I recently visited Nepal as an independent traveler in march 2011. Here are some first hand practical things that I encountered in those weeks and the reader might find useful.
- First of all take a flashlight with you. It helps to find your way in the streets after sunset and when you want to use your bathroom. In hotel Club Himalaya in Nagarkot there was a candle with matches in the bathroom. Never seen before. Every day and all over Nepal are power cuts or load shedding for many hours. In the more upmarket hotels you have less trouble with that. I stayed in International Guesthouse, which is a dark hotel with energy saving blue white lights in the room when there was energy and clean but old thin towels and sheets, and only 40 $. Pretty nice experience with the Shanker 90 $, thick towels and sheets and all day energy and charging of your batteries.
- Airport. It took me and others one and halve hour waiting in a long row for the Nepal entry visa. 25US$ for 15 days. Have a photo ready and yes there is a photo booth in the entrance hall. There is no departure tax for international flights. There is a direct flight with a low cost carrier from Amsterdam with crew change in Bahrain or Sharjah.
- Internet. There is free wifi all over the place in KTM and other popular places like Pokhara. Not very fast, but still. In your hotel or in cafe’s in Thamel. The iPad worked fine for this blog.
- Food and drinks. In Nepal it is easy to get a tasteful meal. Baal dath, very curry. Or a big hamburger at New Orleans in Thamel with free wifi. No, no MacD. Prices around 300 rupee. cola or tea is less than 100 rupee, a local beer is 300 rupee for 650 ml. But the local Everest beer gave me headaches.
- Booking things. Every time when I wanted to visit something special, like a bus ride to and a local plane from Pokhara, taxis to the airport, a private chauffeur to Nagarkot, I asked the reception of the hotel where I was staying at the time, to arrange it. Sometimes it looked a bit uncertain with no receipt but it always worked well with no surprises.
- Going to Pokhara from KTM. The bus station consists of 12 busses parked along the Kanti Path road next to the American Recreation Centre (not the American Embassy as I could tell the taxi driver just in time). 200 rupi with taxi from Thamel, but it’s short enough to walk in 20 minutes. It’s all about sevens: The bus leaves at 07.00, the price is about 700 rupi and it takes seven hours. You can book at any hotel. Ask your hotel for a seat at the right site for the view. The price is inclusive water and lunch. When flying back from Pokhara at the checkin you get a boadingpass but not a seat number. All seats are free. So wait in the front of the queue and run to get a seat at the left site and watch the high Himalaya’s.
- Pokhara. Not mentioned in the LP guide but pretty spectacular is the hanging bridge over the Seti river. When you are near the gorge at the K.I. Singh bridge it’s just around the corner. Really dry river deep and snowy mountains high at the same spot. I walked over the hanging bridge and sat for some hours on a hilly meadow enjoying the scenery and the many eagles and other birds of prey, beautiful. Ask me if you can’t find the specific place.
In Pokhara I stayed in the View Point. Yellow light in the room, no charging of batteries when power cut. Thin towels and sheets. Helpful people. 25 euro.
- Nagarkot. A private chauffeur took me there in a not-Suzuki from KTM in one and half hour and picked me up the next morning. 40 euro. That’s a lot of money and also very relaxed.