Nepal Travel Guide

Nepal is a cheap
and relatively safe country with amazing scenery of the
Himalayan mountain range. It’s perhaps the best place in the
world for trekking and short day walks also. It’s backpacker
paradise with a cheap cost of living and a friendly tourist industry.

Safety: There is unrest in Nepal due to
the Maoist party, but they do not target tourists and foreign visitors are
safe.
Royals: The King of Nepal has been reduced
to a figure head, due to governmental changes and unrest in the past.  Many
things around Nepal are changing names to remove any reference to “Royal”.
UN & Human
Rights
: Nepal relies heavily on external aid and you are likely to see
UN and Human Rights vehicles passing around.  These groups are well
excepted in Nepal and are making good progress, don’t be put off by their
presence, but rather be assured.

Sights

  • The main city of Kathmandu is overflowing with various temple
    sights such as Bodnath Stupa, Swayambhunath and Durbur Square.
  • Pokhara is a
    beautiful quite town with outrageous sights of the lake and Himalaya mountain
    range. A great place to go trekking, take shorter walks, mountain biking,
    rafting and kayaking.
  • View Mount Everest and the other peaks of the Himalaya (of which Nepal has 8 of
    the worlds 10 highest).
  • National Parks
    include Chitwanand Langtang where you can see elephants,
    lions and more.
  • Visit Bandipur the town that stood still and see traditional Newari
    people and architecture.
  • Lumbiniis the birthplace of Buddha, where you can meditate on the
    nature of existence.
  • Visit Tansenwith its traditional village and
    hilltop Himalayan views.
  • Wildlife Reserves include Koshi with traditional thatched villages and rice paddies.

Activities

Nepal is packed with activities, read more about Nepal’s
outdoor activities.

  • Nepal is the worlds ultimate trekking destination. From Mount Everest, to 21
    day treks around the Annapurna range, to easy walks around Pokhara and
    Kathmandu, there is something for everyone. Read about trekking in Nepal.
  • Paragliding in the subcontinents
    bestlocations.
  • Rafting and kayaking is available for novices and
    the experienced. The diverse rivers and mountains provide an ideal backdrop.
  • Mountain biking tracks from
    the sublime to the ridiculous are found all over the country.
  • Take a mountain flight to see the Himalayas and Mount Everest up close.

Suggested Itineraries

Trekking or rafting/kayaking can be taken in when in
Kathmandu or Pokhara.  Allow time for bus journeys – about 6 hours between most big stops.

  • 3 days – stay in the Kathmandu valley, visit Durbur
    square and the stupas
  • 1 week – 3 days in Kathmandu, 4 days in Pokhara
  • 2 weeks – 3 days in Kathmandu, 1 day in
    Bandipur, 4 days in Pokhara, 1 day in Tansen, 1 day in Lumbini, 3
    days in Chitwan National Park, 1 day in Nagorkot
  • More than 2 weeks – Consider Everest Base Camp, other
    national parks, long treks, and those out-of-the-way places.

Costs

Nepal is one of the worlds poorest countries, and the recent political problems have left a slump in tourism which can lead to good discounts.
Minimal living costs are US$7 per day. With
taxis and temple admission expect to pay US$15 per day.  Read about a cheap day in Nepal
.

Is Nepal safe?

Yes, generally Nepal is a safe country.  There is
currently a risk from the  Maoist party (see below) but tourists are not
targeted and you are unlikely to ever see any effects of their actions.
Don’t be put off, tourism has slumped and discounts are widely available.

Since 13 February 1996 the Communist Party of Nepal
(Maoist) has been fighting a People’s war against the Nepal state in the hills,
and other parts, of Nepal.  The war started after the Maoists presented the
then prime minister with a 40 point list of demands to make Nepal a better
country.  Since then the Maoists have grown in arms and troops and now
control 40% of the country, but attacks have occurred throughout the
country.  The Maoists terrorize politicians and local farmers alike.
The USA have made donations to Kathmandu to help their “war on terrorism”. The
Maoists are moving towards a political part, and have asked the UN to mediate,
but the government has rejected this.

The Maoists do not
target tourists, and there have only ever been a few incidents involving
tourists who did not pay the requested donation.  When traveling in
Kathmandu, Pokhara and most of the tourist areas you

are unlikely to see any Maoist action.  The road from
Kathmandu to Pokhara often has a Maoist road block, but the bus just pays a
donation and passes through.  You are unlikely to be at risk.

Visas for Nepal

Most nationals are issued with a 60 day visa upon
arrival at Kathmandu airport or several land crossing points with India.
The process is easy, requires 1 passport photo and payment of US$30. 30 day extensions are easy to gain within the
country.  It’s a good place to spend a long time.

When to go to Nepal

Nepal has a two season year.  The dry season is
October to May and the wet monsoon season is June to September.  September
to November and March to May bring perfect weather for viewing the
Himalaya, trekking and water sports, and are the times to visit. The weather is
warm during the day but gets chilly at night in high areas. See the trekking section also.

