Bhutan travel advice
Latest updates: The Health section was updated - travel health information (Public Health Agency of Canada)
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- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
- Need help?
Bhutan - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Bhutan.
Safety and security
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, theft and purse snatching, occurs on occasion, particularly in the capital Thimphu.
Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport, are secure at all times.
Violent crime is not common.
Bhutan is located in the eastern Himalayas. Several trekking trails are situated at altitudes exceeding 5,000 metres. Acute altitude sickness may occur at high altitudes.
If you intend on trekking:
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you are properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes
You must buy a travel package from an authorized travel agent in advance. Travel agents and tour operators will arrange your visit and apply for your visa. A daily rate covers most services in the package, including accommodation, meals, internal transportation (except flights), guides and cultural programs. You must travel in groups with authorized drivers when visiting Bhutan.
Tourist facilities are very limited.
You may find it difficult to travel in Bhutan if you have physical disabilities.
Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country. The road network is extremely limited.
The main highway (referred to as the Lateral Road) is paved and connects the east and west, linking main cities. It runs from Phuentsholing on the border with India in the southwest to Trashigang in the east. Construction is currently underway on the eastern portion of the Lateral Road. Expect closures along this section of the highway.
In the mountains, sharp curves, limited visibility and narrow roads create dangerous road conditions, particularly in the winter and during the rainy season.
Because of driving and road conditions, traffic moves slowly. You may need several hours to reach your destination.
Plan your travel accordingly.
Public transportation in Bhutan is limited. It’s preferable to travel with the transportation arranged by your tour operator.
Taxis are available in the major cities; however, they are unreliable and poorly maintained. Drivers tend to hike up the fares as they are unregulated and often not metered.
Negotiate your fare with the driver at the start of the trip.
Stray dogs can be loud and disruptive at night and can carry rabies. Always be cautious around wandering dogs. If you are bit, head to the nearest hospital to receive an anti-rabies treatment.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Bhutanese authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Bhutan.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Tourist visa: required
Business visa: required
You must buy a travel package from an authorized travel agent in advance to get your visa.
You must also obtain a special permit from the Bhutanese Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs to travel outside of Thimphu and Paro.
- More information on applying for a visa - Tourism Council of Bhutan
- Visa requirements – Department of Immigration, Royal Government of Bhutan
There are two ways to enter Bhutan:
By road through:
- Phuentsholing, on the southwest border with West Bengal, India
- Samdrup Jongkhar, on Bhutan’s southeast border with Assam, India
- Gelephu, on the southern border with Assam, India
By air on Drukair or Bhutan Airlines
The border with China is closed.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines are right for you.
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 not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* 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.
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.
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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air..
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is very low for most travellers. Travellers at relatively higher risk may want to consider vaccination for JE prior to travelling.
Travellers are at higher risk if they will be:
- travelling long term (e.g. more than 30 days)
- making multiple trips to endemic areas
- staying for extended periods in rural areas
- visiting an area suffering a JE outbreak
- engaging in activities involving high contact with mosquitos (e.g., entomologists)
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
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.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Travellers going to countries in South Asia should speak to a health care professional about getting vaccinated.
- 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.
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 among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional 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.
There is a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.
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 professional.
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
Basic health care is available in Thimphu and Paro. Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country. The best option for urgent medical care is the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu.
You will likely need medical evacuation in case of serious illness or injury.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
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
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Authorities carefully regulate tourism. You cannot travel independently. You must pre-arrange travel through an authorized travel agency.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Buying or selling tobacco in Bhutan is illegal. Smoking is prohibited in public places.
Imported tobacco products for personal use are subject to a 200% tax. Keep your customs receipt. You could be charged with smuggling and face imprisonment if you cannot produce it for police.
Upon arrival, you must register the following electronic devises with Bhutan’s Department of Revenue and Customs:
- personal computers
- cellular telephones
- any other electronic device
Authorities will also check the items when you leave the country.
Export of all antiques is strictly prohibited. Authorities strictly reinforce the law. Authorities closely monitor and strictly enforce regulations.
Photography and filming are not permitted in some areas.
Ask your guide before taking pictures or filming inside dzongs, temples, monasteries and other religious institutions.
Dress and behaviour
To avoid offending local sensitivities:
- dress conservatively, especially in religious institutions
- behave discreetly
- respect religious and social traditions
While sexual acts between individuals of the same sex were decriminalized in early 2021, Bhutan does not legally recognize same-sex unions.
2SLGBTQI+ travellers could be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Bhutan.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Bhutan, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Bhutan.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Bhutan by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Bhutan to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
Traffic drives on the left.
It is uncommon for tourists to drive in Bhutan as transportation is offered by the tour operator.
The currency of Bhutan is the ngultrum (BTN). The Indian rupee is also accepted.
Natural disasters and climate
Bhutan is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes can happen at any time.
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from June to September. Landslides occur frequently. Mountain roads can be hazardous, even in good weather.
Seasonal flooding can make overland travel difficult and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges can be damaged.
- Keep informed of regional weather forecasts
- Plan accordingly
In mountainous regions, avalanches present a risk and may result in fatalities.
- Monitor local media and weather forecasts
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
In case of emergency, dial:
- Ambulance: 112
- Police: 113
- Fire services: 110
- Traffic police: 111
There is no Canadian government office in Bhutan. The High Commission of Canada to India has consular responsibility for Bhutan.
New Delhi - High Commission of Canada
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For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada to India, in New Delhi, 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. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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