Nepal Travel Tips

Nepal Travel Tips 2014-10-16T11:06:05+00:00

Nepal is the undoubted king of high elevation. Almost the entire nation is covered in mountains and they are the highest in the world. Even Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is in the lower part of the country and is still 4,600 feet high. When you come to Nepal you will have to see the Himalayas any way possible and if you love extreme hiking and nature, Nepal is the perfect country for you. While the mountains are the main event to do in Nepal there are other things to see. Nepal is rich in culture and it has been that way for thousands of years. Buddhism has roots in Nepal and you will probably see more Tibetan Buddhism there than if you actually went to Tibet. But majority of the society practices Hinduism which is engrained into society from everyday daily events to architecture. My recommendation is to explore the major city of Kathmandu for a while and then escape to the mountains. The real beauty of Nepal lies in the Himalayas in mountainous villages like Lhasa and Pokhara… that is if you’re willing to brave a terrifying flight.

(click on a topic to skip to that section)

Noteworthy Places
Getting to/around Nepal
Breakdown of Costs
Nepalese People
Nepalese Language
Definitely Do’s and Don’ts
From Splurging to Saving
Good for Gay Lifestyle?
Random Advice

Noteworthy Places I’ve Been To

(back to the top)

Kathmandu – The capital of Nepal and the most populous city. Kathmandu is an ancient city that is in the Kathmandu Valley that is steeped in tradition and culture. By modern standards Kathmandu is quite poor but in general a very cheap place to travel. Some of the highlights of are Thamel, Pashupatinath, Swayambhunath, Baudhanath, Budhanilkantha, The Royal Price, and Durbar Square.

Lukla – Is located in the Himalayas near Mount Everest and is known as the starting point for the famous Everest Base Camp Trek. If you can muster yourself to take the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla you will get to see a view of beautiful mountains and remote villages. The Everest Base Camp Trek is tough by any standards so come prepared. Lukla is the largest city on this trek so make you stock up before your trek.

Everest Base Camp Trek – After you get past Lukla the trail becomes grueling but it is worth while. You will see remote villages like Phakding, Chhelplung, Ghat, Namche Bazaar, Pangboche and Tengboche, and stunning view of mountains.

Getting to/around Nepal

(back to the top)

By Plane – No doubt if you’re a westerner you will most likely by flying into the capital, Kathmandu. International flights come from New Delhi, Bombay, Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur, Dhaka, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Seoul and Karachi to name a few. You can fly on airlines such as Jet Airways, China Southern and Eastern, Ethiad, Air Asia, Qatar Airways, Korean Airways and flydubai. If you’re planning to fly to the mountains then you will need to take one of the regional carries that leaves from the domestic part of the Tribhuvan Airport. You can go to destinations Lukla and Pokhara. Remember you’re in Nepal and airline safety is not a top priority. You’re going at your own risk with these airlines. Recently there has been an accident almost every year. Not trying to scare you but try to keep you aware. The main airlines that do fly regionally are Yeti, Tara, Buddha, Silk, and Agni. You can buy tickets at the airport and hop on a flight that same day. I recommend doing that.

By Bus – It is not recommend that you travel by bus getting to Nepal or in Nepal. If you’re on a tour from Tibet you will come by a caravan or car. If you’re traveling from India it is possible to grab a bus at the borders of Sunauli-Bhairawa, Raxaul-Birganj, Siliguri-Kakarbhitta, and Banbassa-Mahendrenagar. Remember that safety is not much of a concern in Nepal. You will pay cheaper by bus but why risk your life?

By Train – You can’t travel by train in Nepal. There is a train that goes from India to the border but it’s only reserved from native Indians.

While your in Nepal you get around using the several Rickshaw, Taxis, or by Foot. Of course if you’re traveling in the mountains you can get there by plane but after that you are going to need to walk.

Breakdown of Costs

(back to the top)

Hotels – Hotels are relatively cheap in Nepal but if you have a big budget there is always home to splurge. If you’re in Kathmandu you can get a decent hotel in Thamel for 10 dollars to 20 dollars a day. Very Cheap! Now of course you can always stay in a nicer hotel. Whatever your budget allows there will be something in Nepal for you. If you’re in the mountains getting lodging is not difficult but will be slightly more expensive. While you’re walking along you will see several guest house. Just pop in and see if there is any availability their.

Food – Food will not cost you that much at all either. Of course you can always splurge but there won’t be that many options to do so. If you’re in the city of Kathmandu then there are several traditional Nepalese places as well as not so traditional. The national meal of Nepal is daal bhaat tarkaari. Traditional Nepalese food has a lot of plants, spices, veggies, greens, and rice. If you’re hiking in the mountains you can get traditional mountain food, American, German, or other European type of food. Tibetan food is also common in the mountains as Tibet is very close by. This will cost you a little more than in cities like Kathmandu and the further you go up the mountain the more costly the food will be.

