An Extensive Travel Guide to Nepal

An Extensive Travel Guide to Nepal

By 10A editorsTrip Guides

From the outside, the focal point of Nepal looks like intimidating Himalayas replete with phenomenal trekking adventures to Everest and Annapurna. But when you dip into the valley, you’ll find a spread of activities, ranging from rafting, canoeing, kayaking, paragliding, mountain biking, jungle explorations, and more. The sprinkle of culture dusting the land adds a layer of meaning to your adrenaline-induced adventures. Travellers ranging from experienced trekkers to backpackers to families will fall in love with the variety etched across Nepal! But where to begin?

This Nepal adventure guide will share advice on where to go, where to stay, what to do! Read on for detailed Nepal travel tips.

Disclosure: This post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you buy one of these products or services. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Annapurna Sanctuary Ghandruk Nepal

Annapurna Sanctuary Ghandruk Nepal

About Nepal

Nepal boasts rich culture and terrain, thanks to the conglomeration of palaces and temples towering across the land and the blend of mountainscapes, valleys, and jungles. But what stories are steeped into the scenery, monuments, artistic wonders? Let’s travel back in time!

1768 marked the beginning of the Kingdom of Nepal, but wars disrupted the unified territories. Nepal lost some territories in the Sino-Nepalese War, and then there was the Anglo-Nepalese War. In 2006, Nepal decided to abolish the monarchy, and it became a federal republic in 2008. This ended the reign of the Shah monarchs, who had reigned for a whopping 200 years.

Nepal seems to have many ties with the word ‘multi.’ It is multiracial, multicultural, struts multiple religions and languages. The multi-ness adds stories to the wealth of culture and outdoorsy adventure opportunities sprawled across Nepal.

And when we say multilingual, we really mean it. Nepal boasts 123 languages (and a more recent count says 129). But don’t worry about memorizing all 123 (or 129) languages. Most people in Nepal speak Nepali, with Maithili taking second place. In 2007, 57% spoke Nepali as their mother tongue.

As for religion, Nepal’s primary beliefs point to Hinduism and Buddhism. While the main religion is Hinduism, Buddha was also born here, making Buddhism an influential part of Nepali culture.

Nepal stretches across 147, 181 sq km—it is approximately nine times smaller than Canada, but you won’t feel congested when you’re exploring this country. You can always find spots to listen to the hums of the wild deep in the Himalayas or outside of the lively, exciting Kathmandu or Pokhara. These two towns are where backpackers tend to flock to kickstart their venture into Nepal’s wonders! (And then they will likely return later on to experience more of this fascinating country—this is a place that you can continue to come back to and feel like you’re exploring a brand new country.) The 28-million population is evenly spread across the country, too, helping the small space to feel larger than it is.

It is also a landlocked country, nestled between India and Tibet in South Asia!

Well, now that we’ve got the history and logistics covered, let’s get into the fun stuff: where to go for the best adventures in Nepal!

Pokhara harbour boat docks at sunset in Nepal

Pokhara harbour boat docks at sunset in Nepal

Best Destinations in Nepal

When you’ve listed Everest as one of the best regions in a country, you know this country will boast of an adventure playground tailor-made for outdoor extremists. But Everest isn’t the only marvel attracting people to the ever-so-diverse Nepal. The bustling, unique atmosphere intertwined with art pieces, temples, and palaces set to a Himalayan backdrop make cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara a great place for travellers wanting to breathe in the mountain air without spending too much time in secluded, rugged areas at a high elevation.

Like we said before, families, backpackers, and adrenaline junkies will find a destination and activity that suits their travel style. Take a look at the following best destinations in Nepal to help guide your trip.

Kathmandu

The mirage of timeless wonders jetting across Kathmandu’s vibrant, busy streets is enough to keep anyone entertained. Experience the medieval temples decorating this fantastic city, but don’t let the architecture and culture intoxicate you too heavily—the rest of the country is definitely worth exploring, too!

Pokhara

Pokhara embodies Kathmandu’s fun vibes while also granting a chance to escape the noise and relax lakeside. This is a popular spot for trekkers embarking on any of the treks winding into the Annapurna range. Nothing beats the image of the snow-tinged mountains towering behind the lake, peppered with colourful canoes.

Chitwan National Park

Experience Nepal’s phenomenal wildlife in Chitwan National Park! A safari here will likely introduce you to one-horned rhinos, monkeys, deer, and many birds. If you’re lucky, a sloth bear, leopard, an elephant may emerge. Meanwhile, the super lucky ones could even spot the regal Bengal tiger!

