Foreign Currency Exchange in Bhutan
The major banks now have ATM’s and you can withdraw local currency via Visa & Master Card credit & debit cards & Cirrus / Maestro endorsed bank debit cards. The ATM’s do not always work and usually you’ll only be able to draw at small amounts in any single transaction, so back up cash in USD on Indian Rupees is advisable.
The local currency called Ngultrum (Nu for short) is pegged to the Indian Rupee which is also accepted throughout the Kingdom (except for 500 & 1000 rupee notes which are not accepted). As a more convenient alternative, taking in Indian Rupees we strongly encourage visitors to take in USD cash and/or traveler’s
cheques which we recommend as a back-up in case ATM’s are not working. Take low denomination USD to cover any small daily purchases and use higher denomination USD for exchanging into Nu at local banks and also for guide/driver tips at the end of the journey.
You may need to show your passport when you exchange money or traveler’s cheques.
Credit Cards are becoming more widely accepted too. Most hotels and many handicraft shops, except in central/eastern Bhutan, will now accept Visa & MasterCard and in some cases Amex. Please do note merchant fee surcharges on credit card purchases can be as high as 7% so it is wise to check this first before you use your card.
We suggest bringing US$50-70 per person/per day for items not included in the cost of the trip such as some beverages, souvenirs and emergency money (if you enjoy shopping, we suggest bringing more).
Starting from 26th September 2016 Bank of Bhutan, has launched Japan Credit Bureau (JCB) cards making it the first bank in the country to accept cards (Debit and Credit) issued by Japan Credit Bureau International Company.
With this launch, any BoB’s Point of Sale (PoS) terminals and ATMs across Bhutan will be able to accept any JCB Debit and Credit Cards. Bob currently has more than 480 PoS terminals and 82 ATM.s across Bhutan.
This would be especially beneficially to the Japanese tourists for the transaction while in Bhutan.