- Travel Topics
We spent an average $45 each per day in Nepal over the course of 29 days. Here is a collection of our impressions, travel tips, and the cost break down.
We flew into Kathmandu and somehow managed to spend 11 days there (broken up over the course of several visits). We didn’t exactly like the city and weren’t too interested in exploring. We did a few things, like take a cooking class, join a market tour, walk to Durbar Square and visit the Garden of Dreams but that was pretty much the extent of our sightseeing in Kathmandu. We mostly just killed time there waiting either for our friends to arrive, or our flights out of the country. There are plenty of important temples to see in the city and the surrounding area along with ancient cities and other sites but we just didn’t quite feel up for it. The city just feels too busy and stressful at times to even walk through. With no sidewalks you are constantly dodges bikes, motorbikes, taxis, it doesn’t exactly make for a peaceful stroll.
Our initial trekking plan for Nepal was to spend 18 days trekking in the Everest region, tackling the Three Passes Trek. This did not quite go as planned. By day three in Namche (at an altitude of 3400 meters) Dave came down with altitude sickness and he didn’t feel better after a day so we decided to come back down. Our friends Susan and Paul continued on and completed the trek as planned within the 18 days, changing it to a Two Passes Trek instead of three. It was a shame to miss out on the trek but we did get a brief glimpse and enjoyed the scenic plane flight over to Lukla and back.
We spent 9 days doing the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek with my friend Susan and her cousin Paul. Accompanying us was our porter, Iman. We had a great time on the trek and found the scenery to be fairly varied, going from rice terraces, to mountain views to Rhododendron forests. I would highly recommend this trek to anyone heading to Nepal.
What does a picture of a breakfast plate have to do with Pokhara? Well this is just about the only photo I took there. We were there after completing the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek and just about all we did was walk around eating food all day long. Yes there is plenty to do in Pokhara, and it sits right on a beautiful lake but we were exhausted after 9 days of trekking and simply weren’t interested. All we wanted to do was eat, and that’s exactly what we did.
Would we do it the same way?
After 5 months away from Asia we were back, this time with Nepal. We landed in Kathmandu and were immediately thrown into the bustle of this busy city. Coming from Scotland this was a bit of a shock to the system. There is noise everywhere. From bells ringing to cars honking to dogs barking it is just so loud. Without any side walks to walk on you are constantly dodging moving traffic and attempting not to get hit. Needless to say we weren’t exactly smitten with Kathmandu.
After all though this isn’t what most visitors come to Nepal for though. It’s the trekking everyone is after, and the trekking truly does not disappoint. After our failed Three Passes Trek we tackled the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek and the views truly are spectacular. Nepal truly is an amazing place for trekking.
Not only is the scenery incredible but the tea house trekking concept makes organisation a breeze. No tents, no camping gear required. You simply trek from village to village and stop in whenever you get hungry or tired for a meal or a place to sleep. With porter costs incredibly low; we paid $17 for a porter to carry a 15 kg bag for us, you don’t even need to carry your own stuff. This really is the most convenient country to trek in. Also with so many different trekking regions, difficulties and lengths there is a trek for everyone. In this aspect Nepal really is amazing.
How about the people? We found them to be incredibly friendly. Everywhere we went we were greeted with a Namaste (the Nepalese greeting) and a smile. Even if English was limited the locals always tried to be helpful and we enjoyed interacting with them. Even on the treks the people in the villages would respond with a friendly Namaste as we passed.
One issue in Nepal though is the transportation. The roads are in bad condition so a bus ride that covers a fairly short distance (200 km) takes you literally all day (up to 9 hours). As you’re bumping around the dirt roads hour after hour it’s hard to stay patient.
Overall though the scenery in Nepal simply cannot be beat and if you are interested in the outdoors or trekking this country is a must visit.
Nepalese traditional food really comes down to dal bhat and momos. Momos are just like dumplings, with various fillings and served with a tomato peanut sauce or a tomato chili sauce. We had some delicious momos on the trek and at the cooking class we took in Kathmandu. The sauce was incredible at the cooking class and cannot be beat.
Second best food was the dal bhat which is a dish if rice, lentils, a vegetable curry a chutney and some pickled veggies. It is a full meal and perfect if you’re starving on the trek (as they even give you free refills)! But after days of having dal bhat, you will start to crave a bit more variety.
Being able to complete the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek with Dave and one of my closest friends, Susan and her cousin was a great experience. Though we meet people here and there throughout our travels usually it’s just the two of us, so it was an absolute blast for me to be traveling in a group of 4 and to really feel that group dynamic. We had some great time, sharing stories and jokes, and just laughing until I almost had tears in my eyes. Doing an outdoorsy activity like trekking for an extended period like 9 days seems to be the kind of things that’s great to do in a group and I can truly say I feel like we had a great group. While the trek was difficult at times, it felt great to reach Annapurna Base Camp and to know that we could do it. The scenery was beautiful and it was a great experience going on a multi day trek for the first time.
We took a local bus after we started the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek from Pokhara to Phedi and when we finished the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek from Nayapul back to Pokhara. The buses are generally incredibly crowded and slow. Not exactly a comfortable ride.
No trains in Nepal.
We took a few cabs in Nepal and they were fine, just make sure to settle the rate before you get going.
Long distance buses can be painful and incredibly long. The bus ride from Kathmandu to Pohkara which covers a distance of less than 200 km (125 miles) took us 8 hours one way, and over 9 hours on the way back. Ridiculous right? The roads are in bad condition and frequently one lane, with many bumps and turns so the buses have to go pretty slowly.
We were not able to use student IDs in Nepal
We didn’t really see any public bathrooms in the cities and your best bet would be to use the bathrooms in your guest house or cafe. On the treks you will sometimes see outdoors toilets in between villages, but usually we used bathrooms at the guesthouses and restaurants in the small villages on the treks.
We felt very safe in Nepal.
The staples of Nepalese cuisine are dal bhat and momos. You will find these at almost every Nepalese restaurant and these are usually the best food options on the trek. In the cities of Kathmandu and Pohkara there many great dining options offering everything from Italian to Mexican to Israeli food. In the cities you will have no problem finding a great meal whether you are looking for Nepalese cooking or more Western food. On the treks though you will find that the menus at almost every place are exactly the same and the Western food usually isn’t very good. The pizzas were sometimes ok, though they are made with Yak cheese which might not be for everyone. I found the best bet on the treks though were the momos and dal bhat – these were usually solid choices. You will find the food on the treks to be fairly expensive compared to the food in the cities and this is because the guesthouses charge very little for the rooms themselves and make all their money on the food (you are obligated to eat dinner and breakfast at the guesthouse you are staying at).
Credit Cards And Money
We were not able to use credit cards in Nepal, but had no trouble finding ATMs to take out cash. Make sure to take out enough cash to last you the entire trek as there will no be ATMs on the treks (there are ATMs in Namche on the Everest treks)
Internet is slow and a bit spotty in Nepal. Most cafes and restaurants catering to foreigners will have wifi but there is no guarantee that it will work well. We had internet at our guesthouses in Kathmandu and Pokhara which usually worked pretty well, but at times was very slow or just not working at all. On the treks we were able to find internet in a couple places though it was usually slow and you had to pay for it.
We stayed in a mix of hostels and guesthouses. A good mix.
We did not couchsurf in Nepal
We kept track of every cost we had down to the purchase level and categorized it into 5 groupings:
So where did we end up? $45 per person, per day.
Would we go back to Nepal?