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Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

Singapore
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Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

Hello, I'll be travelling to Bhutan for 10 days with 2 friends from 24 March to 2 April.

We have already booked a tour with an agency in Bhutan, but have yet to pay as we haven't finalised where we would like to stay.

While I'm asking my agent for a list of hotels that we can stay at without incurring extra charges outside of the daily tariff, I would also like to hear some recommendations from fellow forummers.

Our itinerary will take us to Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Phobjikha and Bumthang.

We don't expect much from the hotels, as long as it's clean and provide free wireless internet service.

Any suggestions please?

Also, would it be better for us to a bank transfer for the full package costs at one go, or place a deposit first and pay the remaining amount nearer to the trip?

I've been told that the latter would incur additional bank transfer fees, but we're just thinking if it's risky to transfer more than 11k USD at one short.

In general, how much in advance do we have to pay for our trip? I've been told that the flights have been booked for us, but is it only really confirmed when we make payment?

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Thank you very much! :)

Singapore, Singapore
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1. Re: Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

The hotels in Bhutan are not the as modern as in developed countries. But most of the Western and Central Bhutan hotels are clean and spacious, with a bit of Bhutanese style.

Some hotels do have free wireless internet service, but not all. Some hotels have computers avaliable for guests in their business center. Sometimes, the network connection in Bhutan is not good. You may not have any internet connection at all in certain parts of Bhutan. For example, I don't think Phobjikha Valley has internet access or maybe my hotel don't provide internet services.

If the local agency you are using is listed on Tourism Council of Bhutan and Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators, you don't have to worry about the creditabiliy of the agency.

On your airticket, the agency just reserved them for you. The agency needs you to transfer money in order to pay for your airticket. If not, your air ticket will be cancelled on the deadline set by Drukair. You can ask the agency to provide you with the reservation confrmation from Drukair on your airtickets. They should have such email confirmation.Only once your agency makes payment for you, the airticket is then confirmed. Just like we purchase airtickets online. Once you made payment, the airticket is then confirmed.

To apply for your VISA with the Government, the Government needs the guest to make full payment of the tour package before they will approve your VISA. This rule is set by the Government. If you don't make FULL payment, you will not get your VISA on time.

I have booked my second Bhutan trip via the Bhutanese agency and I just made the full payment to them to save on the telegraphic charges. I paid through Citibank New York. Recently, they change to Bank of America New York, Standard Chartered New York and Standard Chartered Singapore.

On when to make payment to your agency, depends on when is the deadline of Drukair on your airticket. Please check with your agency on the payment deadline.

Hope this is useful to you. Happy holiday. I hope you enjoy Bhutan like what I do.

Amsterdam, Holland
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2. Re: Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

Most of the helpful information is already written.

I don't know of any hotel with wireless internet service, but in thimphuI saw a few internet cafe's with this service. Like said, not in all area's you'll have couverage for internet or cell-phones.

As to the ticket: only after the payment the ticket is issued, so pay that as soon as possible. And when you have to pay the rest: usually it is one month befroe the start of your trip, so they can proceed with the visa. But your local agent should tell you this: first securing the ticket, and when he wants the rest of the payment.

As to hotels: post here the list, and people who used them can write about their experience.

Thimphu, Bhutan
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3. Re: Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

As for the hotels included in the package, they are more or less the same - all approved & monitored by the government. And since you have done "due-diligence" before selecting the tour outfitter, you should leave the worrying about the hotel to them. I believe that, it is only in the outfitter's interest to give good service to their guests. Some hotels have been around for a while and are tech savvy (more reviews out there) although they may not be necessarily better than the many new hotels/resorts. Almost all the hotels in western Bhutan have internet connection and the hotels have business center with 1-2 computers where you can check your e-mail. Lately, there are few hotels in Thimphu that provide wireless but you cannot count on it and some charge a fee around US$1-2 per hour. There is one hotel in Punakha that has complimentary wireless connectivity in the room but the signal is weak. There is no internet connectivity in Phobjikha valley. If you are staying for few days in Phobjikha and you have urgent/time-sensitive work to do (then you could perhaps request your outfitter to arrange a internet data card that is provided by the local Telecom provider. You could then connect on your ipad or laptop. In Thimphu town, there are many internet cafes and few coffee shops/cafe that provide free wireless connection.

