Can you have a great time in Nepal in under a week?
I’ve always suggested taking a long trip to Nepal (if you have longer, see my two week itineraries for Nepal) to get the most from this great country. But, I always get emails from people saying “I’ve only got a week! Can I still do it?!”
The answer is of course yes!
With new budget airline routes from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi opening up there has been an unprecedented rise in short trips to Nepal.
I’ve had great people from Malaysia wanting to make the most of these new offers as well as tourists visiting Thailand and India who never thought it possible to make it to Nepal so easily.
I’ve jumped on the bandwagon too for a short trip to catch up with some friends and business. It’s a much shorter trip than usual so I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some tips on what you can hope to see and do between 5-7 days in Nepal.
Start with the time of year
“When are you going to Nepal” is nearly as important as “how long will you be in Nepal”. Remember Nepal has a four season temperate climate which will affect what you can do there. Let’s start with the best time to go and work down.
- September to late November is peak season. This is just after the monsoon season so the air is dry and clear. This is the perfect time for visiting Nepal for trekking and other activities.
- December, January & February are cold winter months throughout Nepal. It doesn’t snow in any of the main non-trekking cities in Nepal but it does hit freezing levels. There’s also a substantial lack of electricity at this time.
- February to April is Nepal’s second busiest tourist season with warmer temperatures throughout. Climate change often means downpours towards the end of this period.
- May to June is the start of the monsoon season. Short and long showers are more frequent and flight delays are getting more common. It can get brutally hot and humid.
- June to August is monsoon season is in full swing and you better come ready to get wet. Leeches are out in the valleys and flight delays are very common.
Okay so now when you are planning to take your holiday break you should know what to expect weather wise. There’s more detailed information about the best time to visit Nepal here there’s more on Nepal weather here and for trekkers here’s a complete monthly look at the best time of year to go trekking in Nepal.
Festivals in Nepal
Do check out my list of festival dates in Nepal. There are more annual holidays in Nepal than in most other countries.
Arriving the day before the Holi festival and then getting pelted by bags of color might come as a surprise to some. Then again, Holi is one of the best festivals in Nepal so it might be worth your while arriving then!
What type of holiday do you want in Nepal?
With only 5-7 days in Nepal you really need to plan what you want from your holiday. Think about what Nepal primarily offers: culture & history, trekking, jungle, adventure sports & relaxation.
There’s no reason you can’t mix and match some of the above. But don’t expect to fit everything in. Meanwhile here are some outlines for people looking only to cover one aspect of Nepal.
- Trekking: The most common question for trekkers is that it’s just not possible to trek to Everest Base camp on a 7 day itinerary to Nepal. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t get to see Everest in person. You can! With planning. There’s also a lot more to trekking in Nepal than Everest so you might also want to look for something completely new! Weather planning tip: Monsoon season is not the best time for views!
- Culture & History: The good news for culture and history lovers is that you can get an amazing amount done in under a week in Nepal. The Kathmandu Valley is Nepals primary attraction for culture. Yes there more, but let’s start there and see what else we can fit in! Weather planning tip: available all year round
- Jungle visits: Jungle lovers will have several option open to them too. Nepal has several national parks to choose from but again it’s up to you in regards to what you want to see. Either way it’s all very feasible in under a week. Weather planning tip: avoid early monsoon season and monsoons season
- Adventure sports: Adventure sports can range from bungee jumping (not sure that’s a sport!), paragliding, white water rafting and climbing. Weather planning tip: Again, monsoon season makes white water rafting and paragliding touch and go depending on that day’s outlook.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of what can be done in Nepal in about a week and at what time of year I hope you are starting to get a clearer idea of what you might like to accomplish during your holiday.
I’ll cover how to speed up your travel within Nepal later, but for now let’s move on to specific itineraries for short holidays in Nepal.
7 Day trekking Itineraries in Nepal
There are quite a few treks you can do in Nepal in under a week. But you’ve not actually got a week as your first day is already gone as it’s your arrival day. We need to speed things up a little to help you maximize your time.
