Nepal Guide

I wrote up this guide for my friends on their first visit to Nepal, so I thought I’d share with all of you! I spent 4 months in Nepal volunteering at a couple orphanages and teaching English in ’09. I recently traveled back to visit my host family and do a short trek. Hope this helps!

Nepal has been the most exquisite, irresistibly enthralling, ruggedly charming country I have ever been to. I cannot rave enough about traveling around Nepal and it should be at the top of every backpacker’s list. For a country with such an entrancing, colorful (rangi changi) and lively culture, I am surprised not more tourists visit. Most of the backpackers arrive in Nepal purely for the trekking (mindblowingly beautiful, btw), but not many go beyond. If you just walk away from the tourist-lined streets of Kathmandu and Pokhara, you’ll run into vast, culturally-rich towns and markets with few to no tourists. Don’t be afraid to get lost here! The unbeaten paths abound! Besides, if you do get really lost, the locals will bend over backwards to help you and probably invite you for tea and a snack inside their home. (Women need to be cautious – I’ve been approached for sex many times due to the large Asian and Western porn industry in Nepal.)

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Kathmandu

Bustling and uniquely charming

Taxi airport to Thamel: 350-400 RPS

Stay

Tibet Peace Guest House in Paknajol (800-1000RPS for double room) – taxis will know where it is. Remember to say Tibet Peace or they may take you to the other Tibet Hotel. TPGH has hot water! (so rare for Nepal) It is a 2 minute walk to the heart of Thamel, where everything happens!  🙂

The Last Resort!! 4 hours outside Thamel. You can book your stay at the agency in Thamel. It’s about $160 for a 3-day package: bungee jumping, white water rafting, waterfall abseiling, transportation, accommodation, all meals, wonderful hot showers, hammocks for napping and a peaceful sanctuary like you’ve been transported to some hidden island resort.

Bridge to The Last Resort (Also, location for bungee jump)

Bridge to The Last Resort (Also, location for bungee jump)

Eat

OR2K – for dinner! Israeli owned. Cool vibe and easy to make new friends here. you sit on cushions on a floor and eat great Middle Eastern food. Try the Sampler Platter. Go at night for the glow in the dark artwork and menu 😉 (Stay away from the pad thai and momos – they’re not good.)

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Fire and Ice – Wood Oven Pizza!!

Fire and Ice Pizza

Fire and Ice Pizza

Street food, obviously (yak cheese)

Pumpernickel Bakery for breakfast

Drink

Tom and Jerry’s rooftop bar

There was a place that had amazing hot buttered rum and was decorated in hundreds of footprint cutouts. Can’t remember the name though.

See/Do (most charge admission)

Bhaktapur (1100RPS) – beautiful Newari old-style town. Very peaceful and known for wood crafting. Catch the local bus for about 25 RPS, 1-hour ride. Eat the local Newari meal for lunch and king’s curd for dessert yuuum.

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Bhaktapur

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Bhaktapur

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Square in Bhaktapur

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Bhaktapur

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Bhaktapur

Pashupatinath Burial River (500RPS): A religious burial site – Those passed away are wrapped in cloth for a funeral procession around the river. The body is then set on fire and placed in the river.

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Baby Monkey at Pashupatinath

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Locals along the river

Boudinath Monkey Temple (Swayambunath)

Monkey Temple

Monkey Temple

Monkey Temple

Monkey Temple

Durbar Square (Thamel, Patan, Bhaktapur are the three different ones)

Free! Just explore the maze of Thamel, then continue beyond the tourist limit to explore where it really gets crazy.  In the local area, sometimes you’re stuck in the same place for 5minutes because there is so much pedestrian traffic and bodies smooshed together 😀

Thamel

Thamel

Then, get the hell out of KTM before you die of pollution. Buses only leave to Pokhara at 7am from just outside Thamel. You’ll see a line of buses and they’re first come first serve. Get there by 6:30am for a seat on the good buses. 350-600RPS

Pokhara
Peaceful and picturesque

 

Phewa Lake

Phewa Lake

Taxi

100-150RPS to Lakeside or maybe a 20 min. walk to the heart of Lakeside. Easy to find a guest house for cheap.

Eat

Organic Coffee and Tea shop

German Bakery for breakfast

Moondance (pricier than local, but it’s amazing food for $6. The dhal bhat non-veg is great here!!)

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Chicken Dhal Bhat at Moondance

Tons of small restaurants!

Drink

Anywhere that’s blasting music…

Buy

All your trekking gear

Book your trek here or with my homie, Karan Lama. His info is at the end of the post.

See/Do

The short hike up to the Japanese Peace Pagoda at sunrise. Breathtaking views of Lake Phewa and the city covered in heavenly clouds and a dabble of light.  There was no one else there when I did it in the early morning! (You have to catch a canoe across the river to the island).

View from Peace Pagoda

View from Peace Pagoda

Rent a bicycle and take the Temple walking tour route through Mahendrapul. You’ll pass through quiet alleyways of Nepalis carving wood, dozens of small and large temples, and old-style homes.  You just have to get through the chaos of Mahendrapul’s central drag first.

Paraglide! 30min for $50.

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Boat to the Temple on the Lake! or swim! or run around the lake!

Fishing in Phewa Lake

Fishing in Phewa Lake

Bat Cave! Touristy and not a huge cave, but kinda fun with all the bat poopies everywhere.

