Traveling in Nepal means being out of time during your stay. The atmosphere that prevails, accompanied by beautiful landscapes including the famous Himalayan chain, seems to envelop us in a kind of bubble that we don't want to go out.
We discover a country without judgment, where, regardless of gender, sex, religion, color, we are respected and warmly welcomed.
We stayed 2 months in Nepal, which allowed us both to trek the Annapurna, but also to immerse a few weeks in Nepalese life. We have seen the country changed in political elections, the first for years, but also in the seasons when spring has given way to the monsoon. We keep a memorable souvenir of Nepal, and we will returned one day to be able to do the other treks of the region !
Country info :
ID card :
Capital : Kathmandu.
Currency : Nepalese Rupee.
Language : Nepali.
Leader : Bidhya Bhandari.
Religion : Hinduism and Buddhism.
Time difference (from France) : +4h45h (summer)/+5h45 (winter).
I don't know very well the history of Nepal, to put it simply, but really very simple, the country was divided into several principalities that met in 1750. Nepal has always been very linked to India and China, its two neighboring countries.
But more importantly, it's in this country that Buddha would have been born, in Lumbini more precisely, in the South of the country.
Tilak : The traditional point, often red, on the front of Hinduism has long since crossed the borders and is known to all. However, the Tilak is a little more complex than just a red point on the front. As long as someone attend a religious ceremony, regardless of its size, they get a tilak at the end. It doesn't matter if you are Hindu or not. Its location is also not random, since it's on "agna", the sixth chakra or commonly the third eye that associates with divinities and meditation. The Tilak can take different forms depending on its meaning : a red line at the top of a woman's forehead means that she is married. While a white point means that a woman is a widow, she will not be able to wear red, the color of Nepal.
Sadhu : He is an ascetic (a person imposing a rough and austere life) Hindu who has renounced any attachment of material life to devote himself solely to his spiritual quest. He lives only by begging. Even though he has a family, he cut all ties. They are often recognized by their lack of clothing or the long dress they wear. In the Hindu religion, becoming a sadhu is not something isolated, since it is considered as the 4th step, the previous ones are: to study, to found a family then to make a pilgrimage.
Environment and waste management : Nepal has a big problem with recycling and waste management. To put it simply, they burn the biggest part and reuse the rest. For example, don't be surprised when you see an old Coke truck picking up empty glass bottles : they will be washed and then filled again. Cities, especially Kathmandu, are very dirty, and there are areas of rubbish. In order to try to fight against this, they have made sure to limit their consumption of plastic as much as possible : in Pokhara, we hardly find any more. And it's well seen to refill bottles of water from the big bottles (for 0.10 € per liter) found throughout the city rather than buying new bottles. Trying to respect that is a good way to help the country and to be environmentally responsible !
Trek : Many come to Nepal just to go trekking. And for good reason, the country bordered by the Himalayas and home Everest, the highest peak in the world, gives a wide choice of hikes ! We did the trek of Annapurna and we were not disappointed, we even planned to return to Nepal one day to discover new ones. The landscapes we cross are beautiful, we go through green landscapes, vast forests and a mountain landscape almost arid. You will understand, trekking is a unique experience that we highly recommend !
Read also : Annapurna Circuit : the stages
Cow : It's not a secret, in the Hindu religion, the cow is sacred and therefore untouchable. You will not find beef in your dishes, but it is possible to find water buffaloes. Walking in Nepal means meeting cows quite regularly in the city, whether they are walking or taking a break in the middle of the road, you will see them often ! Be respectful to them, and even if they hinder the passage, avoid being abrupt towards them, because it will be very badly seen !
Getting there :
Preparing your trip :
Kathmandu airport is the only international airport in the country.
What visa is required for Nepal ? :
Nepal requires a visa that you can buy directly at Kathmandu airport.
Three possibilities are available to you :
- 15-day visa : 25 dollars (about 20€).
- 30-day visa : 40 dollars (about 35€).
- 90-day visa : 100 dollars (about 86€).
You can extend your visa.
Read also : How to obtain and extend your visa ?
A visa for Nepal doesn't allow you to go trekking, you need another authorization for that : the TIMS.
Read also :How to organize a trek in Nepal ?
What is the best season to go to Nepal ? :
Whether you go to Nepal just to visit or trek, it's about the same in terms of time.
We can tell you already the period to avoid : the monsoon from June to September when rains are particularly abundant. Except, of course, if you like floods and leeches.
The winter from December to February doesn't allow trekking, everything is closed, because in addition to the cold and the snow the mountain is even more dangerous.
The best seasons therefore remain the spring from March to April with a very present sun and finally the autumn from October to April where it's too cold, and still have clear skies with a sun always present.
To know :
- Take an adapter.
- There are often power outages and water cuts. Sometimes it can take several hours.
- The water is not drinkable, let alone in town especially in Kathmandu where it must be the most polluted of the country. By cons if you go on a trek, at a certain altitude you will not have any problem.
- In Nepal, it is common and normal to spit very loudly and regularly. We agree, it may surprise at first. Personally, I've never got used to it.
- Mosquitoes are a real plague especially as the monsoon season approaches. We can only advise you to plan something to defend yourself against them.
