Tourism in Bhutan is driven by one motto: “high value, low impact.” It is a government policy that aims to preserve the nature and traditions of Bhutan by limiting the number of tourists that travel to Bhutan each year.
One way to achieve this is to make Bhutan less affordable to your average spending tourist. Another way is to make mandatory that each group should have its own guide and driver.
So far, both these methods were quite successful. Few people have ever had the fortune to see The Land of the Thunder Dragon. But once they did, most vowed to return. Because no matter how much one would try to compare it with other places like Nepal, Bhutan is unique. It is the Switzerland of the Himalayas preserving intact the spirit of Buddhism and the traditions of the people living in the Himalayas.
In September 2022, Bhutan Government introduced a new daily sustainable development fee, known as SDF, of 200 USD per tourist per night. The mandatory fee which is used to improve the tourism industry and offset tourists’ carbon footprint was a dramatically increased from 65 USD how much it was previously.
Before 2022, travellers would pay between 250-300 USD per night with 65 USD being the SDF portion. This fee was known as the minimum daily package rate, MDPR and would include everything: accommodations, transportation, guide, driver, entrance fees and three meals per day. With the new reforms, the MDPR was scraped but now each tourist had to pay the mandatory SDF 200 USD plus the actual cost for the trip ( guide, driver, hotels,…). And good hotels in Bhutan only are not cheap. They start from 150 USD and go up, and up and up. Nevermind the transport and the rest…
It was a very steep increase. The new 200 USD fee was too high. The tourism industry, already affected by Covid restrictions, was suffering.
So, in August 2023, the Government changed its position and announced that all tourists will have to pay a SDF of 100 USD per night. From 65 USD it was still an increase, but from 200 USD it provided a much needed relief.
It is important to note that, as before, the 100 USD does not cover any other costs. It is a tax and just a tax.
Children under five years old do not have to pay it, while those aged 5-12 years old only need to pay 50 USD.
The 50% reduced SDF rate will remain in place until 31 August, 2027. After, the initial 200 USD will apply.
So, yes, now it would be the ideal time to travel to Bhutan. If you really want to see this amazing place, do not postpone it. Although the understanding is that the fee will not increase until 2027, things might shift. Same as they did before.
Choose to join us in a tour around Bhutan and you will not regret it.
We offer extremely competitive prices that include everything. No need to worry about any additional costs. Our accommodations have been chosen carefully and you will be staying only in three and four stars hotels, not guest houses. You will have 24/7 English speaking guides, English speaking drivers, and we assure you that each day will be as memorable as the one before.