NEPAL TRAVEL GUIDE CONTENTS
Nepal Travel Guide
Looking for the best Nepal travel tips? In this article, we will walk you through our top recommendations for this incredible country.
Known as the land of snowy peaks, incredible landscapes, and impressive mountains, Nepal is a country that has culture, adventure, and adrenaline rolled into one. Home to ten of the highest peaks in the world, it is no wonder that this place is frequented by adventure junkies from all over the world.
However, during my trip to Nepal, what surprised me the most was the fact that beyond the mighty Himalayan mountains, the country itself is incredibly diverse and lush. Offering tourists a wide array of things to do, Nepal is a country that didn’t disappoint.
How to Get a Visa on Arrival in Nepal
Generally speaking, most people can avail of a Visa On Arrival (VOA) which you can purchase according to the duration of your stay. Currently, they have multiple entry visas valid for 15, 30, or 90 days. You will need a valid passport and one passport-sized photo along with money to pay for the visa fee.
Citizens of select countries are required to apply for a visa beforehand so make sure you double-check prior to your trip.
Going through immigration can be a little bit tricky but here is the general rules on how to get a visa on arrival in Nepal.
- Fill out an “Arrival Card” on paper
These are available as soon as you land in the airport.
- Fill out the Tourist Visa form at a kiosk near the windows of the immigration area.
If you want to skip this step, you can fill out the Tourist Visa form online beforehand within 15 days of arriving in Nepal and print out the barcode receipt.
- Pay for Your Tourist Visa on Arrival
They do not accept credit card so make sure you have USD, Pound, Euro, or any other valid currency listed on their site to pay for the visa upon arrival. USD or the local currency is the most used so best to prepare in advance.
Your fee depends on your length stay but as of recent, here are the updated fees:
15 Days: $30 USD
30 Days: $50 USD
90 Days: $125 USD
- Collect All Documents
Get your payment receipt, Tourist Visa form, Arrival Card, and passport to give to the immigration officer After that, you are free to enter the country!
Although it sounds confusing, from experience, everything was pretty straight forward, just as long as you have cash on hand!
Nepal Quick Information
Currency: Nepalese Rupee
Electricity Socket: 220v/50Hz electricity. Power outlets are compatible with European plugs (three round prong). Be sure to pack a universal travel adaptorso you can still use all your electronic gadgets.
Language: With over 120 different variations, Nepali is the main language in Nepal however, in main cities, English is also widely spoken.
As the tourism and trekking industry in Nepal is thriving, English is widely spoken (or at least understood) by most people that you encounter during your trek. From personal experience, while there are still a few sherpas who didn’t speak English, most of them could understand more than they could speak.
Festivals and Celebrations: While Nepal isn’t really known for one singular celebration, they have over 50 festivals that they celebrate during the entire year. Due to their strong religious culture, festivals in Nepal are celebrated with vigor and enthusiasm. During this time, significant places of worship like Boudhanath and Swayambhunath are usually packed with locals.
A few popular celebrations are the Nepali New Year (2nd week of April) and Holi or Phagu in Nepali. This particular holiday takes place sometime in February and March and is celebrated with lots of colorful powder similar to the celebrations in India.
Big cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara are great places to be during Holi as the streets come to life with merrymaking.
Is Nepal Safe?
Generally speaking, Nepal is a safe place to go to with majority of the accidents happening in the area related to unforeseen natural disasters.
For solo female travelers, people advice you to trek in groups when possible (and to avoid trekking alone) However, for what it’s worth, I personally never felt threatened or unsafe, even when I was wandering around the really local areas of Kathmandu.
As a general rule, here are a few safety precautions that you should take, especially if you are planning to go trekking.
- Register with your local embassy while in Kathmandu
- Have photocopies of all your important documents (passports, flights, trekking permits) and store them separately from the originals.
- Give your trekking itinerary to someone
While we recommend travel insurance to everyone (and we now never leave home without it, it is essential that you get an insurance policy that covers everything including any treks that you plan to do during your time there.
