A landlocked neighbor of India, Nepal ought to be one of the countries on the list of budget travelers. With US$ 500 (excluding air fare) in your pocket, you can have a comfortable eight-night stay in some of the major tourist destinations including Kathmandu, Nagarkhot, Pokhara and Chitwan.
With a culture and life style similar to India, you will feel right at home with Hindi speaking locals, Indian and Tibetan influences of cooking (dal, rice, curried vegetables and momos) and acceptance of the Indian currency.
Visas for Nepal are available on arrival for citizens of most countries at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
Although Indian citizens do not require a visa, you need to carry your passport.
Accommodation (including bed and breakfast) is relatively cheap at US$20 to US $80 per night. Some hotels offer discounted rates for Indians and groups. Entry fee at tourist attractions is either free or costs approximately US$ 2-3 for Indian citizens.
Nepal’s political and cultural capital is a lot like Mumbai dirty, crowded, traffic infested and polluted. But the grandiose past, which still reigns in its ancient stupas, temples, palaces, courtyards, and world heritage monuments, a city surrounded by hills and snow capped mountains, gives it a charm of its own.
Two nights at Kathmandu will give you ample time to visit some important tourist attractions including Pashupatinath, the holiest and oldest Hindu temple (entry to the main temple area is restricted to Nepali and Indian Hindus only); Boudhanath Stupa, one of the biggest and most sacred of Buddhist stupas; Swoyambhunath Stupa, the oldest stupa overlooking Kathmandu valley and the Eastern Himalayan ranges; Patan Durbar Square, which includes the famous Krishna Temple.
An evening stroll through the Thamel Street, where everything from pashmina shawls, Nepali clothing, bags, artifacts and jewellery can be found, is a haven for shopaholics.
It is worth shelling out an additional US$ 100 for the hour long ’flight to mountain’ to see the Himalayan peaks including Mount Everest.
Budget hotels: Hotel Ganesh Himal; Tings Lounge Hotel (Bed and Breakfast), Hotel Mustang Holiday Inn.
Eat at : Yak Café, Thamel, Old Tashi Delek Restaurant, Thamel; Kumari Restaurant.
October-November is an ideal time to see the Annapurna Mountain rangefrom anywhere in Pokhara (and to visit Nepal in general). Clouds and fog characterise the monsoon and make sighti ng the range rare between May- September.
Visit Two days is enough to visit Devi’s falls; a boat ride on the Fewa lake; the Barahi temple in the middle of the Fewa lake; Seti gorge and the B indhyabasini Temple dedicated to the Goddess Durga.
From Pokhara, head to Sarangkhot for a closer view of the sunrise over the mountain ranges .
Budget hotels: Hotel Silver Oaks Inn; Green Peace Resort.
Eat at: Several reasonably priced restaurants by the lake serve a variety of cuisines including Indian, Nepali, French, Italian, Mediterranean and Malaysian .Chilly Bar and Restaurant, Laughing Buddha and Moondance are a few popular options. There are several street stalls where you can get a plate of momos or samosas and other yummy stuff for around US$ 2 or less.
Shopping: Plenty of shops by the lake in Pokhara sellNepali outfits, pashmina shawls, bags, wallets and other little curios. If you find something you like, pick it up. But not without a bargain. You may not find the same design at Thamel , although everyone says shopping is cheaper there .
A welcome change from the commercial Pokhara or Kathmandu, Chitwan National Park is a must for nature and animal lovers. Most jungle lodges and resorts provide rates inclusive of all meals, due to dearth of restaurants in Chitwan.
A two night stay is sufficient to walk through the Tharu Village, experience a canoe ride in a crocodile-infested river, elephant-back safari and a visit to the elephant breeding farm, normally arranged by the jungle lodges.
An elephant bath is worth a try if you don’t mind being teased about elephant nose- goo being part of the shower.
Budget hotels: Hote Parkside; River Bank Inn.
Nagarkhot: At this hill station, a two hours drive from Kathmandu, there is nothing to see and do, but relax . It is worth sacrificing sleep to witness the beautiful sunrise over the Himalayan range from here.
Budget hotels: Chautari Paradise Inn; Hotel At The End Of The Universe.
Must Know Nepal is known to have regular power cuts. While most of the hotels have generators, ACs may not work .
Though local transport is available, it would be convenient to hire a car for the duration of your stay especially if you are travelling in a group and to the different regions within Nepal.
Taxis in Kathmandu accommodate only three passengers, but make sure you negotiate a price before hiring one
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