NEPAL TRAVEL GUIDE CONTENTS
At a Glance
Nepal Quick Information
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.
Visa: Generally speaking, most people can avail of a visa on arrival 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. 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. Citizens of select countries are required to apply for a visa beforehand so make sure you double-check prior to your trip.
Safety: 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.
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.
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. For 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).
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 $25-30 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. 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: $4 (dorm), $4-6 (homestays/shared bathrooms)
Splurge: $40++ (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: $7 (up in the mountains)
Local Buses (very cramped): $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
Tourist attraction entrance fees: Durbar Square, Bhaktapur, Monkey Temple, etc: $10-15
TIMS trekking registration card: $10 – $20
Transportation in Nepal
Like most countries in Asia, transportation can be a challenge. We recommend using the Bookaway or 12Go website to view bus, boat, and train schedules ahead of time. 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.
Best Things to Do 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.
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!
Trekking 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.
Tours Around Nepal
If traveling by yourself isn’t your jam, check out the variety of tours that G Adventures has and the details and dates of each trip. We suggest using the filters in the sidebar to help you find a tour that fits your travel dates and travel style.
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
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.