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Bhutan - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Bhutan. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching is common. Ensure that personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
There are no railroads and few roads. In the mountains, sharp curves, limited visibility and narrow roads create dangerous road conditions. However, tourists rarely drive in Bhutan. Their visits are arranged through tour operators and they must travel in groups with experienced drivers.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Flights are subject to disruptions due to weather and technical difficulties.
General safety information
Tourist facilities are very limited. Persons with physical disabilities may find it difficult to travel in Bhutan.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Bhutanese authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Royal Bhutanese Embassy or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Bhutan, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Canadians must obtain a visa clearance before arrival in Bhutan. Both the visa clearance and travel plans must be arranged through an authorized travel agent and confirmed prior to departure. A daily rate covers most services, including accommodation, meals, internal transportation (except flights), guides and cultural programs. This tariff and the airfare must be paid in advance in order to obtain a visa clearance. Consult the Tourism Council of Bhutan or an authorized travel agent for more information.
Tourist Visa Clearance: Required
Business Visa: Required
Special permits, issued by the Bhutanese Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, are required to travel to districts other than Thimphu and Paro.
General entry information
There are two ways to enter Bhutan: by road or by air. By road through Phuentsholing on the southwest border with West Bengal, India,and Samdrup Jongkhar on the far east border with Assam, India, or by air by Drukair, Bhutan’s national airline. The border with China is closed.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - May 2, 2017 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Travellers to countries in South Asia should speak to a health care provider about getting vaccinated.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in South Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in South Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis and malaria.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Southern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
With the exception of the Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital in Thimphu, which is reasonably well equipped, medical facilities and services are very basic, particularly in rural and remote areas. Visitors may have to travel for several hours to obtain adequate medical services for serious illnesses.
Trekkers may experience acute mountain sickness at high altitudes and should be well informed about possible hazards in high mountains.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Tourism is carefully regulated. Independent travel is not permitted. Travel must be pre-arranged through an authorized travel agency. Further information may be obtained from the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Buying or selling tobacco in Bhutan is illegal. Imported tobacco products for personal use are subject to a 200 percent tax. Keep your customs receipt; you could be charged with smuggling and face imprisonment if you cannot produce it for police. Smoking is prohibited in public places.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
Personal computers, cellular telephones, cameras or any other electronic device should be registered with Bhutanese Customs upon arrival. These items will be checked at the time of departure from Bhutan.
The export of all antiques is strictly monitored.
Traffic drives on the left.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Bhutan. If local authorities consider you a Bhutanese citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Bhutanese passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The currency is the ngultrum (BTN). Indian rupees are also accepted. Following the Government of India’s announcement that existing 500- and 1,000 Indian rupee bank notes are being immediately withdrawn from circulation, Bhutan has limited Indian rupee withdrawals to 10,000 per month until further notice. There are no such restrictions on the use of cheques, credit-debit cards and electronic fund transfer mechanisms. There are automated banking machines in most major towns. Credit cards are accepted in some hotels and souvenir shops, but only in major cities or well- touristed areas. Traveller’s cheques can be exchanged in any branch of the Bank of Bhutan. U.S. dollar traveller’s cheques are recommended. Major hotels in Thimphu and Phuentsholing will exchange foreign currency.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Bhutan is located in an active seismic zone.
The rainy (monsoon) season extends from May to October. Landslides occur frequently. Mountain roads can be hazardous, even in good weather. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 113
- medical assistance: 112
- firefighters: 110
There is no resident Canadian government office in Bhutan. The High Commission of Canada in New Delhi, India, has consular responsibility for Bhutan.
New Delhi - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in New Delhi, India and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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