Visiting Nepal, the kingdom of the Himalayas, trekking and temples, is a goal accessible to any hiking lover or any traveller seeking tranquillity. What could be better than a complete summary to prepare your trip well and enjoy this superb country?
Caught between India and Tibet, Nepal is a small country where cultures, religions, sport and breathtaking nature intersect. At the crossroads on the Silk and Salt Route, it attracts many curious travellers from all over the world. A dream destination for mountaineers, Nepal reserves a number of treks for altitude enthusiasts that they will not soon forget, to the incredible peaks of the Himalayas, and even to Mount Everest, the roof of the world. The challenge of a lifetime for any hiker in search of surpassing oneself.
But Nepal is not just for high altitude buffs. Equally strong sensations await travellers on land, visiting the cultural riches of the country, on the water, thanks to the many rivers and furrows which criss-cross the country, or in the air, by paraglider or microlight. Solo traveller, couple or family trip, visiting Nepal will meet your expectations.
TRAVELING IN NEPAL: 8 TIPS BEFORE VISITING THE COUNTRY
Visiting Nepal, the kingdom of the Himalayas, trekking and temples, is a goal accessible to any hiking lover or any traveler seeking tranquility. What could be better than a complete summary to prepare your trip well and enjoy this superb country?
- 1 – When to go to visit Nepal?
- 2 – Tourist visa: how to obtain it?
- 3 – The general atmosphere in Nepal?
- 4 – Visit Nepal and discover its inhabitants
- 5 – The language in Nepal?
- 6 – Nepalese cuisine: culinary specialties
- 7 – Visit Nepal: budget
- 8 – Our stay in Nepal
Caught between India and Tibet, Nepal is a small country where cultures, religions, sport and breathtaking nature intersect. At the crossroads on the Silk and Salt Route, it attracts many curious travelers from all over the world. A dream destination for mountaineers, Nepal reserves a number of treks for altitude enthusiasts that they will not soon forget, to the incredible peaks of the Himalayas, and even to Mount Everest, the roof of the world. The challenge of a lifetime for any hiker in search of surpassing oneself.
But Nepal is not just for high altitude buffs. Equally strong sensations await travelers on land, visiting the cultural riches of the country, on the water, thanks to the many rivers and furrows which criss-cross the country, or in the air, by paraglider or microlight. Solo traveler, couple or family trip, visiting Nepal will meet your expectations! 1 € = 120 NPR / 1 $ = 103.5 NPR
Surface: 147,179 km²
Population: 29 million
Time difference: +4 hours and 45 minutes in summer / + 5 hours and 45 minutes in winter.
1 – WHEN TO GO TO VISIT NEPAL?
Caught between India and Tibet, Nepal is a small country where cultures, religions, sport and breathtaking nature intersect. At the crossroads on the Silk and Salt Route, it attracts many curious travellers from all over the world. A dream destination for mountaineers, Nepal reserves several treks for altitude enthusiasts that they will not soon forget, to the incredible peaks of the Himalayas, and even to Mount Everest, the roof of the world. The challenge of a lifetime for any hiker in search of surpassing oneself.
But Nepal is not just for high altitude buffs. Equally strong sensations await travellers on land, visiting the cultural riches of the country, on the water, thanks to the many rivers and furrows which criss-cross the country, or in the air, by paraglider or microlight. Solo traveller, couple or family trip, visiting Nepal will meet your expectations!
2 – TOURIST VISA: HOW TO OBTAIN IT?
You will get it very easily on-site by landing at Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu. You will need to fill out the correct paper, available in the main hall of the airport. Bring several ID photos and enough US dollars to pay for your visa. Do not hesitate to look wide when you make your change, you can use them on-site if you have any left. The immigration area has a currency exchange office, convenient for getting your first Nepalese rupees and paying for a taxi outside the airport. That said, it was closed when we arrived in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. Mystery.
The price varies depending on the length of the visa you are claiming: the 15-day visa costs $ 25, 30 days costs $ 40, 90 days costs $ 100. The formalities for entry to immigration can be quite long, this is unfortunately often the case at airports and the Nepalese are not the kings of work optimization. Take your pain patiently and relax.
You can also apply for a visa by mail to the Nepalese consulate. You will have to fill in the document, provide identity photos, your passport, pay an administration fee of € 10. Once your file has been processed and received, you have 6 months to use your visa. In short, it is a good solution for the anxious of the organization, but a waste of time (and money), not to mention the risks of losing your passport in the process.
3 – THE GENERAL ATMOSPHERE IN NEPAL?
Those who have visited India will say that the two countries share a similar atmosphere, on two different scales, of course.
If Kathmandu surprises with its atmosphere of human swarming, the rest of Nepal is quieter. Certainly, the capital is teeming with activity: cars, scooters, trucks and horns all the time, cities live to the sound of traffic. We slalom between the cows on the road, we avoid pedestrians. The Nepalese hail themselves in the street, the street vendors approach the tourists. However, it is enough to move away from the hyperactive heart of the city to find a calmer atmosphere.