Bat Cave

Bat Cave

Trek

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I’ve seen the Annapurnas and I’ve seen Langtang. Langtang, a 10-hour local bus ride from KTM, is by far my favorite. Spectacular views (I saw an avalanche on the mountain next to us!), lower costs, much less people, more variation in scenery. Langtang cost about $75 total (guide, meals, accommodation, transport, park permit) for 6 days, and leaves from Kathmandu.

Avalanche seen from Kyanjin Ri summit

Avalanche seen from Kyanjin Ri summit

The Annapurnas is a crowded route, but the views are stunning, especially of the famous Macchapuchare (Fishtail) Mountain. I did a short 3-day trek for $60 (guide, transport, accommodation, park fee) and less than $15 for meals/alcohol.

Advice: If you hire a guide, don’t pay the agency for the cost of meals. It will be cheaper if you buy it on your own. Because the routes are easy to follow, you don’t need a guide for these two treks unless you want to learn about the history, plants, geography. 

Take loads of small cash. No ATMs on the trek and, sometimes, no change for your 1000 rupee notes. Budget 1500RPS/day or more to be on the safe side.

You can store your extra stuff at the agency or guest house.

Ginger tea all the way. Also, have the fried king-sized Snicker bar. The yak curd cannot be missed!

Awesome advice I got from an Israeli friend: Do you guys know about the “Israeli price” phenomenon? Basically, Israelis will bargain “until someone cries,” so if you tell a Nepali you are Israeli, they will, hate you first, then automatically give you the lowest price to avoid bargaining with you. My Nepali friends told me this too – they get this impassioned hatred talking about Israelis, which is a bit scary. I’m not saying you should “be Israeli,” but on treks, you can use their tactic, which every other foreign trekker now uses (so it’s not a bad thing). When you approach tea houses at the end of your day’s trek, you can get a room for free so long as you promise to eat both dinner and breakfast at the guest house (which you’ll end up doing anyway). It’s really competitive out there, so the tactic works! Then, you can be nice and tip them 50-100RPS/room for their generosity.

If you guys end up wanting a guide, go with my friend, Karan! He’s part of this agency in Thamel: World Trail Finder Adventure PL.td. Thamel, Kathmandu Nepal

Agent (Sudip Moktan) Phone: 977-4415725 or mobile 977-9841918103

Email: info@trailfindertrek.com or trailadv@gmail.com

Dhampus Trek (Around Annapurnas)

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Dhampus Trek

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Dhampus Trek

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Australian Camp on the Dhampus Trek

Langtang Valley Trek (leads into Gosaikunda) from 2009
Snow capped mountain

Snow capped mountain from Kyanjin Gompa

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Kyanjin Ri Summit (4770m)

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Langtang Trek

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Langtang Valley

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Lumbini

Quaint devout community

Get There

Take the tourist Bus to Bairahawa.

Walk to the local bus stop around the corner and take the 1hour ride into Lumbini. I think it was around 25 RPS.

Stay/Eat

All the guesthouses and restaurants are along one tiny street. For guesthouses, shop around before you commit to a room! Most are really dirty and almost all have cold water, so bring a sleeping bag. Electricity is down for the majority of the day and night, so bring a flashlight.

If you’d like to do meditation and have personal time, do the Korean monastery! Rooms are about 350RPS and you get free meals. It’s my favorite monastery in Lumbini because it is simple, industrial, cool (weather) and quiet. Bikes are only 100RPS/day if you stay here.

Do

See the birthplace of Buddha

Rent a bicycle for 150RPS/day, then you can bike around the beautiful canal! It’s like a Disneyland Small World of Buddhist Temples. Asian nations donated temples to this sacred site of Buddha.

Everything is along the canal, so that’s all there is to “do”

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Chitwan

Humble and naturally beautiful, lush green landscape

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Sauraha (Jungle Safari) is the only thing in Chitwan that tourists do, since it’s a local area. Spend a few days there if you want and do the jungle trek, Jeep safari, see rhinos, etc. Don’t ride the elephants though- they’re treated very cruelly!

Naranghat is a busy local town with cheap goods, about 30min from the Jungle Safari.

Padam Pokhari, Chitwan

Padam Pokhari, Chitwan

OH MY BUDDHA, you have to try the Indian Sweets Shop in Naranghat! It is my favorite sweets (mithai) place ever and is quite famous. Milky, cheesy, crumbly delectable treats! There’s not much sugar used in Nepali food, so you’ll have to make up for that imbalance by eating a crap ton of mithai!  Just tell a tuk tuk you want to go there and they should know which one it is.

If you want to volunteer in more of a remote village setting (teach English, community programs), I can hook you up with my old host family. Let me know!

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Padam Pokhari village

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Padam Pokhari

About redmudstain

An American Expat in Chiang Mai, Thailand ​ Not willing to settle down just yet - I'm only in my mid-twenties after all - I took a leap across the big big pond and fell onto Thai soil. Well, it was a little less spontaneous than that... ​ After a grueling application process, Princeton in Asia bestowed upon me a one-year fellowship with The Life Skills Development Foundation in Chiang Mai. A renowned child rights non-profit foundation in Northern Thailand, TLSDF is giving me the opportunity to research critical social issues, travel across field sites in the nation's upper regions, converse with the international human rights community and of course, learn Thai! ​ This is my life - the beauty, struggle, culture shock and adventure - in the charming city of Chiang Mai. Blog: https://redmudstain.wordpress.com/ UPDATE: Chiang Mai got me for 2 years!

One comment

  1. Govinda Paudel

    Very useful advice for those who want to explore Nepal. Many thanks for it.

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