Annapurna Region

The Annapurna Region offers world-class treks (no exaggeration) tailor-made for avid hikers seeking some of the most incredible views sweeping the globe. Most of the hikes diving deep into this region start within a couple of hours of Pokhara!

Swayambhunath stupa Buddhist Monkey Temple Nepal

Swayambhunath stupa Buddhist Monkey Temple Nepal

Langtang Region

Continuing with the theme of epic mountainous regions, the Langtang Region, where a set of treks attract fewer crowds than Annapurna or Everest, but still boasts unreal otherworldly scenery. A great trek to consider is the Tamang Heritage Trail, which grants the chance to stay in quaint Tamang villages en route. This region is also close to Kathmandu!

Everest Region

We don’t need to spend a lot of time here, do we? Mount Everest is probably the most well-known mountain in the world. And the trek to Everest Base Camp is a high-end bucket list item for many, many people. However, despite what you may believe, this famous trek is littered with lodges, providing the option to rest your legs after almost every hour of hiking. Don’t let yourself think that the collection of lodges makes it any easier, though. The high altitude can be dangerous, and it’s essential to train beforehand (well, this is something you should do before any backpacking or trekking adventure!).

Do note that hiking to Everest Base Camp is not the same as trekking to the top of Mount Everest.

Nagarkot

Located in central Nepal, Nagarkot is a scenic hill town that unveils a cinematic-like experience of the Himalayas. On clear days, you have the potential of viewing eight ranges: Annapurna, Rolwaling, Manaslu, Langtang, Ganesh Himal, Jugal, Numbur, and Everest.

Best Things to do in Nepal

Nothing beats adventures in Nepal! From trekking in the Himalayas to rafting roaring rivers to the ever-rapid increase in mountain biking, Nepal is a magical place for anyone obsessed with rugged, unmatched explorations that are a level above any other place in the world. Take a look at the best things to do in Nepal, pick your favourite, and start planning your trip around it!

Trekking in Nepal

Nepal is most famous for its unbelievable treks—and for good reason. Nothing beats the sun illuminating the sweeping mountain scenery during golden hour or the wonder of meandering alpine meadows, glaciers, Hindu temples under the watchful eye of the intimidating peaks soaring above. Beware, though. As you’ve probably guessed, the elevation is super high, requiring you to monitor yourself for altitude sickness!

Some of the most popular treks in Nepal worth adding to your bucket list are:

  • Annapurna Base Trek—115.0 km, 4,100 m elevation gain, and give yourself at least 7 days to complete this one
  • Everest Base Camp Trek—128.7 km, 2,902 m elevation gain, and allow a minimum of 12 days to complete this trek
  • Gokyo Lakes Trek—92.0 km, 2,497 m elevation gain and this one usually takes around 10 days to complete (minimum)
  • Poon Hill Trek—40.0 km (most common route), 2,197 m elevation gain, and space out a minimum of 3 days to complete this trek
  • Langtang Trek—120.0 km, 2,393 m elevation gain, and allows 7 days minimum to finish this trek

Discover more details about these treks (including why they’re so great) and learn about other fantastic treks by reading the Ultimate Guide to Nepal’s Best Trekking Adventures!

Colourful flags at the summit

Colourful flags at the summit

Day hikes in Nepal

If you’d rather space out your time in Nepal with various activities, day hiking may be a great adventure option for you. Luckily, you’ll find a range of hikes—fluctuating between easy and difficult—across Kathmandu Valley! Okay, honestly, you won’t find many easy walks around the area, but there’s one worth noting: the 11.8 km Bosan Hike. This one sits along the outskirts of southern Kathmandu.

One of the best day hikes in the area is the 17.8 km Dahachowk Hike. If you want to get away from the bustle of Kathmandu and immerse in nature for an extended period while catching views of the Himalayas (on a clear day), this hike is for you.

Those seeking a long and super challenging hike will want to try the Shivapuri Hike, which can take around 8-10 hours to complete. But the scenery from Shivapuri Peak will force your jaw to drop, followed by an intense revelling in the views over the Langtang Range.

This link highlights more hikes in Kathmandu Valley!

Rafting in Nepal

Nepal doesn’t cheap out on adrenaline-rushing experiences.

