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Is Bhutan open to tourists now?

The good news is that onwards from 1st September 2021 Bhutan is open for tourism. The Bhutanese government has revised the protocol in regards to the corona pandemic and now it’s feasible to visit Bhutan. Now there are certain new norms for the incoming travelers to Bhutan. The new regulation allows tourists arriving in Bhutan to stay for only 14 days quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. However, the unvaccinated travelers still have to follow the old quarantine regulation i.e. 21 days quarantine before the tour starts.

When covid was first detected in Bhutan all travel to Bhutan was suspended from 6th March 2020. Later on, the same year of 2020 from 5th September travels to Bhutan are allowed Bhutan after producing a covid-19 negative certificate not earlier than 72 hours before the tour starts from their home country. Under strict health guidelines and protocol on 7th December 2020, the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) approved the entry of tourists to Bhutan

Below are the travel restrictions in Bhutan presently for all inbound tourists who wish to visit Bhutan who need to follow the below guidelines.

Travel restrictions in Bhutan
1. All visitors should apply through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator for their tour to Bhutan.
2. Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) per person per night will be levied for the 14 days quarantine period.
3. All costs for 14 days quarantine i.e. room & food is to be paid by visitors themselves.
4. All entries via a flight into Bhutan will only be facilitated.
5. The minimum Daily Package Rate (MDPR) will be applicable for the entire tour duration after the mandatory quarantine.
6. The expenses for all tests as per the COVID-19 requirement need to be paid by visitors.
7. COVID-19 protocol and TCB guidelines need to be strictly followed by all visitors.
8. Insurance coverage is required.
9. Not earlier than 72 hours before starting the journey from the country of origin visitors should produce a COVID-19 negative certificate issued by a laboratory certified to carry out RT-PCR test.
Additionally, it is encouraged to have both the doses of COVID-19 vaccine and also to check for other travel requirements if transiting through another country.

Hotel quarantine & testing protocol
– Quarantine should be in a government-allocated hotel facility.
– 14 days quarantine period is for fully vaccinated visitors.
– 21 days quarantine period is for unvaccinated visitors.
– During the quarantine period, visitors are not allowed to leave the room/cottage or meet other people.
– At some facilities, going out on a patio or veranda might be allowed.
– Sharing double/twin rooms are allowed for couples and co-travelers.
– On the 3rd to 5th day RT-PCR and antibody tests are conducted, then on the 13th to 14th day and in the case of an unvaccinated visitor on the 21st day. Further quarantining and testing might be required in case of a positive result.
– After getting a negative RT-PCR report, vaccinated visitors can leave on the 15th and the unvaccinated ones on the 22nd day.

Quarantine cost in Bhutan
– Visitors need to pay the cost for the quarantine hotel and the meals. The government has fixed the quarantine rate with 3 meals a day.
– Visitors are required to pay for any extra meals or drinks ordered from the hotel or from outside.
– Visitors need to pay tests and other medical bills by themselves. The cost of RT-PCR test is around US$ 40 and the antibody test is around US$ 15. Two rounds of testing thus will be around US$ 110 and three rounds US$ 165.
– Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) of US$ 65 per night per person is levied even for the time spent in quarantine to a maximum amount of US$ 715 per person.

After the quarantine in Bhutan
– Visitors are approved to travel around Bhutan after the quarantine.
– During their stay and travel in Bhutan, visitors should follow all mandated protective measures
– Visiting the “high-risk zones” around the southern border, travelers need to undertake 7 days quarantine.

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