Going To Nepal

Why would I go to Nepal?

Wait until you're actually there and you will feel stupid for having asked this question! As a traveler, there are endless number of surprises Nepal has to offer you. Kathmandu Valley with its thousands of Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas, stunning architecture and rich pageantry can be quite beyond words. If you are careful enough not to get entangled in the superficial facade of a fastly "modernizing" capital city, Kathmandu probably offers you as exotic an urban experience as you can get.

Beyond Kathmandu, its another world altogether. Most travelers to Nepal want to check out the truly spectacular Himalayas along with the higher hills. A few go there to scale the high mountains, but many are simple nature lovers trekking along landscapes filled with deep valleys, lush forests, snow trails, terraced fields, and above all, the most hospitable people.

Travelers to Nepal also love making a safari trip to one of the National Parks in Nepal. The most popular one is the Chitwan National Park in the southern plains which hosts a diverse wildlife reserves including the rare Asian one-horn rhino.

How do I get to Nepal?

In order to fly directly to Nepal from your home country, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu is the only international airport in Nepal. TIA has direct airlink with Osaka, London, Frankfurt, Hongkong, Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi, Karachi, Bombay and a couple of other South Asian cities. Lufthansa, Royal Nepal Airlines (RNAC), Air India, Singapore Airlines, Thai are the airlines that carry most of the foreign travelers into Kathmandu; and if you buy tickets from any other airlines, you will probably connect with one of these airlines for the final leg of your flight.

Alternatively, if you have time and enthusiasm, traveling overland to Nepal via India is an option. British overland travel operators can take you from London to Kathmandu on a six to eighteen week trip for anywhere between $1200 to $ 2500 depending upon the nature of your trip. You will travel from continental Europe through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to Nepal. For specific details on traveling overland from India to Nepal, read below.

How much does airfare to Kathmandu cost?

Anyone who has done any traveling on air can tell you that one can never say for sure how much they cost. However, an economy class round trip ticket to Nepal from North America, should cost between $1400 to $1700 depending on what airline you fly and when. From western Europe, the fare should be about the same too. From most of East Asia, the cost is about $300 for one-way. If you are flying into Nepal from India or other South Asian cities, one-way fare would be between $100 to $200: Delhi ($150), Varanasi ($80), Bombay ($200), Calcutta ($100), Karachi ($150), Dhaka ($80). These figures are only estimates, and you should check with your travel agents for details.

Should I tag along with organized tours?

Unless you are really tight on schedule and do not have much time to explore around yourself, taking an organized tour to Nepal is hardly worth the cost.

When is the best time to go to Nepal?

The weather is probably the best guide for deciding when to plan your trip to Nepal. October and November are considered the best times of the year. The monsoon will have just ended, and clear skies with optimal temperature will prevail. The main festivals of Dashain and Tihar (Hindu equivalent of Christmas in terms of festivity) fall during these months. However, this is also the busiest tourist season, and the main tourist centers and trekking trails tend to be crowded with travelers like you. The tourist flow ebbs a little, but not significantly, between the winter months of December and mid-February. It catches up once again between mid-February and mid-April. From mid-June to early October, it's the monsoon, during which time it rains almost everyday and most of the Himalayas are hidden behind the clouds. In short, plan to visit Nepal between October and May, keeping in mind that October-November and February-March are the best times (but crowded with other travelers).

I am going to be traveling in Delhi area, India, and want to continue my trip to Nepal. What are my options in going from Delhi to Nepal?

You can fly between Delhi and Kathmandu for about $150 with RNAC or Air India. The actual flight time, not counting the endless delays and cancellations, is only a little more than an hour. However, note that Delhi-Kathmandu-Delhi flight is very busy and without proper reservations (or proper strings to pull) can be booked weeks in advance. Make your reservations and buy your ticket well in advance.

Alternatively, you can travel overland to Kathmandu. You can get a bus from Delhi to Kathmandu. You can also take the night train to Gorakhpur in northern India, then a bus to the Nepalese border (Sunauli), walk across the border to Nepal, spend the night there, and from there take a bus to Kathmandu or Pokhara. The trip can be quite long, both in terms of time (it takes about two days and nights) and what you may go through during the trip (with tickets, safety, weather, border harassment etc). Not recommended for those who are less adventurous than most. Definitely not recommended for lone woman travelers.

If you plan to enter Nepal in a car, make sure you have a carnet de passage en douanes. These are required to exempt you from customs duty for three months. You may also be required to pay a fee for each day that your car is in Nepal. As in India, in Nepal, vehicles are driven on the left side of the road.

What if I want to travel from other Indian cities to Nepal?

The general advice given for traveling between Delhi and Kathmandu pretty much applies to all travel between Nepal and India. Overland travel by bus and train is cheap, but can be very long and stressful: not worth except for the more adventurous travelers. If you want to travel overland anyway, do so in a group. Traveling alone is not a wise idea especially if you are a woman. Kathmandu has a regular bi-weekly flights to and from Bombay and Calcutta. Book your flights in advance because these routes are popular and can be booked way in advance.