Arriving into Lumbini to find a guesthouse

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ April 1st, 2013. Updated on April 4th, 2013. Published in: Travel blog » Nepal.
Bhairahawa-Lumbini bus

Arriving into Lumbini on the Bhairahawa-Lumbini bus

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.

Bhairahawa-Lumbini road

The road between Bhairahawa & Lumbini where the bus drops you

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, Lumbini?”

“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.

Main road in Lumbini

The one main road in Lumbini – guesthouses are on eitherside

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.

“900 rupees.”

“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.

“500 rupees.”

Cheap guesthouse in Lumbini the Siddhatha Lodge

Cheap guesthouses in Lumbini include the Siddhatha Lodge and its

neighbors“My friend, it’s off season and your hotel is empty. How much?”

“300 rupees”

“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?”

“Yes.”

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.

Coming soon

Lumbini Temples and visiting Buddha’s birthplace 


Hotel search at the Longest Way Home

Planning on booking a hotel room in Lumbini?

Looking for the best online rates?

I recommend you try my own hotel search for Lumbini. The best online rates guaranteed!

 


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Speak your mind, all opinions welcome - leave a comment below

14 Great responses to Arriving into Lumbini to find a guesthouse

  1. Mike says:

    It’s always good to bargain. Can’t believe there are still hotels for that price!

  2. Hafeez Malik says:

    Nice bargaining. But when I was in Nepal, I noticed a cartel among hoteliers, transporters and restaurant-owners especially among business community near Pokhara. I asked one boatman that ‘you are standing idle why wouldn’t you accept Rupees.100 rather than Rupees 200.’ His reply reminded me of my economic class,”There are few tourists now and we want as much as we can. If I reduce price, others would too and as a community we would go home with 50%. Also, this may set the rate for all time to come. No sir we don’t believe in a sort of cut-throat competition.” (This was pretty long ago and may not be in-vogue now.”

    • You are correct and it still happens. A man will refuse to accept a low price even if it eventually means getting no money at all. This mentality is still there. The best way to avoid it is to simply not be within earshot of the man’s co-workers. That’s usually where the trouble starts!

  3. Hamish says:

    Thanks for these tips. I notice prices you found compared to your hotel search are a lot cheaper?

    • Yes off season prices in person will be cheaper than booking online. However if you are going during a festival then it might be worth your while booking online to avoid missing out as there’s not much nearby!

  4. Noel says:

    Hello Dave,
    Striking a good conversation with someone stranger in a foreign land is a gift that I must learn.

  5. Jan says:

    I need something on how to barter like that! Can you help? I’m really not good at it at all!!!

  6. Daryl says:

    Thanks for writing this. Always wanted to visit but never had enough information!

  7. Jan says:

    Find it hard to understand why some people want to have a price below the suggested 300NRP. In a poor country it is possible but I dont understand what the idea is.