Designed to help you get a head start in planning your trip to Nepal
Planning any trip can be a daunting task. Where to start? How to budget? Where to go? What to do? What do you need to prepare?
The good news is everything you need to plan your trip to Nepal is on my online best guide to Nepal.
The even better news is that this page on planning your trip to Nepal will help sort out all that information out into the basic stages step-by-step.
It's free. Fast. Easy to use and gives you a helping hand in arranging your trip in 5 easy steps!
Why do you want to visit Nepal?
Step 1 is all about finding out what there is to do or see in Nepal. The answer is - there's a lot! I've broken it down into main areas of interest for you.
Simply click through each of the headings below before moving on to the next step using the big 1-2-3-4-5- buttons above
Nepal is affectionately known as a "Trekkers Paradise". Whether you are a first time trekker, hiker or you've been trekking elsewhere - everyone enjoys Nepal's rugged trekking regions.
Everest Base Camp remains one of the most popular treks in the country. However the legendary Annapurna Circuit is where the most excitement can be had.
For hikers, quick visits or short treks Nepal has everything from high-pass treks in 5 days to 1 day Everest mountain views!
Culture and heritage lovers will adore Nepal's "Living Heritage" status. Unlike many other countries most of Nepal's heritage buildings are still in use by people today.
The majority of Nepal’s cultural heritage buildings are located in the Kathmandu Valley and are accessible by easy heritage walks, half and full day trips. Kathmandu cities old quarter leads to sites like Durbar Square and Swayambhunath. Just a short taxi trip away are historic sites and cities like Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, Patan, Kirtipur, Thimi, Bhaktapur and Panauti.
» Get started by discovering more about The Kathmandu Valley
Wild royal Bengal tigers, Indian elephants and one-horned rhinos are just a few of the animals you can discover in Nepal's incredible jungles.
There is nothing like trekking through dense tropical jungle in search of elusive tigers. The sights, sounds and smells of the jungle become more intense as you walk within a few feet of a monstrous rhino. Forget the zoos and safari parks, Nepal's jungles are the real thing from easy to reach Chitwan to out of the way Bardia.
Looking for an adrenaline rush? Nepal has you covered! From paragliding over the Himalayas to white water rafting and zip lining to name but a few.
Most adrenaline junkies head to Pokhara to get their fix. There are however indoor wall climbing centers, archery ranges, bungy-jumping and white water rafting available in Kathmandu.
In Pokhara things step up with easy as pie booking facilities allowing you to fly in micro-flights, silently take to the air in a para glider, swing through a cliff canyoning, paddle in a boat across a mountain lake or fly across trees on a zip-flyer.
» Discover more about Pokhara
Nepal is open to all cultures and beliefs. Buddha was born in Nepal and the country is a tantric mix of Hindus, Buddhists, Newari and many other other beliefs.
Visit the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini where the Buddha was born. Surrounded by the Sacred Gardens there are over 20 Buddhist Monasteries to visit, study in or even stay at.
In the Kathmandu Valley you can visit hundreds of temples with hundreds of Hindu god or giant Buddhist stupas. Discover how these faiths intermixed, find living goddess or simply take a meditation course.
» Discover more about Lumbini in Nepal
When should you go to Nepal?
Step 2 reveals that the time of year you plan your trip to Nepal is nearly as important as deciding on where you will go. Each of Nepal's seasons are very different, making some activities great yet dampen others depending on the time of year.
You might also want to plan your journey around a festival or use some itineraries as a planning guide!
The first peak season of the year is in spring between late February, March and April.
There are two peak or traditionally "best" times of the year to visit Nepal. Spring and Winter.
During spring visibility in the mountains is generally good up high (4,000m+) but can be hazy lower down if there is dust in the air. However, spring means blooming rhododendrons and other ﬂowers throughout the mountain valleys. Snow has melted and the weather is warm when the sun is shining.
» Find out more about when to visit Nepal and what's it like to go trekking in Nepal during spring
Summer in Nepal is between May and June though it can stretch into July with ease. It also heralds the arrival of Nepal's fifth official season which is known as monsoon season.
