Fire and rescue services
Traffic police, for road accidents
For emergencies, call 113.
Exercise normal safety precautions in Bhutan.
Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
Exercise a high degree of caution within 5kms of the border with India and China.
Exercise a high degree of caution within 5kms of the border with India and China due to risk of armed conflict and border disputes.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Bhutan's crime rate is low.
Violent crime is not common.
Incidents of petty crime include:
Arrests related to drug and alcohol abuse have increased in recent years.
The Tourism Council of Bhutan warns against travellers booking through unregistered tour operators. The council advises that it's not responsible for any complaints about tours booked through unregistered operators.
Only use licensed tour operators.
Rebels have been active in southern border regions.
Armed groups in the area bordering India carry out politically motivated violence. This happens in Assam and other north-eastern Indian states.
Armed groups could clash with Bhutanese or Indian security forces at any time.
Kidnappings from border communities are reported. Foreigners could be targeted.
Several remote areas of territory are disputed between Bhutan and China. They're not usually included in organised tours.
Armed groups have staged three small improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in Bhutan since 2011. Further attacks are possible.
To protect yourself from violence:
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Trekking can be dangerous. You're not allowed to trek alone.
Plan carefully and use reputable trekking companies with professional guides.
Check your travel insurance covers:
Before you leave, ask your trekking company about:
Let family and friends know where you will be trekking.
Transport and tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards. This includes adventure activities, such as:
If you plan to do an adventure activity:
If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
Flooding and landslides can occur with little warning. They are more common during the monsoon season from June to September.
If you travel during monsoon season, ask your tour operator if services at your destination have been affected.
Bhutan experiences earthquakes. Seismic activity can occur at any time.
If a natural disaster happens, there are likely to be severe disruptions to transport and damage to essential infrastructure.
Avoid unnecessary travel to affected regions.
To stay safe during a natural disaster or severe weather:
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to take medication, check if it's legal in Bhutan. Take enough legal medication for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
You may need to get medical documents authenticated by DFAT before you leave.
You're at risk of altitude sickness if you travel above 2500m. The risk is higher the quicker you ascend.
Altitude sickness can be life threatening. It can affect anyone, even people who are physically fit.
You're at higher risk if:
If you plan to travel to high-altitude areas:
To protect yourself from illness:
Hospital and medical facilities are adequate for routine medical procedures.
Basic supplies and medicines can be limited.
You may need to pay up-front for medical services, including at hospitals.
In an emergency, you may be evacuated to a place with better facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include long jail terms and heavy fines. Penalties apply for using marijuana.
It's illegal to sell and buy tobacco products in Bhutan.
You can import a limited amount of tobacco products for personal use. You have to pay a sales tax and customs duty.
Carry your import duty receipt for your tobacco products. If you don't, you could face heavy fines.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal, but rarely prosecuted. Avoid public displays of affection.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Bhutan does not recognise dual nationality.
Bhutan has conservative standards of dress and behaviour. Take care not to offend.
If you visit temples or other religious institutions, dress modestly and respectfully.
Long pants are most appropriate for men. Long skirts are most appropriate for women.
You need a visa to travel to Bhutan.
Bhutan has strict controls on international tourism. Government-licensed tour operators must arrange your travel visa.
The Tourism Council of Bhutan publishes a list of licensed tour operators.
Independent travel is not possible unless you have a long-term visa.
If you plan to stay long term, you'll need either:
Bhutan does not recognise de facto or same-sex relationships. You need to provide a marriage certificate to be eligible for a dependent spouse visa.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions can change at short notice.
If you're travelling to or from Bhutan via India, read our travel advice for India.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible.
The official currency is the Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN).
The Indian Rupee (INR) is also legal tender, but larger banknotes may not be accepted.
ATMs are common in towns.
EFTPOS is available nationwide, including at most hotels.
Credit cards aren't widely accepted, but you can use them at major hotels.
Travellers rarely drive in Bhutan.
Most use organised tours and local drivers.
Driving can be hazardous due to:
You're three times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Bhutan than in Australia.
The condition of roads can quickly worsen after heavy rain.
If you plan to drive:
Allow for delays, especially in heavy rain.
Flights to and from Paro Airport are only scheduled for daylight hours. They're dependent on suitable weather conditions. Contact your airline or tour operator to find out if your travel has been interrupted.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Bhutan's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
For emergencies, call 113.
For non-emergencies, call (+975) 2 322347.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Australia doesn't have an embassy or consulate in Bhutan. For consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in New Delhi, India.
No. 1/50 G Shantipath (Gate 1)
New Delhi, India 110021
Phone: +91 11 4139 9900
Fax: +91 11 2687 2228
Check the High Commission website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
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