As a 19 year old punk with barely a cent to spare, I am obsessed about visiting Bhutan. I'm requesting advice because I feel that I have no one to turn to about the questions, worries and doubts going through my head. So anyway...
1) I think it would be a good idea to get travel and health insurance. I've found a few websites that give me a quote of up to $100 for unlimited medical expenses and plenty of other stuff. Thing is, it seems pretty ridiculous to me. Say, I needed to be evacuated from the mountains via helicopter, and it cost $100K; and this would be covered for only a hundred bucks?! What I want to know from experienced travelers is: is this a trick?! What has been your personal experience with buying travel insurance, if any...??
2) I want to know what is an appropriate amount of spending money to take. I hail from Australia, and the economy is pretty good here. What can be said about the Bhutanese economy? For instance, what can US$100 buy you in Bhutan? I just want a few souvenirs.
3) Do you advise any vaccinations beforehand? And if so, have you any idea about the cost, approximately? (As you can see I'm really on a tight budget. Have mercy!) I've already checked out a few websites concerning this, but I would like to hear/read about first hand experiences.
4) Anything else you would like to add? Maybe a "first time I traveled to this place that no one has heard of" story? =P
Cheers. And it's great to be here. I hope I can find someone to be a sort of "travel mentor" for me.
You should see a travel doctor - I'm not sure exactly but theres a chance you'll need something for cholera, malaria, typhoid, tetanis, hep A and perhaps others (I needed these for Nepal).
I'd also just like to add that I'm jealous!
Thanks for the reply, Erik.
But umm... would anyone else like to add anything??
Independent travel is forbidden in Bhutan you'll be taking an expensive organised tour-so expensive it'll be all be people old enough to be your Grandparents.
Maybe footloose can help http://www.footlooseadventure.co.uk/butan.html
From the US State Dept website
"ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. Visitors are required to book travel through a registered tour operator in Bhutan. This may be done directly or through a travel agent abroad. Further information, including a list of authorized tour operators in Bhutan, may be obtained through the Bhutanese Department of Tourism, PO Box 126, Thimphu, Bhutan, telephone +975-2-323251, 2-323252, fax +975-2-323695, or at http://designindia.com/dotbhutan/. Entry by air is available only via India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Thailand. The border with China is closed. The minimum daily tariff is set by the Bhutanese Department of Tourism and cannot be negotiated. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available. The rate is the same for both cultural tours and treks. Travelers should contact the Department of Tourism for the latest daily tariff. At this time, the only carrier servicing Bhutan is Druk Air, the Bhutanese government airline. More information on the airline is available at http://www.drukair.com.bt/. Druk Air will board only travelers with visa clearance from the Tourism Authority of Bhutan."
Might be time for Plan B....
Might be time for Plan B....
Be careful about reading the fine print on travel insurance, go for reputable companies and not just those that are the cheapest. The concept you describe in your thread is actually how travel insurance works - you pay a premium and they recipricate that with ur policy cover - if it says it will provide repat from mountains then usually it does - u must read the fine print however to make sure.
"Read the fine print carefully"... seems to be the talk of the town everywhere i ask!
Thank you for your input, lynzsutt. =)
I have a friend here in Vegas that went to Bhutan and he loved it. He hosted a pot luck dinner with a slide show of his trip for his friends. While watching the slides, we all wanted to go, but also realized that none of us could afford a tour of Bhutan. Sad, but that is the realitiy of the present situation.
What Sam told you is correct. Bhutan decided to restrict the number of visitors to their country. This is why you have to travel with a registered tour agent located in Bhutan.
They want upscale visitors, not the backpack set. There is no way to travel to Bhutan
on the cheap.
If your wallet is not thick enough for Bhutan, you might consider Myanmar. Plenty to see, much cheaper and very few tourists compared to the other SEA countries. Good luck to you.
[ Edit: Edited on 19-Jan-2009, at 11:34 by vegasmike6 ]
That's good to hear about your friend.
And while I get plenty of "warnings": people telling me it's expensive; there's no independent travel; etc...
Well, I am well aware of it all! And I must admit, it was a bit of a blow to the gut the first couple of times. But all things considered, I am no less determined to visit the country anyway.
My motivation is simple, really. "I have a dream"... of visiting Bhutan, sometime this year. (How appropriate, considering the Presidential Inauguration in just a few hours )
I hope you make it in 09. Start saving your money!