Travel & Tourism in Nepal - my
own itty-bitty guide
Nepal is an extremely diverse country with a wide
variety of activities to suit every traveler. There are the majestic
Himalayan mountain ranges, the Mid-Hills of rolling green terraced
paddies and lush forests, and the jungles and plains of the hot and
dusty Terai. Throughout all this, there are the white waters of Nepal's
many rivers that race down from the Himalayas. It a traveler's paradise
and I hope that this information here can help you plan a trip there!
For this information, the approx exchange rate is $1 = 74 rps.
Visa: At all land entry
points and Tribhuvan International Airport, a visa is given
automatically. It costs $30 USD for a sixty day pass and you will need
two photos and exact change in American dollars. They do not accept any
other currency, not even Nepali rupees and are loathe to give change if
at all. Have the correct amount ready and you will sail through. If you
are arriving by air, a seat closest to the exit will assure you of a
shorter wait in immigration, but at most expect about a half hour. If
you expect to leave and return to Nepal within the first sixty days, it
will save you time and money to get a second double entry sticker visa
at that same time. It will cost $55 for that.
Extensions are given at the Immigration Office in
Kathmandu, located just west of Singha Durbur across from the Tundhikeil,
the large open field in the center of Kathmandu. There is the office of
Nepal's Tourism Board and they handle all extensions. You can also get
them at the Immigration Office in Pokhara which is located in Lakeside,
but very far south, and close to Damside. An extension costs $50 for 30
days and can be extended up to three times, but note the third extension
(anything over 120 days) can only be had at the Kathmandu office. A
person may stay up to 150 days in a calendar year. When you are
receiving your last visa extension, they may ask for your onward ticket
or preparation. A airline ticket or visa for India will suffice. A
person may arrive in August of one year and stay until May of the
following because that would entail ten months over two calendar years.
These regulations are in effect for nationals of all countries except
for Indians which need no visa.
Residency and work visas are extremely difficult to
come by and beyond the reach of most. However, if you are interested in
staying longer in Nepal, you may qualify for a student visa by enrolling
in the Tribhuvan University Foreign Language Department studying one of
the languages native to Nepal like Nepali, Tibetan, Newari or Sanskrit.
Costs are approx. $600 a year for tuition and you must have $3000 USD
deposited in an account to cover a year of residency to receive a
student visa. Contact www. for more information.
- It is advisable to bring a combination of travelers checks and cash.
Dollars, pounds and AUS dollars are easily changed. TCs receive a better
rate than cash at banks, however, at money changers you will be charged
a fee for TCs. It is better to bring larger denominations of TCs ($100)
rather than 5 $20s because the fee is charged per TC. Have cash in small
denominations like $20 so you can change a small amount at the airport
for taxi, etc and wait to change a large amount at a better rate. Nepal
also has Debit and Credit Card transactions. There are ATM's in Ktm at
the following locations: Inside the Kathmandu Guest House complex in
Thamel, on that same road but further south across from the Yin Yang
Restaurant, and on the Kantipath just south the intersection with the
Royal Palace outside the Grindley's Bank. In Pokhara, there is one ATM
outside the Snowland Hotel in Lakeside. If you are unable to draw from
your ATM card, go to Grindley's Bank and you can do a manual transaction
and receive money off your card. Inside the bank, get a form, and fill
it out while waiting in line. You need your card and passport and you
can take up to $1000 US at a time. Debit is always preferable because
credit cards begin charging interest immediately for cash advances.
Outside of Pokhara and Kathmandu, you need rupees. US dollars can be
changed but only on the black market. Bring enough rupees on the trail
when trekking although in larger places like Tatopani, you can change
TCs and cash, but at lower rates.
Kathmandu, there are many choices. Taxis are everywhere but you will
have to negotiate to get close to the correct fare. They have meters but
many will refuse to use them. Insist on them and they will just drive
off. Better to have a rough idea of the fare and bargain close to it.