- Dust and pollution are very prevalent in Nepal, forming a mixture that attacks the lungs especially of travelers who stay for a long time. Nils was starting to have a regular and embarrassing cough that stopped as soon as we left the country. Plan with you masks to protect your nose and mouth, especially if you are on a motorcycle or even by bus.
- Small shops sell only counterfeit, North Face brands or whatever you see are not true even though it may be similar. Be aware that there is an official North Face store in Pokhara and Kathmandu.
- Although banned, the drug continues to circulate in Nepal. Especially in bars, restaurants where there seems to be some agreement between the police and the owners. Avoid a maximum to stay away from trouble. In addition, you will see many Nepalese, including children, the nose in a plastic bag : they're sniffing glue, a practice widespread to offset the addiction to other hard drugs, or forget hunger.
Between small prices and plenty of guesthouse, it's very easy to find accommodation in Nepal. There is something for every price, and it is even possible to rent a small household if you want to stay several weeks.
What budget to sleep in Nepal ? :
For a double room in a guesthouse with wifi and a private shower, it takes 6,4 € or 800 rupees. But the price can go to half if you negotiate in the long run.
Read also : How to travel cheap in Nepal ?
A room in dormitory costs about 2 to 3 € per person. You can also find a little more chic hotels with prices ranging from 20 to 70 €.
To know :
During the trek, if you eat dinner and breakfast on site, the room can be free if you ask !
Eating outside is very common in Nepal, especially when you are a tourist. The food is very affordable, so it is easy to eat well without breaking the bank, and we all love it !
However, if like us, you don't necessarily want to go out all the time, it is possible to buy a small stove with gas to prepare homemade things : breakfast, lentils, tea, pasta, etc. Provided you have a pot of hiking !
The gas cylinders bought on site are a little scary, and accidents including explosions are not uncommon so be vigilant !
In any case, Nepal offers a wide choice of restaurants of all kinds to satisfy all tastes and expectations.
Go to Nepal without tasting the Dal Bhaat is almost a shame, yes, I know, I talk about it in all the articles, but hey, there's a reason ! What other dish is unlimited and good for only 2 € ? After, it is true that we associate this dish with the trek and a good hot meal after a long day of walking, but just, taste it and you will see! (That's for advice with strong arguments).
To know :
- Don't be in a hurry when ordering food in Nepal, it's really long. So don't go to the restaurant already hungry, it will be a torture ! This is due to that they prepare everything on the moment, and not in advance, which is not a bad thing in itself to be able to eat fresh !
- There is 10% tax that is added to the bill (all do not respect this weirdly).
- Bhang Lassi : It is not a traditional lassi with yogurt but cannabis. You can order in some restaurants, so be careful if you take it, it will not be a simple refreshing drink ! We've never tasted it personally, but others yes, and apparently it's strong.
I had the misfortune to buy an ice cream once in a freezer. My instincts shouted that it was a bad idea especially with the many power cuts, but I really wanted ... Result : sick for 24 hours, with diarrhea and vomiting almost continuously throughout the night (It was the minute glamor of Depaysemoi !). So if I can give you an advice from a very personal experience : Avoid ice cream.
What budget to eat in Nepal ? :
A good local dish costs between 1 and 2 € or between 150 and 250 rupees. If you want to vary the dishes and eat something a little more western, count between 3 and 5 € is between 350 and 600 rupees.
Getting around :
How to get around in Nepal ? :
Getting around Nepal is pretty easy in the sense that the country doesn't run out of buses to get from one point to another. Well, of course, you must not be in a hurry or be afraid to die.
If the bus doesn't give you enough thrills, it's possible to fly for domestic flights. (Know that most are not homologues and some of the tracks are some of the most dangerous in the world). But who does not like living dangerously ?
Bus : It remains one of the most common in Nepal, they circulate on short distances or larger allowing to connect the points of interest of Nepal. More or less comfortable, we are pretty shaken in it. Very affordable, the bus remains one of the best ways to get around the country.
By plane : Quite common to cover "long" distances like Kathmandu Pokhara if you don't want 8h of bus. Some also fly to trekking points. Although faster, it seems that this is not the most reassuring way !
Taxi : Very common when you are in town, they have affordable prices. However, they use very small cars that are not very compatible with the condition of the roads. In many cases, you will not be able to negotiate the price if you have to go to a place on such a road.
Rent a bike : There are several renters in town, but we can only recommend this way if you have a good level motorcycle. Apart from the bad state of the roads, it is necessary to take into account how to drive quite dangerous other drivers.
In Nepal we drive on the left !
We rented a bike in Pokhara for a small road trip of 24 hours, and although it was very nice, the motorcycles were not in great condition.
Read also : Pokhara, between sport and relaxation
Femal Travel :
Traveling as a woman in Nepal :
Nepal is a country that is very respectful and open to others. A woman, even traveling alone, will not encounter problems normally. If showing the belly is not at all shocking in Nepal, you must nevertheless think about covering your shoulders, especially when you go to sacred places or remote areas.
Be a little more cautious in Kathmandu, which being the capital is a bit prone to drug problems, theft, etc.
We can not repeat it enough, always be a minimum vigilant !