 7,000 feet. The temperature ranges from 26 to 14 degree Celsius in summer and 14 to minus 5 during winter. Within the valley there is a very good road network, mostly blacktopped and some farm roads besides bridges, all connecting the villages, schools, institutes and organizations, with the main town in Tshongdue, which is few minutes’ drive from Paro International Airport. Paro today is a very rapidly growing settlement.

PARO Dzong
...

Paro Dzong’s full name is Rinpung Dzong, which means ‘the fortress of the heap of jewels’. The construction of the Paro Dzong began in 1644 on the order of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of modern day Bhutan. Dzong is approached by a gently sloping flagstone road and an attractive wooden cantilever bridge roofed with shingles and abutted by two guard houses, the Dzong today is the administrative seat of the Paro district. It also houses state monastic community.

DRUGYAL Dzong
...

Dzong is located in Phondey village in Paro. It was built to commemorate the victory of the Bhutanese over allied Tibet-Mongol forces. Hence it derived the name Drugyal or ‘the fortress of the victorious Drukpas’. Dzong is built on the summit of a rocky hill that rises steep on three sides and is accessible only from one side, which is defended by three prominent towers. This Dzong was the foremost defensive fortification against Tibetan invasions. Though the Dzong was destroyed by fire in 1951, the massive ruins still retain a measure of their former grandeur. While in Paro it is highly recommended that you pay these magnificent ruins a visit. The fortress ground is a popular picnic spot amongst tourist and locals alike.

KICHU Lhakhang
...

It is one of the oldest temples built in Bhutan situated in Lamgong Gewog of Paro District. This temple is one of the 108 temples built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in one day across the Himalayan region in the 7th century to pin down left foot of giant ogress who was thwarting the establishment in Buddhism. History says that in the 8th century the temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche and it is believed he concealed many spiritual treasures here. There is a belief that the two orange trees in the courtyard of Kichu Lhakhang bear fruit throughout the year.

THIMPHU VALLEY
...

Thimphu, the Kingdom’s capital city is home to approximately 100,000 inhabitants including the Royal family. This is a bustling town on the banks of the river Wang Chhu is main center of commerce, religion and government in the country. Thimphu is the most modern city in Bhutan with an abundance of restaurants, internet cafes, nightclubs and shopping centers, however it still retains its’ cultural identity and values amidst the signs of modernization.
One of the most curious features of Thimphu is that it is the only capital city in the world that does not use traffic lights. Instead a few major intersections have policemen standing in elaborately decorated booths (small pavilions), directing traffic with exaggerated hand motions. The juxtaposition of ancient tradition and modernity make Thimphu the ideal location for visitors to break away from their tour itinerary and just immerse themselves in the lifestyle of contemporary Bhutanese.

TRASHICHHO DZONG
...

Trashichho Dzong means the “Fortress of the glorious religion”. Trashichho Dzong is an impressive structure that houses the throne room of His Majesty the King, summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Central Monastic Body of Bhutan), government offices and the central monk body. His late Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck took initiative of renovating Dzong in 1962. The entire Dzong was rebuilt in traditional fashion, without nails or written plans. In the past, the National Assembly met within the Dzong. Trashichho Dzong stands on right bank of Wangchu (Thimphu) River.

SEMTOKHA DZONG
...

Approximately five kilometers south of Thimphu Town, on a lofty ridge stands Semtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of kingdom. Its strategic position overlooks and commands entire Thimphu Valley. This is first Dzong built by Zhandrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1629 who unified Bhutan. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel was one of the greatest builders of Dzongs in Bhutan. To consolidate his newly acquired domain in western Bhutan and defend from both internal and external enemies he started constructing Dzongs, beginning with Semtokha Dzong.

CHANGANGKHA LHAKHANG
...

Built in 12th century, Changangkha Lhakhang is oldest temple in Thimphu. It is hovering over a ridge above Thimphu, near Motithang. Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo who came to Bhutan from Ralung in Tibet chose this site to build this lhakhang. The Lhakhang houses Chenrizig: an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation of Avolokitesawara as the central statue. Parents pay visit here to get auspicious names for their newborns or blessings for their young children from the protector deity Tamdrin (to the left in the grilled inner sanctum, next to Chenrizig).

