Back in early 2017 my wife and I were about to get back from Australia to Europe. Several months of exciting moments should come to an end. But wait! That couldn’t be everything! We have to add one more stop on the journey back! Said and done – we had a look at the world map and noticed that rather small country somewhere between India and China. NEPAL! Yes, we have already heard about it! We have to get there. How exciting! A couple of hours later we had our flight ticket via Singapore in the inbox of our mail account. We didn’t think too much about the country we were about to visit and how to travel Nepal. All we did was to buy a travel guide and to book a hotel room for a couple of days in Kathmandu, the capital and destination airport of our flight ticket. A few weeks with great impressions of an awesome country should follow.
How to get there – Kathmandu is the common place to start
The easiest and most common way to get there is certainly by plane to Kathmandu. One can find various flights going there online. You have to consider that you cannot go directly to Kathmandu from every airport easily. You will most likely need a connection flight from where you are starting. Prices for flight tickets to Kathmandu are not a bargain – but affordable.
When you arrive at the airport you will probably need a visa. No matter if you have bought it in advance or if you intend to get it there (as we did): Make sure you have allowed enough extra time!
Kathmandu is certainly the point were most visitors arrive and stay the first days and nights. Though you may be more than surprised where you just landed at the first moment – Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and was above all unfortunately hit by a huge earthquake back in 2015 (the impact was still more than visible in 2017) – you will soon start to notice the beauty of this country. This beauty starts with the Nepalese people – they are extremely friendly and accommodating. That’s the reason why Nepal is a relatively safe country to travel (also for solo traveling women). We have heard the following: The first time you go to Nepal in order to do the one or other trekking tour (please be careful if you do so!) to one of the base camps. But then you come back at least a second time because of the people – how true!
How to get around – Bus and taxi are (probably) the only options
Getting around is certainly not easy. Well, it is easy, but SUPER SLOW – and – to be honest – it may be dangerous because of the “street” conditions (you would probably not call that streets where you live), the driving style of the people there (not saying that anybody can drive fast there anywhere on those streets but: They drive EVERYWHERE! On the left, on the right, on the very left, on the very right, in the middle …). Please: You should by no means ever consider driving a car on your own! Road safety is certainly one of the reasons why Nepal is not a country to travel for everyone (although we were surprised to see many tourists – at least in Kathmandu – with small kids). We have not taken a domestic flight be have have also heard that flight safety can be an issue as well.
Standards of living – Or: A travel back in time?
Another reason why it is certainly not a country for everyone is because the country is not well-developed and you have to deal with it. For example, we certainly had a great time in the small village of Bandipur – but the bed in the accommodation didn’t have mattresses (it only had wooden boards instead). So: the farther you get away from Kathmandu (and other touristic areas) the lower the standards will get. You cannot drink the tap water (we didn’t even dare to brush our teeth with it). Electricity will be turned off from time to time (that can happen any time of the day) for several minutes to hours. Street lights are not very common – so make sure you have a flashlight with you.
The food is generally good (and pretty cheap) but it is certainly not a country for meat lovers. If you order meat you will probably not like it too much. What we found out is that hens are something pretty “valuable” there. Therefore – we guess – that they come onto your plate as chicken only if they were REALLY old or died a natural death. But there are plenty of excellent vegetarian options you can order: one of our favorites were certainly the traditional Momos! Lovely! Rice and lentils as well as eggs will certainly also be things you will eat day in and out 🙂
Getting cash out of an ATM is a lottery game – even in Kathmandu. Make sure to have enough cash with you – and if by any chance an ATM (if you find one!) should spit out some notes after trying for the 10th time get more money then you think you will need (if it lets you!).
Due to the rather poor standards of hygiene you should make sure that you get the recommended vaccination in good time before your journey. Also check the travel warnings beforehand – that has nothing to do with Nepal in particular but we recommend doing so for every underdeveloped country.
We think if you are careful enough as far as you can influence that (well, you are not the driver of the bus if you take one) you should be fine, but to be honest: We had a travel insurance, however we would not have liked to make use of it – although an acquaintance who lives in Nepal told us that medical care for visitors should be better than for locals.
It is very interesting that – compared to the overall standards of living in Nepal – the mobile network is pretty well-developed. It should be easy for you to get a prepaid SIM card if you want (especially in Kathmandu).
All of that may sound a bit spooky for you now – but in fact it isn’t. You just have to know what may expect you and you will certainly do pretty well.
You will NEVER forget Nepal – And you probably do not want to!
So, these are just some of our memories that are still on top of our minds. I am sure we could have written a whole book about our few weeks in Nepal (I guess we won’t do that but maybe we will write a second article some time later). Nepal is awesome! It offers a wide and interesting range of so much fascinating stuff like culture and religion, activities (trekking! – although we couldn’t make it because of my back pain), National parks, stunning views of the landscape and Himalaya and so forth. You will certainly love it!