Nepal is a dream destination for backpackers and adventure travelers. With incredible Himalayan views, snowy peaks, golden temples and beautiful hill villages it is undoubtedly a trekker’s paradise. A landlocked country in South Asia, Nepal sits between China and India, and contains 8 of the world’s 10 highest peaks, including Mount Everest.
NEPAL TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Trek the Himalayas
Whether you are into trekking or not, if you are in Nepal you cannot leave the country without experiencing one of their many trails. Nepal has a path for everyone. From the Poon Hill trek that can be completed in four to five days to the Annapurna Circuit which passes through beautiful tea houses and mountain villages giving you a peep into the lives of the locals.
Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and the place where most travelers come to take a break from trekking. It’s a hot spot for handicrafts and exotic art. It’s also home to seven world heritage sites, some preserving the architecture of a civilization dating back centuries. Wander around Durbar Square, enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life, admire the ancient temples, haggle over the handicrafts for sale and get to know the other side of Nepal.
Buddhism is the main religion in Nepal, and Kathmandu Valley has some monasteries that are incredibly significant to the Nepalese culture. These monasteries are hundreds of years old and are home to some of the most exquisite statues of Lord Buddha. Some Monasteries in Patan and Kathmandu follow Vajrayana Buddhism, (Sanskrit: “Thunderbolt Vehicle” or “Diamond Vehicle”), and some follow Tibetan Buddhism.
White Water Rafting
Nepal has some of the best rapids descending from the Himalayas. It is also regarded as one of the best destinations in the world for whitewater rafting and kayaking. So embrace this rare opportunity to experience the thrills of rafting along side of the beautiful mountains, deep gorges, and exotic villages. The most popular rafting river is the Trishuli that will take you across the Chitwan National Park. You can explore the rivers by paddle rafting in a group, by kayaking or in a canoe.
Sightseeing in Bhaktapur
The city of Bhaktapur has been preserved in its medieval state by the Nepal government.The building of modern constructions and automobiles in the center of the town are therefore banned. The main highlights of Bhaktapur are Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Royal Palace Plaza, traditional farming and ancient settlements.
Read more: Top 10 Nepal travel experiences
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NEPAL TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Holi or Fagu Poornima
‘The festival of colors’ is possibly the most famous (and photogenic) festival due to all the colored powder that gets thrown around. If you experience Holi then expect to get covered in color from head to toe. The festival of colors takes place between February and March and is the liveliest festival in the country. People celebrate the victory of Prahlad (a devotee of Lord Vishnu) over Holika.
Dashain is one of the most important festivals in Nepal as the majority of Nepal’s people are Hindu. The festival is also celebrated to commemorate the victory of good over evil. The festival continues for 15 days during which families worship the nine avatars of Goddess Durga and Astha-Matrikas. On the tenth day, people put Tika and Jamaras, and elders bless the youngsters. The last day is a full moon day called ‘Kojagrata’ Purnima.
This Hindu festival is celebrated for three days by women in October. Married women fast for the long life and affluence of their husbands on the first day. The next two days are spent in Puja to appease Lord Shiva. Singing and dancing is the essence of the festival and women are clad in red saris and beautiful jewelry.
Language: Nepali is the official language of Nepal, spoken with around 120 variations within the country. English is however spoken and understood by most of the locals you will meet during your trek. There might be some sherpas who have a difficulty speaking English but most can understand more than they can speak.
Currency: Nepalese Rupee.
Visa: You can get a visa on arrival at the International Airport in Kathmandu. Multiple entry visas are available for 15, 30 and 90 days. The fee can be paid in foreign currency, preferably USD. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Nepal is required (which depends on the country you’re from) and if so, how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: Nepal operates on a 220V voltage with a frequency of 50Hz. Power sockets are of two or three round prongs and are compatible with European plugs. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Nepal: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT IN NEPAL
Nepal, like its neighbor India, is famous for its spicy and delicious cuisine but it’s also famous for giving travelers Delhi Belly. When you eat in Nepal avoid raw foods like salads and fruit (unless they can be peeled), don’t drink tap water and avoid ice in drinks. Street food in Nepal is so tasty you must try it but make sure you go to a popular place where you see the locals eating too. If it’s good enough for the locals then it’s probably safe enough for you. Still, it may be worth packing some probiotics to help yourself digest food you’re not used to.
Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in Nepal are listed below.
Momos: These are cousins of dumplings and are little pockets stuffed with veggies, meat or cheese served with a spicy sauce. To convert the snack into a meal, you can order the same with fried rice on the side. Beware, you can quickly get addicted to this simple dish and start craving it big time.
Thukpa: Thupka is a traditional hot noodle soup in Nepal that has pieces of meat and veggies in it. It’s a wintery delicacy, warm and comforting, and is extremely popular in the mountain regions. The locals season the meat stock with traditional Nepalese spices that give it a very rare and pleasant aroma and the meat can range from chicken to goat, lamb and even yak.
Sel Roti: Sel roti is something between a bagel and a doughnut but it’s made up of rice flour and is incredibly unique. It’s sweet and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The bread is deep fried and is a perfect breakfast or snack. Sel Roti is usually consumed during religious festivals served with yogurt and vegetables on the side or can be eaten by itself.
Dal Bhaat: Farming is restricted only to some of the hilly regions in Nepal. The Nepalese substitute the rice with some other grain like barley or cornmeal. Dal Bhaat has crossed the border from Bengal and entered Nepal and has become one of the most loved dishes of the country, some would say it’s Nepal’s national dish. Rice (or a substitute) is put in the center and lentils on the side along with curried dishes, pickle, meat or fish, chutney, and yogurt.
Gorkhalu Lamb: This one is yet another winter favorite curry dish that is filling and intense. Lamb is slow cooked along with potato chunks and roughly chopped onions. To enhance the flavors, this dish of lamb is usually grilled and coated in a mixture of chili and then added to the sauce. The meal is traditionally served with rice and on some occasions with roti.
WHERE TO STAY IN NEPAL
Nepal is a very affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Nepal is very easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to Nepal affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Nepal will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Nepal can cost less than $20 dollars.
If you’re looking for accommodation that includes western amenities and comforts then there will be more options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Kathmandu. If you’re traveling to Nepal during peak season or wish to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have already been snapped up. Nepal is a very popular year-round destination you know!
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Nepal. However, if you are backpacking in Nepal or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in South Asia very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT NEPAL
The best time to visit Nepal for warm, dry and sunny weather is between October and March. As Nepal heats up in April and May travel prices begin to drop and you can get some excellent value trips. Monsoon season arrives in May and ends in September and if you’re visiting Nepal during this time expect a lot of torrential rain. The hottest time of the year is in May and June and most travelers choose to visit Nepal during the winter between October and March.
NEPAL TRAVEL BUDGET
Nepal is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Nepal really depends on the level of comfort you will expect while here. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating street food then budget between $25 to $40 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $40 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget about $100 to $200 plus a day.
IS NEPAL SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety is a concern for most people traveling to Nepal. Pick-pocketing, bag-snatching and other scams to take advantage of tourists are common. Female travelers should take care to dress appropriately and be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some parts of Nepal are dangerous so do your research before you go and avoid these places. Based on many years of solo travel in South Asia I would never leave home without travel insurance and recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your Nepal trip.
NEPAL VISA CHECKER
NEPAL FLIGHT DEALS
NEPAL TOURS & ACTIVITIES
NEPAL PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to Nepal, like most other places in South Asia, is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Nepal and it’s always best to travel light whenever possible.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our fabulous finds with you.
In Nepal’s larger cities such as Kathmandu you’ll see a lot of young Nepalese women wearing western style clothing however people in smaller towns and villages still dress traditionally. So if you’re traveling to Nepal then it’s necessary to pack clothing that’s lightweight, breathable and conservative. Women travelers in Nepal who choose to wear revealing or figure-hugging clothing may receive unwanted attention and stares.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Nepal include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
So if you’ve found your travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost) perfected. Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.