Nepal's summer season is humid and hot with the prospect of it getting even hotter. It's not a great time for trekking but it's still possible. Other activities are still quite possible.
Nepal's "monsoon season" is also hot, humid but it gets very wet with heavy downpours every day. This is the least popular time of year to visit Nepal.
The autumn months in Nepal of mid-September, October and November are traditionally the countries peak and the best time to visit.
After the monsoon rains have cleared Nepal's skies offer spectacular mountain views. Early on in the season the mountain valleys are still green with stunning snow capped vistas.
The only downside to peak season in Nepal is that it can get crowded on popular trekking trails. In the cites it's generally okay for tours. In the jungles tourist numbers also increase but things are rarely jam packed. For trekkers it's wise to book ahead to secure a good trekking guide at this time of year as it's the best time to visit Nepal!
» Find out more about when to visit Nepal and what's it like to go trekking in Nepal during Autumn
Winter in Nepal consists of December, January and February which are very cold months!
While the skies are usually clear with warm daytime sunshine, shaded areas are cold and at night it can get very cold. Treks with high passes or treks of a long duration are often blocked with snow at this time of year.
Snow rarely reaches the Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara or the jungle areas of Nepal which remain open for culture, heritage, wildlife and adventure travelers. It will however, be cold!
» Find more about when to visit Nepal and what's it like to go trekking in Nepal during Winter
When it comes to planning out when to go and visit Nepal you should take a look at when the major festivals are on as they can be fantastic.
Nepal has more festivals and holidays than just about any other country in the world. Most of them are best celebrated in the Kathmandu Valley for "intensity" however some are certainly celebrated throughout the country.
Some of the best festivals to plan your trip to Nepal around include Holi, Shivaratri, Indra Jatra and Tihar.
» Find out when festivals are on in Nepal
As we are working things out, let's start with figuring out what you can do with your fixed amount of days in Nepal using itineraries.
» 20 day travel itinerary for Nepal
Do you find planning all this overwhelming? No time to work it all out? No problem, use my Nepal Travel Planning Service.
Save money by booking some things, but don't book everything!
Step 3 is divided into two parts. The first involves visas, flights, hotels and packing lists. The second part is all about whether you need to book a trek, jungle or heritage tour in advance. So let's firm things up by planning out what you need to book in advance and how you can save some money!
You'll need a travel visa to enter Nepal. The good news is that for most countries they are available on arrival.
Nepal's on arrival tourist visa is available for most countries. They come in 15 day, 30 day and 90 day options with a relative fee attached to both.
In 2015 Nepal introduced new electronic passport and visa processing machines at Tribhuvan International Airport. The ATM machines are a little awkward to use and it is still advisable to bring spare passport photographs and photocopies of your passport ID page with you. Knowing the address of your first night stay is also required.
If you plan to extend your tourist visa in Nepal then do be aware that this can only be done online through Nepal's office Department of Immigration website.
» Find out more about applying for a tourist visa in Nepal.
» Find out how to extend your visa in Nepal.
Before going any further you'll need to book your flight to Nepal!
Direct international flights to Nepal outside of Asia are rare. There are usually direct connections in Amsterdam, Istanbul, Moscow, New Deli, Beijing, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
Nepal's own national carrier generally only flies within Asia. Flights on Nepal Airlines can only be booked with a travel agent or via bank transfer.
Like most international flights you'll save money by booking in advance.
Try my flight search to look for great deals on flights to Nepal:
Nepal has a large range of accommodation available at great rates. There are some "Nepal specific" things you need to be aware of though.
Electricity in Nepal is a problem and power cuts are frequent. All hotels have some form of backup. If constant electricity is important to you then you'll need a hotel that has a generator.
Hotels/guest houses/teahouses when trekking are not bookable online. They can only be booked by your trekking guide or through the guesthouse you stayed at the previous night.
Accommodation in Nepal never books out. However your "favorite" choice of hotel might book out during peak season. If that's important to you, then book ahead. Likewise if you've never been to Nepal it's always advisable to book your first few nights stay when you arrive.
