Official Language: Dzongkha
Time zone: Bhutan Time (BTT)
Emergency #: 112
Vaccinations required: Yes
Risk of malaria: Yes
Bhutan is a mountainous country that includes popular travel destinations such as Punakha Dzong, Trashi Chhoe Dzong, Paro Dzong, Trongsa Dzong and Gangte Goemba.
The standards for patient care and medical services in Bhutan may differ from your home country. Bhutan has both public and private health sectors, with the majority of care provided by the public sector. There is only one private diagnostic clinic that operates in Thimphu. Medical facilities are very limited, especially in rural areas, where practitioners are generally only able to provide basic medical care. The country has a shortage of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and medical specialists. The major hospital in Thimphu meets international standards but serves a large population and can be overcrowded. As a result, delays can occur when seeking medical attention. Traditional medicine services are integrated into Bhutan’s healthcare system.
In the event of a medical emergency, contact your travel health insurance company immediately. Hospitals in Bhutan typically require upfront payment, regardless if you have travel health insurance. Due to limited healthcare services, medical evacuation to Thailand or Singapore is common. Ensure that you have accessible funds to cover upfront fees and adequate travel health insurance, including evacuation. Before you depart, check with your insurer about the extent of their coverage in Bhutan.
Most medications in Bhutan are dispensed through hospital pharmacies and there are only a few retail pharmacies in the country. Essential medications are available but special medications may be difficult to find. The country has a shortage of trained pharmacists.
If you are travelling with medication, check with Bhutan's embassy, consulate, or Ministry of Health for details on medication allowances and restrictions. If your medication is a psychotropic or narcotic, you can review Bhutan's regulations on the International Narcotics Control Board. Note that these sources may provide incomplete or out-of-date information.
Bhutan typically requires tourists to arrange their trips through registered tour operators and travel with experienced drivers. Their national seat belt law applies to all occupants of a vehicle and driving occurs on the left-hand side of the road. Roads outside of urban areas may be narrow and in poor condition.
Before you go, check the list of vaccines and relevant health risks for Bhutan. For personalized advice, check out our Travel Health Planner to get health information that’s tailored to all the destinations on your itinerary: