Getting to Lumbini the local way to find a cheap guesthouse
What would Lumbini be like? It’s the birthplace of Buddha – one of the most important “religious” figures in history. Though everyone told me it was not touristy it did seem like a lot of people go there. However once there everyone pretty much leaves straight away.
My own worst fear was that all the guesthouses would all be booked out due to a random festival!
Would Lumbini be a tourist nightmare? An empty shell of a town? Be packed full of Buddhist pilgrims? Or would it be a place I find enlightenment?
The basics of getting to Lumbini
From Kathmandu you can “sometimes” get a direct tourist bus during peak season. It’s not peak season. So you take a morning local direct bus from Kathmandu to Lumbini which takes about 8 hours. Or you can go to Bhairahawa and transfer there to Lumbini.
Finally from Chitwan you can for to Bhairahawa and transfer then to Lumbini.
If taking any of the Bhairahawa options make sure to tell the bus driver and his assistant where you are going so they know when and where to let you off. You should also ask them in what direction the next bus you need is as there’s no real bus station. It’s all a lot easier than it seems. Do check out my travel guide to Lumbini for more, including bus times and prices.
Conversation with a local about the Lumbini’s battle ground between India and China
This is why I like to take local buses. I get to meet the real people who will tell me about what’s happening on the ground. Between Bhairahawa and Lumbini a local man struck up a conversation with me.
The man, in his fifties, was interested to know if I was going on to India after Lumbini. I replied that I would probably be going back to Kathmandu after this. Then from out of nowhere he told me that India was building its own version of Lumbini on the other side of the nearby border.
“They wanted buy exclusive rights to out Lumbini,” he said. “We said no. Lumbini was ours. So they now claim they’ve found somewhere nearby on their side which is the new birthplace of Buddha.”
Almost like rewriting history.
The strange thing is the man shook out a sigh and then told me that the Chinese had just agreed to invest USD$3 billion rupee into renovating Lumbini.
The power struggle to get as much between the two giant economic neighbors on either side of Nepal continues on. Trade rights, transport rights and mineral rights are being won over through cultural bribery it seems.
Arriving into Lumbini
The near empty bus dropped me off on the side of dusty road shortly after lunch. To my right a black fence with a long row of green trees. To my left across the road a single empty street with shops on either side. No signs. I turned to a local.
“Namaste, yes,” then he was gone.
If this was it I could just visit Buddha’s temple and take a night bus out of here. It was tempting.
I crossed the main road down the little dusty street in search of a few landmark hotels. Yep and yep.
It seemed Lumbini was indeed a one street town.
Getting a cheap guesthouse in Lumbini
Taking out my two torn up guidebook photocopied pages I went to the most recommended hotel on the left. The place was deserted. I could have just snuck upstairs and no one would have even noticed. I called out. There was a shuffle behind the reception desk.
Ah yes, the afternoon sleeping receptionist behind the desk on the floor routine.
“Namaste, how much is your single room?”
“Namaste,” replied a sleepy lady standing up. “Just for you?”
I said nothing and just nodded.
“Okay, thank you. Bye!”
I nearly felt sorry for waking up the girl. Still they are a “guidebook mentioned guesthouse” a good starting point to get a baseline of hotel prices and attitude.
If they were all this price it might really be worth hiring a rickshaw, going to the temple and then getting that night bus to Kathmandu.
Looking at my crumpled up map page I read my scrawl. Yellow guesthouse, good, wifi, cheap -opposite. I’d asked someone who’d been here recently to recommend a place. Sure enough right opposite me was a shiny bright yellow guesthouse.
Bargain basement price lodging in Lumbini
Again the place was deserted. Lot’s of Namaste’s later and a sleepy young man appeared. I asked a price.
neighbors“My friend, it’s off season and your hotel is empty. How much?”
“Let’s go see the room.”
The room was typical Nepalese. Large, full of dark furniture, spotless and had an ensuite.
“Do you have better price?” I asked out of sheer boldness.
“How long your stay?”
“Does you wifi work?”
An exchange of passwords and yes indeed it did work. “3 nights, maybe more.”
“Okay sir, 250 rupees.”
We shook on it and I ordered a late lunch on my balcony overlooking the expensive guidebook guesthouse opposite.
I was paying less at three nights than if I’d spent one night in the guide book guesthouse. What’s more I’d be eating here which would make up for the low price for a room. I’d also just gained some extra time to explore Lumbini at my own leisure. If that’s not a good thing, I don’t know what is!
Guesthouse name: Siddharta Lodge/Lotus Restaurant. The guesthouse next to it is similar in price.
I should note that if you visit Lumbini during any Buddhist festival expect prices to skyrocket and accommodation will be hard to find so book ahead.
Again lot’s more details on my travel guide to Lumbini page.
Lumbini Temples and visiting Buddha’s birthplace
Planning on booking a hotel room in Lumbini?
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I recommend you try my own hotel search for Lumbini. The best online rates guaranteed!
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