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Paro Taktsang temple in Bhutan viewing mountain under blue and white sky
brown and white concrete building near green trees and lake during daytime

Is Bhutan Safe?

Bhutan is generally safe for tourists, with low crime rates. However, petty crimes like bag-snatching can occur in crowded areas. Trekkers should be cautious of natural hazards like landslides and flash floods during monsoon season. Respecting cultural norms, such as dressing modestly when visiting dzongs and monasteries, is crucial. Travelers should also be mindful of the limited medical facilities outside major towns.

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Safety & Security

Bhutan is generally considered a safe travel destination, with low levels of crime and civil unrest. However, it's still important for travelers to exercise caution and be aware of potential risks.

  • Petty Crime: While violent crime is rare, petty crimes like theft and pickpocketing can occur, especially in crowded areas or tourist hotspots. Remain vigilant and keep valuables secure.

  • Scams: Be wary of common travel scams, such as overcharging for goods or services, or being offered unsolicited tours or transportation. Only use reputable and licensed providers.

  • Disputes: Avoid getting involved in disputes or confrontations, as these can escalate quickly. If faced with a difficult situation, remain calm and seek assistance from local authorities or your embassy if needed.

  • Civil Unrest: While Bhutan is politically stable, it's advisable to monitor local news and follow the advice of authorities in case of any civil disturbances or protests.

  • Terrorism: The risk of terrorism in Bhutan is low, but travelers should remain vigilant, especially in crowded areas or tourist sites.

  • Natural Disasters: Bhutan is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes and landslides, particularly during the monsoon season. Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and follow the advice of local authorities.

Overall, Bhutan is a relatively safe destination, but travelers should exercise common sense precautions and be aware of their surroundings at all times.

Health & Medical

Bhutan is generally a safe travel destination in terms of health risks, but travelers should take some precautions. The country has a relatively low prevalence of infectious diseases, but there are still some health concerns to be aware of.

  • Vaccinations: Routine vaccinations like hepatitis A, typhoid, and rabies are recommended for most travelers. Yellow fever vaccination is required if arriving from an infected area.

  • Insect-borne Diseases: There is a risk of insect-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria, especially in southern areas. Use insect repellent and consider antimalarial medication.

  • Animal Diseases: Rabies is present in Bhutan. Avoid contact with stray dogs and other animals.

  • Air Pollution: Air pollution levels can be high in urban areas like Thimphu due to vehicle emissions and burning of fossil fuels. Those with respiratory issues may be affected.

  • Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited, especially outside major towns. Travelers should have comprehensive travel insurance and may need evacuation for serious conditions.

  • Altitude Sickness: Many popular destinations are at high altitudes. Allow time for acclimatization and be aware of altitude sickness symptoms.

Natural Disasters

Bhutan, a landlocked Himalayan kingdom, is relatively safe from major natural disasters due to its geographical location and topography. However, travelers should be aware of the following potential risks:

  • Earthquakes: Bhutan lies in a seismically active region, and minor earthquakes are not uncommon. While major earthquakes are rare, travelers should be prepared for the possibility of tremors during their visit.

  • Landslides: The mountainous terrain and heavy monsoon rains increase the risk of landslides, particularly in remote areas. Travelers should exercise caution when hiking or traveling on mountain roads during the rainy season.

  • Flooding: Bhutan experiences heavy rainfall during the monsoon season (June to September), which can lead to flash floods in low-lying areas and river valleys. Travelers should monitor weather conditions and avoid areas prone to flooding.

  • Wildfires: Although not a major concern, wildfires can occur in Bhutan's forested areas, especially during dry periods. Travelers should follow local advisories and avoid areas affected by wildfires.

  • Avalanches: In the high-altitude regions of Bhutan, avalanches can pose a risk to trekkers and mountaineers during the winter months. It is advisable to hire experienced guides and follow their instructions when engaging in such activities.

Overall, Bhutan has a relatively low risk of major natural disasters, but travelers should remain vigilant, follow local advisories, and take necessary precautions during their visit.


Public transportation in Bhutan is relatively limited, with domestic flights and taxis being the primary modes of transport for tourists. Road travel can be challenging due to the mountainous terrain and narrow, winding roads. Road safety is a concern, with a high rate of accidents often caused by reckless driving, poor road conditions, and lack of proper signage.

