Getting ready for your travel to Nepal!
Great you have decided or are thinking about traveling to Nepal! Please use the information below to start preparing for your trip. Nepal is a safe country to travel with incidences of crime against visitors very low.
Travel Insurance and medical costs
We would highly recommend you get travel insurance, even though the travel visa doesn’t require you to get one. Your regular travel insurance covers altitude up to 3000 meters only, so if you will trek to higher altitudes, please ensure your travel insurance covers above 3000 meters.
The medical costs in Kathmandu ranges from - USD 30 - 100 for a doctor's visit depending on which clinic/ hospital you go to. The cost is higher for visitors compared to the locals, so please expect to get quoted higher prices than the listed prices for the locals.
Please bring additional dosage in case there are unexpected travel delays that requires you to stay in Nepal longer than you planned.
TREKKING IN NEPAL:
Obviously and rightly so, the biggest draw of Nepal are the numerous trekking trails that take tourists right up to the Himalayas. The country received ( number) of tourists that came for trekking only last year ( year)
Most popular trails are well marked and have tea houses/lodges along the way, so you don’t need to carry camping gear. For trails that are off the popular charts, I suggest you take a local guide. It does always help to have a guide along because he/she can then give you insights about the local culture and make things a bit hassle free. There are places in Nepal that have recently opened up for trekking and need special permits.
Most trails in Nepal take you up to dizzying heights, so be careful about "over doing" it. Pace yourself to make sure you are acclamized, and watch out for signs of High Altitude Pulmonary Sickness.
COST OF TRAVEL:
The currency is weak compared to western countries and so it makes for one of the cheapest destinations in the world. But again, if you have the bucks to spend, there is no shortage of luxury lodges and hotels that will provide you with top notch service and make you feel like royalty. You can spend anywhere from $30- $300 depending on your choices. While on the trail, you will be fine if you spend about $50-$100/day.
TRANSPORTATION IN NEPAL:
Airplanes and long distance buses are available to all major destinations in Nepal. Buses are relatively cheaper and let you enjoy the splendid scenery and change in landscape as you get from point A to B. Flying in Nepal is not for the faint hearted, but it is pretty cool and nerve racking at the same time to be landing down on world's most dangerous airports.
Travel documents/ Visa
Getting travel visa for Nepal is relatively easy. You can either get visa at Nepali consulates located in your country or you get your visa upon arrival at the Immigration office of the airport - Tribhuvan International Airport. Please select tourist visa as the visa type to attend the teaching. However, Nepal only allows 150 days of stay in a calendar year under this visa type. So if you have exhausted your tourist visa travels, please arrange for other visa types to enter Nepal.
Gratis visa is issued free of cost for children below 10, up to 30 days for SAARC countries (except Afghanistan. Nationals from Afghanistan can receive Gratis visa upon arrival if recommended by Department of Immigration), Chinese nationals, and Non-resident Nepalese card holder.
For citizens of some countries, prior visa is needed from Nepalese Embassy/Consulates in respective countries. Please refer http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/content/tourist-visa.html to see if your passport falls under this category.
There is no step by step instructions at the airport, so you will have to look for signs and follow the other visitors coming to Nepal. Getting a visa is a two or three steps process at the airport. We have outlined those steps so you can get the basics right:
1. You will need to fill out your details in the computer stations located at the airport. It will issue you a receipt which you will need to take to another counter. To avoid lines for the computer stations to open up, you can fill up the visa form online before you leave your country. Print out the confirmation details with the scan code. Here is the link to apply online: http://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa.
2. Fill out another the Arrival information form on the small card provided at the airport, it looks like this:
3. Take the computer issued receipt, or the online confirmation details with the scan code to the counter where you will pay. The visa fees schedule depends on the duration of the stay. We recommend you visa for additional days to allow for flight delays in case you are travelling inside Nepal. Below is the visa fee schedule:
a. 15 Days – USD 25
b. 30 Days – USD 40
c. 90 Days – USD 100
Immigration office has recently introduced card payment for Visa and Mastercard. However, the machines aren’t always reliable. Please have the amount required ready in USD or EUR.
4. Go to another counter to get the visa issued. Nowadays, the immigration officers ask questions such as if you have travelled to Nepal previously, and when it was. How long you intend to stay, for what purpose etc. Be prepared to answer their questions. Visa is issued once the immigration officer is satisfied.
What to expect at the airport?
