What do you need?

Bhutan's First and Only A+ Accredited Institution      Inspiring Education in Bhutan

Please read carefully. Items such as presentable outfits for formal occasions that you might consider optional are in fact required.


Bhutanese generally take considerable pride in their appearance. Usually, no one is likely to be openly critical of slovenly or overly casual dress; their lack of comment does not mean that they do not notice what you are wearing or approve of it. Bhutanese people are likely to compliment tasteful, neat, thoughtful dresses, especially a properly worn gho or kira (the national dress of Bhutan). Bhutanese students wear their gho/kira to class and are expected to wear them during school hours. Although you won’t have to wear the gho/kira (but it is always appreciated when you do), you should look neat and tidy for classes. For males, this means that closed toe shoes are required for class; modest presentable clothing covering the knees and elbows is ideal. For females, your shoulders and knees should be covered, and modest show of necklines is acceptable. During orientation you will be taken around to buy gho and kira if you wish (which would cost you about $50 or more depending on the quality of the material, pattern and texture.

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1.1 REQUIRED for all

  • A GOOD warm (down or micro-fill) jacket (for early months of spring and towards the end of fall semester) – we recommend a Patagonia jacket/sweater or something similar.

  • Rain gear – at least a rain jacket. One that breathes (such as those made of Gortex) is highly recommended. An umbrella is okay but inconvenient while hiking, and does not prevent your clothes from getting wet.

    • Warm gloves hat and sweater for the colder months

    • Good hiking shoes (It is important that these should not be new. If you buy hiking shoes or boots for this trip, break them in well LONG before you get on the plane, NOT in Bhutan! These should preferably have ankle support.)

  • Daily clothes (preferably clothes for warm weather, but keep in mind that the weather will not be hot, it may become chilly during the night and mornings. There is no central heating, however, your dorms will have a heater.)

  • Bathing suit - there occasional possibility of hot spring bathing or hot stone baths in Bhutan!

  • Flip flops (can be purchased there, except for large sizes). You will need these for use in the bathrooms and showers. Remember that it is impossible to find footwear of comfortable larger sizes as most Bhutanese have smaller feet.

  • Jeans can be worn, however, ripped jeans may not be appropriate for any formal or semi-formal occasions.


  • PJ’s are worn as the casual style here for breakfast and even after class hours. It should be long PJs for women, not short night dresses or see-through. Many students use track pants /joggers and a t-shirt/hoodie in the dorms. 


  • There is a laundry service available on campus that is very popular with the exchange students, but they will not wash undergarments and socks. Most commonly students easily hand-wash these items in a bucket and air-dry them. There are washing machines on campus, but it is most likely that you would hand-wash most of your garments if you don’t use the laundry service.



  • A dress or dresses, tops that are modest (modest neckline, covered shoulder, collar preferred) for visiting temples and Dzongs (administrative buildings). Bhutanese women rarely wear dresses that are above the knee; however, you will notice that in the city, many teenagers wear shorts and dresses. We would advise you to dress appropriately on campus. Short dresses and half pants are never appropriate for dzongs or lhakhangs (temples) or any organization. You will want an ankle length dress or skirt or nice pants for visiting offices or monasteries if you are not wearing national dress.0


  • Tights/leggings (you can wear them under Kira and Gho when it gets cold). Leggings/yoga pants are worn with a longer top/dress over them.
  • A wrap-around or sarong- type long skirt that you can put in your pack while hiking, then put on over your hiking shorts in order to enter the dzongs or temples for frequent hikes.

1.3 FOR MEN 


  • Long underwear/boxers that you can wear under your gho—it gets very cold in winter especially mornings and evenings
  • At least two to three pairs of knee length socks – (gold toe seems to be a preferred brand) for wearing with gho (these can be purchased in Bhutan)
  • Jacket, tie, suitable shirt, and pants. If you do not have a sports jacket, you either need to buy one, or be ready to wear your gho to formal occasions.
  • Dress shoes. Suitable shoes are leather shoes that you would wear for a job interview, church or temple. Black is the preferred color for wearing with ghos. This is critical for those who wear sizes larger than 9: larger sizes are nearly impossible to find in Bhutan.
  • Several shirts with collars; T-shirts are only appropriate at the most casual of occasions

How many? Men will want to bring at least three pairs of pants, including dress pants. Jeans take a long time to dry and are heavy. One pair of light-weight hiking pants that dry readily is recommended, along with one or two pairs of shorts for hiking and sports. Women will want at least two pairs of pants, or more, depending on whether or not they prefer dresses or skirts.


Required depending your planned outdoor activities:

  •  A good sleeping bag suitable for temperatures to 0 degrees Celsius or colder. A liner is also recommended as it can be easily laundered.
  • Backpack for hiking (This need not be a large pack as used in extended backpacking, in which one carries all that one needs for extended treks over several days, but large enough for day hiking and carrying gear, including a sleeping bag. Packs to which straps and bungee cords can be attached are particularly useful for attaching a sleeping bag. A schoolbook pack is not sufficient if you plan on extended hikes.)
  • Flashlight with extra batteries (though reasonable batteries are available in Thimphu). Some find headlamps particularly useful for reading during power outages. And reusable water bottle; Filter/pump or Steripen battery operated UV water purifier. 


