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Nepal Travel Survival Guide

* 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 :

Wayfarers Adventures
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)
email: [email protected]
cell # +977 9803 327937
Kathmandu,  Nepal

 

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.

* NAGARKOT * (trekking hotel)

Accommodations in Nagarkot

  The Viewpoint Hotel (included in trekking package) Read my experience here
Pros: Clean, looks like a ski lodge resort, restaurant operates even during blackouts.

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Nepal Information

Arrival & Departures in Nepal:

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.

ATMS:

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:

Nepal Vista
This comprehensive site is stocked with tons of facts about Nepal and most any tourist information you want to know.

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Mobile Communications:

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)

 

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8 Comments

  1. rawunus says:

    Interesting articles, great tips. Keep it up! Its helpful for short tour of kathmandu.

  2. Cj Thapa says:

    Namaste Christine,

    This will be very helpful for those who are planning to come Nepal. And did you visit only these places during your stay in Nepal?

  3. Caroline says:

    This is one of the most interesting blogs that I have ever seen. Interesting articles, great tips. Keep it up!

  4. Trekking In Nepal
    Nepal has aptly been called ‘A Trekkers Paradise’ as her terrain mountain, hills and the Terai (flat land) offer some of the most spectacular trekking routes in the world. The trail into the interior parts of the country follows ancient foot trails, which meander through scenic riverbanks, intractably terraced fields and forested ridges connecting picturesque hamlets and mountain villages. We offer a number of different styles of trekking trip such as classic, challenging, luxury, and family, each of which may involve camping, staying in tea-houses or a combination of both. You will be led by our experienced guides and accompanied by friendly Sherpas to the world’s mightest mountains through the spellbinding valleys, rhododendron forests and holy lakes of the Annapurna, Everest, Langtang and off-the-beaten-track regions.
    Whether you are looking for a wilderness experience or a classic trek, Nepal has everything to offer. Regardless of where you go, you will encounter a great diversity of geography, climate and ethnicity. The people are friendly and welcoming, and the great highlight of trekking in this country is the interactions you will have with the local people in the villages and their wonderfully diverse cultures, practices and traditions.
    When to go
    The best time to trek is from October to May. The first two months of the dry season (October and November) is the ideal period for trekking in Nepal. The air is freshly washed by the monsoon rains, the mountain scenery is superb and the weather is still comfortably warm. December, January and February are still good months for trekking but the cold can be bitter at high altitudes. March and May also offer better weather when trekkers can see superb wild flowers, particularly in Nepal’s wonderful rhododendron forests. During the monsoon season (June-August) trekking is possible in the rain-shadow areas of north of the Himalaya like upper Mustang and upper Dolpo. These regions are out of reach of the rain clouds because of the high mountains and are unaffected by the monsoon.

    Duration of the Trek
    A trekking trip can be of any length you choose. Popular short treks are available around the Kathmandu and Pokhara valleys, which only take one, two or three days to complete while longer treks lasting from a week to a month. It is even possible to combine a series of popular treks together and peak climbing for months on end.

    Types of Trek

    1) Tea House Trek: On the more popular treks in Nepal, enterprising villagers have built teahouse lodges. They are readily available in the Everest, Langtang and the entire Annapurna regions. The country offers a selection a teahouse treks run to a high level of service.
    2) Full boarded camping Trek: This trek is assisted by a full Sherpa crew including a Sirdar (headman), cook and other helpers. Porters, Yaks, horses or mules are used for carrying luggage. It is the Sherpa’s responsibility to perform all the Camp works, including leaving all the sites clean and to guide on the route. Food available on the camping trek will be a mixture of Western and Asian dishes with variety of choice.
    3)Group Size: Group sizes are kept small, to reduce the impact on the environment and to enable us to provide a more personal service. The maximum Group size on most of our treks/tours is 12 and the minimum group size is 2.
    Altitude Sickness
    Altitude Sickness, often known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), is a particularly important medical consideration while trekking in Nepal. Altitude Sickness means the effect of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevations above 3000 m. There is no real need for you to worry about altitude, but you should be aware that it does affect some people’s performance. Through our treks are planned to allow time for acclimatization, it is unknown to anyone how they will react to high altitude. For the strenuous treks, you are advised to bring your own medical kits and Gamow (Pressure Bags). The vital factor, advisable here is to descend to lower altitude. Further, if any assistance is required, our Sherpa Guide is really at all time. The initial symptoms of AMS are as following:
    Nausea/Vomiting
    Loss of appetite
    Insomnia/Sleeplessness
    Persistent headache
    Dizziness, light headedness, confusion, disorientation, drunken gait
    Weakness, fatigue, lassitude, heavy legs
    Slight swelling of hands and face
    Breathlessness and breathing irregularity
    Reduced urine output
    Acclimatization by ascending to no more than 300 to 500 m per day above 3000 m and the proper amount of rest are the best methods for prevention of AMS.

    http://www.nepalguideinfo.com
    http://www.hikehimalyas.com
    Email-:[email protected]

  5. Dear Christina,
    Like your blog quite well….but please update your blog about Airport taxes.
    From Now on nobody has to pay airport tax for international flights from Kathmandu. But the domestic flight airport tax Nrs 170 per sector is still need to pay at the airport.

    • Thanks for checking in and updating me on the information, Nabaraj! Will make the update.;-) I wonder why they changed the fees for international flights while taxing the domestic?

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