The best hotel booking option is with Agoda below who I've partnered with as bookings are hassle free and have good rates:
|Search for Hotels in Kathmandu|
First time booking a hotel in Nepal? Read my recommendation of hotels in Kathmandu.
When it comes to making out a packing list for Nepal you always need to remember your main activity in Nepal.
A packing list for just trekking will be different from someone doing other activities too. The good news is that nearly everything you need is already available in Nepal. Let's have a look at the essentials.
General must haves in Nepal: Extra passport photos (for visas, permits etc). Dust mask (the air in Kathmandu can get clogged with dust and these will help - available in Nepal). Flashlight (preferably a head torch). A power bank for your mobile or tablet. Preferred toiletries. Any prescription medicine.
Packing list when trekking: the he worst thing I've seen many people do when it comes to packing for a trek is bring too much! It's a trek and not a summit so you don't don't need to pack like mountaineer might.
Note: don't forget to let your bank or credit card service known you'll be going to Nepal to avoid your card being blocked.
» Read more about the ultimate travel packing list
» Read about a packing list for trekking in Nepal
You'll need specific travel insurance for many of the activities you'll be doing in Nepal.
Many travel insurance companies do not cover trekking above 4,000m!
Do keep in mind that mountain rescues cost a minimum of USD$5,000 in cash only. So having the proper travel insurance is essential in Nepal.
I've written up a guide to the best travel insurance for traveling to Nepal.
Now that you've booked your flights / hotels it's time to save some money.
Let's find out if you really need to book a trek or activity in advance, how to avoid being ripped off and save costs while still ensuring you have a great trip.
- Heritage tours
- Jungle safaris
- Adventure activities
- Spiritual activities
- Nepal Travel Planning Service
Should you book a trek in advance? That depends ...
By now you should have selected a trek and the time of year you want to go on it. If not head back to step one before we move on to your choices.
Booking a trek online through a big international tour company is expensive. If you are on a tight time schedule then pre-booking your trek with a local company is a good idea. If you are going during peak season and want the best trekking guides then book early in the year.
If you are on a super budget and have extra time then book everything yourself when you arrive in Nepal. In all cases it's really important you read my guide on how to choose a trekking guide in Nepal.
» Read this if you are looking for the best online treks and tours in Nepal.
» Read this if you want to budget your Everest Base Camp trek.
» If you are looking for the local guide I use you can contact me.
» If you want me to bargain and book everything for you fill out this form.
Nepal has some of the greatest cultural heritage sites in the world. Some need tickets others don't.
Save some money and hassles. Don't book a heritage tour online or before you go to Nepal. Most tours are rip-off's.
Search through my guides to The Kathmandu Valley and you'll see some entrance prices there. Most tours online don't include entrance tickets or the "extras" involved like a guides lunch or their tip. Do be careful.
In person, most tour guides have been quoting the same stuff for decades and leave out many important areas.
Don't let entrance prices put you off. There are many heritage sites in Nepal that are free. These include Kathmandu's old city. North and south Patan. All of Thimi. All of Kirtipur and all but the Indreshwar temple in Panauti (which is worth it).
» Save money and use these free heritage walks in Kathmandu.
» If you plan on getting a car with a driver then I know a good one so you can contact me.
The jungles of Nepal are popular destinations for many people and you don't always need to book everything in advance.
However there are some important things to remember.
If your sole reason for visiting Nepal is to see wildlife then take note that some animals are not very visible during peak season, while others are not. Do read my guides on both Chitwan and Bardia includes all this information and more.
Chitwan National Park rarely get booked out even during peak season. The exception to this rule is that if there is a particular resort you want to stay in then do book it ahead to avoid disappointment.
If you are planning a trip to Bardia National Park then it is very important that you book ahead due to the long distances involved in getting there and the remote area the park is located in.
» Do read my guide to Chitwan National Park
» Do read my guide to Bardia National Park
Adrenaline junkies and outdoor sports enthusiasts will be happy to hear they can save money by not booking every outdoor activity.
From paragliding and micro-flights to bungy jumps, white-water rafting and ziplines. The great news is that you don't have to book any of these online and can save money by doing it all in country.