When arriving by air, your best option is to buy a ticket from the
pre-paid taxi booth located just after you exit the terminal and
conveniently before the large crowd of touts held back by a barrier. The
cost of a ride to Thamel, the largest grouping of tourist facilities in
Kathmandu, is about 220 rps. You can get a better deal plunging into the
crowd, but often they will try to take you to a different hotel to
receive a commission. Some of the nicer hotels will send a pick-up. This
is where they will be waiting. Once in town, you also have the choice of
motor rickshaws, that fit two comfortably. However, they tend not to be
any cheaper than a taxi and are terrible for the environment. You will
have to bargain to get the correct price.
In Kathmandu, there are also electric tempos that run
various routes through the city. They are cheap and very easy to get
around, if you can figure out which is going where. You will see them
whizzing around everywhere. Just stand off to the side and flag one
down. Mention where you want to go in general terms and they will say
either yes and no, and maybe even the number of the correct tempo that
you want. When you get the right one, squish into the back, they hold
ten, and pass 5 rps forward. Some routes may be 6 or 7 rps because of
length. When you reach the area, bang on the ceiling or mention to the
boy sitting at the doorway.
There is also a standard bus system which tends to run
to and from the main bus area across from Sundhara. System is similiar
to the tempo. There is a trolley line that runs to Bhaktapur, and that
is your cheapest bet for getting there. The trolley starts in Baneshwor,
just south of Singha Durber. And for a more atmospheric transportation,
try a bicycle rickshaw for shorter rides. They navigate the crowded,
conjested inner city streets deftly and you can take in the scenery.
While there are no trains in Nepal, it is easy to
catch a bus between towns. The most popular route is the Kathmandu to
Pokhara trip. Local buses are as cheap as 180 rps but the trips can be
very overcrowded and stop often to pick up passengers. A better option
is the 'tourist' buses that leave every morning at 7:00 am from the
Kantipath just south of the intersection with the Royal Palace. Every
morning there is a fleet of buses ready to depart, but buy your ticket
in advance at any travel agency. It will give you a bus number and seat
number. Arrive about 6:30 and load up. Don't worry about placing your
luggage on top or securing it, beacuse the bus is direct and the luggage
will remain tied down. The journey is quick, stopping twice for bathroom
and food breaks, barringany problems, arrive around 1:30 in the
afternoon. It costs about 250-300 rps. For more comfort, take the Green
Line, a luxury bus service with brand new buses and serves drinks and
snacks aboard. It costs about 750 rps. All buses arrive in Pokhara in
Lakeside on the main road but south of the main tourist area. A taxi
there should cost about 30-40rps but they use a queue system there for
taxis, so bargain hard with the next in line rather than going from taxi
to taxi. Buses for the journey to Kathmandu, generally leave from the
same place or in front of the Tea Time Restaurant in Lakeside at 7:00
For airline flights, there are many domestic airlines
to choose from. However, the bus is very easy for most journeys, esp the
Pokhara to Ktm route. You will need to fly to such destinations as
Jomosom or Lukla, as there are no roads. Airlines include Buddha Air,
Cosmic Air, Shrangri-La Air, Neocon Air and Royal Nepal. I don't
recommend Royal Nepal because flights are often delayed and service is
not as good. All these airlines also run the popular Mountain Flight
which give you a close up view of Everest and Himalayan Range. The costs
is roughly $100, although it varies somewhat from airline to airline.
Many recommend Buddha Air for its new planes.
International Flights from Nepal all leave from
Tribhuvan International, just recently renovated. Most tourists will
have to fly via a connecting flight as Kathmandu is only directly
connected to a few cities. Those include: Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong,
Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Dubai, Karachi, Lhasa, Paro, &
Dhaka. Other destinations with minimal stops include London, Paris,
Frankfurt, Vienna and Osaka. From the US, I recommend finding a cheap
ticket for Bangkok, and then adding on the leg from Bangkok to Ktm. You
can find deals to Bangkok for about $600 round trip and add $400 for Ktm.
Airlines which fly into Nepal include: Singapore Air, Thai Airways,
Lauda Air, Gulf Air, Biman Air & Royal Nepal.
