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.
the Maoist party, but they do not target tourists and foreign visitors are
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”.
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.
- 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.
Nepal is packed with activities, read more about Nepal’s
- 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
- 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.
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.
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
- Warm coats
- Hiking shoes for trekking as they are one of the
- A fleece if visiting between October and March.
- A face mask against Kathmandu’s air pollution
- A torch for power cuts
- Insect repellent for national parks.
- Swimming costume for rafting, kayaking, canyoning,
swimming and elephant washing in Chitwan National Park.
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.
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
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.
has been illegal in Nepal since 1973, but
it is still readily available.
- Killing a
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
- 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.