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Need to stay in contact with USA while in Bhutan--no cell phone.

Need to stay in contact with USA while in Bhutan--no cell phone.

Old Jun 4th, 2012, 05:48 AM
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kp
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Need to stay in contact with USA while in Bhutan--no cell phone.

Without going into detail, neither our US cell phone nor our international phone offer a call plan which includes Bhutan.
Our first grandchild is due to arrive 1 week before we leave for Bhutan and we would like to stay in contact with the United States. We don't want to bring a computer with us; we will have an iPod Touch and DD has an iPad so we're looking at Face Time and/or Skype. We will be visiting Thimphu, Punakha, and Paro. Is free Wi Fi widely available in these cities?
Any other recommendations of ways to stay in contact?
Thanks in advance.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 06:11 AM
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You wouldn't want to use your cell phone plans to call the US in any case. You'll want to buy a local sim card and use that. Do you have an unlocked phone that will work there? Contact your travel agent in Bhutan and ask about cell phone rentals or local sim cards.

I don't know about the availability of wi-fi, but I'm sure someone here will know.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 10:17 AM
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Thanks Kathie. Both phones are locked so I'm now looking at buying a different phone. It appears that a new phone won't cost that much more than a battery for our phone that works in India. Trip will be to both Bhutan & India--since the baby is her 1st I'm thinking chances are good it will be late and born while we're in Bhutan.
Still interested in availability of free Wi Fi since we'll use the iPod whenever possible.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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We are visiting Bhutan in October. It seems that many of the hotels I have researched in the towns you are staying have WiFi - though it can be spotty and slow.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 12:13 PM
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We received phone calls from the US while we were in Bhutan. Our hotels had no trouble receiving these calls. We stayed at the Taj, Uma, and a less upscale hotels elsewhere. All our hotels has wifi but it was slow and spotty..but worked. We even got phone calls in hotels that did not have phones in the rooms...they just came to get us. We made no outgoing calls.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 12:53 PM
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I wouldn't recommend relying on a cell to call overseas - that can be so spendy. And if you do have wireless on your phone, be extra, EXTRA careful to set your phone to airport and block network access. A friend came home to a $3000 phone bill, not bkz she used the phone but bkz it kept trying every 15 minutes to sync and push her email remotely. But it is nice to have for local use. You can, of course, log into Skype and make calls on your phone/ipad from wifi spots though, and wifi is widely available in Thimpu - they even have a wifi coffee bar that is really lovely. Would be a little more surprised to find wifi in Paro or Punakha as these are small cities, Punakha for sure. I used the office center in my little hotel to stay in touch and blog daily.

One note: As of last spring, Bhutan does NOT accept Visa, except here and there. Mastercard only. THIS INCLUDES CASH MACHINES!! I was not the first person to run out of cash and be stuck up a creek. Many exchange rupees but I would not rely on that. Bring Bhutanese cash and/or a Mastercard!! This may have changed but be so, so sure to ask your Bhutanese contact if they have seen any "Visa" signs on ATM's of late.

Have a great time in the land of Gross National Happiness! That's my work.

Anjani Millet
Director, Gross National Happiness World Project
http://gnhworldproject
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 01:50 PM
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Such helpful advice! Thank you everyone. We'll make sure DD & SIL have all the hotel phone numbers and the phone number for our guide.
Great tip about the VISA card--we'll be sure to bring both VISA & Mastercard.
Thanks for the info. about the cell phone and unwanted charges. I can't imagine a $3000 phone bill.
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