Food & Lodging:
out my Personal Recommendations section for more information.
have recently been added to many of the sites in the Kathmandu Valley,
in the hope of collecting money to restore and preserve these beautiful
monuments, however there has been alot of controversy about them.
Regardless, they are there now and you will have to pay them to see the
sites. In some places, you may be able to enter through back ways
because, often these sites are bustling city centers and enforcement
tends to be lax. But all in all, it won't break the bank as in India,
and hopefully it will be used for a good cause. Currently the sites with
fees are: Bhaktapur $10 USD, Patan Durber Square 300 rps, Kathmandu
Durbur Square 250 rps, Swayambunath 50 rps, Boudanth 50 rps.
For the variety of activities in Nepal from trekking,
rafting to safaris, it is NEVER necessary to pre-book anything before
you arrive in Nepal. Booking over the internet, even with local
companies, will cost you more, in many cases, much more than you can get
after arriving. Better to do some research and have an idea of what you
want to do, then allow a day (that is all you need) once you are there
to organize the activity. Below is information I have learned about the
industries and my recommendations for planning.
Nepal has many white water rivers with exciting
rafting and kayaking. Outside of every trekking agency, you will find a
blackboard listing the next available departure dates for each river.
Usually only a day or two later. If you need to leave on a certain date,
check different agencies. There is always a trip leaving on every river
on every day in the high season. When booking your trip, it is ALWAYS
best to book directly with the group running the rafts. This is not
always so easy to detect, even LP lists some agencies under their
rafting section that don't run their own. Otherwise, you will pay a
commission to the agency and then get added to another group. Generally,
if the group needs to phone someone to get information for you, that is
an obvious sign, also the people may not be able to answer detailed
questions about the trip. Another thing to be sure of, is to ask if
there are safety kayaksalong. There should be at least one kayak per
boat for help during and after rapids, when may people go overboard. My
recommendations for good agencies.
Holiday Adventures: Excellent budget group. They have
all the fundamentals and run very safe and exciting rides. They have
good food, snacks and equipment including tents and sleeping bags.
Raft Nepal: Young but experienced. They are relatively
new on the scene but offer all the amenities and excellent guides.
Ultimate Descents: They are the five stars of rafting.
They offer top-notch equipment, food, accessories and western
management, but with prices to match. They are connected to The
Borderlands, the new adventure resort in Kodari on the Tibetan border,
and trips like the Bhute Kosi will include a night in the resort. Expect
prices that are 25% more than the rest.
A Range of Rivers - Note:
In Sept & Oct, all rivers are running at post-monsoon flows and very
fast and high. Add difficulty!
Trisuli & Seti - very
easy rafting and good for families and those who are not strong
swimmers. There is very little white water and lots of great scenery.
The emphasis is on paddling through beautiful terrain and fun-filled
camping. Don't expect alot of thrills. There may be some small rapids
but alot of the time, you will be paddling. One and two day trips.
Kali Gandaki - Great
beginning river for adventure enthusiasts, but you should be a strong
swimmer and somewhat fearless. Esp after monsoon, it is a very exciting
trip through the Kali Gandaki gorge, which is the highest gorge in the
world. You will see beautiful waterfalls and sleep on white sandy
beaches. It is generally a three day trip.
Bhote Kosi - Adrenaline
rush! Jam packed with rapid after rapid, I'd recommend some prior
experience, at least one trip before trying this one. Raft it with
Ultimate Descents and spend a night at the Borderlands. For a two day
trip, you will get the most bang for your buck.
There are a number of wildlife parks in Nepal but the
most famous is the Royal Chitwan Park, with Bardia National Park a
distant second. The best way to enjoy these parks is actually through a
package deal rather than heading out to Chitwan and booking something.
The reason is because the different lodges are far apart and hard to do
comparison shopping once you are there, except for a few clusters in
some locations. Chitwan is located in the Terai, roughly in the middle
of Kathmandu and Pokhara but south. When you are booking, you can use
that to your advantage, by arranging a bus from ktm to chitwan and then
at the conclusion, taking a bus on to pokhara or vice versa. All safari
packages will include all food and lodging and activities such as
elephant rides, jungle walks, bird-watching and somtimes night viewing.
