Nepal Survival Guide
Getting a Tourist Visa for Nepal
Yes. A visa is required of Nepal. However, you may get a visa on arrival (with the exception of these countries). There are ports of entry and exit and one is Kathmandu Airport. Bring a valid passport and two passport photos. A tourist visa is good for up to 150 days. Fees are $25USD for 15 days, $40 for 30 days, $100 for 90 days. They are all multiple entry. Here is the Department of Immigration website for Nepal
Paying a departure fee
As of 2010, the departure fee that you used to pay at the airport upon leaving is now included in your plane ticket.
Adapters and Plugs for Nepal
Electricity is 220 Volt and 50 MHZ (50 Cycles per Second). Nepal’s eectric plug is two or three round prongs, similar as India and most of Southeast Asia & Asia. You may want to carry a voltage converter if you’re really sensitive about your electronic equipment. Adapters are readily found at the airport and at convenience/hardware stores in Thamel. Ask your hotel if they offer converters.
Large cities like Thamel have ATMs. However, going into smaller towns and more rural areas, you may not find an ATM and it’s unlikely your credit card will work either. Have enough cash on hand or you’ll be taking a trip back into town to get money.
Blackouts and Electricity Cutoffs
Nepal’s electrical system doesn’t have enough power to carry throughout the day. As such there are regular power outtages and sometimes they last for several hours. Ask your hotel when to expect the power cuts. Bring a flashlight for backup and if working on your computer, make sure to save your work often.
Fave Website Resource on Nepal:
This comprehensive site is stocked with tons of facts about Nepal and most any tourist information you want to know.
Nepal runs on a GSM network so if you have an unlocked GSM phone, you can purchase a Nepalese SIM to use in your phone.
Transportation in Nepal
Nepal doesn’t offer a large range of ways to get around. Your best option for long distances is a hired driver or bus. Your hotels and guesthouses will have recommended drivers and can call taxis for you of which you may need to negotiate the rates. For shorter distances you can hire a taxi , tuk-tuk or rent a bike. With taxis, always ask them to use a meter.
Here’s some information about catching a bus in the country.
Airlines Used: Jet Airways (Delhi-Kathmandu– an upgrade to First Class (isn’t much higher than economy) gives you access to the Premier lounge)
* THAMEL *
Accommodations in Thamel / Kathmandu:
Hotel Vajra (Double, Under $30) Read my review
Pros: Very cute, stylish & artsy hotel/resort with Nepalese art, free internet, restaurant has good food, free candles for use during blackouts; Cons: located a 8 min drive outside of Thamel, near Monkey Temple.
Red Hotel (Single-Under $10. Lonely Planet Recommendation)
Pros: Cheap, rooms are spacious, very helpful & cheerful staff with heart, location in the heart of Thamel, balcony & TV
Cons: looks a bit like a dive and rooms are old.
Budget Tours in Kathmandu
There are many trekking agencies in Thamel which will help you outfit your experience. Shop around. The one that I went to and recommend is :
I did a short 2-day trek and got my own personal guide. Hotel and food was inclusive and it was perfect for my budget.
My Recommended Trekking Guide:
Bacchuram Tamang ( Bacchu)
cell # +977 9803 327937
Stores in Thamel
Thamel is a backpacker’s town. It’s loaded with restaurants, bars, internet cafes, clothing shops, trekking equipment stores and souvenir shops. Convenience stores stock toiletries and plug adapters as well as, trekking provisions such as detergent, food supplies, fruits and nuts, electrolites and vitamins. You’ll be able to find most things you need.
Beware of Counterfeit items (so you can buy them)
Nepal has a couple of bookstores selling both new and used books. You will not be at a loss for Lonely Planet Guidebooks. It tends to be one of the favorites and commonly stocked. Also be aware that the Nepalese are an ace for selling counterfeit items. It’s harmless. Still, upon examination, your book maybe a very good quality photocopied book. Read my 10 Interesting things to know about Nepal. Another thing there’s an abundance of is brand named products like Northface. The Nepalese have awesome seamstresses which can sew anything, so be prepared to get Northface at a knocked down price.
* CHOBHAR VILLAGE *
Accommodations in Chobhar Village:
Chobhar Village and Resort (No longer open) Read my review here
Pros: Old Newari-restored guesthouse, clean, intimate experience; restaurant has excellent menu with dishes created from scratch. Location in a small remote country village with local temple, exquisite view of the valley, hospitable & very helpful owner, Theo; Free loaner of a lamp to use during blackouts.
Cons: village is a bit remote and located at the top of a steep hill, bus stop is not visible, no ATMS- cash only, no internet, temple meditation program is seasonal.