We personally recommend going with World Nomads, due to their wide coverage of adventurous activities. During our Everest Base Camp trek, we saw so many people get airlifted out due to altitude so insurance isn’t something you should try to save money on.
As with everything though, if you are doing any strenuous activity, it is best to check beforehand what is covered with your insurance. I.e. trekking to basecamp might be covered but if you’re planning to summit Everest or any other mountain peak, special coverage might be needed.
For those who are only traveling month on month, Safety Wing can also be a good alternative as they offer renewable monthly insurance plans. From experience, Safety Wing covers you up to an altitude of 4500m.
No matter which company you decide to go with, just make sure that your trekking activities are covered by quickly chatting with an agent to double check.
Click the buttons below to get a free quote for coverage during your trip.
Nepal Trip Planning
Choosing when to visit Nepal is the most important part of your trip planning. Nepal generally experiences three seasons, with the low season being generally quiet due to the monsoon season.
High Season, on the other hand, gets pretty much full and accommodations get booked out in advance as trekkers from all over the world fill up the trails going up to Everest and Annapurna. F
or those interested in summiting Everest, April to May are considered as the peak time to go. Low Season (Jun–Sep), Shoulder Season ((Mar–Apr) and High Season (Oct–Nov).
Nepal Rough Budget
As in every country, you can travel around for as cheap or as expensive as you want. Based on our experience, you can travel Nepal comfortably at $40-50 a day.
While this covers most expenses (food, accommodation, transport, and some tours), some treks have expensive trekking permits, park fees, and TIMS so the cost for these greatly vary which is why we excluded them in this daily budget.
For example, tourist attraction entrance fees like Durbar Square, Bhaktapur, Monkey Temple, etc range from $10-15. TIMS trekking registration card: $10 – $20
If you’re interested in finding out how much it costs to climb Everet Basecamp, here’s a full guide. Here’s a rough estimate on rough costs in Nepal:
Budget: $8 (dorm), $10-15(homestays/shared bathrooms)
Splurge: $50++ (only available in main cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara)
Food (Typical Meal For One)
Local Meal in Guesthouse: $2-4
Local Beer in Guesthouses/ Restaurants: $8 (up in the mountains)
Local Buses: $0.60 (night buses in Nepal are best to be avoided
Flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara: $90 – $120
Taxi ride: $2-10 around the city
Trekking porter to carry bags: $8 – $15
Transportation in Nepal
We’ve used these websites all over Asia and it saves us the hassle of lining up in travel agencies or bus stations.
What to Pack for Traveling Nepal
Generally speaking, what to pack for Nepal will greatly depend on when you are going and what type of tours and treks you are doing. When I first went (beginning of rainy season), I was greeted with hot weather for the most part of my trip, with only a couple of days of chilly weather.
If you are planning on trekking, you can spend a day or two wandering around the streets of Kathmandu (Thamel area) and find all the trekking gear you would ever need for a fraction of the price.
If you’re doing a big trek, check out our Everest Basecamp Packing List guide which should cover all the basics. Although there are plenty of trekking gear available, if you want good quality items, we recommend buying them beforehand in shops like Amazon.
While you can find everything you might need in the streets of Thamel, the quality isn’t always amazing. Things like a good backpack and a good pair of hiking boots are recommended. Click here to view our guide for men’s hiking boots and women’s hiking boots.
We always recommend training with your gear so having worn in hiking boots as well as a backpack that you’ve tried and tested is recommended.
Our Recommended Partner in Nepal
When traveling Nepal, we recommend booking tours from reliable local providers. Having personally been on multiple trips with them, Explore Himalaya Travel & Adventure is our trusted partner in Nepal.
Started in 1997, this local owned company has an excellent track record and has helped over 25,000 travellers plan epic and safe adventures all over Nepal. We did our Everest Basecamp Trek with them and found the entire team from the general manager to the guides and porters to be extremely professional.
They have a 5 star rating on Trip Advisor and offer a wide variety of tours and trips all over Nepal. If you ever book a trip with them, mention that you’re a reader of Adventure in You to get the best possible deal!
Explore Himalaya Travel & Adventure is a locally owned travel company that has been operating in Nepal for years. Check out the tours and trips that they offer in Nepal.
Popular Places to Visit in Nepal
Nepal may be a small country, but there are so many places to visit and things to do! This beautiful country is filled with adventure, beauty, delicious food, and a whole lot of fun in between.
Check out these popular places to visit when in Nepal:
A little background – Kathmandu was originally known as Kantipur, the main trading route between India and Tibet. Gradually, it grew into the metropolis many locals and tourists know and love today. It is now the capital city of Nepal and the main hub for every adventure you can think of.
But wait, as the capital city with a population of about 1.5 million, you can expect a lot of traffic and a sort of beautiful chaos that adds to the experience.
From street vendors everywhere within eyesight to many restaurants and tourist attractions, there’s something to do for every traveler in Kathmandu. Moreover, it’s an affordable travel destination catering to any kind of tourist, though a bit more expensive compared to other areas within Nepal.
Either way, you will enjoy a lot of what this busy city has to offer while sticking to your budget!
Top things to do in Kathmandu:
- Take a tour of the Basantapur (Kathmandu), Bhaktapur, and Patan Durbar squares, where you can learn more about Nepali architecture and historic traditions.
- Go to the Hanuman Dhoka located at Kathmandu Durbar Square, which is the city’s former royal palace!
- Visit the Swaramnhunath (Monkey Temple), a must-see in Kathmandu with picturesque views of the city.
- Experience the city’s spiritual side by visiting the Boudhanath Stupa.
- Check out the Asan Market that has everything you need, from yummy street food to souvenirs.
- Go white water rafting on the Trishuli river!
- Try the Mt. Everest Scenic Flight so you can see the beautiful mountain without the hike.
If Kathmandu is known for the hustle and bustle of city life, Pokhara is the complete opposite, being a calm oasis where travelers searching for peace can thrive. In Pokhara, you are greeted with friendly and welcoming locals, amazing restaurants, and a ton of activities and scenic attractions that exude serenity.
Even if it’s Nepal’s second-largest city, you don’t experience the craziness of a city as Pokhara has a more laid back vibe due to it being surrounded by nature and mountains. Fortunately, it’s easy to travel to as well! If you’re coming from Kathmandu, you can take the bus or fly locally to Pokhara.
Top things to do in Pokhara:
- Admire the stunning scenery in Phewa Lake, a gigantic body of water with amazing colors sparkling under the light. You can also take a boat ride on the lake.
- Visit the Barahi Temple, which is only accessible by boat from Phewa Lake. This Hindu Temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga, protector of the gods.
- Devi’s Falls is a must-visit, a waterfall leading underground with a lot of amazing views as well.
- Taras’s Nepalese Restaurant is one of the best places to eat in Pokhara. You don’t only get appetizing local cuisine, but it’s vegetarian-friendly as well.
- Head to the Movie Garden and watch a film under the stars with your family and friends.
- Party it up around Pokhara with its vibrant nightlife!
Chitwan National Park
Think of the Chitwan National Park as how a child would see Christmas morning. You’ll be waking up extra early excited to head out and explore the wildlife roaming freely! From elephants to wild rhinos, crocodiles to even a tiger, you’ll truly be surrounded by nature.
Chitwan National Park is about 6-7 hours away via bus from Kathmandu and Pokhara, making it a must-visit for a few days. While there are no accommodations in the park itself, you can check in the Jungle Tower in Sauraha or hotels in Rapti River.
Top things to do in Chitwan National Park:
- Stay at a Jungle Wildlife Camp to get the perfect views of the Rapti River.
- Have a whole day’s adventure in the park with a walking safari to spot the animals while admiring the scenery.
- Tired of walking? Go for a jeep safari for a close view of all the wildlife at a safe distance.
- Take a canoe ride on the Rapti River. Make sure you go early and don’t be scared of the crocodiles, they won’t come close to you!