  • Extra thumb drives – (Available in Bhutan)
  • Unlocked mobile phone (should be done before arrival in Bhutan). During orientation, we will also take you to buy sim cards for your mobile phones. Your phones need to be company unlocked to be able to work in Bhutan. Mobile and data usage budget: $10-20/month.

New currency for exchange on campus/banks (some banks will not take older bills) - can be exchanged on arrival at the airport.


See information about required inoculations. The items below (apart from whatever prescription drugs you require) are all strongly recommended.

  • Sunscreen, bug spray/repellent (small quantity), your preferred cold remedies, such as Pseudophed, Dayquil or Nyquil

  • Pepto bismol tablets, and medicine to relieve diarrhea (such as Imodium). Students have found Pepto Bismol tablets to be especially helpful; be sure to bring your own supply. Gastro-intestinal infections have not proven common, and usually are of short duration. The bismuth in Pepto Bismol has been shown to be an effective curative and prophylactic agent, in addition to reducing symptoms. The diet can take some getting used to, but you will soon be craving chilies with all your meals.

  • Sleep aids (such as sominex or melatonin, as sleeping at altitude can be difficult at first), and any other prescription sleep aid drugs you need.

  • Regular prescription drugs. If you need prescription drugs on a regular basis that can only be purchased in limited quantities at any given time, you will need to arrange to have them sent to you via DHL.

  • Motion sickness medication. If you are prone to motion sickness, be sure to bring your preferred medication. There are very few kilometers of straight or level road in Bhutan.

  • Ear plug, eye shade for sleeping, sunglasses, spare pair of glasses

  • The national hospitals provide free contraceptives for both male and female that you can avail from the college nurse and be advised on how to avail from the hospital from her.

  • Altitude sickness medication if you plan to hike to higher altitudes (the college campus and most settled areas you would be around/visiting are not over 3000 m. Ask your doctor about medication that reduces the symptoms of altitude sickness. The likelihood of getting altitude sickness is low, but it has occurred, and can affect even the fittest. Going to a lower altitude solves the problem immediately, but palliative medication can reduce discomfort in the meantime. Before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, please seek advice from your doctor with regard to vaccinations and appropriate medication you should have prior to your travels. As a minimum, you should have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.

              Seehttp://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/bhutan for further advice.


  • Small gifts that are unique to you or the United States (or wherever you call home) for your RTC Buddies and friends that you make in the course of the program. Savory (as opposed to sweet) snacks that can be shared are particularly welcome.

  • Pictures of yourselves and your family (this is a culturally familiar way to get to know one another)

  • Movies in your hard-drive (you may want entertainment during flights and for down time)

  • Download skype or other preferred online communication options on your computer (and tell your loved ones to do the same). This may or may not work at RTC, where there are bandwidth limitations, but is constantly improving. Students have success with Skyping in the early morning hours before their peers are on the net. You will likely want to buy data for Skyping or if you have online classes that you are participating in at home. You can purchase sim cards and data here in Bhutan.

  • Book(s) that you particularly want to read. There are many bookstores in Thimphu that have wonderful Bhutanese novels, collections of short stories, as well as more academically and religiously oriented books that will supply one with plenty of great reading material. There is also, of course, RTC’s library


  • If you are planning on using your ATM cards here you should contact your bank so they aren't frozen. There are a few places that accept credit cards but this is not the norm. People usually carry cash with them.

6.0  What you don’t need to bring

You really don’t need to bring much of anything that is not on this list apart from the obvious (underwear, a toothbrush, your suitcase, etc.) There is no need to bring too much toiletries unless you need to stick to a particular International brand which can be hard to find in Bhutan. You don’t really need to bring any school supplies, such as notebooks or pens (can be bought in Thimphu), though you will want something to write in and with, as you travel, and as soon as you enter the country to record your experiences, and note down important information. If you like to use pencils that have erasers on them, bring the little rubber erasers you can fit on the pencil top. Bedding is provided/bought for you by RTC on your first day on campus in addition to a bucket and roll of toilet paper. In fact, one can purchase just about anything one might need here, from back packs to laptops at reasonable prices. We have listed above those items that you are likely to want to fit your needs precisely (including clothes that fit, laptops with your programs and files on them), items that you will want to use immediately (such as a backpack, water bottle), and those few things that are difficult or impossible to find here.

Note: Cigarettes are not legally available for purchase in Bhutan, and if found on Campus will be penalized. Smoking is strictly prohibited in most public places (though it is a common, if furtive, practice, and there are some designated smoking areas in some restaurants and hotels). Those caught smoking or in possession of tobacco products must be able to provide evidence that they purchased their cigarettes outside the country and that they have paid the required taxes and duties, both of which are levied at the rate of 100 percent. PENALTIES ARE SEVERE.

Obviously, do NOT bring anything else that would be illegal, such as drugs. Aircraft restrictions entering Bhutan: