Nepal is an amazing place populated with friendly, generous and resilient people and we had a brilliant time there. You can read our numerous Nepal blog posts about our experiences, this post is just a handful of observations that we made along the way which will hopefully be helpful to other travellers.
- In general, Nepal is an extremely poor country and this is particularly evident in the less populated areas, like up mountains. Despite this, most people are extremely generous and it occurred to us that this generosity likely often extended beyond their means. Just something to bear in mind when visiting and particularly eating meals in rural areas.
- The effects of the earthquake which occurred in 2015 are still very obvious, particularly in Kathmandu and most noticeably in Durbar square where the destruction is still very evident. As a result, there is constant construction in the capital and the accompanying dirt and dust are an ever-present problem. You may feel your chest tighten after the shortest exposure to the open air. We would definitely recommend purchasing face masks to alleviate some of the impact, these can be found in most of the local shops.
- Nepal’s power network is a complete mess due to lack of investment and historic corruption. This means there is regular load shedding. Take a torch and also a surge protector if you are charging anything of value.
- On a similar note, you will find rooms have 17 sockets in them but only one works and then only when you hold the plug on a particular angle, so don’t expect an easy or quick charge even when the power is on.
- Unfortunately, litter is a problem particularly on the roads between popular tourist centres.
- General hygiene varies significantly from place to place. We carried hand sanitizer and wet wipes and just got on with it.
- UK residents can get a single entry visa on arrival for 15, 30 or 90 days.
- We would recommend the following to make the process go as smoothly as possible:
- Have a pen in your hand luggage because none of the desks are equipped with one to fill in the forms
- Know the address of your first hostel/hotel in Nepal
- Have a vague idea of how long you are going to stay for so that you don’t have to come back and reapply later
- Have cash in US dollar, sterling or euro to pay for your visa. It says you can buy with card but the man behind the visa counter wouldn’t let us.
- There is ATM outside the airport if you haven’t already got Nepalese Rupee
- Nepal probably has the worst roads we have ever experienced. We certainly will not be complaining about a few pot holes from now on. Due to the terrible quality of the roads you are not getting anywhere fast.
- The Nepalis possess the unique skill of driving like maniacs but still not getting anywhere, expect bus journeys to be lengthy and terrifying.
- The country has lots and lots of road works so journeys take longer than expected. Often traffic can only flow in one direction for large parts of the day.
- Local buses are very cramped, but you can get more deluxe (take with a pinch of salt) ones with more leg room for many of the most popular tourist routes.
- Nepalese air travel has a highly questionable safety record, at best. We stuck to buses as a slightly safer option, though it certainly tested James’s ability to block out how terrible the driving was.
- Kathmandu airport is pretty crappy
Food & Drink
- The food we had was a bit of a mixed bag.
- Dal Bhat is a staple including rice, green veg and lentils. The quality of this varies a lot but it can be sensational. As ever, locals know best so ask around.
- Those of you who have been following our blog will know we have a new obsession with Momo. They are awesome, you need to try them and get in with the buffalo momo early as we were late to the game so only had them once
- Nepali coffee is generally excellent so a must if you are a coffee fan
- Nepali beer is strong with some having alcohol contents of 8.5% plus, but in general it is not bad.
- Alcohol is widely available in all areas.
- Nepal appears to be sponsored by Tuborg. Every shop, restaurant and even some homes are plastered in Tuborg signs.
- Safaris operate on half and full days in the National Parks and, unlike most other safari locations, the full day does not give you the break in the middle of the day. This can be exhausting!
- Nepal is home to some amazing animals, but it is not like going on safari in Africa. Your chances of sighting tigers are pretty low and elephant can also be fairly evasive.
- If you go to Chitwan you are definitely going to see rhino
- You can safari on foot which is an interesting experience with a lower chance of seeing animals but much more thrilling when you do.
- As we found in Sri Lanka a handful of guides do not have the respect for the animals you may hope, we made sure to feedback to our guest house when this was the case
- That being said, with careful research of which guides to use you can have some amazing experiences like our close encounter with rhino.
- We will call out Bardia Homestay specifically, it was a fantastic place on the edge of Bardia National Park where the owners are very receptive to feedback
- Forget the British queuing etiquette and embrace Nepali queuing, more commonly known as a scrum.
- We witnessed some unfortunate attitudes from children towards stray cats and dogs, terrorising them seemed to be a form of entertainment. We intervened on one occassion but the whole concept of taking care or respecting these animals is completely alien.
- Nepali people are lovely and friendly, and could not help us enough. The friendly interactions and help we received were a big part of our enjoyment of our visit.
- Please see our dedicated blog Nepali Flat: Little bit up, little bit down
We loved Nepal, the country, the people, and the activities you can do there. We urge you to go and experience it for yourself.