Khumbu, Everest Region
Adventure seekers head to Nepal to hit a major milestone, and that’s to visit the Everest Region where they can climb Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest mountain peak. It’s the ultimate journey that takes a ton of strength, energy, and preparation.
Besides Mt. Everest, you can also experience many other amazing things in Khumbu, from a culturally rich atmosphere to a diverse landscape. Make sure you are ready for the next weeks to come if you plan to conquer Mt. Everest. It will be worth all the effort you put in because you’ll get to meet lovely people, traverse through quaint villages, and have fantastic views everywhere you look.
Top things to do in Khumbu, Everest Region:
- Challenge yourself to the Khumbu Region Trek where you’ll pass through the Great Himalayas, learn about the Sherpa culture and tradition, and immerse yourself in the area’s unique biodiversity.
- Visit the Sagarmatha National Park, which is a UNESCO natural heritage site. It’s also the quickest way to enter the Everest Region.
- Camp in the Everest Base Camp Trek, the highest base camp on the planet. This is where you can begin your journey to the top of the mountain.
The Annapurna Region is home to the Annapurna circuit, one of the most popular and classic walks in the country. For many years, it was hyped as the best trek in the world. Up to this day, locals and travelers alike head to the Annapurna Region to experience these treks, which can take 10-12 days, or even longer.
This area is the ultimate dream for independent trekkers, which is part of their bucket list. While you can go solo, you can also join travel companies for a set itinerary and lodging.
Top things to do in Annapurna Region:
- Take the trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary, where you can take in the best mountain views and unique ecosystems.
- Visit Manang, the most dramatic village in the region, to experience and witness the lifestyles of locals in Nepal’s remote mountain regions. You’ll find a rich cultural presence that you won’t find in any other area.
- Make your trek longer by passing through Poon Hill, which will be worth the extra time and energy. Try to catch the sunrise or sunset, where you get a breathtaking view of mountains and mountain ranges.
- Instead of trekking, try the Annapurna Circuit Mountain Biking Trip for a cycling adventure to remember.
Best Things to Do in Nepal
Aside from the tips I gave from the general regions above, here are a few other must-dos while in Nepal.
Trekking the Himalayas
Naturally, one cannot go to Nepal without experiencing at least one of their many trekking trails. The beautiful thing about Nepal is that there is a trail for everyone. For those who don’t have much time and can’t fit in 2 weeks of trekking, you can opt to go on one of the shorter trails like the poon hill trek which you can complete in 4-5 days.
Alternatively, there’s the Annapurna Circuit which takes you through the beautiful mountainous villages and tea houses to give you a glimpse of the local life. Later on, in this article I will break down a few of the best treks in Nepal.
Go Whitewater Rafting
While I only personally got to do a day of rafting, I would love to come back to experience their longer expeditions which compose of 2-3 days of rafting through some insanely scenic landscapes. Nevertheless, the short trip I did on the Trishuli River was loads of fun and is something I would hands down do again.
If this is something you want to experience during your time in Nepal, click here to see the rafting trip details. It was one of the fun highlights of my first trip which is why I highly recommend it!
Soak Up the Culture in Kathmandu.
Admittedly, prior to coming to Nepal, I gave little thought to the cultural side of the country. As soon as I landed in Kathmandu, I found a wide array of things to do, including an entire list of UNESCO world heritage sites that are worth visiting. From the solemn yet vibrant places of worship like Swayambhu, Boudhanath, and Pashupati, Nepal is definitely high up on my list of unique temples.
If you plan on exploring independently, check out our full article on the best things to do in Kathmandu. Otherwise, you can also book a private day tour around Kathmandu which will take you around all the best sites.
Experience the Unique Backpacker Vibe in Thamel
Chaotic, electric, and lively are just a few of the words that I can use to describe the backpacker district of Thamel. Tons of outdoor gear shops, restaurants, hostels, and bars litter this area, making it a little haven where travelers converge.