Some lodges offer the option of lodge rooms or luxury tents, though the
definition of luxury varies. Ask for pictures when you book your safari.
At the top end, there is Tiger Tops, the five star resort with true
luxury tents. Their prices are in the lower $200's for a three day trip.
But there are alot of very nice lodges for much less and a better value.
Other recommended lodges are Island Jungle and Temple Tiger where a
three day tour will run roughly about $140. And there are more budget
operations that run a no-frills approach at about $90-100 for three
What we all have been waiting for...trekking, the
number one activity and reason why most tourists come to Nepal. I am far
more familiar with the Annapurna area, so most of my information will
revolve around the ACAP, the Annapurna Conservation Area Project. Much
of the general information carries over to the Everest and Helambu/Langtang
treks, but for more specific details, there are many other websites to
Trails: In the ACAP there
are a number of different popular treks, but the area is criss-crossed
with paths and it is easy to chart your own variation, esp in the lower
region. You must have a permit for the ACAP area which includes all the
trails mentioned below as well as Sikles to the east. No other permit is
necessary. The ACAP permit is 2000 rps and can obtained in Kathmandu and
Pokhara but not on the trail. If you arrive at a checkpoint without one,
you may be turned back or forced to pay double. It is up to the whim of
the officer in duty. The office in Pokhara is right across from
Grindley's Bank and closed on Saturday, the official holiday of the
Annapurna Circuit: The
most popular, it traverses the entire distance around the Annapurna
massif and reaches an altitude of 5100 meters at the Thorung La pass.
Physically demanding, it takes about 17-21 days to complete including
enough aclimitization days to avoid altitude sickness. Even still, many
people will be struck with symptoms ranging from headaches to far worse
when ascending the pass. The cirucit takes in a wide variety of scenery
from the green, lush low and mid hills up to the dry, Tibetan plateau,
as well as different ethnic groups and religions. The variety of scenery
is unsurpassed and the amenities along the trail have grown to the point
where it is no longer a rough journey, unless you veer off the beatan
Jomosom: the last half of
the Annapurna Curcuit, many people choose this easier trek and fly in or
out one way. Once in Jomosom, many choose to add in Kagbeni and the
pilgrimage site of Muktinath. With just Kagbeni, the entire Jomosom trek
is not very difficult with a minimum of ups and downs, but adding
Muktinath brings in the next level of difficulty with a long steep
ascent and the danger of altitude sickness esp if you fly into Jomosom.
A very nice alternative is to stay in Jharkot, a town 400m below
Muktinath, and actually far more atmospheric and interesting a place
than the town of Muktinath which is nothing more than a cluster of
tourist lodges. Jharkot is actually an old fortress town with monstaries
and people living amoung the ruined buildings. Take some time to explore
the many alleyways, homes and monestaries and take a room in one of the
four lodges. You can do Muktinath in a few short hours from Jharkot (one
hour up and half hour down) The rest of the trek is a pleasant hike back
to Tatopani, which is home to the hot springs. From Tatopani, you can
head back immediately via Galeshwor to Beni, where you can catch a bus
to Pokhara. Or from Tatopani you can take a detour to Poon Hill or any
number of villages in the lower ACAP area. Note: Most people trek one
way and fly the other, rather than double back. Trip are approx $61 USD
one way and if you are trekking with a guide and/or porter, you must pay
for their ticket also, BUT, they pay nepali prices which are about $11
Annapurna Base Camp: a
tougher trek that is a long series of ups and downs but the payoff is
stupendous. It takes you up into a high plateau ringed with the mighty
Annapurnas in all directions and you are up close and personal with snow
capped peaks. Most people trek through Ghandruk to Chomrung. From that
point on, the path is one-way up and back to ABC, as you keep ascending
and descending but slowly up til you reach ABC. Many choose to sleep at
MBC, about an hour before, then rise early before dawn and head up to
ABC to catch the sunrise before starting back down again. If you are not
being affected by altitude, I enjoy spending the day at ABC and trekking
around, even higher up to the actual ABC point. On your way back down,
you may want to take a short cut from Chomrung, straight down into the
valley, where you can detour to some hot springs or head staright back
in one day. The trek can be completed in 8-10 days.