Drukair tickets: What happens is the outfitter holds your ticket for 3-4 weeks (ticketing time limit -TTL) and renew with Drukair on the last day of expiry till the payment arrives from guests. So, if the outfitter forgets to extend the TTL then the seats will be lost to folks in the wait-list especially during busy travel season. The new rule by Drukair is that one cannot renew the TTL and the ticket will be subject to availability. So, if you are serious about the trip, you will be better off transferring the airfare (atleast) to avoid any complication. The tour payment policy differs from outfitter to outfitter. Most guests make full payment many months in advance to secure the booking, save time and save on the wire-transfer fees. Some guests transfer the airfare + tour deposit at the time of booking and the balance 1 to 2 months prior to arrival. Only when the full payment is received, the outfitter is able to process the Visa. The fund transfer via Citibank & SCB takes 2-3 business days. Happy travels/2013!

Singapore
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4. Re: Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

Hi all, thank you for the responses.

Looks like my friends and I'd better do a telegraphic transfer in the next day or two cos the agent told us early this month that they have reserved our flights already.

And here are the hotels they suggested:

Paro – Khangkhu, Gangtey Palace, Tenzingling or Olathang

Thimphu – Phuntsho Pelri, Riverview or Jumolhari

Punakha: Zangdo Pelri, Meri Puensum or Damchen

Phobjikha : Dewachen or Gakiling ( Dewachen is better but they have limited rooms so it is not always easy to get rooms).

Bumthang: Wangdi Choling or Rinchenling Lodge

Any comments anyone? Thanks a lot :)

I'm really looking forward to Bhutan! :)

Amsterdam, Holland
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5. Re: Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

From the hotels mentioned, I've been in:

Paro,Tenzinling, nice, you can look at my review

Thimphu: Jumolhari, right in the centre, small rooms, very clean. Both in Paro and in Thimphu you'll either have internet in the hotels,or in town.

Punakha: Meri Puensum, I've been twice, some rooms closer to the main dining hall are more modern, down in the buildings the rooms were older, and the walls very thin, meaning I could hear my neighbour .I don't know about this hotel, another one we used in Punakha had very slow internet connection.

Phobjikha; Dewachen is great, has wood stove in the room, very large rustic rooms,i think now they have electricity, before they had a generator

which stopped working in the evening. A fantastic valley, I hope you'll have at least two nights there. I doubt about internet, but that's part of the charm.

Bumthang: Rinchenling, nice rooms with a big bathroom, rooms are grouped in a row around an apple orchard. Very nice people, with home cooked meals. They have a hot-stone bath for extra payment, and you can do it with two people in two baths next to each other. I remember they have internet as well, usable by guests.

Have a great trip.

Edited: 12:07 pm, January 24, 2013
Singapore, Singapore
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6. Re: Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

Paro - Khangkhu - I stayed in this resort for 2 nights in November 2012. I would say the service of this hotel is very good. I have a special diet to follow and the cook was very accomodating to cook extra dishes for me. The room is very spacious and clean. A big bathroom with heater. The balcony view of the Paro Dzong and valley is nice. Quiet and peaceful atmosphere.

Phobjikha - Gakiling - Dewachen is the best hotel in this valley. Next is Gakiling. However, I didn't manage to stay in Dewachen. In Gakiling, try to ask for their new rooms. Didn't shower there as November is too cold in Phobjikha. There was no TV in my room. Very basic facilities and room is rather clean and spacious.

Enjoy your trip.

Singapore
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7. Re: Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

Thank you all for your valuable advice. My friends and I are looking forward to our trip in March!

Singapore
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8. Re: Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

Hi all, I made the bank transfer to my tour agent a week ago but I've yet to hear from them since.

I'm using Nirvana Expeditions, and previous email correspondence with them was fine.

Is it any cause for worry? Thanks.

Singapore, Singapore
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9. Re: Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

Did you email to them and provide them with the bank swift message? When is your payment date to them?

Usually, they will receive your funds one day after the value date. The agency I used will acknowledge my emails first and after one or two days they confirmed receipt of my funds.

Maybe someone who uses Nirvana Expeditions further advise you.

Edited: 10:33 pm, February 05, 2013
Singapore, Singapore
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10. Re: Suggestions for hotels and advice for bank transfer please

My comments as above.

Edited: 10:58 pm, February 05, 2013