Other Activities – Tea is very common in Nepal and it is very yummy. Remember that the water is not always the best in Nepal so make sure it is at least boiled before you drink any of the water (I may have gotten sick by drinking the mint tea… water in Nepal is never to be drank from the tap… only bottle water). Nepal is very cheap on the whole so getting tickets to go see the royal palace or other activities is not expensive. If you’re in Kathmandu than you are experiencing the culture of Nepal. Go to the temples and just enjoy Hinduism and Buddhism culture. If you’re in the mountains be prepared to hike for most of your days. Good walking shoes are a must. If you’re brave enough you can also watch a tradition Hindu burial in Kathmandu (it’s where they burn a body in the river).

Nepalese People

(back to the top)

Nepalese are generally nice people but because they know you’re from the United States they will take advantage of you. There was numerous times where I got ripped like in a taxi cab. A taxi ride should never cost you anymore than 5 US dollars to anywhere you want to go. They will insist that this is jut not true but you can bargain any price. Be prepared to bargain… that is just a give. Other than that most Nepalese speak English thanks to tourism. They will be helpful to you but don’t get into a situation where you will soon regret it (just watch your belongings at all times).

Nepalese Language

(back to the top)

Nepali Nepalese नेपाली is the native language of Nepal. Unless you come from Nepal or know someone from Nepal then most likely you will have no idea on how to speak Nepali. It doesn’t really matter anyways. Most Nepali speak English or least have a somewhat understanding. What is cool is the script of Nepali. You will see it everywhere and on rocks in the mountains. You will have no idea what they mean but they are a cool part of the journey (because of the paintings and drawing associated with the script).

Definitely Do’s and Don’ts

(back to the top)

Do travel to the Himalayas or at least get one glance at them… it will be totally worth it.

Don’t drink the tap water… always bottle or tea.

Do try daal bhaat. I personally didn’t care for it too much but you’re traveling… give it a go.

Don’t be afraid of the poverty. Kathmandu in particular is very poor and some of the poverty is astonishing. This is life in Nepal and you can’t help every beggar who comes up to you and asks for money.

Do get into the culture. Nepal has some of the oldest religions around and most of the population still is very religious. I was interested in Tibetan Buddhism. There is so much in Tibetan in Nepal because native Tibetans have crossed the short border to practice their religion freely. You might see more Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal than in Tibet actually.

Don’t flash any jewelry or any money about. When I went I left everything I cared about losing at home. Simply no reason to have it there.

Do try the mint tea if you’re in the mountains! It’s yummy.

From Splurging to Saving

(back to the top)

On a whole Nepal is very cheap compared to the US or any western European country. That being said there are ways to spend a lot of money in Nepal. If you’re hiking than for sure you’re going to have to pay a decent amount of money. Just a flight to the mountains can be pricey at 250 dollars almost. And keep in mind that food and lodging is more expensive in the mountains (nothing terrible). In Kathmandu you could splurge on a “nicer” hotel and it will cost you. sometimes 60 – 100 dollars a night or even more. My recommendation is to do what most people do. Just settle for a hotel in Thamel and you should be fine.

If you’re going for the gold and want to hike for week in Nepal than you might have to hire a Sherpa to carry you luggage (10-20 dollars a day). Also there are tours in Thamel and Kathmandu that offer treks to Tibet and Everest Base Camp. These are expensive, especially the ones to Tibet, and can cost anywhere from 300 to 1500 dollars (Although I heard if you are able to show up and reserve the tour in Nepal… the price drops dramatically… don’t book things online because they will charge you for it). It’s all up to you and whatever you think you can manage by yourself or if you need help. Remember that anything can be bargained so put a smile on your face and carry the exact amount of cash in your pocket.

Good for Gay Lifestyle?

(back to the top)

No not at all. I’m not even sure they have any gay spots or hangouts?! Recently they did host a gay sports tournament in October so maybe there is hope for this country. Frankly there are gay people in Nepal of course but you won’t have a gay lifestyle here.

Random Advice

(back to the top)

Never drink the tap water. Can’t stress that enough.

People will try to rip you off… it’s okay don’t stress out this is just common.

If you’re flying to the Mountains on buy a one way ticket. You can easily get a returned ticket when you get back. That way you don’t have to limit yourself or extend yourself.

People die on plane crashes almost every year. If you’re scared of flying… maybe you should rethink a flight to the mountains.

Kathmandu is prone to earthquakes. Keep insurance and keep tabs with your embassy.

The lodging in the mountains are very humble. Usually just electricity with no heat. Prepared to sleep with your clothes and be prepared for a lot of walking

High Altitude Sickness is common. Be careful with this. Don’t over extend yourself too much when you’re first hiking. Drink plenty of water and recognize the signs. If you’re out of breath it’s time for a break. The Everest Base Camp Trek is very tough and you will need a lot of breaks.

 

 

 

image by: Mark, shawnvoyage