Travelling to and within the Kingdom

What is the daily Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) in Bhutan? 

A country of less than half a million people, Bhutan has always carefully limited the number of travellers across its borders. With its customary prescience, the Kingdom has stepped back onto the world’s stage with new measures to protect its natural and cultural heritage and to enhance the tourist experience. As of 20 June 2022, an increased daily Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) of USD 200 per person per night, will promote carbon-neutral tourism and upskill workers in the sector, preserving and increasing Bhutan’s allure as an ever more rarefied, sought-after travel destination.  The fund was originally introduced in 1991 with the original fee of USD 65 remaining unchanged until now.  The SDF is charged in addition to accommodation costs. 

What does my stay at Amankora include? 

All stays at Amankora operate on an all-inclusive board basis. Amankora rates include all meals and house beverages and laundry. Guests staying continuously for seven nights or more will also receive roundtrip airport transfers from/to Paro International Airport, a bespoke itinerary for experiences and excursions with a local English-speaking guide, a private car and driver, a 60-minute holistic massage and a traditional hot-stone bath. 10-night stays or longer include a one-way domestic flight between Paro and Bumthang (or vice versa). 

How do I book and plan my stay at Amankora?  

Aman’s multilingual reservations team are available to help you with your travel planning. Operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week  to help plan your ultimate Aman experience. Please find the reservation team’s contact details here.  

A variety of tailor-made itineraries can be curated to explore the valleys of Thimphu, Punakha,  Phobjikha, Bumthang and Paro with a private guide and driver. All Amankora journeys can be adjusted to suit preferences, both before arrival and on the ground, these can be 7-night up to 12-night journeys. Guests travelling between Amankora’s Lodges are allocated the same guide and driver throughout their journey to ensure a smooth transition between the valleys.  

How can I organise flights to and from Amankora?  

Bhutan Airlines and Druk Air are the only two international carriers allowed to operate to and from Bhutan. Druk Air is the only carrier that operates domestic flights in between the domestic airports in the country. Due to its unique terrain and Himalayan setting, private jets are only permitted to land in Bhutan when accompanied by a pilot who is licensed and trained to land in Paro International Airport.  

Paro International Airport (PBH) is the only international airport and gateway to and from Bhutan. Amankora Paro is only 17 km away from the airport while Amankora Thimphu is 50 km away. Bathpalathang Airport (BUT) is the domestic airport servicing Bumthang. Amankora Bumthang is only 4 km away from the airport while Amankora Gangtey is 145 km away. International flights do not arrive in Bumthang and private jets are not permitted to land in this airport.  

Do I need a visa to enter Bhutan? 

Tourist visas are required for all travellers and must be obtained seven Government working days prior to arriving in the country. The visa is approved in advance and a visa clearance letter is issued, with the actual visa stamped on arrival in Bhutan. Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian nationals do not require a visa to visit Bhutan. A passport valid for at least 6-months following the date of your arrival in Bhutan is required.   

Nationals of Bangladesh and the Maldives are eligible for a visa on arrival at the port of entry. However, it is recommended that guests apply for a visa online prior to arrival to reduce wait time and ensure faster clearance at the port of entry. Indian nationals holding an Indian passport, or an Indian voter ID card, will not require a visa but will require a permit to visit Bhutan. For Indian nationals aged under 18 years, a passport or a birth certificate will suffice, however they must be accompanied by legal guardians. 

Do I need any vaccinations before I travel to Bhutan? 

We recommend tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis boosters before traveling to Asia. No other shots or pills are required. For immunizations and vaccines please seek the advice of your physician. For additional information please visit CDC or World Health Organization. It is not mandatory to have a COVID-19 vaccination for entry to Bhutan. 

Do I need a COVID-19 test before travel?

No, there will be no Covid-19 testing requirement for inbound travelers. However, all individuals (12 years and above) entering Bhutan may be subject to random RT-PCR testing at the formal entry points to maintain surveillance for new variants.  No fee shall be charged for random testing. Travelers who test positive during their stay will be required to quarantine in their lodge at an additional cost.  The SDF will be waived during the quarantine period. 

What is the climate like in Bhutan? 

Bhutan's climate is as varied as its landscape: in the southern plains the climate is tropical, while the central valleys are cool. The Himalayas have mild winters and pleasant summers. Temperatures vary according to elevation. Most of the central portion of the country experiences a cool, temperate climate year-round. In the south, a hot, humid climate helps maintain a fairly even temperature range of between 15°C and 30°C year-round, although temperatures sometimes reach 40°C in the foothills and lower valleys during the summer.  

In the valleys where Amankora lodges are situated, the climate is shaped by their elevations. Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang almost share the same elevation from 2,200 – 2,500 meters, and all enjoy four seasons, while Punakha at 1,200 meters above sea level is the lowest, enjoying a warmer year-round subtropical weather. Gangtey at an elevation of almost 3,000 meters has very cold winters and remains cool even in the middle of summer. 

I have been to Bhutan before, but would like to return – what journey would you recommend? 

Amankora’s Return to the Kingdom journey has been designed for returning travellers eager to discover more of Bhutan's secrets. This five-night adventure is set in the eastern valleys of Trongsa and Bumthang, gateways to the exotic east.  

Beginning with a homecoming Thrisel Blessing and a rediscovery of Drukgyel Dzong at Amankora Paro, the journey continues with a flight to Amankora Bumthang, the easternmost of Aman’s five lodges. This region of sloping pine forests, apple orchards and fertile farmland is known for its cottage industries that produce the sought-after Bumthang butter, Gouda and Emmenthal cheeses, honey and a variety of fruit spirits and brandies.  

From here, explore the eastern valleys of Trongsa, the birthplace of the royal Wangchuck dynasty; Tang, home to the Burning Lake and Ogyen Choling Palace Museum; and Chhume, where Bhutan’s current queen was born. On returning to Paro for your final night, discover the mysterious second Tiger’s Nest with its hidden treasure and Statue of Longevity in the tranquil setting of Dzongdrakha. 

I have never been to Bhutan, what journey would you recommend? 

Depending on the amount of time you have to explore Bhutan, we recommend starting with a four to six-night Cultural Sojourn for a shorter stay and covers three of the Kingdom’s breathtaking valleys.  For those guests who are visiting the Kingdom as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we highly recommend The Ultimate Amankora Journey of 13 days, which provides the opportunity to incorporate all five of Amankora’s lodges across five different valleys.   

Aman’s multilingual reservations team are available to help you with your travel planning. Operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week  to help plan your ultimate Aman experience. Please find the reservation team’s contact details here