Whatever it is you’re doing while in Bhutan; hiking to Tiger’s Nest (I should hope so!), white water rafting, museum hopping or witnessing one of the annual festivals such as the Thimphu Tshechu, you need to make sure you pack all of the essentials that you will need for an amazing trip. So use this Bhutan packing list to help you enjoy every second of your time here, no matter what the weather or your choice of activities and entertainment. We’ve got you covered!
Bhutan Packing List
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Firstly, how do the locals dress in Bhutan?
In 1989 a strict dress code was enforced across Bhutan. Men were required to wear a Gho, a knee-length robe tied at the waist, and women a Kira, an ankle-length sari-like garment accompanied by a light jacket known as a Tego. These days the dress code is much more relaxed and uniform is only mandatory in government offices, schools, monasteries and during important events.
Western fashion influences are beginning to seep through into the national dress and vice versa, a famous Balenciaga jacket was inspired by the Bhutanese people who’s tribal prints are becoming en vogue and making appearances on various catwalks around the world.
You might also like: 10 cool things every traveler should do in Bhutan
Bhutan still has a fairly formal dress code for both Bhutanese and visitors. A shirt with a collar, preferably long sleeves, and long trousers are required to enter a temple or monastery. For women travelers visiting Bhutan it’s advised to dress modestly; high neck lines, long sleeves, trousers and below or to the knee skirts will be just fine. Most of the religious sites, if not all, will require you to cover your arms and legs in order to enter so dressing modestly makes day to day sightseeing easier and will ensure you don’t offend the locals.
Think about the weather and climate when creating your Bhutan Packing List
The best time to visit Bhutan for warm, dry and sunny weather is between October and March, this is the most popular time for travelers. As Bhutan heats up in April and May travel prices begin to drop and you can get some excellent value trips. Monsoon season arrives in May and ends in September and if you’re visiting Bhutan during this time expect a lot of torrential rain and include waterproof clothing in your Packing List. The hottest time of the year is in May and June.
Clothing To Pack
Trekking Trousers x2: Pack trekking trousers that
double triple-up as trousers you can wear for general sightseeing and even on the plane too. This saves room in your luggage. If necessary make use of your hotels laundry service. I like these boot cut outdoor stretch pants because they fit quite snug and flatter your figure (you CAN look good while hiking without offending the locals). They’re also stain, rain and UV resistant.
Short Sleeve T-shirts x2: Pack 1 breathable lightweight t-shirt that can be worn during the day or for a hike.
Long Sleeve T-shirts x2: Icebreaker is a really great brand for keeping you warm or cool depending on the weather.
Long Johns or thermal legging: Sooo not sexy but so necessary for trips to Bhutan during those colder months.
Lightweight Fleece: Pack one that’s lightweight and quick to dry like this beauty.
Rainproof (and windproof) coat: This jacket is pretty close to perfect for hiking in Bhutan or just being outdoors during Bhutan’s chilly (and sometimes icy-cold) mornings and evenings.
Sports Bras x2: If you’re trekking, hiking or just doing a lot of sightseeing pack sports bras.
Hiking Socks: Don’t overlook proper hiking socks for under your hiking boots. Think thick and warm for winter and lightweight and breathable for Summer trips to Bhutan.
Headband or Buff: Get one like this that can triple-up as a scarf, face-mask and headband for sweat absorption and to keep your hair out of your face. You can use it as a bit of neck support to sleep on public transport too. This will be incredibly useful and you will be so glad you packed one.
Fleece Hat: Get one that can easily fit under your coat’s hood, so no pom poms on the top, you must resist the pom pom!
Gloves: Get proper hiking gloves and not fleece gloves because the wind will go straight through them.
Hiking Boots: These can make or break your trip so make sure they’re comfy and big enough to be able to wear two pairs of socks with. They also need to be broken in properly before you attempt to do any hiking. Most importantly, you should not be able to ever feel your big toe touch the front of the boot. If you can, then be prepared to lose your toenails on the way back down. These mid-rise waterproof hiking boots by Hi-Tec are ideal for Bhutan.
