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Bhutan has always been one of my dream destinations. There is nowhere on earth quite like it, an elusive land-locked country nestled in the Himalayas.
It is the world’s only carbon-negative country where they measure prosperity in Gross National Happiness. And who’s not looking for a slice of happiness when travelling? Naturally, it did not take long for me to book a trip when the opportunity arose.
Bhutan also comes with a hefty $200-250 price tag, per person, per day.
But don’t let this put you off.
The Government are selective of guests coming into the country. They want to avoid the loud, messy crowds that are unfortunately present in mass tourism. Instead, Bhutan welcomes high-value, low impact tourism. This keeps the country largely untouched allowing you to get the most out of your visit. And from my experience, this is an approach that pays off.
I spent a few days in this beautiful, friendly country and it was an experience I will never forget.
So to make it a lifetime experience for you too, read on to find the real cost of travelling to Bhutan.
How Much is the Tourist Fee?
- All tourists excluding Indian, Bangladesh and Maldives nationals must pay a fixed daily rate. The price fluctuates depending on the size of your tour group and season. I visited in May, in a small group, during high-season.
- March to May and September to November: USD$250 per person
- December to February and June to August: USD$200 per person
- Add on a US$40 dollar surcharge per day for a tour as a solo tourist and US$30 each as a pair.
US$65 (royalty fee) of your daily costs get ploughed back into education, healthcare and infrastructure for Bhutanese citizens. And you can really see the results.
Travel is a privilege and to be able to give back and improve the lives of others is pretty special.
What the Fee Includes:
- Accommodation. For your daily rate, you will get at least a 3-star hotel stay. My room was the size of a small studio apartment and immaculate. You can pay more on top of your daily rate for luxurious accommodation (approximately US$250-1500 on top of the daily tariff).
- Licensed Bhutanese guide from an official tour operator. Bhutan is a picturesque country, but don’t let the landscape overshadow its people. Our guide was an amazing companion, knowledgeable, caring and kind.
- Trip Itinerary and (most) activities
- Meals and non-alcoholic drinks.
- Driver and ground transportation. Depending on the size of your group, your driver may also be your guide. Transport is usually a comfortable, air-conditioned van or 4×4.
As you can see, your daily fee goes incredibly far. Not only does it cover pretty much all your trip, but 30% of it goes back to the community.
What the Fee Doesn’t Include:
- Flight to Bhutan (and any internal flights)
- Spending money – You will need money to buy souvenirs and gifts. I’d recommend bringing cash, as there isn’t always an ATM handy.
- Tipping money (for your guide and driver) – Optional of course, but something to consider if they have really enriched your trip.
Is Bhutan Worth the Cost?
If you are looking for a shoe-string travel adventure, Bhutan isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a destination steeped in history, draw-dropping scenery and warm-hearted people. Then yes. Without a doubt.
Are you ready?
Flying from chaotic Kathmandu in Nepal, I particularly enjoyed the spectacular scenery and pristine environment. Ultimately, nothing compared to the amazing culture that was waiting to be discovered.