For many backpackers, Nepal is their Shangri-La. Where else can you have so many life-changing experiences on a budget of dollars per day?
Nepal is synonymous with the Himalayas, and the capital Kathmandu lies in a valley before the great mountains. As the peak of Everest is beyond the reach of the average human (it takes two weeks just to reach base camp), the most popular trek is the Annapurna Circuit (up to 18 days, departing from Pokhara) which offers spectacular scenery and experiences like drinking yak's milk tea with a Sherpa. If you're exercise-averse, try one of the mountain sightseeing flights from Kathmandu.
Of course, there's more to Nepal than mountains. Rhino sightings are practically guaranteed during elephant-back or walking safaris at Chitwan National Park, and if you're lucky you may spot a tiger. Nirvana can be found at the spectacular Tibetan stupas around Kathmandu or perhaps in the holy city of Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha.
Nepal may look small on the map, but once you see the condition of the roads you'll understand why time is a blessing. A week is just enough for a whirlwind tour of the three main sights -- Kathmandu, Chitwan and Pokhara without any extensive trekking. Domestic flights rarely cost more than US$100 and can save a lot of time (ex-Pokhara to Kathmandu, for instance, is more than eight hours by road, or a 30-minute flight).
In terms of bang for your buck, Nepal is hard to beat. By sleeping in simple guesthouses and eating dahl bhat (rice and veg curry) you can get by on $15 per day and the country's most spectacular experiences -- like waking up to a view of Mount Everest -- are free.
Just remember that Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, so don't kick up too much fuss when you're charged 20 rupees ($0.25) for a plate of momos (Tibetan dumplings) when a local pays 10.
I only had 9 days in Nepal, but it was enough to spend some leisurely days exploring Pokhara and the Kathmandu Valley. Between all the cool temples, mix of Nepali and Indian and Tibetan culture, affordable digs, dahl baht, tangy yak cheese, and ice cold big bottles of Tuborg, it was easily one of the best short trips I've ever made. I lived like a king on around $15 per day.
One particularly good highlight was the trip up to Nagarkot on the rim of Kathmandu Valley and waking up before dawn to watch sunrise over Everest. The UNESCO World Heritage city of Bhaktapur also stands out in my memory as particularly charming.
It's a long way to go from North America, but it was only a 3 to 4 hour flight from Bangkok, if you are in the area anyway...
just wondering, for someone who wants to do a base everest climb, is it better to book when you are there or plan in advance? also, how safe is it for solo female travellers?
#3 melodykk has been a member since 3/2/2013. Posts: 7
A friend of mine recently did Base Camp with her son and has written quite a bit about the experience.
More here: Everest Base camp FAQ
Hope that helps.
There are endless agencies in Kathmandu offering treks to EBC. I did a 24 day walk there in 2011 which I did with a guide only. Get a porter, a guide is worthwhile if you do the Chola Pass into the Gokyo Valley which is more spectacular than the Khumbu Valley IMHO.
#5 Kurtz has been a member since 15/10/2012. Posts: 20
Hi all after some general advice on the Annapurna Sanctuary trek which we are aiming to do mid March.
Have been quoted for a guide and porter and all accommodation but seems real pricey - do we really need one. We are used to UK mountain walking and would prefer to the trek on our own. Are the trails and maps easy enough to follow?
Any advice would be gratefully appreciated!
#6 RACHYPF has been a member since 13/11/2009. Posts: 42
Whilst I haven't done that particular walk, I'd be inclined to at least take a porter. The effects of altitude are debilitating to many and there's nothing worse than having a pack on when you can hardly breath. The trails will be full of people and unless you're doing a high pass, which I don't think is the case on that trek, you can do without a guide.
Not to take anything way from this website, but the following link is the definitive place to find trekking info for Nepal
#7 Kurtz has been a member since 15/10/2012. Posts: 20
I'm planning to go to Kathmandu and Pokhara this mid January, has anyone been there at that month? I know its going to be cold, but will it still be safe and "comfortable cold"? And how's the visibility? Will I still be able to see the mountain peaks? Will the temples be open?
Also, which is better, get a packaged tour beforehand, or will I find good travel agencies offering cheap tours within Kathmandu and just shop around when I get there?
Please share your experiences and advice.
#8 jen_on_vl has been a member since 26/5/2013. Posts: 7
I spent about a month in Nepal about 2 years ago. My husband and I did the Jiri walk-in/Gokyo lakes trek in everest region and also spent some time in Chitwan and pokhara. It was beautiful! We didn't hire a guide or porter, but I felt the going was pretty tough carrying my own bags especially once we hit altitude. Tough but manageable. I think going trekking, arranging things on your own upon arrival (if u have the time) is probably best. Doing a bit of research beforehand on where you wanna go and if you want a guide would be useful for negotiating a price. I can't say I would recommend going with a group.....from what i saw they were herded around like cattle and following the itinerary could be rough if you experienced any altitude sickness and needed an extra rest day. We went in high season and didn't feel it was too difficult to organize transportation, permits and the Chitwan tour on our own. If you want any more info/have more questions I'm happy to answer...even if my info is a bit dated. I could go on and on about how much I loved Nepal!
#9 ktkates87 has been a member since 17/5/2013. Posts: 6
namaste! InNepal, when someone joins both their palms while bowing his/her head,and says 'namaste'(I salute the God in you) to you...return the samegesture because its courtious to greet someone in the same manner thatthey use to greet you. Yes! That's how it is done in Nepal
Iam planning to take a trip to nepal soon. from what iâ€™ve come to hearabout this small landlocked country, i just have to. I am basing mydecision on a friendâ€™s suggestion who was so overwhelmed by this countrythat he had come up with a mag on Nepal. Wish me luck!
#10 born2travel has been a member since 21/3/2014. Posts: 1
It's a great introduction for country like Nepal. And thank u all for loving it and visiting and re-visiting the landlocked country. Glad i got to read this article.
Good luck for the trip. Go as many destinations as possible in Nepal. Explore the untouched natural and cultural beauty. Cheers!
#11 RamCB has been a member since 9/5/2014. Posts: 1
On a year long trip. Based on the flow of it, I wound up not including nepal despite it being somewhere of interest. I am hearing that this is a perfect time to go so I am wondering if I should push back Indonesia by a few weeks and squeeze in a short trip to Nepal. What is possible to do in 2-2.5 weeks?? I tend to like slower travel and more authentic experiences. Obviously I wouldn't be able to do that slow a trip but ideally I would like to not be moving every single day. Is it worth trying to fit it in, or should I just save it for a future trip? I probably won't be able to get back for a few years.
#12 TravelinTracy has been a member since 15/4/2015. Posts: 6