Nepal is a remarkable little country in Southeast Asia famed for Mount Everest and the Birthplace of Buddha. The people are unbelievably sweet and it is full of culture and adventure. Experience big cities, jungle safaris, waterfall filled gorges, and the Himalayan mountains throughout this diverse country. There is undoubtedly something for everyone while backpacking Nepal.
How To Get There
The most common way to arrive in Nepal in through the Kathmandu International Airport. Please be aware that you need to apply for a tourist visa upon arrival. You can choose from a 15, 30 or 90 day visa and you`ll need to bring a passport photo with you. For more information on tourist visas; CLICK HERE. It is also possible to enter from the south at the Indian boarder; most people who do this are part of a tour.
Best Time to Travel
The best time of year for backpacking Nepal depends greatly on what you plan to do. Autumn and spring are considered the best times for trekking; while winter/ early spring are the best time to see animals on a safari.
- Autumn (September to November): Best trekking season offering moderate temperatures and clear skies.
- Winter (December to February): Colder weather and snow in the mountains makes trekking in the winter uncommon. However if you plan to travel to Chitwan late January to March in the best time to see animals.
- Spring (March to May): Spring offers warm weather and clear skies. March is a great time to see animals at Chitwan National Park and spring is another prime time for trekking.
- Summer (June to August): Monsoon season with heavy rainfall makes summer the worst time to travel to Nepal.
Average Daily Budget
Our average daily budget in Nepal is slightly skewed because we chose to do a 16 day Annapurna Circuit trekking tour through Intrepid Travel. The cost is quite a bit higher than if you hired a local guide and does not include food. For this reason we have included prices with and without the tour.
Average daily budget EXCLUDING our Annapurna Circuit Trek: $6385 NPR ($57 USD) per day.
Average daily budget INCLUDING our Annapurna Circuit Trek : $11,870 NPR ($105 USD) per day.
Daily Budget Breakdown:
- Transportation: $443 NPR ($4 USD) per person per day
- Food & Drinks: $1,735 NPR ($15 USD) per person per day
- Accommodation: $2,005 NPR ($18 USD) per person per day
- Tours & Activities excluding Annapurna Trek: $2,200 NPR ($20 USD)
- Annapurna Trek with Intrepid Travel: $170,101 NPR ($1500 USD) each for 16 days excluding food.
The recommended vaccinations for backpacking Nepal are: Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B, Dukoral (for travelers’ diarrhea), Rabies, and Japanese Encephalitis (because this disease is rare many people don’t get this vaccination). Boosters are recommended for Tetanus, Polio, Mumps and Measles. Malaria pills are not necessary for all parts but should be taken if you are traveling to Chitwan National Park. Always double check with a travel clinic before you leave to make sure all your shots are up to date.
Agoda was perfect for finding everything from hostels and homestays to 5 star hotels. You can search by map or by price and they have free cancellation.
- Budget: 7000-15,000 NPR ($6-$13 USD) per person/night. Breakfast is sometimes included in a hostel dorm room or very basic private room.
- Mid range: 30,000-60,000 NPR ($26-53 USD) for 2 people/night. Breakfast and A/C and typically included with a private room.
- Luxury: 75,000 + NPR ($67+ USD) for 2 people/night. Includes A/C and breakfast. Treat yourself for a night or two in a higher end room. Typically a king sized bed, a separate shower and nicer amenities.
Meals cost 3000 – 9000 NPR ($2.50-$8 USD) per person on average
Nepal has a wide variety of food options ranging from street carts to 5 star restaurants. If you are on a tight budget; it is very easy to spend under $5 USD per meal.Trip Advisor`s cheap eats section is great when you`re in a new place without any recommendations. Local restaurants and food carts offer a great variety of food for only a dollar or two per dish. When eating at these places we typically avoid meat and raw veggies; but go nuts on samosas and veggie momos!
Some of our favorite local foods:
- Samosas: A fried pastry filled with veggies, potatoes, and spices.
- Momos: Nepalese dumplings filled with meat, veggies, cheese, or even chocolate!
- Yak Meat: The Yak burgers in Nepal are fantastic! Yak stew is another common dish.
- Dhal Bhat: The national dish includes rice, curry, lentil soup and pickled vegetables. It typically comes with unlimited refills!
- Yak Cheese: Yak cheese pizza, deep fried yak cheese, yak cheese grilled cheese.. we loved it all.
- Sel Roti: Sort of like a cross between a doughnut and a bagel. The outside is crispy and the center is soft and doughy.
ROAD CONDITIONS in Nepal are very poor throughout the country. Even the highways between major cities are rough dirt roads by western standards. The average highway speed is 30 km/h and you will travel much slower in the congested areas. When traveling to between the major cities of Chitwan, Pokhara, and Kathmandu; don`t let the 200 km drive fool you. Be prepared for 6-8 hours on a bus IF traffic and rest stops go smoothly.
Local Bus: The cheapest transportation option in Nepal is to take local buses. Keep in mind that local transportation can be hot, insanely busy and sometimes dangerous. We found that a tourist bus was much more comfortable for the extra few dollars.
Tourist Bus: There are tourist buses running between all the major sites in Nepal. The roads can be a nightmare no matter how you travel; but in a tourist bus you get a bit more comfort. There is typically A/C and a washroom; however don`t count on wanting to step foot into it. A semi-functioning toilet on the back of a bumpy bus almost always means “debris” all over the floor and walls. Most of the time we would just wait until the washroom breaks provided.
Private Cars: Another option is to book a private car through your hotel. The journeys are quicker and more comfortable with the added bonus that you can stop whenever you`d like. Private cars range from 30,000 to 150,000 NPR depending on how far you`re going. Its worth it to split the price if you have a group of 3 or 4!
Taxi: Local taxis offer cheaper and more basic transportation than private cars. Make sure to discuss the price beforehand.
Airplane: Nepal has a number of local airlines offering domestic flights. Make sure to do your research beforehand as Nepalese Airlines have some of the lowest safety ratings in the world. When at all possible; we avoided flying on local airlines while backpacking Nepal.
What to Wear
What to pack for Nepal really depends on what time of year you visit and what you plan on doing while your`e there.
- For Trekking: Its important to have many layers, a down jacket, and a down sleeping bag. You`ll want a headlamp, good quality trekking boots, warm gloves and a hat.
- For a Safari: Hiking boots or runners are essential for walking through the jungle. You will also want long sleeved pants and shirts of neutral colors.
- For Day to Day Travel: Primarily trousers and T-shirts, Light sweaters, or long skirts for women.
As a woman it`s important to dress respectfully. As a basic rule; keep your shoulders and knees covered and avoid wearing tight or low cut clothing. By wearing short shorts or revealing clothing you could open yourself up to unwanted attention and comments.
- Bring your own trekking gear.
- For many treks you don`t have to book with big tour companies. It will be much cheaper if you hike with a local guide and porter.
- Stay in hotels with breakfast included.
- Eat 1 meal per day from a local restaurant or vendor. These will typically cost $0.50 to $2 USD.