Work and Travel in Bhutan
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN BHUTAN FOR TRAVELLERS
Bhutan is a tiny Asian country best known for measuring their country’s progress through the Gross National Happiness index. This is also one of the most expensive countries in the world to travel, where the cost for a single day is around $250 for the visa.
It’s why nearly everyone who decides to travel in Bhutan are only there for a few days as part of an organised tour. But you do have the chance to work and travel in Bhutan if you come as part of an international organisation, where the visa fee is waived.
That’s why you should apply for a position before you arrive as private volunteer opportunities in Bhutan simply aren’t available.
Here’s our travel guide to Bhutan, one of the most secretive countries in the world (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/bhutan).
1. Teach English in Bhutan
One of the most popular options for volunteering in Bhutan is teaching English. The government is eager to increase the language proficiency of the country, so English is high on the list.
You should already have a previous qualification to stand a chance of getting a position in Bhutan. Anyone who wants to work in Bhutan will need to go through a professional organisation. These tend to be quite picky as they work directly with world governments and the United Nations (UN).
Where you work in Bhutan will depend on the organisation you happen to be working with.
2. Become an Educator in Bhutan
Aside from teaching English, there’s a big demand for showing young people how to read and write. Like the majority of poorer countries in this part of the world, the education system is not fantastic. It’s one of the reasons why there are so many charities in the country.
You can easily find yourself working in a rural area, which will help you to see more of this beautiful country. The chances are you won’t find yourself in these locations as a conventional tourist.
3. Work in Conservation in Bhutan
Conservation is part of the Gross National Happiness index in the country. It’s why 60% of Bhutan’s land area is still covered by forests.
You can work in conservation in Bhutan, helping to preserve the forests of the country. It’s also possible to work in some of the monasteries there. Anyone with experience in construction will be able to help with renovations and ensuring they’re preserved for future generations.
Conservation work can take you to some of the least discovered areas of the country and the world.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR BHUTAN
There are only three countries in the world that can enter Bhutan without worrying about a visa (https://www.bhutan.travel/page/visaentry-permit). These are India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. India is entitled to free movement of people, as part of a treaty made after India’s independence (https://mea.gov.in/Images/pdf/india-bhutan-treaty-07.pdf).
Everyone else has to have a visa in advance. Conventional tourists must have a pre-booked tourist package, which ranges from $200 to $250, with additional costs not included. Travellers using a volunteer visa are the only exception to this, but a visa must be obtained (http://www.mohca.gov.bt/Publications/IMMIGRATION RULES & REGULATIONS.pdf).
If you already have a backpacking job in Bhutan, your organisation will take care of this for you and you won’t have to pay for the cost of a visa.
Volunteers also have the chance to bring two guests to the country every year, where they will also have their fees waived.
Do remember that immigration is tough here and you won’t be able to get around these rules as permits are checked regularly within the country via police checkpoints.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN BHUTAN
Spring in Bhutan brings a tropical climate in the south and a cooler climate in the mountains. You have a range of different volunteer jobs in Bhutan at this time of year.
We recommend heading to the northern regions, where you can involve yourself in conservation work. Work in monasteries is always a popular choice during spring.
This will allow you to escape the cold temperatures in these parts of the country throughout the winter.
You may also want to consider picking up work in the rural areas. Weather concerns won’t inadvertently isolate you from the villages.
The summer season brings hotter temperatures. Again, you should consider avoiding the tropical areas in the south of the country throughout autumn. The mountains will bring easier work conditions and give you the chance to access some of the most remote regions of the country.
As for seasonal backpacker skills, you should refer to the previous section. They continue to be valid and they’re good options for anyone who wants to work in Bhutan.
The autumn period brings rain in the southern part of the country and cooler temperatures in the north. We recommend heading to the south for your volunteer position in Bhutan.
Think about working in schools. Teaching children how to read and how to speak English is always popular in autumn. Many international organisations ramp up their efforts throughout the autumn period.
Winter in Bhutan is the worst time of year to be volunteering here. Much of the country is cold, apart from the far south. However, you can refer back to the ‘Autumn’ section for more information on what you can do during winter.
Either way, short-term volunteering isn’t an option, so you don’t have too many choices. The majority of jobs in Bhutan require a minimum commitment of six months. It’s also possible to find three-month positions, but these are rare.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN BHUTAN
Bhutan is one of the least visited countries in the world. Curiosity is something you’re bound to experience on a regular basis. However, the long-term presence of international organisations means that you won’t stand out anywhere near as much as you think.
The country is grateful for the aid and you’ll meet friendly people who’re glad that you’re there. The government also sponsors these organisations as they have made great strides in poverty alleviation.
You won’t forget your experiences with the local people in a hurry.
Do you want to do something special with work and travel in Bhutan?
- Edited on Sep 20 2018 by Mariia