Bhutan Ngultrum - BTN
This currency definitely ranks among the group of world currencies that is not very widely known. The ngultrum is used in Bhutan although it is not the only currency used there. The people also use the Indian rupee and indeed the ngultrum is pegged to it on a 1:1 basis.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
The ngultrum is a decimal currency and each individual ngultrum is split into 100 chhertum. There are only a few coins in use in the country at present, as the two lowest-valued coins are not often seen anymore owing to inflation. These are the 5 and 10 chhertum pieces. You will see other chhertum coins, which are the 20, 25 and 50 chhertum pieces. There is also a one ngultrum coin in use.
The country has more banknotes in use than coins, so you can expect to see the following. They are the 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 ngultrum notes.
From past to present – the history of the Bhutanese ngultrum
As you might guess from the fact the Indian rupee is still used in the country, a version of it was the sole currency before 1974. This was the Bhutanese rupee. In fact before the ngultrum came into being the rupee was used in Bhutan for almost 200 years. It was thought however that a new currency would provide a better national identity for the country, and so the Bhutanese ngultrum came into being and has been used ever since.
How to get hold of the Bhutanese ngultrum
You won’t be surprised to learn you can’t get hold of the ngultrum outside of Bhutan itself. The best thing you can do is to wait until you arrive in Bhutan and to get some then. The best currency to take in is by far the Indian rupee, as this is sometimes accepted in the country. It is also the easiest one to exchange for the ngultrum.
You should bear in mind that this is not a country that uses cash machines, nor is it a country where paying by credit card is commonplace. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. The best thing to do is to assume you will be paying by cash at every opportunity.
The only other option you have – and it is one that is worth considering, especially as without it you are forced to take in cash and nothing else – is to get traveller’s cheques. Here you have a little more variety in the currency you can get them in. US dollars is fine, as is the euro and also the British pound.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Bhutanese ngultrum
All you need to do is to find the nearest and most readily-updated currency converter to determine the exchange rate you want. It should be a matter of taking just a few seconds to find the information you need so you can see how far your own currency will go in Bhutan.
We know already that one ngultrum is worth exactly one Indian rupee, so you can keep this in mind when looking to see how much your own currency is worth in ngultrums. It is also good to bear in mind that if you are using a currency converter that doesn’t include the ngultrum among its options, you can simply use the Indian rupee instead as it will result in the same exchange rate.
The UK does not have an embassy for Bhutan. However the country itself does have an official tourism website set up for anyone who might want to visit the country. You can see it at http://www.tourism.gov.bt/.
Travelling safely with the Bhutanese ngultrum
Bhutan is a great place to visit even though there are strict rules on how you can get into the country as a tourist. You’ll need to book a place on a recognised tour as a condition of getting a visa into the country. The tourism website link above will provide you with all the information you need in this respect so you know how to proceed.
This is normally the part of the article where we would advise you to take good care of your money and valuables. While this is always good advice it is perhaps less important in Bhutan. It is a very safe country to go to and there are few problems there with regard to crime. The main thing you have to be aware of is the danger of actually losing your ngultrums instead of having them stolen from you. It’s a good idea to keep them safe so you know where they are and you don’t misplace them. Other than that you don’t really have too much to worry about.
Where to spend your ngultrums in Bhutan – and what to spend them on
We’ve already mentioned the fact that citizens here have the Indian rupee as well as their own currency. It should not surprise you therefore to learn that Bhutan shares much of its border with India. The only area where it doesn’t meet India is to the north, where instead it meets China. Bangladesh and Nepal are not that far away geographically but Indian states stand in between them in each case.
As we have already noted, the only way to visit Bhutan is by going there on a tour. Those in charge of the country are keen to have proper control of tourism rather than allowing anyone and everyone to come into the country. You shouldn’t let this distract you from going though, because a tour is often one of the best ways to see a country. It certainly prevents you from missing some of its undeniable highlights.
For now though let’s explore Bhutan online to see what is on offer there. The capital of the country is Thimphu which sits inside a valley. Paro Airport is only a few miles away from the capital. Thimphu is well set up as a destination for tourists, and there are hotels and tourist attractions here as well as throughout the rest of Bhutan. Look out for the Bhutan Textile Museum while you are in the city, as this provides a fascinating insight into the history of this particular area.
If you are keen to get out into the countryside to see what Bhutan has to offer, there are plenty of tours that will satisfy such urges. The Himalayas are right on the doorstep here so you can be assured of some great opportunities to hike, bike or trek around the more mountainous regions of Bhutan. In addition if you would like to try white water rafting there are opportunities to do this as well. There are plenty of rivers running through Bhutan that offer the chance to do a spot of kayaking too, in case white water rafting sounds a bit much!
One amazing sight in Bhutan is known as Paro Taktsang, or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. You’ll find this in the western part of the country, and it is perched literally on the side of a cliff. It was built back in the 17th century and unfortunately it was severely damaged during a fire in 1998. However the monastery was subsequently restored back to its former glory.
Another place worth seeing in the west of the country is in Paro, which is home to the National Museum of Bhutan. There are many artefacts here that date back thousands of years and reveal much about the history of the country. It takes you on a spiritual and enlightening journey that is quite fascinating, sharing paintings, statues and all manner of different galleries with its visitors.
Paro itself is a pleasant and welcoming place, sitting in a valley of the same name. You’ll find the main airport in the country here – one that is quite unlike any other airport you will ever have seen. It looks rather attractive! The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is nearby, not to mention many buildings that are quite beautiful in terms of their architecture. A happy afternoon can certainly be spent wandering around the shops to see what they have to offer.
Tourism is clearly very well controlled in Bhutan. While this might seem annoying and frustrating to begin with, taking away your ability to plan your own trip there, it is actually a very good thing. You get to book onto a tour that is clearly designed to make sure tourists see the very best of the country.
There are also lots of tours you can book a spot on, so you are not restricted to just one of them. This makes it easier to book the tour that best suits your needs. For example some of them are more active than others and give you the chance to go walking, hiking, biking and yes, even white water rafting. Others allow you to explore at a more sedate pace, while still seeing all the best parts of the country.
It is well worth looking into all the tours that are available before deciding which one to book. This will give you the best chance to enjoy the best trip to Bhutan, with lots of opportunities to spend your ngultrums while you are there.