As with everything the exception is if you are on a very tight time frame and want to have it all ready and waiting you. For most people though, it's just a question of booking an activity the day before.
Many white water rafting expeditions leave on certain days of the week. Once you are in country you can book them.
The easiest activities to book are the following. Bungy jumping and white water rafting can be booked at any travel agent in Kathmandu. While paragliding, micro flights, white-water rafting (western rivers), canyoning, zip-lining, horse riding and day hikes are better arranged in Pokhara via travel agents in Lakeside.
» Recommended agents, including their locations on maps are all listed in my guidebook to Nepal
» Meanwhile do read about these activities in my free guide to Pokhara
If you are looking for spiritual activities in Nepal then you are much better off visiting them within Nepal first rather than booking something online.
Lumbini is best visited by bus from Kathmandu or Pokhara. Booking a hotel is all you will need to do. The monasteries around Lumbini are all free to visit. Bicycles can be rented or a rickshaw tour hired on the spot by the gates. There's no need to book a tour.
Meanwhile in Kathmandu or Pokhara Hindu, Buddhist or Newari temples can be found via the heritage section here.
All meditation or yoga centers should be visited in person as many are not in good condition and their websites are often deceiving in description.
» Do read my free guide to the Lumbini Development Zone
If you are still finding that planning a trip to Nepal is a bit overwhelming or time consuming you can try my Nepal Travel Planning Service.
If you fully use the information in this step then you will have saved yourself USD $100's if not over $1,000 by avoiding the pitfalls many people fall into when planning their trip to Nepal.
You can still save more money and time.
I can either create a custom itinerary for you, make suggestions and help you plan out your trip with suggestions of good guides. Or, I can do all the above plus bargain and a book services on your behalf.
Both are flat fee services while all your bookings are made directly with local fully qualified guides so you'll know your money is going back in the local Nepali economy.
» Find out more about my Nepal Travel Planning Services.
Quickly learn how to get around Nepal from taxis to buses, flights and on foot!
Step 4 is really about hitting the ground running. Avoid the touts offering rickshaw rides for 1,000 rupees and find out why that Kathmandu to Pokhara bus takes a lot longer that the 5 hours it says in most guidebooks.
Arriving into Nepal by air is often a shock to many people's systems. The best advice I can give is - relax and go with the flow!
Kathmandu international airport is located within Kathmandu city and makes for a quick ride to the center.
I really advise you to read through the links below about arriving in for a full step-by-step look at what to expect.
Flights are often delayed so those hotel pick-ups don't always work out. There is an official airport taxi and for about half the price you can pick up a local taxi who'll take you to your hotel. Prices are in the guides below and there's a money changer just past the security scanners at arrivals.
For those entering Nepal by land then I do recommend you visit some of Nepal's main attractions near the border or on the way to a main city to save time and an arduous journey later.
» Do read my free guide on arriving in to Kathmandu Airport
» Do read my free guide on traveling into Nepal overland
Once at your hotel you'll probably figure out that Nepal is still largely a cash driven economy. So, you'll need some!
In recent years Nepal has been moving it's ATMs into what are known as "ATM Lounges". These are small little shop fronts that contain several ATMs from different banks. Do make sure you've called your bank or credit card company before using an ATM in Nepal!
If you've brought cash with you then there are plenty of official money changers around Thamel (Kathmandu)and Lakeside (Pokhara). Most offer the same rates.
» Learn more about Nepal ATMs and Banks
There are many ways to get around Nepal's cities. Just watch out for touts and "tourist prices"!
If you are going for heritage walks in Kathmandu city then walk. There's no need for a taxi or rickshaw. If you do want to take a rickshaw they generally hang about Thamel and your should pay no more than 20 rupees for a ride to Durbar Square.
Taxis are the most common form or transport around cities in Nepal. They are generally cheap but a little small and no meters ever work. You must agree on a price to a destination before getting in. Otherwise you will be overcharged!
If you are going for longer day trips or want to avail of a private car and driver then this is also very possible in Nepal. If you want to use the same service as I do then feel free to contact me.
» Read more about getting around Nepal
Nepal has dozens of domestic airport terminals all over the country that people make use of to avoid long road journeys.
