Nepal Travel Guide – Trekking, Booking, Language & More
A guide to Nepal Travel is a comprehensive article containing information from planning your trip to Nepal to what you can expect. After reading this article, you will be able to understand the logistics and other important information about your unforgettable trip in the mountains. I will also open up various untold stories and issues to keep you less overwhelmed.
Most people arrive to Nepal thinking of trekking and mountaineering. However, the simple and communal lifestyle of people, native culture, diverse tradition and natural beauty are the memories that get imprinted to whoever that travels this wonderland.Traveling to Nepal is economical and high value. Food and accommodation reasonable (if not cheaper). On the contrary, successful journey demands both mental and physical commitment, regardless of how much you spend. We hope you find our compilation of brief Nepal Travel Guide useful.
As soon as you land in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, you stand at an elevation of 1400 meters above the sea level. You will catch up with the northern mountains on any clear day. However, that is not all you will see as soon as you walk out the Tribhuwan International Airport.
There are 30 million people living in Kathmandu, cramped up in a small area. You will be amazed to know that a single family has just one room on rent for everything. On top of that, 1.1 million motor vehicles are registered in the valley. Therefore, traffic jam and pollution (air and noise) can overwhelm your senses quite easily. The only city with an international airport, Kathmandu generously over-accommodates.
You can spend a day or two in this city, visiting UNESCO listed World Heritage Monuments Spread across the valley. Bringing a good pair of air mask could prove very useful alongside the dusty roads. A city guide will help you better understand the history and culture of these unique places in detail.
The Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan Durbar Squares are all historic and beautiful. They reflect Nepal’s post earthquake recovery quite well, especially on Kathmandu Durbar, where several monuments still wait to be restored. Pashupatinath, Swayambhunath and Boudhanath, the three trinities are also a must see while in the city.
Check out the Kathmandu World Heritage Tour.
Observe the traditional Hindu death cremation by the bank of River Bagmati, watch the panorama of Kathmandu from Swayambhu Hill, and bask under the peaceful eyes of Lord Buddha dining on the rooftop restaurants surrounding Boudhanath.
While at the city center, visit the modern Narayanhiti Royal Palace Museum and Garden of Dreams. The museum contains memories, galleries and arts of the last Royals and their shared heritage. Nepal is now a republic state, but the people still have a lot of emotions and connection towards the Royal Family.
Garden of Dreams is a beautiful park located just on the entry towards Thamel, on the left. This beautiful garden blossom with flowers of various kinds. Various birds and rodents keep the environment playful and alive. Grab a book, a mat and some snacks for a laid out day in the sun. A day should enough to visit both the museum and the garden.
You can easily extend your stay in the capital by planning hikes, trips and tours in the outskirts of the valley itself. I recommend hiking in and around the Shivapuri – Nagarjun National Park, Sundarijal and Namobuddha Monastery. You might also choose cycling to Nagarkot, Sundarijal and Kakani.
After these activities, you should likely leave the capital for the mountains. If you love bunjee jumping and swinging, head to the last resort, east of Kathmandu. Mix this thrill up with White water rafting or kayaking in the Bhote Koshi River.
Alternatively, you can enjoy white water activities on the Trishuli River. You might find this rafting in Trishuli more practical as you are already on your way to Pokhara, Chitwan and other destinations outside the capital.
Langtang Region, home to the popular Langtang Valley Trek, Gosainkunda Trek and other peak climbing activities – is just 8 hours drive from Kathmandu. Langtang Mountains are the central Himalayas of Nepal and give birth to huge rivers like the Trishuli. Trek in the land of yaks, huge boulders and glaciers as you rise along the valley to the top of Kyanjin Ri. The panoramic view will take anyone’s breathe away. Detour to Gosainkunda Lake, a high altitude lake that turns into ice for several months every year.
When one thinks of Nepal, generally Mount Everest is the landmark everyone can relate to. At 8848 meters above the sea, its peak is the highest point on earth. Many mountaineers realize their dream only after conquering Everest. To get to this region, one has to take a domestic flight to Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla. From there, infinite trekking routes and adventures begin.
Everest Base Camp Trek is definitely the most talked about and popular trekking activity in the world. This journey takes you to the historical and high altitude villages of Pheriche, Namche, Syangboche, Gorakhshep, Kalapatthar and the Everest Base Camp itself. You climb through the largest rocks and glaciers of the world to reach this amazing destination, and bring back memories like no other trip in the world.
Besides the base camp trek, there are also other trekking routes available in the region. Throughout the journey, you will be blessed with the landscape of world’s highest region.
Gokyo Lake Trek brings you to the turquoise and astonishingly beautiful mountain lakes in the Everest Region. The three passes trek (crossing 3 passes) is another adventurous trip. You can also climb less risky mountains like Island Peak and Mera Peak if you’re not yet ready for Everest.