highlight of this short jaunt around the lower ACAP area is Ghorepani
and Poon Hill, a stunning outlook on the entire Annapurna massif. There
are a number of tough sections, no matter which direction you take
because Ghorepani is around 2900 m. The route passes through Ulleri and
infamous stone steps, the steep ascent to Ghorepani, the spectacular
rhododendron forests that bloom in April, the hot springs of Tatopani,
and the charming riverside village Galeshwor, quite a variety for a 4-5
Royal Trek: An often
over-looked trek that is actually a wonderful alternative to the other
crowded trails and fine for people not interested in testing their
physical limits. Starting at the trailhead east of Pokhara, you ascend a
ridge at Kayseri and then proceed to walk along the ridge running
parallel to the Annapurnas. Stop in villages like Kalikastan and
Chitopani to get a real feel for how village life passes. Along the way,
take part in communal activities and take time to meet the engaging
people of the area. Many guides in Lakeside are from this area and you
should engage the services of a 'local' guide, as the area does not have
a strong tourist infrastructure. Then you can spend your nights in
family and friend's home along the way and share meals with them. Be
sure to offer some small amount of compensation for food and lodging
when staying in a private home and step lightly. Then finally, descend
the ridge to Begnas Lake and return by bus to Pokhara after 4-5 days of
wandering the area.
of Treks: There
are three different kinds of treks. The first is the organized camping
trek. This involves a large entourage of help to carry all food and
supplies for the entire length of trek. While camping conjures up
certain images, the truth of the matter is quite often, you will camp in
vacant lots next to lodges. The camping trek does not contribute to the
local economy as everything is brought in and often the porters carry
terribly heavy loads at horrible wages. It tends to be more
environmentally harmful and all around not necessary. They also move at
a set pace and camp in pre-selected locations, not allowing flexibiility
to explore or take your time. They are more expensive and if booked
overseas, even worse. This is the most likely package that you will
purchase if you book from overseas and I will say it again, AVOID IT!
Then there is the teahouse trek that supports the
local economy along the trekking routes. The lodges range from simple
cabins to quite fancy establishments with excellent facilities. This
type of trekking is also cost effective and easy to do. You can trek
solo with just a map. Many people set out every year and do just that.
There are enough people along the way to point you in the right
direction along the popular trails and many trekkers in high season to
join with. But there is middle ground between going it alone or an
organized trek. That is hiring a guide and/or porter.
Note: Avoid like the plague, the last option which is
the tea house trek package with guide and/or porter for one daily rate,
including all your food and drink. These are NEVER good for either the
client or the guide. Quite often you will eat less than the amount you
are paying, drinks like coke and alcohol are never included, and when
you do eat more than your allotment, the guide is in a very
uncomfortable position and often has his pay docked to make up the
difference. Because the area prices are set, the best option is to pay
as you go for what you consume.
Guides and Porters:
good guide can enrich your trekking experience in many ways. Far beyond
showing you the trail, he can show you about the area and the mountains,
explain about local flora and fauna, teach you the Nepali language,
introduce you to locals, share culture and festivals, run ahead and
secure lodging in the busy season, help out with your backpack if you
are struggling, and be invaluable in a bad situation. My friend Devi has
carried two people down from the Thorung La pass when they fell sick
with altitude. A guide is good company and can open Nepal to you like a
flower. Also, because a guide knows many of the lodges, he can recommend
those with special features like excellent cooking and larger portions
or solar showers and nicer rooms, all for the same price. A licensed
guide (licensed through a month long training session held by TAAN every
year and instructs in a variety of subjects including first aid,
altitude sickness and other important issues and must have a certain
level of English fluency determined in an interview) runs roughly $12 a
A porter is hired to carry your bags, and that alone
can make a big difference trekking. Just be sure to give him a
reasonable load, usually a fully packed backpack. If you are with
friends, try to group your stuff together in one big backpack and give
that to a porter and then each carry a smaller daypack. I have seen some
porters with three fully loaded backpacks on a tumpline. Think humane
and don't give them what you wouldn't carry normally. A porter generally
doesn't speak English but will follow a trail just to not get lost.
