If you’re eager to visit the most impressive places in Asia, Bhutan should be definitely on your checklist. As a small country in the Himalaya mountains, situated between India and China, Bhutan is for sure a must-visit place- at least once in a lifetime. Pristine environment, amazingly interesting local color and strong sense of culture and tradition are waiting for you in this country, which has so many great things to offer to its tourists.
This last remaining Buddhist Kingdom will not only make you perceive things differently- as its philosophy is based on a holistic approach of happiness and well-being- but it will also provide you an unforgettable journey in which you could find yourself and change your perspective- all of these in a safe environment that will make you go back there one day. Therefore, in case you were asking yourself whether Bhutan is safe to visit, find out that it definitely is. Because this does not mean that you should not exercise normal precautions, we provide you the Bhutan safety travel guide you need in order for your Asian experience to be trouble-free.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Bhutan
As one of the safest countries in Asia, Bhutan does not come with many risks and this is why authorities usually advise travelers to exercise a normal degree of precaution. Because you for sure want your journey to be as safe as possible, here’s the Bhutan safety guide you’re looking for:
Overall Risks in Bhutan: LOW
If you’ve already planned your trip to Bhutan, you have definitely made the right choice, as it is one of the safest places in Asia. Therefore, no unfortunate events should happen to you during your stay, unless you are equipped with common sense and a normal degree of precaution that will help you avoid the petty thefts and scams that sometimes can appear in Bhutan.
In order to stay safe in Bhutan, do not forget to respect the others, especially the local people, who are usually very friendly with foreigners. As in any other place you visit, try not to trust anybody and do not let any valuable objects unattended.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Bhutan: LOW
Even if Bhutan is almost completely devoid of scams and thefts, they cannot be ruled out. No serious events have been registered and therefore, the risk of encountering crime when walking on the roads of Bhutan is very low.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Bhutan?
With a little common sense and respect for the local customs, traditions and laws, you can have a trouble free journey that you will remember forever. Do not trust anyone and do not leave any valuable objects unattended in public places. These are important aspects you should keep in mind when visiting Bhutan.
Scam Risk in Bhutan: LOW
When it comes to scams, Bhutan is mostly famous - so to say - for internet and telephone scams, which usually involve currency. Travel scams and such have not been reported in recent years. Naturally, you might encounter the usual merchant or clerk that will try to scam you for a couple of dollars here and there, but such scams are easily avoidable if you keep an eye on what you're doing and don't let yourself distracted.
As with any other risk implie by this country, you only have to take some basic safety measures in order to have a trip with no unpleasant events.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Bhutan?
Just as we mentioned before, if you want to avoid getting scammed while in Bhutan, you have to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Obviously, if any stranger offers to help you out of a sudden, it is better to politely refuse him/ her, just in case. We also recommend you to get familiar with the local currency and to always double-check the change you receive after purchasing something.
While inside a restaurant or a night-club, you should have a look on the menu before ordering something so that you know the exact prices of the beverages and food.
Kidnapping Risk in Bhutan: LOW
Back in 2014, Bhutan's kidnapping rate was of 0.8 cases per 100,000 population, with a total of six kidnappings in the mentioned year. Even though the rate has see an increase when compared to the previous years, it is still at a level that should not worry you or any other travelers. Moreover, there are no reports of kidnappings that have involved or have been targeted at tourists/ travelers.
Therefore, as long as you stay away from any dangerous areas, you should not be exposed to such risks. Of course, remember to apply some basic safety/ protection measures as well.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Bhutan?
Given the low rate of kidnappings, we cans safely assume that these occur mostly in either remote or bad-reputed areas, especially those where authorities have a long response time. In this respect, we recommend you to stick to the areas that are meant for tourists, within major towns and such, and avoid remote areas such as villages.
Moreover, even if you are in a major town, it is still recommended that you stay away from the city outskirts, the slums, and any poorly lit or shady alleys/ neighborhoods. Stay within the areas that are populated and in which police officers can be seen patrolling.
Terrorism Risk in Bhutan: LOW
Bhutan has not been a target country for terrorist groups, but attacks cannot be ruled out, especially because they are usually directed towards foreigners. Because there is a global threat regarding terrorist attacks all over the world, you should know how to act in such unfortunate circumstances. Check out how you can stay safe in Bhutan during a terrorist attack.