You’ll find single-day rafting adventures from Kathmandu along the Trisuli River or Pokhara along the Seti River. But you can really get in the spirit of the outdoors with a multi-day trip down the Kali Gandaki River, which snakes through the deepest gorge on Earth. Talk about epic! You can access this river from Pokhara as well. For a more extended trip, take on the Sun Kosi River, where dreamy camping spots await along golden shorelines.

You’ll find unbelievable kayaking opportunities as well in Nepal!

Mountain biking and cycling in Nepal

Mountain biking and cycling are on the rise in Nepal! While most people flock here for treks, mountain biking has experienced a recent surge in popularity. Those wanting to stick to Kathmandu Valley will find a collection of trails carved across the hills flanking the valley! The 25.5 km Mudkhu to Tokha Mountain Biking Trail is a great route to get started. Beginners with some saved-up stamina will love this route in Kathmandu, which blends culture, single tracks, and pavement. Many of the mountain biking trails in Kathmandu Valley offer a fantastic mixture of incredible scenery and glimpses of culture.

A fun bike tour-type option is the 7-10 cycle from Pokhara to Kathmandu. Stay in charming guesthouses along the way!

Other thrilling options include cycling the Annapurna Circuit (usually takes 11 or more days) and the Lower Everest Region (5 or more days).

Elephant ride and safari wildlife viewing in Chitwan National Park Nepal

Elephant ride and safari wildlife viewing in Chitwan National Park Nepal

Great Adventure Trips in Nepal

Time for the fun part: sifting through adventure trips in Nepal! Perhaps, one or more of the following pre-planned tours in Nepal will stand out to you, granting you a chance to head to this exceptional country without worrying about booking hotels, getting lost on trails, or missing out on incredible views. If pre-planned tours aren’t your thing, take a moment to check out the following—they could inspire your self-created itinerary.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: The 16-day Annapurna Base Camp Trek takes you to the ultimate surreal experience at the pinnacle: standing amidst panoramic views of exalted mountains, shimmering in superiority. This guided trek traverses rhododendron forests and jungles by day while leading you to cozy lodges, where your feet can relax below the glow of the stars.

Best of Nepal Family Tour: The most amazing part of the guided 15-day Best of Nepal Family Tour is that you can customize it to cater to the ages and abilities of your family! This multi-sport adventure tour will take your family rafting, on a flight to view Mount Everest from up close, to Chitwan National Park, where you can witness the animals roaming their natural habitat, on a boat ride in Pokhara, and age-friendly trekking adventures.

Everest Base Camp Trek: Reach the base camp of the tallest mountain on Earth on the 17-day Mount Everest Base Camp Trek! This guided trekking adventure will not only have you revelling in the phenomenal Himalayan mountain scenery but will also introduce you to Sherpa villages!

Kathmandu Valley Bike Tour: Experience the bustle of Kathmandu before riding beyond the vibrancy and eccentricities cloaking Nepal’s biggest city into the more peaceful but equally as wonder-inducing Kathmandu Valley. Experience a myriad of cultures and natural beauty along this guided 9-day cycling tour!

Langtang Trek: If one word could describe the 12-day guided Langtang Trek, it would be colourful. This tour packs a punch when it comes to squeezing in as much scenery and culture as possible. Outside of your six days of trekking—where you’ll stay in Sherpa villages—you’ll spend time exploring Kathmandu.

Everest Base Camp Trail Khumjung Nepal

Everest Base Camp Trail Khumjung Nepal

Nepal’s Outdoors

It’s almost impossible to go to Nepal without dropping your jaw at the expansive scenery unfolding in front of you! The Himalayan range sweeping this South Asian country elevates the imagery to the next level, but the lakes, roaring rivers, and undulating valleys give Nepal an incredibly scenic base! Nepal’s outdoors are a marvel worth venturing into.

Nepal’s geography

The easiest way to describe Nepal’s geography is to split this country into three regions: the Terai region, mid-hill region, and Himalayan region. In the Terai region, you’ll find lush grasslands and sal forests, and of course, intimidating mountains in the Himalayan range. The mid-hill area sits between the Himalayas and the Terai region.

Plus, 6,000 rivers carve through Nepal’s undulating landscape.

Nepal is also landlocked between China and India!

Wildlife

The wildlife roaming Nepal fall into either a common or protected category. The common species are spotted deer, Himalayan tahr, blue sheep, and more. However, the protected animals are the most exotic. These animals include the Asiatic elephant, Bengal tiger, one-horned rhino, Himalayan brown bear, red panda, snow leopard, and some bird species: black stork, giant hornbill, white stork and more. There are 23 protected areas in Nepal!

