What do you need to know before you visit Nepal? Last year I spend four weeks there and absolutely fell in love with the people and hiking in Nepal. There are some things you should know before you go there though.
Like the people from Nepal say: “INDIA, I Never Do It Again, NEPAL, Never Ending Peace And Love. And although in some way this might be true you should be well prepared. That’s why I made a list with 5 tips for this country so you have a great time traveling there.
Visit the city Kathmandu
Kathmandu is a busy city where everyone is squeezed into small streets that form the center. To make things even better there are cars, motorcycles and even cows allowed in those tiny streets. It is one big ant nest, and there is no real structure in traffic. That maybe sounds kind of negative but Kathmandu also has its bright sides. It is the starting point for many hikes and nature there is beautiful. There are a lot of small shops where they sell either tourist knick-knacks or they rent out trekking gear (more about that later).
There is too less electricity to supply the whole city. Because of this, there are only about 6 hours of power. This is not really a problem and most restaurants and hotels use batteries to keep the power running full time. Just something you should keep in mind. It is a good idea to bring a portable battery.
In Kathmandu are actually not that many people trying to scam you. They will try to get you in their shop but most times that’s about it. Once a guy was acting overly nice to us. We than already knew that he wanted something from us. So we said that he could just tell us what he really wants. He told us a story we found hard to believe and asked us for money. We didn’t agree with this and he then got angry and said that we don’t respect their culture. It’s not hard to recognize when this happens, it’s up to you if you want to give money or stand your guard. You are not able to help whole Nepal, so don’t always feel bad. Here is an article why you should even be careful to who you give money.
Get the most out of Pokhara
It is most likely you will first arrive in Kathmandu. From there goes a bus all the way to Pokhara the other main city of Nepal. It’s an 8-hour drive and not that great but it is cheaper than a taxi (a lot). So I would say it is worth it. Friends of mine rent a bike in Kathmandu and drove it to Pokhara. It was a hell they said, roads are bad and the traffic is dangerous. So the bus is maybe not so a bad idea after all.
Pokhara was my favorite city in Nepal. There is a part of the city where all the tourists are. It is nice there, and I would advise taking a hotel in that area too. 99% of the hotels are there so it’s not hard to find a good place to sleep. It’s next to a big lake called Phewa lake and the area is called “Lake side”. You can rent boats here, go paragliding or just explore the area.
It is also nice to rent a scooter for about 3 euro per day. A great way to go out of Lake side area and explore the city. You will see a huge difference as soon as you leave the tourist area. It’s a really local city where everyone goes to work or owns a small shop. I was looking for something to open my MacBook there and it was quite a fun challenge to go from shop to shop asking for a screwdriver (I found one after 3 days hehe).
The Himalayas in Nepal
Nepal is home to the Himalayas and wow are they impressive. I am from Holland where everything is all flat and although I spent quite some time in the Alps I had never seen something like this.
It is kind of hard to reach the real Himalayas though as both cities are at a bit distance from it. Mountains are everywhere in Nepal but if you are there you have to visit the real deal. Best is to go from Kathmandu, now you understand why there are so many shops renting hiking gear.
There are a lot of hikes starting from Kathmandu. Some take one day but if you want to see the Himalayas you need to be prepared to walk two or three days. You will not need any gear for this as it is quite easy to walk and you can sleep in a hotel on the way.
You can go as crazy as you want, there are hikes that take days or weeks. We met some people that went to Everest base camp this takes a good 21 days to reach. If you want to do this it is a good idea to prepare yourself before you visit Nepal because this is a more serious hike.
The people and culture of Nepal
The people in Nepal are warm and welcome. And they will help you whenever they can. Almost all of them speak very good English.
Don’t be surprised if you go a bit more out of the city that people will look at you. They are not used to tourism and it could be that they maybe see one western person per year. Still, I think it’s awesome to leave the big cities. People in the city know that you have money so they will act differently to you. As soon as you go out of the cities people will be more personal and pure. They will invite you to show you their village and kids want to go on the photo with you. For me, it felt safer and home.
What to eat, and not to eat
There are a lot of restaurants where the food is really good. But how do you decide where to eat in Nepal? In smaller towns, there are a lot of street food stands where they serve rice and curry. In the bigger cities, you can find all kinds of food. There is a huge variety of Asian food but there are also a lot of western restaurants in Nepal. The price of food is low. A rise from a stand will cost you around $1,00 to $2,00. However, if you eat in a western restaurant you will pay the same price as you would pay at home.
The way they prepare the food is in general pretty safe. If you eat at a street food stand you can see the ingredients they use. Does it not look that good? Then just move on to the next. In a restaurant, however, it’s a bit harder to look in their kitchen. Always look at the presentation of the restaurant and judge accordingly.
My final thoughts about Nepal: It’s a friendly country with amazing people. It is easy to find your way around, and easy to get lost in a good way. I would definitely visit Nepal again to do some longer hikes in the Himalayas.
I want to end this post with a video I made during my visit to Nepal, enjoy.