- How to avoid terrorism in Bhutan?
In order to avoid being a victim of a terrorist attack, you should be very vigilant when you visit crowded areas, usually visited by tourists. Places where large gatherings of people meet are usually target locations for terrorists, so make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and take shelter in case you notice something strange.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Bhutan: LOW
Bhutan is a friendly country and whether you want to visit it with a group of friends, a partner or by yourself, the chances are you will be safe and gather wonderful memories. As a woman traveling alone in Bhutan, you should keep in mind a few things and with those in mind, your journey will be amazing.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Bhutan?
In case you travel alone in Bhutan, keep an eye on your valuable, do not carry large sums of money or important documents every time you walk on the streets, as losing your purse or wallet will cause serious losses in those cases. Keep safe by walking only on major streets and try to avoid roaming the streets at night.
Rape Risk in Bhutan: LOW
In 2013, Bhutan's rape rate was of 7.7 cases per 100, population, with a total of 58 cases in that year. As statistics suggest, this rate has been increasing and decreasing over the years, staying at around 7.2 - 8.1 cases. However, there have been no reports telling of foreigners/ tourists being involved or targeted in such cases.
Just as with kidnapping, such incidents happen mostly at a local level, in remote areas or towards the outskirts of a city. Therefore, you should not be worried too much about this risk, as the chances of you getting raped while in Bhutan are quite low, especially given the fact that you are a tourist. As you've noticed so far, Bhutan is quite a safe country - at most, you risk being either pickpocketed, robbed, or scammed.
- How to avoid getting raped in Bhutan?
In order to avoid getting raped while in Bhutan, we recommend you to stay within the tourist-designated areas. Namely, the centers or the most populated parts of a city. If you plan any long distance trips that involve you visiting any remote areas, it is recommended that you are accompanied by either friends or a tour guide.
Be vigilant while in night-clubs or bars, as you may get approached by locals/ strangers. However, if the location is populated, so to say, it is unlikely that someone will harass or assault you.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Bhutan: LOW
As you've noticed so far, Bhutan comes with little to no risks in terms of personal safety. Basically, the only things you should be worried about are muggers, pickpockets, petty thieves, and scammers. Naturally, if you stay on your toes most of the times you won't be a victim to the aforementioned.
These apply when traveling with children as well. As long as you can both keep an eye on them and make sure that you are safe, there's nothing wrong that should happen. There are no reports of children being kidnapped or such, and there are no reports of violence towards foreigners.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
When traveling with your children, all you have to do is keep an eye on them and make sure that they are safe - at all times. Bhutan may not be that famous among tourists and travelers, but you can expect to bump into some crowds while visiting it. Naturally, your children may want to explore the surrounding areas or such and, eventually, get a bit lost, so to say.
As searching for your children while in a foreign country is the last thing you'd want to do as a tourist, we strongly recommend you to make sure that they are being watched over at all times and that they don't get themselves in any trouble. Also, when visiting temples and dzongs, consider briefing them on how they should behave in such locations, as local customs and traditions, as well as the respect towards them, are taken very seriously.
Natural Disaster Risk in Bhutan: MEDIUM
When planning a visit to Bhutan, you should definitely get informed about the monsoon season which lasts from July to August, which might cause landslides and consequently block many main roads. Heavy rains might fall and therefore, may transform these main roads in seas of mud and wash away bridges. Other threats are earthquakes, common in some parts of Bhutan and the cold weather.
In order to stay safe in Bhutan at any time, you should be very well informed about the weather and the natural risks you’re exposing yourself to. Knowing how to behave when encountering an earthquake will be for sure helpful.
Transportation Risks in Bhutan: LOW
If you’re thinking of driving a car in Bhutan, you might want to know that it is not advisable to do so, as roads there are narrow and many road accidents occur- even if they are not necessarily harmful. Apart from that, road travel is pretty safe, but extra caution should be exercised.
When it comes to public transportation, find out that public buses are usually very crowded and messy and therefore, using one to get from one place to another can turn into a real challenge. Taxis are not to be trusted either, as drivers tend to forget about the meter and charge you more for your ride.