Kathmandu to Pokhara only take 30mins on a plane vs 5-7 hours on a bus. That's a big difference if you are stuck for time.
Do not buy domestic airline tickets online! Credit card processing is not secure and is usually done in another country. To book a flight simply get a local travel agent to do it for you. Much like buses travel agents in Nepal get an agent discount which means buying from them is also cheaper than buying from the airline itself!
The same goes for Kathmandu to Lukla flights.
If you really need an airline ticket bought for then try my Nepal Travel Planning Services
Buses are the most popular way to get around Nepal for both locals and tourists alike.
There are regular tourist buses leaving Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan everyday which are reasonably comfortable. Tickets are only available via travel agents who get build discounts for them. Do not try to buy them directly from bus companies as you will pay more. Anyone offering to buy bus tickets online for you will be charging a hefty commission.
Budget travelers wont' save much more than a dollar by taking local buses to Kathmandu, Pokhara or Chitwan. What's more, that dollar will be used getting to the local bus parks outside the main accommodation areas!
Oh and don't believe any guide book telling you the Kathmandu - Pokhara bus is only 5 hours. The road is being widened so expect it to take 7 hours.
» Read more about getting around Nepal
The information in this section will have saved you over $100 in extra transport costs alone if you use it correctly. Save more money by using my custom Nepal Travel Planning Services
Let's get traveling and exploring Nepal!
Step 5 is where the fun begins. You finally get to go traveling around Nepal. While this website provides you with the best guide to Nepal, nothing beats a guidebook. I recommend you invest in one to truly make the most out of Nepal.
- Go trekking
- Explore the Kathmandu Valley
- Visit Pokhara
- Venture into jungles
- Find Buddha
- Get the best guidebook!
Going trekking? Start here to discover it all ...
No matter what trek you chose, you'll want to be prepared with these free guides!
Still not sure about where to go?
Or simply learn more from
Finally, if you are only going to Nepal for trekking then get my First Time Trekking in Nepal guidebook
The Kathmandu Valley is a heritage lovers paradise worth taking the time to explore fully.
Explore more by starting with these free guides:» Guide to Kathmandu Valley
» Kathmandu city
Make sure to include:» Kathmandu Heritage Walks
» Swayambhunath (monkey temple)
Further out along the Kathmandu Valley are the must see highlights of:
Visit Pokhara the home of the Annapurna mountain trails with boundless natural beauty and adventure activities to enjoy.
The first thing any traveler to Pokhara should do is read a little about the place!
» Pokhara city guide
Once you've done that then you'll soon realize that most of the action, activities and relaxation takes place in Pokhara's Lakeside
Activities from Lakeside include:
» Go Paragliding in Pokhara
» Take ultralight & micro flights flights in Pokhara
» Go kayaking & white water rafting
» Climb the World Peace Stupa in Pokhara
» See the Sarangkot mountain view
Incredible wildlife and jungles choices await in Nepal for those who want to get back to the wild!
Over 4% of the world's mammals are located in Nepal and you can see most of them!
The first port of call for general wildlife in Nepal is a visit to Chitwan National park:
These are just some of the jungle activities you can do in Nepal. Spend some time reading my free online guides above or get my guidebooks to both locations to make the most out of your trip.
Birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini offers you a chance at visiting the sacred Maya Devi gardens and a host of monasteries.
If you are into world faiths, heritage or Buddhism then a trip to Lumbini is worth it. Easily accessible from Chitwan on the way to or from Kathmandu/Pokhara it's easier to reach than it may first seem.
In either case the following will set you right:
If 20+ monasteries and Buddha's birthplace is your thing then I recommend my dedicated guidebook to Lumbini. However, if Lumbini is just a quick stop for you then I suggest you get a full guidebook to Nepal which includes Lumbini.
Get the most out of traveling to Nepal with the best guidebook
Without question you can use this website to plan out your trip to Nepal for free. There's is however a big difference in using a website and having a dedicated guidebook.
When I first came to Nepal 10+ years ago I was very disappointed with the big brand guidebooks on offer. So, I set about writing my own. It's is far better!
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