Annapurna Region is one of the most popular and diverse trekking region in Nepal. From a short trip to Mardi Himal to a month long journey around the huge massif of Annapurna, this region has so much to offer. Try Annapurna Base Camp Trek and Annapurna Circuit for an extended experience of the region. On the other hand, Mardi Himal and Ghorepani Poonhill Trek will come handy if you are tight on time and budget.
Gorkha, Daman and Bandipur are worthy stops during the journey – either on your way towards Pokhara or on the way back. Gorkha Palace is another historical landmark describing the origin of Shah Dynasty in Nepal. Any Nepal travel guide should not miss these places. After all, they paint and describe Nepal in its entirety. Daman is a beautiful getaway as well. An overnight stay at Bandipur will definitely add more to your positive travel experience.
Dolpa Region Trek is another hardcore trekking destination in the western Nepal. The trip takes you back in time as you explore the isolated regions and observe people riding horses and living a gatherer lifestyle.
Upper Dolpa is restricted and requires special government permit to travel. You will gradually lose and find yourself along the footsteps of native western Nepalis. Head west with enough preparations – both mental and physical. The wilderness, nomadic environment and long walks will definitely test your limits.
Chitwan National Park is the largest of its kind in Nepal, and home to exotic reptiles, birds and large mammals. The Bengal tigers and one horned rhinoceros are among the rare endangered species roaming the jungle.
It is actually easier to spot a rhino than a tiger. Staying at the jungle resort will fix your itinerary for a day full of activities that includes bird watching, jeep safari, boating and Tharu cultural exchange.
Enjoy a relaxing evening at the riverbank with a sunset and barbecue. Later in the evening, Local Tharus show off their traditional fire dance. It is amazing to be a part of this activity. Do not forget to tip the locals if you can. Wake up to a peaceful bird watching activity the next day, followed by the activities outlined above. You will have an enriching natural experience in Chitwan. Our Nepal Travel Guide will be incomplete without Chitwan and Pokhara.
Pokhara is about 5-6 hours drive from Chitwan, and is necessary see if you want to see the highlight of Nepal. The valley is rich in natural resources due to the grace of the mighty Annapurna in the north. Otherwise known as the city of Lakes, travelers mostly relate their holiday lying by a bench or boating in Fewa Tal (Lake) with spectacular view of Annapurna Mountains on the north and in the water reflection.
A day tour in Pokhara is enriching with trips to the Tibetan Refugee Camp, Davis Fall and Peace Pagoda. I recommend an overnight stay in Sarangkot Hill for majestic sunrise and sunset views. Besides, nights out at Pokhara is amazing on the lakeside street with late night restaurants, bars and pubs.
Pokhara is popular for another reason as well – gateway to Annapurna trekking. Several of trips in the western Himalaya start and end in Pokhara, which is what keeps the valley crowded in peak trekking seasons.
Check out this blog about trekking in Nepal.
From Pokhara, you can also take a course towards Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha and Buddhism, as we know it. Lumbini is a World Heritage Site, and contains historical evidence of Buddha’s life and afterlife.
There are numerous monasteries and temples in the heritage area. Among them, the most evident is the the Ashoka Pillar, erected by an Indian Prince – which provides great historical significance.
After you’re all over the west and still find time within you to travel more, head east. Eastern Nepal welcomes you with the lesser-known Kanchengunja Trek. Illam, a nearby district, is popular for its photogenic tea garden. Tea produced here is of high quality and is supplied worldwide. The towns of Dharan, Jhapa and Damak are also beautiful and worth visiting. On the way to or back, you can stop by Janakpur and visit the ancient temple of Ram Janaki.
Mountain Flights, Helicopter Tours and high service overland trips are luxury trips. Enjoy the high-end service throughout your travel. Your accommodation is top notch and your satisfaction is made the highest priority. Luxury trips are great with close friends and family.
Helicopter Trips to Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp and Langtang Region are gaining more popularity due to the level of comfort and time saving factor. Another popular high altitude flying includes mountain flights along the Himalayas. The pilot flies you along the northern horizon so that you can enjoy the view of the great Himalaya like a bird.
On the other hand, road trips to Chitwan, Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara are also luxurious, depending on the activity that you will be doing. Normally, you will walk less and enjoy the best hospitality during these trips. Explore the ancient and cultural heritages in guided tours, travel in air-conditioned vehicles and stay in 4-star or higher graded hotels. Evenings come alive with bonfires, live music, cultural shows and world class dining.
Go for it if you are looking for a nice vacation.
It is super easy to book any trip you like in Nepal. Finding the perfect operator can be a hassle, as there are so many. However, once you’re past that, there’s not much to do. In fact, Nepal provides visa-on-arrival to most of the Western and Asian countries. You can book your flight accordingly and not worry about the visa.
Tourist Visa form can be filled online or after arrival at the Airport. You will just need a copy of your passport and a few copies of standard passport size photographs. Check out your luggage and you are ready to roll in the Himalayan nation without any restriction.
