India’s landlocked neighbour, Nepal, makes for an interesting yet inexpensive getaway. Hindi-speaking locals, Indian and Tibetan food influences and the acceptance of the Indian rupee, will make Indians feel at home.
Although Indian citizens do not require a visa, a passport is mandatory. Citizens of most other countries can get a visa on arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
Accommodation (bed and breakfast) is relatively cheap, at $20-80 per night. Some hotels offer discounts to Indians and groups. Entry at tourist attractions is either free or costs approximately $2-3 for Indian citizens.
Nepal’s political and cultural capital is a lot like Mumbai — dirty, crowded, traffic infested and polluted. But ancient stupas, temples, palaces, courtyards and world heritage monuments, give this city surrounded by hills and snow-capped mountains, a charm of its own.
Visit: Two nights are adequate to visit important tourist attractions, including Pashupatinath temple, Boudhanath Stupa, Swoyambhunath Stupa and Patan Durbar Square.
Thamel Street, where pashmina shawls, Nepali clothing, bags, artefacts and jewellery can be found, is a haven for shopaholics.
It is worth shelling out an additional $100 for the hour-long ‘flight to mountain’ to see the Himalayan peaks, including Mt.Everest.
Budget hotels: Hotel Ganesh Himal, Tings Lounge Hotel, Hotel Mustang Holiday Inn
Eat at: Yak Café, Old Tashi Delek Restaurant, Kumari Restaurant
October- November is an ideal time to visit Nepal. It is also the best time to see the Annapurna range from anywhere in Pokhara. Clouds and fog characterise the monsoon and make sighting the range rare between May-September.
Visit: Two days suffice to visit Devi’s falls; the Barahi temple island on the Fewa lake; Seti gorge and the Bindhyabasini temple.
From Pokhara, head to Sarangkhot for a closer view of the sunrise over the mountains.
Budget hotels: Hotel Silver Oaks Inn; Green Peace Resort
Eat at: Restaurants by the lake serve multicultural cuisines such as, Indian, Nepali, French, Italian, Mediterranean, Malaysian and others. Chilly Bar and Restaurant, Laughing Buddha and Moondance are popular eateries. Street stalls sell momos, samosas and other yummy stuff for $2 or less.
Shopping: Shops near Fewa lake sell Nepali outfits, pashmina shawls, bags, wallets and other curios. If something catches your fancy, bargain before you pick it up. You may not find the same design at Thamel, although everyone says shopping is cheaper there.
Chitwan National Park is a treat for nature lovers. Most jungle lodges and resorts include meals in their pricing, due to the dearth of restaurants in Chitwan. A two-night stay is enough for a walk through the Tharu village, a canoe ride in a crocodile-infested river, an elephant-back safari and a visit to the elephant breeding farm, typically arranged by the jungle lodges. An elephant bath is worth it if you don’t mind being teased about elephant nose-goo being part of
Budget hotels: Hotel Parkside, River Bank Inn
At this hill station, two hours by car from Kathmandu, there is nothing to do, but relax. It is worth sacrificing sleep to witness the beautiful sunrise over the Himalayas.
Budget hotels: Chautari Paradise Inn; Hotel At The End Of The Universe.
Other places to visit: Lumbini, Langtang Region, Janakpur
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* All values are specified in U.S dollars
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