31 responses

  1. hayadeen
    March 12, 2012

    FUN FUN FUN!!!

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 13, 2012

      YES YES YES!

  2. Tash
    March 12, 2012

    Also, if you are a tourist in Nepal during Holi, RESPECT the local customs!
    I am in two minds about the targeting of women in this, although I have read that in some parts they get to retaliate with big sticks….I guess that would make it fair! Ha!
    I think I could be in India for next year’s Holi, and after seeing the travel blogging community’s photos of the celebrations, will certainly try to – looks amazing!

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 13, 2012

      Hey Tash, spot on with respecting local customs! Far too many people go into a country either not reading a simple page or two about them, or else go overboard!

      I’m all for making the second day before Holi a day when women can throw water at men. Only fair to turn the tables on us guys.

      I hope you get to experience holi in India, it’s a great festival tops anything other by far.

  3. Aakar
    March 12, 2012

    Great post! I agree with you!

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 13, 2012

      Hi Aakar, glad to hear. Thanks for stopping by

  4. Leslie (Downtown Traveler)
    March 12, 2012

    This sounds like an intense festival. I’d like to experience it once– as long as its not sewage water or toxic chemicals they are throwing on me :)

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 13, 2012

      I think you’d have a great time Leslie! It’s chaos but of the fun kind :)

  5. Nate @yomadic
    March 12, 2012

    Sounds like I should experience Holi asap (2013!). Reminds me of Songkran in Thailand, where people target phones and cameras with water pistols. As you say, you can always stay indoors!

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 13, 2012

      Go for it Nate, it’s by far the best festival I’ve experienced. Generally speaking I’m biased in favor of Nepal for most things. But this tops the list by a long stretch!

  6. Kaylin
    March 13, 2012

    I celebrated Holi this weekend! (In Korea of all places) I went with a bunch of my fellow English-teacher friends to the beach where I live for the festival that was set up by the Indians in Korea group here. It was so much fun!!! We just danced and threw powder at each other (and had a few drinks) for a couple hours, some people got in the ocean (which was freezing!), then we went and ate some Indian food.
    I would love to experience it in a country where it is actually a holiday!!! Esp since it was a little bit weird going home on the subway surrounded by Koreans staring at me even more than normal haha. But I loved get covered in the dye, even though my fingernails and the part of my hair are STILL pink two days later… I’m thinking I might have to go to India or Nepal for this one day (in 2014 maybe?? I might be contained on the other side of the world this time next year).

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 13, 2012

      Sounds like an great time Kaylin. I could just imagine the looks going back on the train like that.

      Never been to Holi outside of a Hindu country so I don’t know the difference. All I know is that Holi in Kathmandu is an amazing experience. If you do travel to Nepal, Kathmandu is the place to experience it. And preferably in a really friendly guesthouse!

  7. Chris
    March 13, 2012

    I’ve heard the Holi festival shouldn’t be missed. Some tourists tend to get into a privileged state when traveling and feel that they can freely exercise their right to complain. But I agree with you, as long as certain rules are enforced, the experience of the festival should be enjoyed for what it is. It really comes down to embracing and celebrating the culture and people.

  8. bernie
    March 14, 2012

    Hi Dave.. Yeah sounds like you had a good time there! Great! Like to get there one day!

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 23, 2012

      Hi Bernie, I think you’d enjoy it. A serious amount of good harmless fun. There’s really nothing else to compare it too!

  9. Rachel
    March 17, 2012

    I’ve been in Nepal for the last few months but unfortunately had to leave just a couple of days before Holi kicked off, so it was really great to read this. Thanks for posting!

  10. Christine | Grrrl Traveler
    March 22, 2012

    I’ve heard in India, many women try not to go out seeing as they’re one of the big targets so when I was in India during holi, I actually was advised to a degree against it. But I was also in an ashram in south where it wasn’t strong.

    It pisses me off when tourists (& overly sensitive locals) make a big stink about something that’s been a tradition. I despise when the government gives into that minorty. Similarly, this past year, the Hawaii gov cracked down on New Year’s Eve fireworks. It’s been a cultural tradition since forever and HI folk celebrate it to the extent of India/Nepal on Holi. The whole island is in a cloud on NYE due to every neighborhood playing fireworks, aerials, etc… in the streets. The next morning is a big sweepup of red paper, etc… But people complained- first tourists, then people with health concerns… This year, we needed a permit to play sparklers, which is like saying you need a permit for your kid to play with hand poppers! Sadly, the state never tried to sell or commercialize it as THE place to go to for NYE, so not much of the world knows that you’ve NOT seen a real fireworks celebration until you’ve hit the islands. It’s a shame.

    Tourists that don’t want to experience local traditions should either not travel or research the dates that they wouldn’t want to travel on. Simple as that.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 23, 2012

      I hear you Christine.

