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Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

San Francisco...
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Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

After doing some research, it sounds to me like it costs tourists ~$250/day just to be in the country, which seems kinda ridiculous. I've been to 52 other countries and have never heard anything like this before! Can anyone confirm this??

A: You need a visa

B: you can only get a visa of you book a tour

C: tour prices are determined by the govt. at $250/day/person (during peak season)

To further confuse the matter, these fixed priced tours include food and lodging, so if that's indeed the case, why are there hotels even listed with prices for the country? If I HAVE to pay $250/day just to visit the country, why the heck would I pay for a hotel on top of that when lodging is already included?!?! This just makes no sense to me.

From the countries tourism website (tourism.gov.bt/plan-your-trip/travel-require…)

Visa Requirements:

Other than Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals, all visitors to Bhutan require a visa; all visas are issued from Thimphu; visas are only issued to booked with a local licensed tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent.

The minimum tariff for tourist visiting in a group of 3 persons or more are as follows:

High Season Tariff – USD$ 250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November.

The minimum price includes:

All internal taxes and charges (including the royalty)

Accommodation

All Meals

All travel with a licensed Bhutanese Tour Guide

All Internal Transport

Camping Equipment and Haulage for Trekking Tours

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Thimphu
Thimphu
Thimphu District, Bhutan
Amsterdam, Holland
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1. Re: Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

If you look at the top questions in the right upper corner of our main page, you'll get all the information you need.

The gouvernment-set price is not for entering the country, but includes all that tourists need, except their peronal expenses. You don't have to pay anything for the hotels, as they are included, form the list the gouvernment approves. There are some high-end hotels which cost more, but you can get the standard included. After you pay the package, you'll get the approval for the visa, with that you enter the plane, or at the border, and then you'll get the actual stamp in your passport. It is very easy, as you deal with a local operator who will arrange everything for you, according to your wishes. If you have a small group of one or two persons there is a surcharge, otherwise the tariff you mentioned is charged.

San Francisco...
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2. Re: Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

Wow, so it REALLY does cost $290/day just to visit the country!!! I guess that's one good way to discourage tourism. Kind of amazing really. I've yet to come across any other country in my travels (out of the 52 others I've visited) that is that unwelcoming to foreigners. Sad.

Amsterdam, Holland
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3. Re: Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

Again: this is not an entrance fee, but a price which includes all a tourist needs, a car with driver, guide, hotels, three meals a day, entrance fees and when trekking a crew and camp. It sounds a lot, but there are hardly any other expenses, unless you want to buy special clothes or paintings.

But the real question is: do you want to visit Bhutan at all??

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Singapore, Singapore
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4. Re: Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

For all tourists besides Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals, you don't have a choice when you are visiting Bhutan. You need to be on GUIDED tour, unless you have a Bhutanese who invitied you to Bhutan as a personal guest. You cannot go on a free and easy tour in Bhutan as Government wants to control tourism in order to preserve their nature and cultural heritage.

If you are travelling alone in high season, you need to pay U$250 + U$40 = U$290 per night. Out of this U$290, 30% is the Bhutan Royalities taxes which are used to fund the Bhutanese's free education, free medicial, buiding roads etc.

The balance 70% will provide you with all meals, accommodation, one guide, one driver, transportation and admission fees to museum, except your personal expenses.

Don't get it wrong that the Government is setting high tour pricing to defer tourists to visit Bhutan. Bhutan is listed as 169 out of 195 countries in term of nominal GDP in 2011, one of the poorer nations on Earth. 80% of Bhutanese don't pay taxes to the Government due to low earnings. Hence, Government is using tourism as one of the sourice of income for its own people.

If you just want to add Bhutan as one of the list of countries you have visited and not so keen to understand and experience Bhutan as a country, please don't travel to Bhutan. Like some other tourists mentioned in this forum, some feel that the cost is too much for such a countryside country.

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San Francisco...
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5. Re: Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

Whether you call it an "entrance fee" or a "tourist tax" or a "nature preservation fee" doesn't really matter. The fact is you are forced to use the government approved tours, stay at the government approved hotels, eat the government approved meals, etc. What's next, government scheduled bathroom breaks? I guess I'm just surprised that a country that measures Gross National Happiness as a key indicator over GDP puts such a big levy on tourism. I would have thought that Bhutan of all places would have the most open borders and be the most inviting and welcoming of countries.

If it's just a matter of preserving their nature and cultural heritage, why not charge fees to access those areas of the country? Rather than just having a presence within your borders? Personally I'd like to do away with borders altogether! But that's an entirely different conversation. :)

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Singapore, Singapore
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6. Re: Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

The whole country is a cultural by its own. All Bhutanese needs to wear 17th century traditional costumes to work everyday. Every architecture is based on traditional Bhutanese style design. The oldest temple in Bhutan is built in the 7th century and still well-maintained to today's world. No modern buildings in Bhutan.

Even the current King's palace is just a normal Bhutanese house and not the luxurious King's palace you can seen in UK, Thailand or Japan. The King of Bhutan is a King of people. With the philosophy of Gross National Happiness, its people are simple with low crime rates.

Bhutan is one of the safest countries to travel, even for a single lady like me. Even in some European countries, India, Nepal etc, you will have to watch your bag in case there is anybody eyeing on your belongings. You don't see beggers like in India and Nepal. Occasionally, you might see a monk sitting on the roadside asking for offerings.

Tibet is another place, where Government is controlling tourism. No free and easy tour in Tibet. You need to sign up with a local agency before you can get your permit to visit Tibet. Besides, you need at least 5 people of the same nationalities in a group before China Government will give your the permit to visit Tibet. The tour is restricted to a handful places of interest. You cannot explore Tibet like you can do with other parts of China.

If you have such negative thoughts about Bhutan, I guess you will not really enjoy your holiday in Bhutan.

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Shanghai, China
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7. Re: Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

What is so difficult to accept that Buhtan does not want to become a mass tourist market, but rather wants to maintain a very limited number of visitors. The easiest way to do so is by regulation through price.

By the way, there are other countries that also have strict government control mechanism in place when one wants to visit. ;)

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

Everyone contributes to Bhutan's Gross National Happiness.

Some when they arrive.

Some when they leave.

Some when they stay away.

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

Everyone contributes to Bhutan's Gross National Happiness:

Some when they arrive

Some when they depart

Some when they stay away

Edited: 16 March 2013, 21:03
Nelson, New Zealand
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10. Re: Very confused about the Daily Tariff & Visa requirements!

Very well said