What to bring

You might want to bring some of the following:

  • Sunglasses and high protection sunscreen.
  • For trekking (all but shoes are available at good
    prices in Kathmandu and Pokhara)

    • Hiking shoes for trekking as they are one of the
      few trekking items that are hard to find.
    • A sleeping bag
    • Fleece
    • Warm coats
  • A fleece if visiting between October and March.
  • A face mask against Kathmandu’s air pollution
    problem.
  • A torch for power cuts
  • Insect repellent for national parks.
  • Swimming costume for rafting, kayaking, canyoning,
    swimming and elephant washing in Chitwan National Park.

Transport

Flights to Kathmandu, Nepal

All international flights land at Kathmandu airport. Visas are available upon landing. There is a photo machine in the airport. You cannot pay with Nepali Rupees, so bring US Dollars, Euros or British Pounds. There is an ATM downstairs.

From Delhi

For a view of the Himalayas sit on the left hand side of the plane.

  • www.JetLite.com (was Air Sahara) fly daily at 12:00, Rs 7,000. Flights last 1.5 hours. There is a ticket office at Delhi International airport, and tickets can be bought in Indian Rupees after 10:00.

Accommodation in Nepal

The best places to stay are in guesthouses.  Some
are family run offering quiet places to relax, and others are amongst the bustle
for the more social.  Guesthouse prices range from US$2 – $10 per
night.  Hotels can be found in Kathmandu and other areas, and cost $US10+.
If trekking then you’ll probably want to stay in the trekking lodges, offering
simple beds and food on the trekking routes.  Camping is possible when
trekking, in Pokhara and other places.

Weather in Nepal

Outside of summer all areas of Nepal are warm with sunshine during the day, but it does get cold after sunset. If you are going out for the day keep an extra layer of clothes with you.

The People of Nepal

Located between India and Tibet, Nepal is made up of a
diversity of ethnic groups.  The different groups of Nepali hill people are quite distinct, and with the combination of new residents to the country there is a quite a variety of faces, foods and fashions on the streets.

Nepal also has a caste system, similar to that of India.

Hinduism and Buddhism both being strong in Nepal which has led to great religious tolerance, with almost no religious tension in Nepal.

The people of Nepal are generally good humored and
patient, quick to smile and slow to anger.  But they have a reputation as
fierce fighters, read about the Gurkha
forces
.

Communications in Nepal

Internet access is everywhere in the Thamel region of
Kathmandu and in Pokhara.  The broadband service is heavily shared and
slow, but cheap. In other areas access is very limited.  There are a couple
of WiFi cafes in Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Facts about Nepal

  • The Nepali calendar is 57 years ahead of the
    Gregorian calender used in the west.  So 2007 becomes 2064.
  • The Newars, on the other hand, are 880 years
    behind.  So 2007 is 1127.
  • Trekkers in Nepal leave behind an estimated 100
    tones of unrecyclable water bottles every year.
  • Public shows of affection are frowned upon in
    Nepal.  But you will see men holding hands.  This is not
    sexual, but a social thing, like in India.  Until recently
    Nepali men rarely shook hands.
  • Hashish
    has been illegal in Nepal since 1973, but
    it is still readily available.
  • Killing a
    cow
    is illegal in Nepal and carries a punishment
    of two years in prison.
  • Nepal’s flag is totally unique.
  • The first cars were transported to Kathmandu valley on the backs of porters, before
    there were any roads or petrol.

Theft in Nepal

Petty theft is not on the scale you’d find in many countries, theft from tourist
hotels is commonplace.  Follow these tips

  • A common form of theft is rifling backpacks on the
    roofs of buses.  Always padlock you bags.
  • First floor hotel rooms are the easiest to break
    into, stay higher up.
  • Never leave valuables in hotel rooms.

Scams in Nepal

  • Young kids (and mothers with babies) ask you for
    milk, you buy the milk at a designated store at an inflated price, the scammer
    returns the milk and pockets some of the mark-up.  You can buy and open
    the milk to prevent the scam and still benefit the kids.
  • Kids and touts who know the capital of any country
    you can think of, or know all about your country – a request for money will
    soon arrive.
  • Credit card scams, where you buy some souvenirs only to find thousands of dollars worth of Internet
    porn subscriptions charged to your card.

Begging in Nepal

Begging is relatively common in Nepal, partly because both
Hinduism and Buddhism encourage the giving of alms.  This can present a
dilemma, should you give? It is often worth checking how the locals react, and
decide whether this is a genuine beneficiary. At bigger temples there can be
long lines of beggars.  Pilgrims customarily give a coin to everyone in
the line.  The Sadhus (holy men) are another special case and usually
completely depend on alms.

Useful websites

3 Comments

  1. Kulendra Baral July 4, 2008 at 7:17 am

    Great Job
    your travel blog is really great. keep it up.. nice work

    Reply

  2. Trekking in Nepal June 16, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Wonderful Travel blog
    After reading your travel blog. I fell really proud of being Nepali. your blog is really great. keep it up. thanks for sharing to the world.

    Reply

  3. tourvisit nepal July 15, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    about daily expenditure in nepal
    most of the information in this post are okay but i do not agree with the daily expenditure info in Nepal.
    Cheap or Expensive depends upon your budget, for normal bag packers it will cost you about $30 a day and if you are willing to have really good time with loads of money there are many ways you can do that. expensive restaurants, rafting, paragliding, spas and many more…

    Reply

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