Tribhuvan International airport is the only international airport in Nepal. It is a small airport, with minimal facilities. Once you are done with your immigration, if you have luggage please proceed to collect the baggage from the carousels. If you do not receive your luggage, make sure you file a complaint with the airport staff who will contact you when they find your luggage. Be prepared to go via additional customs checkpoints or random luggage checks.
People might hussle offering you their services of carrying your luggage or getting you a cart. They are expecting a payment. Agree on the rate before you take their services if you need help. Please know the luggage carts are provided for free at the airport and you shouldn’t pay for the carts. If you need special assistance, please talk to the airlines before hand to have someone ready to assist you.
Exchanging your currency and using your credit card
Airport exchange counter and Hotels do not provide good exchange rate compared to those that you will find in Thamel. We recommend you only exchange absolutely minimum at these places and exchange the rest when you get to Thamel or other exchange places.
Many places do not accept credit or debit cards. There is a USD 350 withdraw limit and the ATM charges you fees for the withdrawal. The fees depends from bank to bank ranging from USD 4 - USD 7.
If you want to use your cards, make sure you tell your bank of your travels. Usually they would block the usage outside your country.
Getting a SIM card in Nepal is easy, so you don’t have to load up on your data plans in your country. Getting a phone SIM in Nepal can come as a surprise to you though. You have to provide you thumb prints, your passport, and 1 passport size photo. However, once you are done with the actual process, you will have a local phone number. The data packages are available in both the main carriers Nepal Telecom (NTC) and NCell if you need to use internet services on your phone. It costs 100 Nepali rupee or about a dollar to get a tourist SIM, which comes with 50 talk minutes that expires within a week. If you need to use data, you can get a pre-paid data plan right there.
Bring your unlocked phone. Nowadays there are both 3G and 4G data services available.
Once you are outside the airport gates, on the waiting area, you will see booths lined up that provides prepaid SIM cards.
What to bring? A checklist of items to bring
What you will pack depends a lot on which whether you will be going for a trek in high altitudes and whether you want to rent the equipments in Nepal or not. Kathmandu gets cold in the mornings and evenings, so do pack warm clothes, hats, gloves and warm socks. During the day, it will be warm if it is sunny and you are walking.
For the teachings at Tergar, it is under a tented roof, so you will get cold, and you should pack warm fleece and have socks. We would suggest, have at least double layer of clothing. You can take off your fleece or jacket if you get warm.
Packing checklist for Kathmandu
1. Anti-pollution mask - There are construction work going on virtually every part of the city, and it gets very dusty. So please bring a good anti-pollution mask with you.
2. Warm clothes - Nights and Mornings are cold, not freezing though. Even the most expensive restaurants do not have indoor heating, so you will have to protect yourself against the cold when you are out for dinners. Double fleece or light down jacket should be enough.
3. Layers - Choose to layer up. When you walk outside on sunny days, it can get very warm. Have layers, so you can take off the outer layer.
4. Walking friendly shoes - Kathmandu is definitely not for heels. Bring comfortable walking shoes that can go over the uneven surfaces.
5. Toiletries - If you have medicated toiletries, please bring them along. Kathmandu does offer wide range of global brand of toiletries, so no worries if you want to travel light
6. Regular clothing - Please bring your regular clothing items, Nepal is a relatively conservative place when it comes to dressing up, esp. outside the cities. There are laundry facilities via your hotels or outside (they offer reasonable rates) if you want to reuse same items during your stay.
7. Sleeping bag - If you are planning to go for a trek and don’t want to rent. You can buy reasonably good and cheap sleeping bags. But watch out for knock offs. There are good locally made products available which we recommend over the knock-offs.
8. Hiking boots - It is best to bring your broken into hiking boots if you plan on trekking. But in case you forget, you can also buy it here. It is cheaper to buy branded hiking boots outside Nepal.
9. For other trekking gears - Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will send you a catered list of items to bring or that you can buy depending on which altitude you will be trekking
In November/ December - the temperature averages between 10 Celcius to 15 Celcius in Kathmandu. The morning, evenings and nights are cold. The afternoon can actually get warm if it is sunny. It rarely rains during these times.
Onward Travels from Nepal
If you are traveling to other countries from Nepal, please do check the respective visa procedures. The wait time at the visa consulates in Nepal might be long. If you are traveling to Tibet, Bhutan or India, we will be happy to help.