Fishtail Mountain Pokhara City Mountain Of Nepal

Fishtail Mountain Pokhara City Mountain Of Nepal

Nepal Travel Costs

If you’re travelling from a Western nation, you’ll find the prices in Nepal to be quite reasonable! The currency they use is a Nepalese Rupee (NR). One Canadian dollar is equivalent to 95.85 NR’s. Not sure what this even means? Take a look at the relative travel costs below for some insight!

Most of the numbers below were taken from the Cost of Living in Kathmandu page on Numbeo.

Food and drink

Don’t expect to dish out a lot of money for food and drinks! A meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs 250 N₨ (2.60 CAD). Going on a date with a friend or your partner? A three-course dinner at a mid-range restaurant will have you handing over around 2,000 NRs (20 CAD). Add a beer to your meal for 300 NRs (3 CAD), and you’re good to go!

Transportation

You’ll find a range of transportation options around Nepal, from public buses to rickshaws to taxis, as well as tourist buses for longer distances. The cost of transportation, including taxis, is relatively cheap as well! A one-way ticket for local transport costs 20 NRs (0.2 CAD), and the starting tariff for a taxi is 300 NRs (3 CAD) and 1km of driving racks up to 75 NRs (0.78 CAD). Times this by 20.0 km, and your ride will cost around 1500 NRs (15.65 CAD). Not bad for a taxi ride, right? Especially when you think about the cost of riding 20.0 km in a taxi in London. Yikes!

Accommodation

Most accommodation prices in Nepal follow a similar theme to the transportation and food costs: it’s reasonable. One night in a hostel or inexpensive hotel averages around 1,490 NR (14.7 CAD) across the country. However, if you’re looking to stay in more upscale places, you will have to dish out a lot more money. For example, a night at Shangrila Village Resort in Pokhara costs around $75-90 CAD a night!

Nepal Travel Safety

Nepal is relatively safe to visit! Most tourists leave this welcoming, friendly country unscathed. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise caution when walking around at night or in the more tourist-centric areas, such as Thamel, Kupondol, and Sanepa in Kathmandu. Keep your stuff close, especially in airports and on buses, as you may be subject to pickpockets.

Giant Buddha and god statue monuments at temple in Kathmandu Nepal

Giant Buddha and god statue monuments at temple in Kathmandu Nepal

Best Time to Visit Nepal

The best time to visit Nepal is between October and December when the skies are clear, opening up the country to unbelievable, crisp views. Just think about uninterrupted Himalayan vistas! The dry season in Nepal lasts from October until May, but the temperatures drop quite a bit in January and February.

Best Ways To Get Around Nepal

Let’s start with the best ways to explore the bustling, vibrant streets lining Kathmandu, which is where most of you will likely spend time at some point along your travels in Nepal. Most tourists opt to meander through Kathmandu on foot, but if you’re tired of walking, there’s always a cycle rickshaw. Be sure to negotiate the price before you go, though. An additional 10% tip on top of that original price is always appreciated as well! Taxis are also another option for getting around Kathmandu. They rarely use a meter, so it’s best to agree on a set price before you hop in the car like you would with a rickshaw driver. All taxis should have a taxi sign!

Public buses and auto-rickshaws can take from the city to the suburbs in Kathmandu and nearby villages. The buses stop a lot, so you may find taxis a more efficient way to travel to and from these areas.

The best way to get around Nepal for longer distances is via a tourist bus, which tends to be safer and comfier than local buses. Both locals and tourists take the tourist bus!

Then there are also plane rides to the mountainous regions. However, it is recommended to leave a few buffer days as cancellations can happen on a whim. Don’t book a flight back from a trek the day before you have to leave the country. You may not make it back in time if poor weather prompts a cancelled flight.

Hiker sitting by aqua water Gokyo Lakes trek Nepal

Hiker sitting by aqua water Gokyo Lakes trek Nepal

Best Places to Stay in Nepal

When the sun dips after twisting along trails spanning Kathmandu Valley or tucked up high somewhere in the Annapurna region or after immersing in the liveliness lining city streets, you’ll want a decent place to kick back, relax, and rest up for the following day of activities. Thankfully, when it comes to the best places to stay in Nepal, you’ll find a spectrum of options that cater to all types of travellers and budgets.

Kathmandu boasts a ton of hostels and comfortable spots for backpackers, such as Sara’s Backpackers and Hotel Silver Home. Hostelworld.com is your best bet for finding amazing accommodation deals across the country!