Gear To Pack
Hydration Pack: If you’re carrying trekking poles or anything else similar the last thing you want to have to do is try and pull out a water bottle every time you get thirsty. A hydration pack keeps water easily accessible to you during your trek via a hose that’s attached to your shoulder strap.
Day Pack: I love Osprey’s Daylight Plus Daypack which comes with a hydration pocket for your Hydration pack.
Drinking Bottle: Camelbak has really good options for easy to use water bottles. Some people like to pack a drinking bottle if they don’t think their hydration pack will have enough water to keep them going on a long hike or trek.
Sunglasses: Pack polarized sunglasses with UV protection that can be worn at a very high altitude. You need these whether you are traveling to Bhutan in Summer or Winter because the light is so bright year-round.
Waterproof Sack: For valuable and electronics in case it pours down (oh and it will, but only if you’re not prepared… because thats life!).
Hiking Poles: Don’t count on being able to buy these when you arrive. These hiking poles are invaluable for your knees and balance during steep ascents so pack your poles people!
Head torch and batteries Some places you stay might not have electricity.
Trekking towel: Fast drying, very absorbent, compact and lightweight; the Rainleaf micro fibre towel is one of the most popular choices and you can use it after your travels for the gym too and lots of other sweat-inducing things.
DSLR Camera: For a trip of a lifetime that you know will set your instagram account on fire you might want to consider bringing your DSLR. That said, my camera on my iphone is so good I’m not sure I can justify the extra weight of a DSLR these days.
Toiletries To Consider
Baby Wipes: Because if I’m going to stink it might as well be like a baby.
Travel Size: Shampoo, hand sanitizer, SPF 50 sunscreen and lip balm.
Optional Extras (we love)
Packing Cubes: Travel light and stay organized with these lightweight Eagle Creek packing cubes.
Re-useable Mini Cosmetic Bottles: Cute and high-quality travel bottles that won’t crack on you.
Hidden Pocket Scarves: Stash secret cash, lip balm and your passport in a sneaky scarf like this.
Best place to buy Bhutan travel gear
Trust me, you don’t need to spend a small fortune on all this travel gear. Besides just getting to Bhutan has already cost you an arm and a leg. If you’re planning your trip in advance then you should be able to catch a sale at any good outdoor clothing store, there’s usually about three or four each year. I’ve bought everything from hiking boots to sunglasses by timing my shopping trips to coincide with a sale and saved between 40-75% each time. So planning in advance will save you a lot of hard earned cash.
If you don’t have time to wait for a sale, you can still get a good deal online. Of course Amazon is one of the best places to go to read hundreds of reviews and compare prices before making a purchase. Another bonus of shopping online for your Bhutan travel gear is that you can save your legs for the trek to Tiger’s Nest Monastery. That was actually a joke, if you don’t get that joke, please don’t do the trek! Really… save your legs.
Be aware that places such as Bhutan will not have outdoor gear shops or much choice so if you forget to bring something that you discover you need, your best option may be to rent it while you’re there (if that’s even an option) borrow from a friend, or do without. But this shouldn’t be necessary because this fabulous Bhutan Packing List is here to help you to not forget the essentials.
Travel Resources (we swear by)
Skyscanner for getting the best deals on flights.
Booking.com for booking hotel accommodation.
Hostelworld for budget travelers or anyone looking to meet travel buddies.
GetYourGuide for the best tours and activities to do once you’ve arrived.
IVisa helps us know if we need a visa, how long it will take to process and how much it will cost. Plus its saves a visit to an embassy and waiting in a queue.
Lonely Planet Bhutan: Check price on Amazon
For more Bhutan travel tips take a peek at our Bhutan Travel Guide which includes the Bhutan basics, top things to do, fun festivals, what to eat, where to stay and recommended trip planning resources.
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Did we miss something that you think should be included in this Bhutan Packing List? Let us know in the comments section below!