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How to apply for Bhutan tourist visa?

Tamerlan Mehdiyev Tamerlan Mehdiyev 02 August 2021
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Bhutan is a landlocked country squeezed between two of the most populated country China and India. It is a highly spiritual and religious country. Most people call the country the happiest country in the world. Apparently, people here value peace more than wealth. There is a term that is used in Bhutan so often. It is gross national happiness which is a philosophy that guides the government of Bhutan. The main idea behind this is to have an index to measure the collective happiness and well-being of a population. The philosophy acknowledges economic growth is important but that economic growth should not be mindless. It should also be sustainable, especially environmentally sustainable. Another important point of this philosophy is that it should be equally spread. Bhutan is the first and was the only carbon-neutral country (after Bhutan, Suriname managed to become carbon neutral as well), meaning that it emits no carbon dioxide. This is the country where education and health care are free for the nationals of Bhutan. With its beautiful nature and clean air, Bhutan reminds us paradise that we desire.

What is more surprising is that even though the country is tucked away in the Himalayas and sandwiched by two giants, the country manages to preserve its culture and causing it to remain intact along with its spirituality. The economy of the country is growing sustainably.

village

As we already mentioned, the country is highly religious, and Buddhism is the main religion. Here, Vajrayana Buddhism is the state religion. There stands one of the world's largest sitting Buddha statues with a height of 54 meters. You will find religious items, little statues of Buddha everywhere. It has the most beautiful sceneries as well. Hiking is one of the favourite tourist activities in Bhutan. The view from Himalayan mountains is extremely beautiful. You will find a lot of holy places on the hills.

In this country, you will feel like you are in a fairytale. You can find countless reasons to visit Bhutan. Bhutan has already proven to be one of the unique tourist destinations. However, you can not just walk to Bhutan and enter the country. You will most likely need Bhutan tourist visa if you are visiting the country as a tourist. If you do not know how to get a visa for Bhutan, do not worry; we are here to help. In this article, we will look at all details of Bhutan tourist visa to travel to Bhutan. Do you need visa for Bhutan? We will start our topic by first answering this question.

Do you need visa for Bhutan?

bhutan visa application form

If we look at the countries, we will notice that most of them are visa-required countries. If you are asking can I go to Bhutan without visa? The answer depends on your nationality. That is, only nationals of Bangladesh, India, and Maldives can enjoy visa-free entrance to Bhutan. However, they will need to have passports with a validity of a minimum of 6 months to acquire a permit. Furthermore, they will need to pay a sustainable development fee, which is around 17 USD. Nationals of other countries will need to meet Bhutan tourist visa requirements to travel to Bhutan.

How to get a visa for Bhutan?

visa officer puts a stamp

To enter Bhutan as a tourist, you will need a Bhutan tourist visa. But different from most other countries, you can not apply for a tourist visa on your own. You will need to contact a local certified tour operator or a foreign travel agent. The tour operator can apply for the visa on your behalf. Your application will be issued by the Tourism Council of Bhutan, which is located in Thimphu. The tours are sold in packages by the Royal Government of Bhutan. Now let’s have a look at Bhutan tourist visa details, such as Bhutan tourist visa requirements. The first requirement in this regard is to book a tour package via a certified tour operator. You can find the list of verified tour operators on the website of the Bhutan Tourism Council. The next step will be to buy air tickets on DrukAir. The coloured scanned copy of your passport, which should stay valid for 6 months after you arrive in Bhutan, is also needed. You will need to present detailed information about you, which includes full name, profession, contact addresses, including mail address. If you are a student, then you will need to present your student ID too. Your application will be submitted by the tour operator. You will need to have health insurance to enter the country. Fees and tour packages do not include health insurance; therefore, you will pay for it. Finally, you will get your actual visa on your passport upon your arrival after your visa clearance letter is reviewed by immigration officers.

All tourists who are not from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives will need to have a visa clearance. In some cases, you will need official visa clearance. You will be asked for an official visa clearance if you are invited by an organization or a government body. Your application and invitation letter should be forwarded to the Bhutan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What makes this visa clearance so special, or what are the advantages of it? The main difference between being invited by an organization or government body and applying for a typical tourist visa is that with an invitation, you will not need to purchase a daily tour as Bhutan tourist visa cost too much with this option. Therefore, it is cheaper. These daily tours cost around 200 USD. As for Bhutan tourist visa cost, it depends on the length of the tours. Normally, you have to be ready to pay 200-250 USD per day. The price includes accommodation in a three-star hotel, three meals per, internal transport in Bhutan, an English-speaking tour guide, entry fees to tourist attractions, camping equipment, and haulage for trekking tours, Government fees, the “sustainable development fee”, which costs around 65 USD. You might be wondering why it is so expensive? The main reason behind that is to help protect Bhutan’s culture and environment. Furthermore, as healthcare and education are free, the government needs a budget to sustain these services. However, the tourist visa fee is just only 40 USD. What raises the prices is the tour package.

Can I apply for Bhutan tourist visa online? The answer is a bit complex. But we will try to put its simplest way. All applications will be submitted to an online system by the authorized tour operator or travel agent. So all we have mentioned above is actually Bhutan tourist visa online process.

How long is your visa will be valid?

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Although, staying in Bhutan is too costly. After spending a day in Bhutan, you might want to stay more in the country. However, how long can a person remain in Bhutan with a tourist visa? The answer is 6 months

How long does it take to process a tourist visa?

 woman using laptop

There is no exact timeline regarding visa processing time. Sometimes it can take 1-2 weeks to get your application processed. Therefore, it is recommended to start the application 1 or 2 months prior to your planned travel to avoid any failure.

Bhutan tourist visa extension

red passport

To extend your visa, normally, you have to apply for a visa extension. Is there Bhutan tourist visa extension for tourist visas, though? The answer is yes. Similar to acquiring a tourist visa for the first time, the extension application will be carried out by your tour operator on your behalf. The application will be directed to Tourism Council.

To conclude, Bhutan offers a life-changing experience with its spiritual and religious sites. Its natural beauties, green oases do not hold back in this regard. The only disadvantage of traveling to Bhutan is the cost. However, knowing this money goes to a good cause can relieve you a bit. After all, you are helping the country to reach its sustainability goals.

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Tamerlan Mehdiyev

Tamerlan Mehdiyev is a science geek. He is doing a master's in Earth sciences and now planning to research climate change. He loves nature and fond of observing the beauties of the Earth. He believes traveling can help him to grow wise and find inner peace. His life goal is to see different places, cultures, people as many as possible.

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