As soon as one leaves Kathmandu, which is a sprawling megalopolis compared to the other cities of Nepal, the swarming is reduced to normal human activity. According to your itinerary in Nepal, you will find that the larger cities tend to reproduce the Kathmandu model but you will not find anywhere else this feeling of suffocation specific to the capital.
Visiting Nepal by road allows you to cross hamlets and villages, even small towns, and leave the frenzy of the capital far behind. Lush nature, rice fields, national parks, flora and fauna, high mountains, a trip to these lands of adventure will show you all the colours.
The earthquake of 2015 is a black point in the history of the country and affected the general atmosphere. The earthquake did a lot of damage and you will come across many destroyed buildings on your way, as well as families on the street. This sad event has somewhat changed the face of the country, in the process of slow reconstruction. You will witness the tragedy while walking the country: ruins, buildings under construction when the financial means allow it, temples and barricaded monuments. Nepal suffered greatly from this disaster and you are helping to rebuild a country by paying (sometimes a little too much, we agree) to visit cultural places.
4 – VISIT NEPAL AND DISCOVER ITS INHABITANTS
the Nepallives mainly from tourism and the Nepalese do not hesitate to treat travellers with attention. You will generally be welcomed by guides, hoteliers or merchants who are happy to do business with you. The Nepalese have a reputation for being a calm, patient and cheerful people. The life of the local population is punctuated by prayer and their daily life is directly linked to the world of the divine. Hinduism, Buddhism and more generally spirituality holds a large place in their lives and tolerance is essential. So, if necessary, you can talk to a passerby hoping that he speaks English, he will gladly give you a hand or will try to do so. Street vendors and tuk-tuk drivers can be pushy but it’s
You may be surprised to witness a clever mix between a very traditional lifestyle and intense use of smartphones. It is quite common to come across young people dressed in the western style accompanying their family, dressed in Nepalese, iPhone in hand. Network coverage is very good and the new generation would be wrong to deny it. The smell of incense, the burnt offerings on the streets, the dried flowers and smartphones are, however, a surprising combo!
You will certainly be confronted with the “tourist treatment”: high prices in stores (prices are rarely displayed to leave room for doubt), special price in taxis and forced placement in the bottom of tourist coaches. On this last point, do not hesitate to point the place which was allotted to you on your ticket and to sit there. Explain gently and calmly that this place is yours and take your place, without making any more fuss. It is a way of reminding that tourists are not “only” cash cows and must be treated on an equal basis with the locals. We have already said, but being sympathetic and respectful, even in conflicts, it helps to convey a good image of tourists. Think of friends!
5 – THE LANGUAGE IN NEPAL?
Nepali is the official language of Nepal. The writing system is the same as Hindi, Indian writing. It is not a very affordable language if you are new to the Indo-Iranian language and ultimately, English will be your best asset. Most Nepalese stammer at least a few words of English and you will always manage to make yourself understood. Of course, it is always interesting to try your hand at a foreign language and you can ask a friendly Nepali to teach you a few sentences.
Difficult to visit Nepal without retaining the word Nepali namaste, the equivalent of “hello”. To let go when entering a store or to greet someone, it’s always nice.
6 – NEPALESE CUISINE: CULINARY SPECIALTIES
Nepalese cuisine is well worth looking into. Coriander, spices and chilli are almost all dishes but it is always possible to ask that your dish be “no spicy” if you are not fond of spicy. As often in Asia, it is not always in the largest restaurants that you eat the best. If you are feeling adventurous, try a meal in a restaurant, you will not be disappointed.
You cannot discover Nepal without tasting a Nepalese bhat daal. It is a plate made up of lentil soup, rice, a vegetable curry, chapati (unleavened bread), papad (thin and crunchy pancake) and a yoghurt called dahi. There is also daal that with chicken or buffalo (buffalo; in Nepal, the cow is sacred, we do not eat beef), for meat lovers. This assortment of flavours is to be expertly mixed, so don’t hesitate to ask the waiter for the ideal order and the right way to consume the dish. If he speaks good English, it’s won!
The momo, of Tibetan origin, are a sure source of taste happiness. If you are somewhat reluctant to try a foreign cuisine, go for the momo, you will not be disappointed. These steamed ravioli are sold in all restaurants and are essential for Nepalese cuisine. If your stomach is sensitive to heat or jet lag suppresses your appetite, this is the ideal compromise. A few momos to fill a hollow, to eat at any time of the day, a real treat. There are several kinds, chicken, buffalo, mutton or vegetarian, to dip in a spicy sauce or to taste plain.
For those reluctant to Nepalese cuisine, you will find Western dishes with local sauce (surprising, sometimes!) In many restaurants. You can also fall back on BLT type sandwiches (bacon, lettuce, tomato), reliable sources.
Nepal offers a wide choice of desserts, mainly from milk. If you can eat it, which is not given to everyone, try the famous Bhaktapur yoghurt, kheer (rice pudding) or even banana lassi, a kind of delicious Indian milkshake.
What to drink in Nepal?
Beers are brewed locally, such as Gorkha or Everest. The curiosity and the influence of brilliant marketing around the water of the Himalayan range will encourage you to taste it if you are a beer lover. You will, however, be very disappointed to note that they are not exceptional, even that they are even rather tasteless. Bars and restaurants generally serve Tuborg, Carlsberg or San Miguel, of European origin but locally brewed.
