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Visiting Bhutan is strictly scrutinised under the policy of “High Value, Low Impact Tourism” to minimalize the external influences on the country’s distinctive society and environment. Bhutanese policy ensures that only a restricted number of tourists pass through to the country at a time, preventing it from being overcrowded by mass tourism and thus mutating its atmosphere, and that the visitors who do come enjoy their visits.

Entry limits
All outsiders except for inhabitants of Bangladesh, Maldives and Indiamust get a visa before visiting Bhutan. If permitted, they are given a visa authorisation letter, and must present it at the port of entrance. The visa is then stamped into their passport. Foreign travellers should consult a licensed Bhutanese tour to arrange their visa. A diurnal fee is also charged for every day of stay. For most foreign visitors, it sumsup to $250 a day during high season and $200 for low season.Concessions also apply for minors and larger groups while surcharges exist for groups smaller than 3. The lowest daily package obligatory for visa dispensation covers accommodation, guide, food and vehicle with driver. Part of it goes to free education, poverty alleviation and free healthcare in Bhutan. Licensed tour escorts accompany tourists through their trips and arrange lodgings – self-governing tourism by citizens of non-visa exempt countries is forbidden.

The only exclusions for having to reserve a tour as a condition for being permitted to visit are for those who obtain a formal invite to Bhutan from “a citizen of some standings” or a volunteer associationand those who come as guests of the Bhutanese government.

Visa free
Residents of Bangladesh, India, and Maldives neither need a visa nor do they need to engage a licensed tour guide to visit Bhutan, only if they have a passport effective for at least six months from the date of entry. Furthermore, Indian citizens can use their Voter ID to obtain entry into Bhutan. Indian residents who do not have either of these two documents can acquire an “Identification Slip” from the Indian Consulate Office in Phuentsholing, providing they are able to presentevidence of Indian citizenship.

Holders of diplomatic or official/service passports of Switzerland and Thailand do not need a visa to visit Bhutan for up to 90 days.

Visa on arrival
Tourists can gain access to a visa on arrival for a maximumhalt of 15 days if their application is referred by a tour operative to the department of tourism at least 45 days in advance.

Restricted access areas
On entering Bhutan, non-nationals are allotted an “Entry Permit” effective for Thimphu and Paro only. The rest of Bhutan is marked as a limited controlarea and foreigners require special permits to enter. Settlement checkpoints are situated at important road intersections throughout the country, where police check the licences of all foreigners they encounter. In addition, outsiders desiring to visit Buddhist temples must get a Temple Permit from the Ministry of Culture. While these authorisations are typically settled by the tour operators, Indian, Maldivian and Bangladeshi visitors who did not book via a licensed tour operative must smear for them in person.

Click here to download Bhutan visa application form –