What to Pack for Bhutan | GeoEx Adventure Travel
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Top 10 Things to Pack For Bhutan

By Elizabeth McNeil | June 21, 2018

I’m often asked by our travelers what they should pack for their trip to Bhutan, a Himalayan gem that GeoEx has been exploring for more than 30 years. After having the chance to visit in January, there are a few items that stand out as being particularly useful. If you find yourself headed to the Land of the Thunder Dragon, you might consider bringing them along as well.

1. Hiking Boots

Bhutan is a hiker’s paradise  with beautiful mountain trails and stunning scenery around every corner. Even if you don’t plan on hitting the trails, a good pair of lightweight hiking boots will serve you well, as the country is mountainous by nature and many pathways are made up of dirt or loose gravel. If your travel plans include a visit to the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery, you’ll definitely want shoes with a sturdy tread, as many sections of this hike are steep and uneven.

Hiking in Bhutan

2. Ginger Chews

Bhutan is currently undergoing a massive road-widening project on the main route that runs throughout the country. Because of this, many of the roads you’ll travel on are dug up, winding, and bumpy. If you experience motion sickness, you might consider bringing ginger chews or other items to help with this.

3. Layers & Warm Socks

Depending on when you travel, Bhutan can be quite cool in the mornings and evenings, and heat up in the afternoons. Even so, the insides of temples can be chilly, especially the wooden floors (where you must take off your shoes before entering). Layers are especially useful for these temperature changes, and you may appreciate having warm socks for the cold temple floors.

Prayer wheels in Bhutan

4. Toilet Paper & Hand Sanitizer

I’ll be brief: bathrooms are scarce in Bhutan and you’ll be happy to have these items on hand. Should nature call, the GeoEx guides advised us that the polite thing to do is to let everyone know that you need to go “sing a song.” Where did this phrase originate from, you ask? I have no idea, but it did lessen potential awkwardness and made everyone chuckle throughout the trip.

5. Hand Warmers

If you’ll be traveling to Bhutan in the winter months, hand warmers are a great addition that take up almost no space in your suitcase. Slip them into your gloves or pockets during chilly morning temple visits or cool evening town strolls and they’ll be a welcome warm respite from the Himalayan winter.

6. Sunscreen & Sunglasses

Due to Bhutan’s altitude, you’ll feel the effects of the sun’s rays on your travels. Sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen help keep you protected while you’re hanging your prayer flags at 11,000 feet.

Hanging prayer flags on a mountain pass in Bhutan

7. Camera with Plenty of Storage

If you’re bringing a digital camera or simply planning on taking photos with your smartphone, make sure you clear out your photo library prior to heading out to ensure you have plenty of memory space for your new photos. Bhutan is exceedingly photogenic and you’ll want to be sure you have enough space for your inevitable 1,458 photos and videos of prayer flags rustling in the wind.

8. Cash for Purchases

The official currency in Bhutan is the Bhutanese Ngultrum, although US dollars and Indian Rupees are also commonly accepted. Because ATMs are almost nonexistent outside of Paro and Thimphu, you’ll want to bring cash for purchases outside of these major towns. Between the Bhutanese textiles, masks, and wall hangings, there’s plenty of beautiful items to take home as a memory from your travels.

A weaver creating Bhutanese textiles in Bhutan

9. Small Day Pack

Especially if you plan on taking advantage of Bhutan’s hiking, a small backpack or day pack is helpful for carrying your water, camera, hat, snacks, and other items.

10. Bhutanese Novel

I started reading The Circle of Karma upon my arrival in Bhutan, and it came alive during my travels as the context of the novel became richer. On our final day, after saying a teary goodbye to our guides and finding ourselves already missing the magical kingdom of Bhutan, delving into a Bhutanese novel on the plane ride home was the perfect antidote.

Prayer flags and chorten in a Bhutan valley

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To get more tips on Bhutan travel or to plan your adventure to this tiny Himalayan kingdom, call GeoEx’s Asia experts at 888-570-7108. Our Bhutan experts have carefully crafted a number of group and custom Bhutan trips to choose from.