NATIONAL MEMORIAL CHORTEN
...

This is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu. It was built in 1974 as memorial to the Third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. One can witness throughout the day when people circumambulate the chorten, whirl the large red prayer wheels and praying around chorten.

KUENSELPHODRANG (BUDHHA POINT)
...

Buddha Dordenma is gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue under construction at Kuenselphodrang popularly known as Buddha point, a hill overlooking the capital city of Thimphu. It is about 6 kilometers from the capital city. Upon completion, the 169 feet bronze Buddha Dordenma will be the tallest Buddha Dordenma statue in the world.

DOCHULA Pass & Druk Wangyal Chortens
...

Dochula pass is located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass. Known as the Druk Wangyal Chortens- the construction of 108 chortens was commissioned by the Queen Mother, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple) was built in honor of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

List of Hotels with Number of Rooms & Rate

Sl. No. Name of Hotel Type of Room No. of Rooms Rate for Rooms Availability of transportation (to and from the hotel to meeting hall) within Thimphu Contact no. of Hotel or Contact Person/Email address of Contact Person/Hotel website
1 Hotel Le Meridien Suite 9 USD 690 (Royal) USD 490 (Jr) High Roof: (9 PAX) BTN 6000/day Coaster Bus: (19 PAX) BTN 9000/day Tele # 00975 2 337788 M# 00975 17734515 Fax # 00975 2 337799 Contact person # Ms. Lhachoe Wangmo Email: lemeridien.thimphu@lemeridien.com Website: www.lemeridienthimphu.com
Deluxe 6 USD 290
Standard 63 USD 190
2 Hotel Terma Linca Suite 8 INR 12800(Jr Suite) INR 13800 (Suite) Nil Tele # 00975 2 351490 Fax # 00975 2 351429 Email: termalinca@gmail.com Website: www.termalinca.com
Deluxe 28 INR 9800(Jr Deluxe) INR 10800 (Deluxe)
Standard Nil Nil
3 Hotel Namgay Heritage Suite 2 BTN 15000++ Nil Tele # 00975 2 337113/14/15 Email: namgayheritagehotel@gmail.com Website: www.nhh.bt
Deluxe 22 BTN 5500++
Standard 17 BTN 4000++
4 Hotel Namseling Boutique Suite Nil Nil Nil Tele #00975 2 339594/339595/339596/339598 Fax #00975 2 322007 E-mail: info@namselinghotel.com, namselinghotel@gmail.com, inquiry@namselinghotel.com Website: www.namselinghotel.com
Deluxe 11 BTN 5000++
Standard 13 BTN 4000++
5 Druk Hotel Suite 8 BTN 13000++ Nil Tele #00975 2 339594/339595/339596/339598 Fax #00975 2 322007 E-mail: info@namselinghotel.com, namselinghotel@gmail.com, inquiry@namselinghotel.com Website: www.namselinghotel.com
Deluxe 50 BTN 7300++
Standard Nil Nil
6 Hotel Migmar Suite 2 BTN 7500++ Nil Tele #00975 2 338901, 338902,338903 M# 00975 17119888/17116879/17141886 Fax #00975 2 338906 Contact person # Mr.Sangay Rinchen E-mail: hotelmigmar@gmail.com, manager@hotelmigmar.bt Website: www.hotelmigmar.com
Deluxe 25 BTN 5200++
Standard Nil Nil
