When most people think of Nepal, they often picture towering mountains and weeks spent trekking to Everest base camp. However, Nepal has so much more to offer outside of the Himalayas, from tracking Rhinos and tigers on safari, to paragliding over serene lakes! Nepal is an incredible country with friendly locals and so much to explore during your time there!
Getting there, visas, currency etc.
Most visits to Nepal will likely begin in Kathmandu as this is where the International Airport of Tribhuvan is. Visas can be obtained upon arrival with a 30-day visa costing 40 US dollars. The local currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee which works out as roughly 140 Rupees to £1. A 13% VAT and 10% service charge is added to all meals, so beware of this when ordering at cafes and restaurants! English is spoken widely in Nepal.
Kathmandu is the capital City of Nepal, and as mentioned is where most travellers tend to start and end their time in the Country. The main airport of Tribhuvan is approximately 6km outside of the City and pre-paid taxis are available from just outside arrivals if you don’t fancy bargaining the prices of taxis just yet!
- Where we stayed: Many of the hotels and hostels in Kathmandu are located in the Northern district of Thamel. We stayed a short 5 minute walk from Thamel in a guesthouse called Kathmandu Garden house, with double rooms with ensuite costing £5 per night.
- Things to do:
– Durbar Square: Durbar square is one of the main tourist attractions in Kathmandu. Entry to the square costs 1,000 Nepalese Rupees, or £7 for the day. The temples in the square are beautiful, but unfortunately many of them were damaged in the 2015 earthquake and are still in the process of being restored.
– Swayambunath Stupa: The towering Swayambunath stupa high above the pollution of Kathmandu provides great views over the City. Beware of the cheeky macaque monkeys here who have been known to steal food and even cameras from unsuspecting tourists!
– Patan: Patan was previously a separate state to Kathmandu, however due to the ever increasing size of Kathmandu, Patan now falls within it’s suburbs. Taxis here from Thamel will cost around 400 Rupees one way. Visiting the Durbar square in Patan will again cost 1,000 Rupees and gives access to the Museum which is worth a visit. After exploring the square you can then wander the streets of Patan to see the beautiful shrines, and temples on almost every corner!
– Explore Thamel: Thamel is filled with delicious restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops galore! You can easily spend a day wandering around and getting lost in it’s maze of streets.
Chitwan National Park
Visiting Chitwan National Park was one of my favourite things to do in Nepal! Chitwan is located in the South of Nepal, approximately a 7 hour bus journey from Kathmandu. The bus costs 700 Rupees per person, or £5. Be prepared, getting in or out of Kathmandu can take at least 1 hour due to traffic so you’ll be stuck in traffic for the first part of the journey!
- Where we stayed: We stayed in a lovely hotel called Shiva’s Dream who even came to pick us up from the bus station in their safari jeep! The hotel also offer tours to the National Park and we really enjoyed our full day safari organised through the hotel.
- Things to do:
Visit the National Park: There are a range of options to explore the park including walking safaris, canoe, or jeep safaris. We decided to go for the full day jeep safari as this offered the best chance of seeing more wildlife as you could explore a much larger area of the park. The full day package including jeep, guide, driver, lunch, permits and entry to the park cost us 15,000 Rupees each, or £109.
We were lucky to see 30 Rhinos on our tour, as well as spotted deer, eagles, giant hornbills, langur monkeys, a sloth bear and loads more! We also saw lots of tiger prints but unfortunately no tigers. Maybe next time!
Pokhara is a town with loads of activities on offer set right beside a beautiful lake. It is known as the gateway to the Annapurna circuit, and on a clear day you can see the towering Himalayas mountains reflected in the lake below!
- Where we stayed: We stayed in Lake City hotel, a hotel in Central lakeside with good access to a range of nearby tour operators and restaurants.
- Things to do:
– Trek in the Himalayas: Many people who come to Pokhara will arrive and begin planning their trek of the Annapurna circuit which can take anything from 3 days to 3 weeks! As much as I enjoy a walk, I just didn’t fancy trekking for 3 weeks! Instead, we decided to complete the 3 day Annapurna panorama trek to Poon hill. It had everything we wanted, treks in the mountains with beautiful views of the Himalayas, and overnight stays in quaint little tea houses. If you fancy a shorter trek, I’d definitely recommend this one!
– Paragliding: Pokhara is known as one of the best places in the world for paragliding. We tried it when here and it definitely lived up to the reputation, would highly recommend!
– Visit the world Peace Pagoda: The Peace Pagoda is located a 1 hour hike up a steep hill overlooking Pokhara. It’s a lovely way to spend the morning but make sure to bring mosquito spray as the walk up through the trees is filled with mosquitoes and leeches!
– Visit Devi’s falls: Devi’s falls is located a 1 hour walk outside of Pokhara along the lake. The waterfall is named after a Swiss woman who was bathing here and fell to her death. Don’t worry though they’ve now put lots of fences around the falls so you can view it without fearing for your life!
– Enjoy a Thakali: If you haven’t tried the famous Nepalese dish of Dal Baat yet then Pokhara has an amazing selection of restaurants serving up the national dish!
From Pokhara we headed back to Kathmandu. We had originally planned to visit Lumbini in the South of Nepal and then travel overland from Nepal into India via the Sunail border. However, it is difficult to get a visa for India if travelling overland. Beware of this if planning to cross the border overland into India, and ensure you have your visa sorted in Kathmandu beforehand!
I hope you have found this blog post useful! Feel free to add any comments, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts or travel tips!