A country famous for its mountains, a popular destination for trekking junkies and newbies keen to throw themselves in the deep end and everyone in between. Like most, I traveled to Nepal as I wanted to get into the Himalayas, but the country does also hold some other attractions for those less hiking inclined.
Visas and Entry Requirements
I entered and exited Nepal via Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, but you may also enter the country by land from India where facilities may be more rudimentary.
Nepal provides Visas on arrival for tourists but make sure you have passport photos and cash ($40USD for a 30 day visa) on hand. There are machines in the arrivals hall which should be able to take your photo but in my experience these were awful and unreliable to use.
For more up to date info on Visa regulations visit the Nepal Immigration website.
Money & General Costs
Nepal uses the Nepalese Rupee – at the time of writing 100 NPR = 1 USD. Cash is king here and not many places (other than perhaps tour operators and larger hotels) will accept credit cards.
ATMs are relatively readily available in Kathmandu, Pokhara and other larger towns (note that they typically will not allow withdrawals of more than 20,000NPR and may charge 500NPR transaction fee) it would be wise to hold some USD in reserve if possible as you can either exchange or use this directly.
Accommodation in a dorm room in Kathmandu or Pokhara is in the range of $5USD/night while a private room may be $10USD per person per night or more. Guesthouse prices when trekking will vary by trek (some will even provide accommodation for free when meals are purchased) and season.
Food is something that Nepal is not famous for, but nevertheless tasty food can be found in Kathmandu and Pokhara, with a lot of restaurants catering to international travellers. Fare during treks may be a little less exotic. Sit down meals can be had for a few hundred rupees at the lower end and street vendors are abound selling baked goods and fruits. When trekking prices will elevate as you get higher due to costs of food transport, a simple meal may range in price from 300-600NPR as you climb.
Haggling is commonplace in Nepal and as a foreigner it’s more than likely that the first price you are offered by any salesman is not all that fair. Don’t be afraid to bargain a little, but be polite and good humored about it.
For more on trekking costs read this blog post.
Scams and con artists are abound in Nepal – particularly in Kathmandu, but a reasonable degree of vigilance and skepticism of anything that sounds to good to be true or outright dodgy should steer you clear of harm.
- A lot of street lurkers in Kathmandu and Pokhara will ask you if ‘you want something?’ this is almost invariably drugs (of many descriptions) and these guys can be quite persistent, best ignored entirely.
- Street Guides are a common trap around the temples and shrines of Kathmandu – a local will offer to show you around purporting not to want any money, just a chance to practice English. After some time they reveal they would like you to buy their groceries (at an exorbitant cost) or something similar, they can become incredibly persistent and a real pain in the arse to get rid of.