Like sodas and all drinks in glass bottles, beers are stored in Nepal. This means that the bottles are cleaned, refilled and distributed to traders. This explains the damaged appearance of some bottles, reused for years. For this, we advise you to avoid drinking from the neck and to systematically request a drink. We were also confronted with a series of beers unfit for consumption, whose taste was frankly bizarre. Contamination is one of the risks of returnable bottles. That said, the manager of the bar was good merchant, apologized flatly and offered us a different beer. Without consequence on our health, it is a minor event. So, if the taste of a drink seems odd to you, stop everything and report it!
Always consume bottled water, make sure the cap is sealed and without a deposit before drinking it. You can also purify it with Micropur lozenges or boil it for at least 15 minutes before consuming it.
7 – VISIT NEPAL: BUDGET
Visiting Nepal does not require a big budget. You can very easily live for less than 20 € per day and enjoy your stay. The value of things varies from the geographical location and the tourist flow in the area where you are. The prices indicated below are therefore an overall average of the prices that you can find in town:
ten momos: ~ 200 NPR
a beer (Tuborg, Gorkha): ~ 350-400 NPR
a meat bah daal: ~ 750 NPR
a bottle of water: ~ 15-20 NPR
Do not be fooled by the somewhat high prices of some restaurants, again, this is not always a guarantee of quality. The best momo we have eaten have counted 150 NPR in the back room of a boui-boui in Tansen!
Accommodation in Nepal
We stay for around 1300 ~ 1500 NPR in a hotel, in a private room with bathroom. In Kathmandu, there are many places to put your backpack: you will find it cheaper in a dormitory in a guesthouse or much more expensive, in a luxury hotel or lodge.
Outside the capital or a big city, it can be more difficult to find accommodation, but there are quite a few homestays or Airbnb rooms, even in the countryside, to accommodate hikers passing through. Tell us about your experience if you stayed there!
Getting around Nepal
To reach Nepal, most flights from Paris to Kathmandu make a stopover in New Delhi, India. By booking a few months in advance, you can find flights at very favourable prices!
The most convenient form of transportation for visiting Nepal is by bus. In the city, the taxi remains one of the easiest local transport to use. Domestic flights facilitate travel, to Everest base camp in particular. For more information, see the “How to get around Nepal” section of our article What to do in Nepal? 3-week itinerary to discover the country.
OUR STAY IN NEPAL:
We left for Nepal during April. After the 2 or 3 days necessary to overcome the cultural shock of the first trip to South Asia (for Lola), an unforgettable stay started. Religions, diverse influences and the country’s deep roots live in unison and offer visitors a culture so rich that it becomes intoxicating. It would take a lifetime to discover the hidden treasures of Nepal!
No, everything is not rosy in Nepal …
First, you will face the little reconstruction work put in place, 2 years after the earthquake. We only saw a few new buildings, built in the middle of the ruins. The lack of aid from abroad, internal conflicts in the government, fuel shortages (which we have been confronted with) which block the transport of materials … In short, a vast political node which leaves nearly 2 million of Nepalese citizens on the street. Walking in Kathmandu, we see that the locals have stopped waiting for state aid and are managing on their own. Evidence of human ingenuity in terms of survival, makeshift shelters and sheet metal construction dot the affected neighbourhoods. A real heartbreaker, but the best way to help them is still to go and eat there.
We must then be aware of the poor air quality in the city, polluted by exhaust gases and dust, which forces people to wear a mask outside. We advise you to buy one upon your arrival to protect yourself as well. When we were there, the sky of Kathmandu was constantly white-yellow, barely allowing the sun’s rays to pass. The rain is then a blessing, which makes it possible to settle the dust on the ground and to breathe better.
Likewise, waste management is very poor and open-air landfills are common. The Nepalese are used to burning their organic waste but do not know what to do with plastic waste. Thus, hectares of nature is covered with bottles, sachets, packaging and other dirt. It is not much you can do about it, other than consuming water purified by Micropur tablets, to avoid buying bottles. Nature is the treasure of Nepal and it is becoming urgent to clean the country. If an NGO hears this call, you must intervene!
… but a stay in Nepal is an unforgettable trip!
Now you are prepared to face the worst aspects of Nepal. Do not get stuck on these annoying and unusual elements that characterize the country, you might miss your trip when there are so many beautiful things to see!
You will have the chance to walk the Himalayas or the Annapurna range (the most beautiful mountains in the world, in short), to appreciate the temperament of the Nepalese during a discussion, to immerse yourself in Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, to marvel at the goldsmith work of tanka painters, to refocus your mind to the sound of Om mani Padme um and other mantras, to cure your ailments thanks to the vibrations of a Tibetan bowl, to observe the diversity of fauna and flora in the jungle of Chitwan National Park, to fill up on thrills in rafting, cycling or paragliding …
In short, visiting Nepal is living a grand adventure!
Have you also visited Nepal? Do you want to go there? Tell us what impressed you, what you remembered, what you liked and what you didn’t like.