Nepal also has eight classic hotel chains that may sound familiar to you (and grant some familiarity in a foreign country). Some of these include Holiday Inn, Marriott, and Hyatt Regency.

Amp up the swankiness by staying in one of the 5-star heritage hotels dotting this vast country! Revel in a unique swirl of luxury and historic tales harking back to centuries ago in the Yak & Yeti. Or, bask in Nepal’s surrounding hills, draped in greenery, while stepping back in time at The Old Inn, Bandipur.

Useful Travel Tools

While we’ve touched on some useful travel tools and websites, we think it’s a good idea to compile them in one spot, making it easy for you to come back to this section if you’re ever wondering where to book accommodation, flights, and find the best outdoorsy gear.

To Book Accommodation

Book accommodation that fits your budget with the following websites:

Discover bed and breakfast spots that cater to your travel style on vrbo.com.

Himalayas view from Nagarkot Nepal

Himalayas view from Nagarkot Nepal

To Book Flights

The websites below scan other websites for unreal deals:

To Get Gear

Find outdoor equipment, clothes, boots, and more that will keep you comfy in the mountains:

Other Useful Travel Services

A helpful travel service for Americans and Canadians travelling to Nepal is Airportparkingreservations.com. This resource finds great deals and places to park your car during your trip.

Visa Requirements When Travelling to Nepal

You can obtain a visa upon arrival when entering Nepal! Just make sure you have a free page in your passport and that it’s valid for at least six more months. A tourist visa requires fees, so you should definitely carry USD with you! A 15-day visa costs 30 USD, staying 30 days will have you dishing out 50 USD, and 90 days requires you to pay 125 USD.

*Double-check the visa requirements before you travel, as rules for getting into any country are subject to change on a whim.

Smiling local woman in Kathmandu market Nepal

Smiling local woman in Kathmandu market Nepal

Interesting Facts About Nepal

It’s always fun to know something about the country you’re travelling to, right? Brush up on some of Nepal’s most interesting facts and impress the locals with what you know (and ask them to fill you in on some more fascinating things about their country!).

  1. Nepal is the only country with a flag that’s non-quadrilateral in shape! The two-triangle shape represents Hinduism and Buddhism. But that’s not all! They also signify the Himalayas.
  2. A traditional way to greet and say goodbye in Nepal is by saying, “Namaste.”
  3. Nepali time is based on Mt. Everest and not regular time zone times. Weird (and cool)!.
  4. You’ll find a lot of cows in Nepal as Hindus see them as sacred.
  5. Nepal has around 900 species of birds! People often refer to Nepal as the Amazon of Asia.
  6. Kathmandu Valley boasts 7 UNESCO World Heritage Cultural sites within 15km.
  7. Listen up, trekkers! Nepal has 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world.
  8. Buddha (Siddhartha Gautam) was born in Nepal in 623 BC.
  9. And the fascination continues...Nepal has the only living goddess in the world: Kumari.
  10. Some say they’ve spotted the Yeti roaming the Himalayas—(it’s probably best to take this fact with a grain of salt.)

Frequently Asked Questions About Nepal

Learn more Nepal travel tips by reading the frequently asked questions below:

Is Nepal a part of India?

Nepal is neighbours with India, but it is not a part of India. It is a landlocked country located between Tibet and India.

Is Nepal a poor country?

While Nepal is one of the most stunning and vibrant countries globally, it is also relatively poor. Around 25.2% of the people live under the poverty line.

Yak on the way to upper view point mardi base camp Everest Nepal

Yak on the way to upper view point mardi base camp Everest Nepal

What should I avoid in Nepal?

There are a few things to avoid doing in Nepal, such as avoiding giving money to beggars as most of the population is poor. You don't want people to start relying on tourists to dish out cash (be nice, though), getting in the way of a yak as they aren't super aware of their surroundings and could injure you, leaving tourist zones when it's dark, wearing provocative clothing, and taking pictures of people without consent.

What are Nepal's traditional dishes?

In Nepal, a staple dish is Daal bhat tarkari, which is vegetables, curry, and rice fused with lentils and spices. Another popular dish is Momo, a type of dumpling made with buffalo meat. Speaking of meat, don't expect to eat beef here, and if you do, do so in private! If you're craving pizza, chatamari is the ethnic version! Made with a rice flour crust topped with minced meat, vegetables, and eggs, this is the ultimate healthy pizza.

We hope you enjoyed reading this ultimate Nepal adventure travel guide. Happy travels!