Can I travel to Bhutan without a Travel Agency?
Yes. Unlike in the past, you can now travel to Bhutan on your own without a tour operator. But as most online services are fairly new (car booking, tour guide booking, hotels etc.) your trip to Bhutan will be more smooth and hassle-free if you visit via an accredited travel agency. For trips outside Bhutan, you’re still required to hire an accredited tour guide if you choose to go on our own. For easier trip-planning you can contact YeeGetaway’s 5 trusted travel partners. Contact them here.
Bhutan’s Sustainable Development Fee
On 20th June, 2022, The Royal Government of Bhutan revised the tourism bill as part of the Kingdom’s transformative measure. The Sustainable Development Fee (or royalty) was increased from US$ 65 to US$ 200 per person, per night. The SDF does not include the other expenses such as tours, food and lodging and travel into and around Bhutan.
You will be asked to pay the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), as part of the visa application procedure (per adult; concessionary rates apply for children)
Additionally, a $40 one-time, non-refundable visa application cost is also payable.
What is the Sustainable Development Fee?
In an era where many famous travel hotspots are getting flooded by commercial tourism and overwhelming visitor numbers, Bhutan is making an effort to do something else. Unlike most tourism-driven destinations in the world, the small size and lack of adequate infrastructure and resources limit the small Kingdom from exploring more commercial opportunities in the tourism sector. His Majesty The King of Bhutan has always prioritized the protection and conservation of Bhutan’s environment, culture and the Kingdom’s values over the pursuit of only economic development.
In the past several decades there’s been a growing number of mass tourism affecting the Kingdom’s protected areas and sacred sites. Hence to balance the influx of mass tourism and to create a conducive environment for a sustainable growth in the tourism sector for Bhutan’s future generation, the SDF was increased. Please note that the SDF was not increased since its introduction in the 1980s despite seeing a lot of changes in the Kingdom’s tourism sector.
Your SDF payment contributes to protecting and conserving Bhutan as one of the most pristine and unique destinations in the world. Bhutan is pioneering a tourism policy dedicated to travelers who understand the value of protecting places in the world from exploitation of commercial tourism. Bhutan is working towards becoming a destination for conscious travelers looking for a journey that is beyond commercial travel. Do you want to play a part in Bhutan’s vision for a better future in tourism?
How Does Bhutan Use Your SDF?
The sustainable development fee is collected by the national exchequer and funds are allocated to various projects dedicated improving facilities, infrastructure and resources for both the nation’s people and visitors. Your SDF also contributes to funding the Kingdom’s free education and healthcare to its people.
Before visiting Bhutan, all tourists must get a visa (except those from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives, for whom the relevant processes and fees are outlined separately below).
If you’re traveling with a tour operator or staying at a hotel, they can apply on your behalf. You can also apply for a visa or permission online by filling out an application form. If you have the necessary information for each individual traveling, you can submit an application for yourself and anyone else you’re traveling with. If you’re traveling with a tour operator or staying at a hotel, they can apply on your behalf.
You can also apply for a visa or permission online by filling out an application form. If you have the necessary information for each individual traveling, you can submit an application for yourself and anyone else you’re traveling with.
You will need the following to apply for a visa online:
- A digital copy of a valid passport
- A recent digital passport photograph
- Dates of arrival and departure
- Travel insurance that is valid for the entire duration of your trip
- Paying information
Go to https://bhutan.travel/visa to apply for your visa online
For more information on SDF, travel documents and other information, go to the official tourism website of Bhutan www.bhutan.travel