Domestic flight delays are common in Nepal so if you are planning to fly to Pokhara for trekking then you’ll need to book ahead with an agency beforehand. Likewise if you need a guide. Yes, you can spend a day in Pokhara or Kathmandu looking for a guide but do really need that pressure? Probably not.
So arranging a guide ahead of time will save you time. If you want a recommended guide then you can contact me and I’ll send you their details. Meanwhile take a read of my article on how to choose a trekking guide in Nepal.
Short treks in Nepal
Nagarkot Dhulikhel Trek
||Dhampus Village Trek
||Ghorepani Trek (Poon Hill)
Mardi Himal Trek
As you can see from the above most of the short treks listed are Pokhara based. Pokhara is a 7am – 2pm bus trip from Kathmandu. Or a 30 minute flight. Or a 6 hour car trip. So you’ll need to think about how to get there and back if you are looking at trekking from there.
Again, if you book ahead with a guide they can help in pre-booking your trekking permits (yes you need them too), plus either air, bus or private transport to Pokhara. It’s all very doable. But you must arrange things ahead of time.
There’s some good news for culture and history buffs who also want to go trekking
Nagarkot is very close to Bhaktapur and there’s no reason you can’t easily combine the two. Into something like 2 nights in Bhaktapur and 2 nights in Nagarkot etc.
In regards to Mardi Himal it is a very close shave if you hope to get this done and leave in under a week. I do know it can be done in 3 nights and 4 days but it’s a steep climb. You’ll also really need to pre-arrange domestic flights and have a guide ready and waiting for you. Again, contact me if you need a reliable guide recommendation.
Lastly if you really want a close up view of Everest there are plenty of daily Everest mountain flights that will take you right up close to Mount Everest. They are very popular with people on short time frames who want to see as much as possible.
Here’s my detailed list on the above short treks in Nepal
7 Day Cultural and Historic Itineraries in Nepal
I’m going to mention Lumbini here at the outset. You can fly there, or take a day long bus trip there. At a push you’ll arrive by bus in the afternoon, spend two hours at Lumbini park and then leave for Kathmandu the next day on a bus. Or to make the most of it, stay two days in Lumbini. That’s two days of travel and full one day of sight-seeing.
Meanwhile the rest of the cultural itinerary takes place in Kathmandu. If you are trying to accomplish as much as possible then seriously consider hiring a taxi for the day. Prices will range from 2000-3000 rupees depending on distance. Overnight stays are up to you too. Some people might prefer day trips, other might prefer to stay else where. Swap and change as you like.
- Day 1: Arrive, check into hotel take a look around Thamel to get your barrings.
- Day 2: Take an early morning taxi out to Boudhanath to watch the monks get up around the great stupa. Walk or take a taxi to Pashupathimet. Take a taxi back to Thamel for lunch before heading to Swayambhunath.
- Day 3: Taxi to Patan for some temple sight-seeing and drop in to see the Living Goddess. Have lunch here before either heading back to Kathamdu Durbar square or go directly to Bhaktapur.
- Day 4: If you’ve not seen Kathmandu Durbar Square yet, go there first. If you have been then head to Bhaktapur that morning where you’ll spend a couple of nights. Take your time in Bhaktapur as there’s lots to see here.
- Day 5: Another day shopping and enjoying Bhakrapur. Make sure to take in the Pottery market or take a Thanka painting class.
- Day 6: Take an early morning bus or take from Bhaktapur to Nagarkot for mountain views or short day trek. You can stay here for the night, or head back to Kathmandu.
- Day 7: Depending on your flight time you can spend the morning shopping in Thamel or checking some of Kathmandu’s lesser known sites like the Kathesimbhu stupa or chill out at the Garden of Dreams (here’s a list of things to see and do in Kathmandu).