      I used the the fireworks example as I couldn’t think of something else that had a succession of banning in various countries over the years. I thought it was a bad example as I do in some regards agree that “certain” people should not be allowed near fireworks.

      I remember Christmas eve in The Philippines. The amount of people being checked into hospital due to fireworks blowing up on them is huge.

      On the other hand I can see how in a decade it will also be banned there. I think it is officially banned just not enforced at the moment. So many people will grow up not knowing the fun and excitement of setting off fireworks.

      I remember doing this as a kid myself. And yes I burned myself. And yes I learned my lesson and respected fire, and fireworks ever since.

      It’s just amazing how many clueless people don’t know how to handle something as primitive as fire.

      I could go on … but I’m only agreeing with 100% anyway! :)

      I can just see Holi being stripped away over the next few years and it’s a crying shame.

  11. Vicky
    April 2, 2012

    I’ve always wanted to go to Holi – it looks amazing. I never thought about the fact that some of the locals might not like it. It’s so annoying how in any celebration there are always some people who’ll ruin it for everyone else. Argh, so annoying. Throwing dirty water, that’s just grim. Really hope these people come to their senses and just let everyone have good, innocent fun instead of damaging the festival’s reputation.

  12. Sonia
    May 11, 2012

    Hey Dave,

    Loved your post. I am from Nepal myself and relate to a lot of what you’ve written. However, I wouldn’t really call throwing balloons at women on the 3rd day leading up to Holi a tradition. It would be akin to saying whistling at women on the streets is a tradition. It happens in almost every corner of Kathmandu, and since it is mostly harmless we just learn to tune it out, but that does not really make it a tradition right? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for having fun and pelting balloons and throwing water at passersby. I have personally gotten together with friends to throw water balloons and colored water at men, but not many women do that. The problem isn’t that women are being pelted with balloons, but that it is mostly men who do the pelting. Throwing water at people of opposite sex is just another way of flirting and Nepali people, like other South Asians, are more forgiving of men who tease/flirt with women but not the other way round. Women who don’t shy away from going against the traditional stereotypes are sometimes jokingly and sometimes seriously called “oottauli” (I can’t think of the exact translation, but you might find someone in Nepal who can explain the word to you). So most women would rather be teased then be on the other side of the teasing. So, although I agree that complaining and making a big fuss about bring pelted with balloons during Holi is just plain stupid, I don’t think designating any one day as the day to pelt balloons at men will solve the problem. It will still be mostly men who will be doing the throwing and throwing water at people of your own sex can only be so much fun…

  13. allan
    November 12, 2012

    hi there, I will be in nepal for Holi in March 2013, and was wondering which town I should be in.. I haven’t found too much info online of where to be yet, but someone on tripadvisor recommended Pukhara rather than Kathmandu on the basis that Kathmandu doesn’t have access to clean water so some people they throw dirty water…

    I would like to be in a town/area that is the most festive, & enjoyable


  14. Kath
    March 3, 2013


    I’m going to Holi Festival in Kathmandu this month and want to know if any has any advice on avoiding dirty water or preventative medication is case of dirty water. I’m keen to get fully involved in the festival but a little concerned about dirty water?


    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 3, 2013

      Hi Kath,

      In the days before Holi it’s usually water in bags that’s thrown. It’s not really thrown at people’s faces and it’s fairly sporadic. I would not ingest the water. Its tap water which is not safe to drink in Nepal but is used for showers/bathrooms etc.

      On Holi itself it’s the same water but colored with dye. You should avoid oil based dyes if you are participating as they are very hard to get off your skin. Generally though it’s water based dyes which wash right off. I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s been sick from Holi. Though if you have allergies, medical conditions or don’t feel comfortable in these environments then it’s best not to participate. Otherwise for most people they simply wear clothes that they don’t want ruined and enjoy the festivities!

  15. Tats
    March 4, 2014

    Hi Dave,

    My upcoming trip to Nepal will be during Holi week so I am kinda looking forward to it, after reading this! Do you think other parts of Nepal than Kathmandu will also celebrate Holi, like Pokhara? I still have an open itinerary yet so I wanna make the most of it.



    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 11, 2014

      Hi Tats,

      There’s no better time to visit Nepal! Yes other parts of Nepal will celebrate Holi. The only thing to remember is that the more remote you get the less of a “big” deal it will be. The narrow streets of Kathmandu mixed with the tall buildings and large population make it a lot of fun. The next best place will be Pokhara. Lakeside will be brimming with kids pelting each other (and tourists) with small balloons.

      The best tip I can give you is find a guesthouse that’s filled with fun people and owners. Older types & package tourists generally are not so great to be around. Wear old clothes and enjoy the day!

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