Frequently Asked Questions: Travelling to Nepal
Going To Nepal
The Himalayan kingdom of Nepal is a land of scenic mountains, time-worn temples and some of the best walking trails on Earth. It's a small country, but it's rich in scenic splendour and exotic cultures. The people of Nepal are as diverse as their country and represent distinct cultures and races. Though they speak a variety of tongues and practice different religions, they are the friendliest people that you would ever meet.The kingdom has long exerted a pull on the Western imagination and it's a difficult place to dislodge from your memory once you return. So, wait until you're actually here in Nepal.
As a traveller, 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 and 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 nature lovers who trek along landscapes filled with deep valleys, lush forests, snow trails, terraced fields, and above all, the most hospitable
people. See the FAQ on Trekking for more.
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.
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, Shanghai, London, Frankfurt, Hongkong, Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi, Dubai, Bombay and Calcutta. 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
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.
It's not a bad idea to tag along with organized tours though it can
cost many times more than a self arranged trip.
Nevertheless, since Kathmandu is a small city and can be explored easily without organized tour, I recommend people to do self-visit to different places in Kathmandu.
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. Check the weather section of this FAQ for more details
on weather. 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 advance.
Alternatively, you can travel overland to Nepal from India. Buses are usually the quickest and easiest form of transport for this. There are three main crossing points: Sunauli-Bhairawa, Birganj-Raxaul and Kakarbhitta-Silguri. The Sunauli border crossing is the best one from Varanasi, the Birgunj crossing is the easiest from Calcutta; and Kakarbhitta is the best crossing from Darjeeling. These trip can be quite long and stressful, 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 people who want to have carefree travelling.
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 crossing between Nepal and Tibet via Kodari is only open to organised groups but not to individual travellers heading north. Be prepared with alternative plans if you're thinking about using this route, because landslides regularly make it impassabe during the monsoon.