Catering to the many adrenaline addicted adventurers that head to Nepal every year, Nepal also has a wide array of adventure sports available to do. From paragliding, Skydiving over Everest, bungee jumps, and mountain flights along the Himalayas, there isn’t a shortage of adventurous things to do in Nepal.
As mentioned, there are heaps of fun adventure tours in Nepal. If you’re looking for some fun and adventure, here are a few of our top activity recommendations.
Recommended Adventure Activities in Nepal
- Tandem Paragliding Pokhara– While in Pokhara, Paragliding is the big activity to do! Most people do it to enjoy the sweeping views of the Annapurna Range.
- Kathmandu Mountain Biking Tour– Mountains, bikes, and awesome trails…need I say more?
- Ultra Light Plane Scenic Flight- Want to experience flying? Riding on an ultralight plane is as close as it gets. The backdrop of the Himalayas only just add to the thrill and excitement!
Best Treks in Nepal
While the trails heading to Everest and the Annapurna Circuit get quite busy (especially during peak season), there are heaps of off-the-beaten-path treks and hikes that we can recommend. To give you a bit of background, the three most popular treks are the Everest Basecamp Trail (EBC), Annapurna Circuit and the Annapurna Base Camp Trail (ABC).
Everest Base Camp
Naturally, the EBC trek tops the list as it is one of the most popular treks in the region. After completing the EBC trek a few months ago, I can fully say that the experience was unlike no other! The views were so diverse (it was barren and sparse one minute and then snowy the next!).
If this is something you’ve always wanted to do, do check out our full review on the EBC trail below.
Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Basecamp Trail
These two treks take you through the Annapurna Mountain range and is a mix of both culture and adventure. The trek takes you through local villages, tea houses, and gives you a glimpse into the everyday life of the incredible Nepali people.
However, as these treks are pretty popular, the tea houses along the way are a lot more comfortable, but it also means that they get a lot more crowded during the peak seasons. If you want to experience unspoiled trekking trails, we recommend doing the following:
Untouched treks leading you through unreal landscapes through Nepal near the Tibetan border. Before teahouses opened in 2010, trekkers would have to camp their way through this rigorous 15-day trek.
Unlike the usual snowcapped mountain peaks that you can find in the rest of Nepal, this trekking trail shows off sandstone cliffs and barren landscapes which showcases the culture of the Nepali mountain people.
For those with incredible stamina and fitness, consider conquering the Upper Dolpo, a place with three 5000 m+ passes following century old trading routes.
To gain a better idea of the best treks in Nepal, check out our complete guide to find a trek that suits you the best.
What to Eat in Nepal
While the food in Nepal isn’t the write-home-to-mum type, it still is very delicious with a lot of Indian influences. If you’re unsure of what to order, here are two of the must-try dishes that I recommend you get.
Momo’s: Similar to dumplings, these little pockets of dim sum are filled with meat, veggies, or cheese and is usually served with a spicy creamy sauce. Note: Momos are highly addictive and are the perfect snack or meal (order with a side of fried rice!)
Dal Bhat: A staple in every restaurant and guesthouse, dal bhat is a set meal which consists of rice, veggies, and soup like serving of dal. While most places serve this as a vegetarian meal, you can also order it with some chicken.
Other meals such as fried rice or stir-fried noodles are also very safe bets!
Places to Stay in Nepal
Due to the rise of tourism in the area, there are also heaps of hotels, guesthouses, homestays, and teahouses where you can stay during your time in Nepal. As mentioned, during peak season, it is best to book your accommodations in advance as some of them tend to fill up. For good deals, I usually check booking.com or Agoda for both hostels and hotels.
Books to Read about Nepal
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster– This book by Kerouac is one of my favorites! If you want a first-hand glimpse at the incredible power of mother nature, this book is a fantastic read.
Sold-This book walks you through the tale of a young girl living in a hut in rural Nepal whose life was changed forever.
No Summit out of Sight-This book is about the true story of the youngest person to climb all seven summits in the world.
Nepal Trekking-If you want more information on trekking Nepal independently, this is your book. It has heaps of information that will be useful for your trip.