Going 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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.