Porters are roughly $8 a day. There are also some porter who as they
learn English start to take on the role of guides in addition to their
If at all possible, the best way to hire a guide is to
hire directly through a recommendation. In Lakeside and Thamel, the
tourist areas of Pokhara and Kathmandu, respectively, there will be tons
of trekkers just coming off a trail happy to recommend their guides if
they were good. This way, all the money goes directly to the guide and
porter and not to the middle man. But if that is not possible, the next
best option is to hire through an reputable agency. Unfortunately, much
of the wage you pay will go to the agency. For ex. for the daily wage of
$12, a guide will receive about $7 of it. A porter even less, for $8, a
porter gets about $4.50. Rather than posting a recommendation here,
contact me directly and I can refer you to some of my friends there who
are excellent guides. You can also read about them in the People
to Meet section and the Meet the Sapkotas
When hiring guides and porters, you need to clarify
their own food and lodging situation. First off, guides and porters do
not pay anything for lodging. They either sleep in dorm style rooms
exclusively for them or sleep in the common room on the tables and
benches after everyone has cleared out. Secondly, guides and porters pay
local prices when they eat local food (dhal bhat) I always think it is a
wonderful gesture to help them with their food expenses so they can
pocket as much of their wage as possible. However, you ask to put their
bill onto yours, some lodges may charge you the tourist prices. My
suggestion is to clarify at the beginning that the guide takes care of
all expenses wn route, and to reimburse him at the end along with a tip.
A good rule of thumb is about $1.50 a day for food at local rates.
As for tipping, many suggest one day's wage for every
week with you. I say, if they are great guides, give what you can afford
and remember, they desperately need it. The wealthy in Nepal are never
When there are complaints about guides, the more
common ones include pushing you into staying at a certain lodge and
going too fast or too slow. Remember, a guide works for you and a good
one works for your enjoyment. When he is suggesting a place, most likely
the food is better or some other less tangible reason. Take a look at
his suggestion and if you don't care for it, go elsewhere. Also, if you
want to take a rest day, it should never be a problem with guides and
porters. Unless you have other plans, they will probably just relax and
visit with friends in the area. But remember, out on the trail, a day of
rest is still a day of wages. Everyday he is away from family and away
from other jobs, should be counted.
When things work out, you have a friend for life. Many
times, trekkers are invited to their guides home afterwards to meet
family and to share in a meal. These can be the most rewarding experiences of cross-cultural connections.
Food and Lodging: All
prices in the ACAP area are regulated by lodging committees. For a
certain area, a menu will be created and prices set and all lodges in
that area will offer the same menu at the same prices. There is no such
thing as local food. Dhal Bhat Tarkari, the nepali staple dish is almost
the same price as continental fare and regulated under ACAP. You should
always eat at the lodge where you are staying as room rates are
ridiculously low and they make their money through food sales. If you do
not eat there, you may be kicked out of your room for another paying
customer. The set rates for food and lodging will rise as you do to
reflect the additional cost of portering in supplies.
footwear is the number one priority. I like a combination of good hiking
boots and Teva water sandals (or any similar brand) and good quality
socks with support around the insteps. As for clothes, think layers,
starting with medium-weight capilene long sleeve shirt and long
underwear. These serve many purposes. Then t-shirts and shirts, a fleece
and a waterproof outer layer. For bottoms, synthetic quick-dry pants are
nice, esp the zip off ones or nice cotton ones, and also for women,
long, loose or sarong type skirts are airy and comfortable. On many of
the treks, the days will be hot, with the sun shining and you sweating.
