Bhutan is famous for being one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the world. No matter how much you can manipulate figures, having to pay USD 250/day since the date of entry would take away anyone’s smiles. However, there are some situations whereby you can actually travel Bhutan for free without paying USD 250 per day.
Therefore, today I am going to share with you a Bhutan travel information or Bhutan travel tips whereby you can actually travel to Bhutan for free.
What are situations where you can travel Bhutan for free?
#1 Nationality of Bangladesh, Maldives & India
Indians don’t need Bhutan VISA to travel to Bhutan and hence don’t have to pay government set minimum daily package of USD 250 per person. However, they have to present valid passport or voting card to get Bhutan Entry Permit.
People from Maldives and Bangladesh are also in this exception bracket. They too can travel Bhutan without Bhutan VISA and hence don’t have to pay the minimum daily package. But they should have passport of their countries with validity of at least 6 months.
In both the cases, tourists don’t have to book their travels via government approved tour operators. This means hotel bookings and transport vehicles arrangement remain as their own responsibilities. People from these countries can actually undertake independent Bhutan travels or Bhutan solo travels without subscribing to any Bhutan travel packages.
#2 Personal guest of Bhutan’s civil servants
Bhutanese can invite 2 foreigners during the best time to travel to Bhutan as their personal guest on VISA free travel to Bhutan. The invitees don’t have to bear full USD 250/day to Bhutan’s government.
However, I want to say that this isn’t easy. There is lengthy statutory requirements and procedures. Bhutanese who invites the guest should prove they know each other personally.
#3 Volunteers in Bhutan Government approved NGOs
If you have a special skill or expertise in certain areas which would benefit Bhutanese society, you can volunteer to render them in any of Bhutan government approved NGOs. You don’t have to bear 250/day expense and can also travel Bhutan without Bhutan VISA.
The NGO which is going to use your services or expertise should seek prior approval from government to invite you in Bhutan upon presenting all the proofs. But in this case, your stay in Bhutan will be to the extend of your volunteerism requirement period.
#4 Guests of Royal Government of Bhutan
Bhutan government also invites foreign guests on various reasons. Some will be in Bhutan to work in special project and some in educational activities. If you are one of such invitees, you can travel Bhutan for free. Everything will be arranged by government or by an entrusted agency.
#5 Foreign delegates based in Bhutan
Foreign delegates based in Bhutan also don’t need Bhutan VISA. This means they can travel Bhutan for free. They can enter Bhutan and leave Bhutan as and when their official works demand to doing so.
#6 Diplomat passport holders of countries
Diplomat passport holders of Switzerland and Thailand don’t need Bhutan VISA and payment of minimum daily package if their stays in Bhutan don’t exceed 90 days.
#7 International faculty members in RUB
Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) recruits foreign faculty in certain courses for colleges under it. If you get selected to be one, you can travel Bhutan for free. Bhutan VISA and 250 USD daily tariff remain out of question.
In my experience, international faculty members of Royal Thimphu College hailing from third countries come Bhutan in this exceptional case. Colleges like Gedu College of Business Studies and College of Science and Technology also bring foreign lecturers.
#8 Foreign employees in Bhutan
This is something Bhutan government discourages as employment opportunity isn’t enough for even its populace. However, there will be exception in everything. If you can get selected to work in Bhutan in some fields, you can actually travel Bhutan for free.
Is Free travel of tourists good for Bhutan?
USD 250/day might appear expensive. But from that, your travel expenses, hotel rents, meals, tour guide charges and other miscellaneous expenses are met. Only 65 USD from there goes to government for funding free education and health care facilities of Bhutan.
There has always been a misconception in the minds of tourists. They think that they have to pay 250 USD per day and have to bear travel expenses, meals, guide and hotel charges separately, which is actually incorrect. If tourists don’t want to do shopping, drink beverages and go hangouts, they can actually keep their wallets without even touching once.
When you travel Bhutan for free, you are indeed bound by obligations. Therefore, you cannot fulfill your desire to travel and explore insides of Bhutan. Paid tourists in Bhutan get good treatment with various discount schemes for students and group.
Bhutan has so much to offer. People who travel Bhutan for free won’t be able to experience all. Therefore, from travel enthusiast point of view, paid travel will be much better. Mathematically speaking, Bhutan travel cost isn’t that high.
Recommend to read following travel experiences and exciting travel stories from Bhutan:
- Bumdeling – The winter residence of Black-necked Cranes in Bhutan.
- Interesting walk over the suspension bridge of Punakha Bhutan.
- Don’t be surprised to know Kingdom of Yangdon really exist.
- Bhutan Travel Guide: Tips on How to Travel to Bhutan from India.
- Romantic Getaway at Paro Dongkola Temple.
- Travel to Bhutan: why many don’t travel to Kingdom of Bhutan.
- Tachog Lhakhang – Temple of Bhutan’s 900+ years old Bridge.
- Place to visit in Paro – Chumbu Lhakhang.
- 65 Tourist Attractions in Paro other than Taktshang Monastery.
- Trekking to Great Dungtsho-Bhutan’s Lake Amidst Rocky Castles.