  • Domestic Flights: While domestic flights are available, they are often subject to delays or cancellations due to weather conditions and limited infrastructure.
  • Taxis: Taxis are a common mode of transportation for tourists, but it's advisable to negotiate fares beforehand and ensure the driver is licensed and reputable.
  • Rental Cars: Renting a car with a driver is recommended for long-distance travel, as navigating the roads can be difficult for inexperienced drivers.
  • Public Buses: Public buses are available but can be overcrowded and uncomfortable, especially for long journeys.
  • Road Conditions: Roads in Bhutan are often narrow, winding, and poorly maintained, with frequent landslides and rockfalls posing additional risks.

It's essential for travelers to exercise caution when using any mode of transportation in Bhutan and to prioritize safety over convenience.

Cultural Norms

Bhutan is a deeply spiritual nation with a rich cultural heritage rooted in Buddhism. As a traveler, it's essential to respect local customs and traditions to ensure a harmonious experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Dress Modestly: Bhutanese people dress conservatively, covering their arms and legs. Avoid revealing clothing, especially when visiting religious sites or rural areas.

  • Remove Shoes: It's customary to remove your shoes before entering temples, monasteries, and some homes. Carry socks or slip-on shoes for easy removal.

  • Respect Religious Sites: Maintain silence and avoid disruptive behavior when visiting dzongs (fortresses), monasteries, and temples. Seek permission before taking photographs.

  • Greet Respectfully: The traditional greeting involves sticking out the tongue slightly and saying "Ku-zu-zam-po-la" while joining the palms together. Avoid pointing or touching someone's head.

  • Festivals and Celebrations: Bhutan has numerous vibrant festivals and celebrations, many of which are deeply rooted in Buddhist traditions. Observe and participate respectfully if invited, but avoid disrupting or interfering with rituals.

  • Avoid Public Displays of Affection: Public displays of affection, even between married couples, are generally frowned upon in Bhutan.

  • Respect Local Customs: Be mindful of local customs, such as not stepping over someone's legs or pointing your feet towards people or religious objects.

By embracing Bhutan's unique cultural heritage with respect and open-mindedness, travelers can create lasting positive impressions and enrich their travel experience.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Bhutan are limited, especially outside major cities. While basic medical facilities are available in urban areas, they may lack advanced equipment and specialized care. Travelers are advised to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical evacuation, as serious cases often require transport to facilities in neighboring countries.

  • Medical Facilities: Hospitals and clinics in Thimphu and other major towns can handle minor medical issues, but are ill-equipped for complex cases or emergencies.

  • Ambulance Services: Ambulances are available in larger towns, but response times can be slow, especially in remote areas. Private vehicles are often used for medical transport.

  • Police and Fire Services: Police and fire departments exist in major towns, but their resources and response times may be limited, particularly in rural areas.

  • Mountain Rescue: Bhutan has limited mountain rescue capabilities, posing risks for trekkers and climbers in remote regions. Travelers should exercise caution and hire experienced guides.

  • Tourist Police: While not an emergency service, Bhutan has a dedicated Tourist Police unit to assist visitors with non-emergency issues and provide guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

A colorful illustration with three people and the letters "FAQ" representing a Frequently Asked Questions section

Is Bhutan safe for tourists?

Bhutan is generally safe for tourists. However, it's advisable to exercise caution in remote areas and during treks. Petty crimes like bag snatching can occur in cities. Tourists must obtain permits and travel with licensed guides for most parts of the country.

Is Bhutan safe for solo female travelers?

Bhutan is relatively safe for solo female travelers. However, it's recommended to dress modestly and be cautious, especially in remote areas. Avoid isolated places and travel with a guide or group when possible.

Is Bhutan safe for families?

Bhutan is a family-friendly destination with a rich culture and natural beauty. However, some areas may lack modern amenities. Families should consider hiring a guide, especially for treks, and be prepared for basic facilities in remote regions.

Is Bhutan LGBTQ+ friendly?

Homosexuality is legal in Bhutan, but the LGBTQ+ community faces social stigma and discrimination. Same-sex marriage is not recognized, and there are no specific legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community.

Do you need a visa to go to Bhutan?

Most visitors require a visa to enter Bhutan. However, nationals of certain countries like the United States, Canada, and the European Union can obtain a visa on arrival for stays up to 14 days. A valid passport is mandatory for all visitors.

Can you drink tap water in Bhutan?

Tap water is generally not safe to drink in Bhutan. It's recommended to drink bottled or purified water to avoid waterborne illnesses. Avoid ice cubes and raw foods washed with tap water.

What is the currency in Bhutan?

The Ngultrum (BTN) is the official currency of Bhutan, but Indian Rupees are also widely accepted. Credit cards are accepted in major cities and tourist areas, but cash is preferred in remote regions.

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