You clothes will get STINKY! One trick I always do, is bring one outfit
that I will always wear in the lodges at night and to sleep in. Then I
NEVER trek in those. In the mornings I just put back on the stinky, but
now dried clothes and after a few minutes, you don't know the
difference. When you arrive at a lodge, put in your order for dinner and
head for a shower. Then change into those fresh, clean clothes and feel
Some other essentials, good medical kit with all the
fixings for blisters and other walking associated ailments, alot of
bandaides, neosporene anti-bacterial cream, aspirin, DIAMOX for
altitude, if you are going that high, and something for stimach
ailments. Malaria and mosquito repellent is generally not needed while
trekkers because mozzies are scarce at those altitudes. Bring
iodine pills or a water purifier to save money and the environment.
Lodges offer filtered water but if you have a sensitive stomach avoid
it. A compass for direction, a flashlight for lodges with no electricity
and trips to the loo, toilet paper if you don't want to go native
(although lodges tend to carry some, don't count on it) cards, cause you
can share new games with the locals, camera and film to last the trip
(cause it is expensive to buy it on the trail, if they even have it)
Toiletries should include suncreen as the sun can beat down and reflect
off the snow, a towel and soap for washing and rinsing clothes. Hang
socks and towels to dry off your pack as you walk the next day.
I personally am torn about the sleeping bag. I think
it is a good idea for anyone with a hygiene fetish, but the sheets are
clean and the blankets warm. Some report that lodges can run out of
blankets, but I never had that experience, and was always fine without
one. A good guide will grab blankets for you and make sure you are
comfy. It can get very cold in the evening, and I slept in the long
underwear and warm top that I saved for the lodges. This is by no means
exhaustive, but it is the necessities and you really don't need much
more. Rather than fancy poles, pick out a nice stick, easy to find along
the path. Instead of power bars, the best energy is the dried apples and
apricots made by the locals. Instead of a nalgene bottle or a platypus,
buy one bottle of mineral water and keep refilling it. Your level of
'necessity' is up to you.
- Many go on to India after their time in Nepal. The largest border
crossing is at Sunauli / Bhairawa. You must have your visa ahead of time
as they are not given on arrival either land or air. The Indian embessy
in Kathmandu is located in Lainchaur. From Thamel, head down Tridevi
Marg to the Kantipath and turn left (north.) Keep straight until you see
the Hotel Ambassador and the road splits (second intersection.) Head
left and the Indian Embessy is just down at the end of the road.
HOWEVER, I do not advise getting it there. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, get your
Indian visa in your home country prior to arriving in Nepal.
Beauracratic procedures dictate that you must have approval from your
home country Indian embassy so if you get it in a third country it is a
big hassle. First, you must wait in line for an interview and depending
on how you are dressed, will get anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months. Then
you wait in line again to pay for a telex to be sent to your home
country. Then you must leave and return again after one week. Then you
go and scan a huge board looking for your telex clearance. If it came
in, you wait again in a long line to get the visa. If it did not, then
you have to complain and moan and groan until you they are sick of you
and give you clearance anyway and then wait in the long line. You may be
able to get it as fast as three days by talking with officials and
begging. I don't advise bribes.
Sunauli / Bhairawa is roughly the same distance from
Pokhara and Kathmandu because most buses do not take the shorter
Siddartha Highway from Pokhara but instead travel the same highway
through the Terai til it meets up with the Ktm-Pokhara highway almost
exactly in the middle. The trip takes about 8-10 hours. In Bhairawa,
stop at Nepali immigration and get your departing sticker, then walk
across the short open border and on the other side, head to the small
desk that is Indian immigration. After that, walk about ten minutes
through Sunauli, til you reach the bus station. From there, you can
catch a bus to Gorakhpur which is the nearest train station and about 2
hours away. The private buses there though are dangerously over-crowded.
An option is the blue government buses which are relatively empty but
take longer. Or you can catch a direct bus to Varanasi which is about 8
hours away. If you are planning to go to Varanasi, I would advise taking
the direct bus instead of a bus to Gorakhpur and then a train to
Varanasi. It will be longer and you are not guaranteed a seat and most
definately a wait for the train.
Well...as I think of things, or questions come up on
the lonely planet thorn tree, I will be adding and updating this guide.
Hope it helps ya get on the road to Nepal!