How to Plan a Bhutan Honeymoon Tour
Sitting high up in the Himalayas, Bhutan is an isolated nation that has only been open to tourism since 1974, and still maintains its traditional culture and religion alongside a modern way of life. Travel to the Kingdom of Bhutan is limited to a set number of travelers each year in order to maintain a sustainable and eco-friendly tourist industry, and travel within the country is strictly controlled. An ideal place to spend a beautiful, exotic honeymoon, Bhutan is known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”, and lies between India and China. The second smallest country in the world in terms of population per square kilometer, this small kingdom has a rich history and a strong cultural background that dates back to the eighth century.
A hugely Buddhist country, the government of Bhutan enforces strict controls on tourism, and carefully guards its local traditions and culture. Often referred to as the “Forgotten Land”, Bhutan was an isolated country for thousands of years, and has never been colonized by another nation. Yet, despite its secular policies, Bhutan is a modern country with education and healthcare systems that mean free schooling and medical treatment for everyone, thanks to its policies on tourism.
The Kingdom of Bhutan lies in the Himalayas to the south of Tibet, and with India on its eastern, western, and southern borders. With a geography that ranges from high mountains to lowland plains and valleys, the country has a diverse topography that makes it a great place to visit for both high-altitude trekking and mountain climbing as well as exploring the hidden valleys, expansive plains, and stunning forests that adorn the foothills and lowlands.
Planning the Romantic Bhutan Tour
Traveling to Bhutan for a honeymoon is something that requires planning and the help of a registered Bhutanese tour operator, since the country has strict controls in place for getting in and traveling around. Independent travel is not permitted within the kingdom, and all tours must be organized using one of the country’s registered tour operators. Even getting the visa to enter the country cannot be done without a tour operator to arrange it for you.
The first thing to do is contact one of the recognized and registered tour operators that provide tours for the kingdom, and arranging your itinerary in advance with them. Once you have agreed on your itinerary and booked the tour, the tour operator will require a photocopy of your passports with at least six month’s validity in order to arrange your visas. The visa application is made on your behalf by the tour operator with the Department of Immigration and once approved, the visa approval letter is sent to the tour operator, who will forward it to you. This letter is required to obtain your visa once you arrive at the airport in Paro, at which time your visas and other permits will be issued to you.
Applying for Bhutanese Visa is quite vital before your Bhutan travel
The approval letter is also issued to the immigration desks at the airport and land border crossing points, and on your arrival, just show the printed letter to the immigration officials, along with the fee, and your visa will be stamped into your passport. The visa is valid for 7 or 14 days only, and is valid for travel only within Thimphu and Paro. For travel outside these areas, you need the “Restricted Area Permit”, which is applied for by the tour operator with your visa application, and issued on your arrival. If your itinerary includes visits to temples and monasteries in the kingdom, you will also be issued with a Temple Permit from the Ministry of Culture when you arrive.
With strict controls on tourism in the kingdom, the government requires you to have an organized tour that includes a guide, driver, and private vehicle, and you must travel with the guide at all times. The use of public transport is not permitted, hence the requirement for a private vehicle. There are checkpoints on all major roads around the country, where you will be required to produce your travel permits for validation, so it is important to keep it safe, as it is also required to be validated on your departure. Losing the permit can result in severe delays and problems.
The cost of the tour to Bhutan has a minimum daily fee that is known as the minimum Daily Package, and which is set by the government at USD 250 per day in the peak season and USD 200 per day in the off-peak seasons. This daily amount covers your guide, driver, vehicle, food, and accommodation costs, and is what makes the cost of a tour in Bhutan so expensive. However, a part of the daily package amount goes to the government and is used to provide free education and healthcare to the Bhutanese people, as a way of alleviating poverty within the kingdom. So, while your honeymoon in the Kingdom of Bhutan may be expensive, it is good to know that it will directly benefit the people of this stunning country.
Get to Bhutan
Bhutan only has one international airport, and the government only allows flights into the kingdom using their own airlines, Bhutan Airlines and Druk Air. Flights to Bhutan can only be made from India, Thailand, Singapore, and Nepal, with Indonesia added in the peak season for tourism. The airlines operate flights to Bhutan from:
Nepal - Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu
Bangladesh - Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka
Singapore - Singapore Changi Airport
Thailand - Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok
India - Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri; Indira Ghandi International Airport, Delhi; Gaya Airport, Gaya; Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport, Guwahati; Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata; Chhatrapati Shivaji airport, Mumbai (seasonal)
Connecting flights can be found from around the world to these airports, from which you can get your flight to Bhutan. Costs do vary from country to country, and depending on the season, and cost from around USD 149 per person, one way. The two airlines do not offer budget flights, and all seats are in the same class.
Best Times to Visit Bhutan
Located in the eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is a landlocked country with a very diverse climate pattern. With altitude changes from less than 200 meters in the southern lowlands to heights of around 7,000 meters in the mountainous north, the country can be divided into three distinct climactic areas. In the southern lowlands, the climate is sub-tropical, and can be hot and humid in the summer monsoon season, and cool in the winter. The central region of Bhutan is filled with rolling hills and is warm and a little wet in summer, while becoming cold and dry in the winter months. In the highland mountain region of the Himalayan plateau, the weather can be freezing cold and dry in the winter, and cool and dry in the summer months, with very little rain. The mountains remain capped with snow the entire year round.
Spring is the trekking season for Bhutan
The coldest months of the year are from December to February, and temperatures can fall to below zero in the central region. The skies are clear and fresh, and although a little cold, it is a good time to visit for a less crowded holiday with clear views of the mountains. Spring is from march to late April, and marks the beginning of the trekking season for Bhutan. flowers are staring to bloom in the valleys, and the dry days continue until early May. A busy period in tourism, it is best to book well in advance.
From May, the weather starts to heat up and it starts to get more humid, with the monsoon rains coming in around the beginning of June. Heavy rains and high humidity are prevalent in the lowlands and central areas until late September, with warmer weather and light showers in the mountain region. From late September, the rains cease and the weather cools down for autumn. Clear skies return and trekking season starts again, with pleasant weather right through to late November. It can get a little cold in the evenings, but rarely gets below 5 degrees at night. October is the most popular time for tourism in Bhutan, and booking in advance is necessary.
Top Honeymoon Destinations in Bhutan
As the only country in the world that has a philosophy of “Gross National Happiness”, Bhutan is the perfect destination for a honeymoon getaway, and has a huge number of delightful and romantic settings in which to spend your honeymoon. The breathtaking scenery and stunning architecture of the kingdom is complemented by the delightfully friendly and hospitable locals to make your Bhutan honeymoon the perfect romantic vacation.
One of the most stunning parts of Bhutan, the Paro Valley is the center ot trade in the country, and has a large number of beautiful boutique villas for honeymoon couples. One of the most spectacular sights of the Paro Valley is the Taktsang Monastery, perched high on the cliff face more than 300 meters above the valley floor, and is the place where Buddhism was first introduced to the kingdom.
The village of Trongsa is the home of the Wangchuk line of royalty, and the long history of the Kings of Bhutan can be seen in the area, with the picturesque backdrop of the mountains behind. The forts in the district all have significance in the rise and rule of the Wangchuk dynasty, and are well worth a visit.
The largest city in Bhutan and the capital of the kingdom, Thimphu is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in Bhutan. With its colorful markets and quaint shops filled with delightful trinkets to take home, it is also the center of the Bhutanese culture and religion. The various museums will tell of the history of the kingdom from its earliest days, and the popular dzongs can give you the experience of Bhutanese Buddhism at its most spiritual.