When you plan your journey to Bhutan, make sure you have everything covered, from transport to the target destinations. In this way, you can avoid the road risks mentioned above and simply enjoy your stay. In what concerns the public transportation, try to avoid using it and go for organized tours, in which you can enjoy the company of a local guide as well. In this way, you can find out more about your surroundings as well
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Bhutan: LOW
Naturally, there have been no reports of serious incidents taking place in night-clubs, pubs, or bars. However, even though Bhutan seems like the most peaceful country you could visit, you should be vigilant most of the times. In short, don't let your guard down just because a certain location does not look dangerous at all.
When it comes to night-clubs and similar facilities, it is recommended that you keep an eye on your drinks at all times. The possession and use of illegal drugs may come with strict penalties and long jail sentences, but we cannot fully rule out such substances being used to spike drinks. It is better to just be cautious and avoid such things completely.
You may not risk much while in a night-club, but you do risk being pickpocketed or robbed when returning to your accommodation. This is why we recommend you to rely on a reputed taxi company as your means of getting back home. Walking back home on foot or, even worse, all alone, is strongly advised against.
Health Risks in Bhutan
In terms of medical facilities, you should rely on the capital's hospital, as it is equipped with modern diagnostic facilities and such. Outside of the capital - in smaller cities and such -, medical facilities can only provide you with basic health care.
If you plan on trekking, especially in remote areas, it is recommended that you familiarize yourself with all the aspect of altitude sickness - as high mountains may be quite demanding for most travelers.
Other than the aforementioned, there's really nothing else you should be worrying about in terms of health risks - there are no viruses, diseases, outbreaks, or such reported in Bhutan in recent years.
Obviously, you do still have to travel with proper travel health insurance and with enough funds to cover the costs of any medicine or treatment that you may be subject to. As they say - it is better to be safe than sorry! Therefore, come prepared with anything you may need when it comes to health risks, such as medicine you might have to take, first-aid kits, and such.
Other aspects to take into account when visiting Bhutan:
- Stray dogs
They might be quiet and calm during the day, but stray dogs tend to get violent after the dark comes and therefore, you should stay away from them. A dog bite can come with the risk of rabies and this could ruin your holiday.
2. Long trekking journeys
Surrounded by the Himalayan mountains, Bhutan will tempt you to go trekking. Be careful and very well informed before embarking on this kind of journey, as the treks are definitely not built for beginners. You should make sure you’re accompanied by a local guide when climbing the mountain and you’re very well equipped with proper things for a long journey.
- Busy periods
During peak periods, the risks of encountering dangers during your journey definitely increases. Therefore, plan your journey strategically and consider travelling during the non-peak season, which means avoiding the following months: March, April, October and November.
- Tobacco is forbidden
You’ve chosen to visit the only country in the world that has banned the consumption of tobacco and therefore, smoking is not allowed in public places. What is more, the sale of alcohol is prohibited on Tuesdays, so you might want to avoid buying and consuming it on that particular day.
With these Bhutan safety tips in your mind and good knowledge about the local customs and traditions, you’re really well prepared to enjoy this amazing country.
List of Vaccines You Need in Bhutan
Even if Bhutan has reasonably well equipped hospitals and you can be safe there in cases in which you need medical assistance, you should still visit your medical care provider before travelling to this Asian country. Make sure you have the right medical assurance and- compulsory- the right vaccines at least 4 weeks before embarking on your journey.
Most Dangerous Areas in Bhutan
There are no dangerous areas in Bhutan - as in there are no areas that you should purposely avoid. However, as mentioned before, you should be careful when trekking or when at high altitudes, when walking on streets that have stray dogs - especially during the night -, and when traveling during bad weather.
Concluding Remarks: Is Bhutan Safe to Visit?
As you could see above, Bhutan is indeed a safe destination. This does not mean that you should not exercise normal precaution during your stay. With our Bhutan safety travel tips in your mind, you’re all set to embark on this wonderful journey:
- Do not carry valuable objects with you and, in case you do, do not let them unattended;
- Do not forget about common sense, as local people really appreciate it;
- Make sure you have a medical insurance and the vaccines needed in order not to get exposed to dangerous viruses;
- Stay away from stray dogs, especially during night;
- Keep up with the weather forecast.
Now that you’re equipped with the Bhutan safety guide you were looking for, do not forget to enjoy the amazing landscapes, tourist attractions and unique local color Bhutan offers to its visitors.