Tourist Visa fees
15 days – $ 30 US
30 Days – $ 50 US
90 Days – % 125 US
Visit the official immigration website for more information: http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa after reading the Nepal Travel Guide.
There are so many accommodation options available in the capital to cater to your needs. For most of the trips we provide, we arrange a 3-star Hotel stay in all major cities, including Kathmandu and Pokhara. Proper lodges are available in small towns, just before and after the trekking day. While in the mountains, we accommodate in either tea-houses or camps according to the location and preference. If you want, you can go over reviews of fellow travelers and let your local tour operator know where you want to stay. We organize everything.
We provide an inclusive price in our itinerary. All meals and accommodations are inclusive while trekking, whereas we exclude dinner and lunch while in the city.
When you pay this amount, your accommodation, breakfast, all meals during trekking, welcome & farewell dinner, government taxes, trekking permits, monument entrance fees and transportation are included in the price itself.
On the other hand, you should be prepared for certain costs including lunches and dinners in the city; tips and gratuities to guides, drivers & potters; your visa and international airfare fees; and any personal expenses outside the itinerary. Besides, you might also want to spend on buying souvenirs and Nepali antiques found in various shops around the country.
Nepali people are 80% Hindus and rest Buddhist, Islam, Christians and other believers. There are also significant number of atheists and sects. So, it’s obvious that you will come across Hindus and Buddhist culture most often. People wear red tika on their forehead and visit temples and stupas to worship their deities. Because of a huge language and tribal diversity, you will find similar and different communities as you travel. Sherpa and Tamang culture shows up best trekking in the mountains whereas Aryan culture reflects in the cities and plains of the south.
Nepali is the official language even though each community speaks their native tongue well when interacting within. A significant of population speaks and understand English and Hindi due to cultural similarities, education system and Media Influence. This also reflects in how people dress up, both in cities and in the villages. People suit up to work as well as wear traditional dress during festivals and family events. Generally speaking, villagers wear more conservatively.
Nepal Travel Guide recommends you cover your arms and knees to avoid being stared at. You will find the young generation more liberal about their dress up. Be careful about someone asking for money or trying to become over friendly. That being said, get used to people coming up to you to start a conversation. Having a guide or learning the language can help you immerse better. Stay with your group and watch out for each other. Women might need to be extra vigilant around night and when by their own self.
Nepal uses Nepali Rupees (NRS) as the official currency. You can easily exchange your cash with NPR at various money exchange shops at the airport and most of the places where you go. Understand that this service is not available in the hills and remote regions. Credit / Debit Card also works on most of the ATMs available in the city.
At the time of writing, 1 US Dollar, 1 GB Pound and 1 Euro exchange for NRS 114, NRS 126 and NRS 138 respectively. You can check updated exchange rate by following the Central Bank‘s page.
Learning Nepali language is as easy as it is useful. Of course, you will need an advanced course to speak all the complicated words and vocabulary. However, basic greetings and communication can be learned on the go!
Here are a few ones to get you started.
Namaste – Hello
Mero Naam John ho – My Name is John
Tapai ko Naam k ho? – What is your name?
Khana Mitho Chha – The food is tasty
Dhanyabad – Thank you
Ma America ma baschhu – I live in America
Ma Nepal ghumna ako – I am in Nepal to travel
Tapai ko desh ramro chha – Your country is beautiful
Esko kati paisa ho? – How much does this cost? (while buying)
Yo bato Kata Janchha? – Where does this way lead?
Ma Patan Jana Lageko – I am headed to Patan.
Feri bhetaula – See you again!
Ramro sanga basnus – Take care.
Packing list for Nepal varies depending on the nature of your travel. If you are trekking, you might need to consider packing the following.
Please take a note that you can also cheaply rent these items in Thamel and other area if buying one/all of them isn’t possible.
Trekking Shoes, backpack, socks and sticks should not be forgetten. Duffel Bag, Sleeping Bag, Water Filter, Gloves, UV Sun-glass, Raincoat, Sunscreen Lotion, First Aid Kit, Insect Repellant Cream, Explorer Kit (Map and Compass) are also useful.
Nepal has remained a safe destination for holiday. In fact, there is a separate department of Police to aid the tourists, the Tourist Police.
However, there are still risks like losing your baggage or items. In this regard, proper travel insurance is necessary. In fact, travel insurance is mandatory while trekking in the mountains and hills. This insurance must include medical cover as well as emergency evacuation. This investment will come very handy when such services are required in the mountains, and saves you a fortune just in case mountain sickness or other injuries. So, get yourself covered as you leave.
You can assure your personal safety by hiring a local guide, and keeping updated with your country’s Embassy in Nepal. You can visit the embassy website to get these types of information. Exercise safety and precautions like you should while in a foreign country. You can dial 100 to reach out the emergency.
We put a lot of effort to ensure that you are safe during your trip.
I could write for ages, but these articles sums up your roadmap for Nepal Travel, trip preparation and other useful information you need to make the journey happen.
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