Like I said at the start, none of the above is written in stone. If you don’t want to spend a night in Bhaktapur, you don’t have to. Perhaps you would prefer to spend more time learning about Buddhism or meditating in Boudhanath. At night-time both Pashupatinath and Boudhanath have many rituals that are fascinating to watch. So if that’s more what you are looking for … then stay longer there!
Check out my newly updated travel guide to Boudhanath for everything you need to know about staying there and discovering this great part of Kathmandu.
Jungle visits and tiger watching itineraries
So you want to see tigers and trek through the jungle eh? No problem. From Kathmandu there are daily buses to Chitwan National Park. They take about 5 hours and are a little more efficient than flying there.
Itineraries in Chitwan can be more flexible and pre-planned. I don’t advise pre-booking anything in Chitwan aside from your guest house or hotel. Treks never book out here and you can literally book one the night before.
- Day 1: Arrive into Chitwan (Sauraha) check into hotel, take a stroll through the village and walk along the river before dinner alongside it (relax). Arrive, check into hotel get to Elephant Jungle Safari (rush).
- Day 2-4: Jungle treks can either be for a day or several days. The choice is yours. Remember the weather above and see what you feel like. An alternative is to take a more expensive jeep safari. The further you go into the jungle the more chance you have at spotting wildlife.
Additional days: There’s not much else to do in Chitwan aside from jungle activities. There is however an elephant breeding center, elephant washing and ox cart rides to local villages along with long sunsets on the rivers. If that appeals to you then you can stay. Otherwise if you just came to Chitwan for a single trek you should now have enough time for a bus ride to Pokhara or back to Kathmandu. Check out my full guide to Chitwan for more information.
7 day adventure sport activity itinerary in Nepal
Remember the weather plays a big role here. Basically you’ll want to avoid monsoon season!
You’ve really got two choices here. Kathmandu for white water rafting and bungee jumping or Pokhara for white water rafting, day treks, mountain biking, boating and paragliding.
So Pokhara wins hands down. Unless, you want to mix from cultural sight-seeing in Kathmandu up with some adventure sports and maybe an Everest flight? The beauty here is that you shouldn’t need to book anything in advance until you get to Kathmandu. The Last Resort offers the only jumps in Nepal and it will take you a full day to accomplish this. After that arranging a day or one night and two-day white water rafting trip is a simple matter of walking into any travel agent the day beforehand.
If you prefer to do your activities in Pokhara you do have time to reduce your budget to a bus trip to Pokhara (though a flight will make the most of your time) and then maybe a flight back to Kathmandu at the end. Once in Pokhara everything from paragliding to white water rafting can all be arranged the night before from any lakeside travel agent.
Making your travel times more efficient in Nepal
The above itineraries can all be accomplished by you with a little bit of planning and preparation.
As you can tell the biggest time consumer is travel within Nepal. If you want to cut travel times then you’ll need to book your domestic flights before you arrive. Or, hire taxis for the day if culture seeing in Kathmandu. Both of these methods will cost a little more, but they will ensure you get to places on time.
Last minute tips for a quick trip to Nepal
If you are going trekking then bring as much of what you need as possible instead of wasting time shopping. Good solid trekking boots/shoes, a rain/windproof jacket, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. You shouldn’t need sleeping bags for these short treks. Everything else can be picked up locally or by your trekking guide.
Batteries and touch light. Nepal has terrible electrical load shedding. If you are addicted to your electronics then bring as many spare batteries as you will need for your stay. Alternatives include power packs for your mobile phone or tablet.
Wrapping it up: your short stay in Nepal
I should have mentioned this at the start but when you arrive in Kathmandu airport you’ll need to have passport photos and USD in hand for your visa. Check out my post on arriving into Kathmandu airport for more. Believe me, it will save you some time too.
I’m going to leave this article open to comments for any questions you might have. Or if you’ve been to Nepal and have any suggestions you’d like to make feel free to leave them here. Again, if you have longer, see my two week itineraries for Nepal.
As you can see so far you can get a lot done in Nepal within just a week!
Planning on booking a hotel room in Kathmandu?
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