7 Hotel Ariya Suite 16 BTN 7000++ Coaster Bus (Upto 9-18 Pax) BTN 11360/day Roof Bus(Upto 7-9 PAX) BTN 8520/day Hiace Bus (Upto 7-9 PAX) BTN 5680/day Car (Upto 3 PAX) BTN 2840/day Tele #00975 2 333 999 / 342 222 / 343 333 M# 00975 17742353 Fax #00975 2 333777 Contact person # Ms. Kezang Choden E-mail: reservation@ariyabhutan.com Website: www.ariyabhutan.com
Deluxe 8 BTN 6000++
Standard 20 BTN 5500++
8 Hotel White Tara Suite 4 BTN 6000++ Nil Tele #00975 2 341555 M# 00975 177810115/77213799 Contact person # Mr. Kubir Sharma E-mail: info@hotelwhitetara.com Website: www.hotelwhitetara.com
Deluxe 12 BTN 4000++
Standard 9 BTN 3500++
9 Wangchuk Suite Nil Nil Nil Tele #00975 2 323532 M# 00975 17126834 Fax# 00975 2 326232 Contact person # Ms. Kinley Bidha E-mail: thimphu @wangchukhotel.com, info@wangchukhotel.com Website: www.wangchukhotel.com
Deluxe Nil Nil
Standard 27 BTN 4200++
10 Jomolari Hotel Suite 6 BTN 5500++ Nil Tele #00975 2 322747/329282 Fax# 00975 2 324412 E-mail: hoteljumolhari@druknet.bt info@hoteljumolhari.com Website: www.hoteljumolhari.com
Deluxe 3 BTN 4500++
Standard 17 BTN 3500++
11 Hotel Rever View Suite 11 BTN 4500++ Nil Tele #00975 2 325030/31/32 Fax# 00975 2 323496 E-mail: riverviewbhutan@gmail.com, hotelriverview@druknet.bt Website: www.riverviewbhutan.com
Deluxe 16 BTN 3600++
Standard 18 BTN 2900++
12 Hotel Taktsang Suite Nil Nil Nil Tele #00975 2 322102 Fax# 00975 2 334558 E-mail: hoteltaktsang@gmail.com Website: www.hotel.bt/hotels-in-thimphu/hotel-taktsang/
Deluxe 8 BTN 2160++
Standard 8 BTN 1800++
13 Jambayang Resort Suite 6 BTN 6500++ BTN 500/person/day Tele #00975 2 322349/327731 M# 00975 17685656 Fax# 00975 2 323669 Contact person # Ms. Dema E-mail: jamyang@druknet.bt, dtsering@jambayangresort.com Website: www.jambayangresort.com
Deluxe 18 BTN 4500++
Standard 7 BTN 2500++
14 Hotel 89 Suite Nil Nil Nil Tele #00975 2 339914 M# 00975 17113324 Fax# 00975 2 325034 Contact person # Mr. Sonam Tshering E-mail: somtse2000@gmail.com Website: www.hotel.bt/hotels-in-thimphu/hotel-89
Deluxe Nil Nil
Standard 30 BTN 2500++
15 Hotel Kisa Suite 3 BTN 5000++ Nil Tele #00975 2 336494/336495 Fax# 00975 2 336395 Contact person # Ms. Passang Dema E-mail: reservation@hhlbhutan.com Website: www.hhlbhutan.com/hotel-kisa-thimphu
Deluxe 36 BTN 3000++
Standard Nil Nil
16 Hotel Phuntsho Pelri Suite 2 BTN 4500++ Nil Tele #00975 2 334970/71/72 M#0097517747452 Fax#009752334974 Contact person # Mr.Phub E-mail: hotelpp1@gmail.com Website:www.bhutanhotels.com.bt/phuntshopelri/phuntshopelri.htm
Deluxe 4 BTN 4000++
Standard 40 BTN 3000++
17 Hotel Tandin Suite Nil Nil Nil Tele #00975 2 323380 M# 00975 17600328 Fax# 00975 2 323381 Contact person # Mr. Tandin Dorjee E-mail: dorjeetandin@gmail.com Website: www.hotel.bt/hotels-in-thimphu/hotel-tandin
Deluxe Nil Nil
Standard 19 BTN 2070++
18 Hotel Pedling Suite 3 BTN 6000++ Nil Tele #00975 2 325714 M# 00975 17125311 Fax# 00975 2 323592 Contact person # Ms.Sonam Lhamo E-mail: reservation@hotelpedling.com, info@hotelpedling.com Website: www.hotelpedling.com
Deluxe 3 BTN 4500++
Standard 27 BTN 3200++