Boudhanath Stupa Travel Information Nepal

5 things not to miss in Kathmandu

  1. Visit Boudhanath Stupa

    The best time to visit Boudhanath is in the late afternoon when pilgrims come to circumambulate the stupa.  Buddhist holidays are a great time to check out Boudhanath, otherwise a full moon is also good. Finally, if you can’t make it on a holiday or full moon, then try to go late afternoon on Sunday when you’ll see circumambulating pilgrims and pilgrims lighting butter lamps in the courtyard around the stupa.

  2. Wander the markets and backstreets between Thamel and Durbar Square

    Head south from Thamel and follow your own curiosity, with no particular route in mind. Put away your map and smart phone and just get lost for a bit and see what you discover.

  3. People watch in Durbar Square

    Sit on the steps of one the many temples and watch the tourists, pilgrims, vendors, and locals go about their business.

  4. Climb the steps to Swayambhunath (aka “The Monkey Temple”)

    Visit Swayambhunath temple, a temple complex and stupa atop hill overlooking Kathmandu, the fearless monkey who inhabit the area around the temple give the Swayambhunath it’s more colloquial name “The Monkey Temple.”  Try to visit in the early morning or the late afternoon for the best light and views.

  5. Contemplate life and death at Pashupatinath

    Walk around the compound along the perimeter wall. From the main gate on the left, follow the road running south till you come to a footbridge that takes you across the Bagmati River. You will approach the Eastern Ghats from the south where you will see sadhus lounging in the Shiva shrines. Walk through the footpath along the western edge of Deer Park, and you will come to a terrace with benches overlooking Pashputinath Temple and the Cremation Ghats. Rest and marvel at the sight.

 

Teahouse Rolwaling Trek Travel Information Nepal

Teahouses & Trekking Lodges in Nepal

Thanks to the network of lodges (teahouses) operating throughout Nepal, it is possible to do many treks without taking your own camping gear or food. Ultra-minimalist trekkers can easily make do with little more than a day pack.  Typically, lodges have rooms with two basic single beds.  There is usually a central dining area with a stove or some other form of heat.  There is typically no heat in in the rooms, so most trekkers carry their own sleeping bags or hire porters to carry them.  Bathrooms are also shared, although some lodges in the Everest Base Camp Region and the Annapurna Region have rooms with attached bathrooms.

The business model for lodges is to make most of their money off of the food, so you are generally required to eat in the lodge where you stay.  The room charges are usually minimal compared with the price of food and beverages. Budget the equivalent of $25-$30 per day per person on food and lodging. Also, expect to spend a little more on the most popular trails and a little less on the least popular trails.  The prices also increase the further up the trail you get, and the further away from a road head.

The quality the lodges vary depending roughly on the popularity of the trek.

Shops

Lodges usually have small shops where you can buy snacks, toilet paper, and other odds and ends.  Prices will obviously be higher than what you’d  pay in Kathmandu.

Small teahouse shop on Rolwaling Trek
Small teahouse shop on Rolwaling Trek

Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Treks

view treks

It is no surprise that with the long history of climbing expeditions and trekking, this region has some of the most comfortable lodges in Nepal.  In Namche Bazaar, there are lodges that are more like hotels than trekking lodges and some with attached hot water showers and bathrooms.  This is also where you will pay more for more comfortable rooms. You are not always required to eat in your lodge, but make sure this is understood when you negotiate the price at the beginning.  Higher up, the lodges get more basic but are still pretty good quality.  During high season, there can be a shortage of rooms at Lobuche and Gorak Shep.  You will always be able to find a roof over your head but if you arrive late you may find you will need to sleep in the dining area.  It pays to get started early, and if you have a porter send them ahead to reserve a room.  Unfortunately, calling ahead and booking is not reliable as lodge owners generally allocate rooms on first come first serve basis except for large groups from repeat business tour operators.

Everest Lodges at a Glance

  • Price: above average (closer to $30 per day for food & lodging but frugal trekkers could still manage $25)
  • Quality: high
  • Food: extensive menus
  • Room supply: Lobuche & Gorak Shep have occasional room supply issues
View of Everest from room in a lodge in Dingboche. After a long day of walking kick up your feet grab a beer and enjoy the view.

Annapurna Circuit

view treks

The other trekking destination with a long history of trekking in Nepal, like the Everest region the lodges in this region are very well equipped.  Many have solar hot water showers. With the increase of roads in the region it has also become easier to get supplies.  There are plenty of rooms these days so it is unlikely you would have a problem finding a room at any of the locations along the trek.

Room at the Kalopani Guest House Room at the Kalopani Guest House along the Annapurna Circuit (photo credit: John Pavelka)

 

Annapurna Circuit Lodges at a Glance

  • Price: average (about $25 per day for food and lodging)
  • Quality: high
  • Food: extensive menus
  • Room supply: usually enough

 

Annapurna Sanctuary (Base Camp) Trek

Another longtime favorite trekking destination this trek also has very high quality lodges, however because of its popularity and because it’s an out and back trek lodges can get very busy during the high season.  The lodges at Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) often fill up during peak season (October-November).

Annapurna Sanctuary (Base Camp) Lodges at a Glance

  • Price: average (about $25 per day for food and lodging)
  • Quality: high
  • Food: extensive menus
  • Room supply: Rooms can fill up during peak season especially at ABC

 

Poon Hill Trek

Probably the most popular short trek in Nepal.  The lodges are of high quality and there are lots of them however during high season there are also lots of trekkers so lodges can fill up during peak season (October-November).

Poon Hill Lodges at a Glance

  • Price: average (about $25 per day for food and lodging)
  • Quality: high
  • Food: extensive menus
  • Room supply: Rooms can fill up during peak season especially at Ghorepani.

 

 

Langtang Valley and Gosaikunda Treks

The Langtang region was decimated by the 2015 Earthquake, however the lodges have been rebuilt and the trekking industry which is the primary economy of the region is back, and the lodges have been rebuilt.

Langtang Lodges at a Glance

  • Price: average (about $25 per day for food and lodging)
  • Quality: high
  • Food: extensive menus
  • Room supply: usually enough

 

Around Manaslu Trek

This trek has been gaining popularity faster than the lodge infrastructure has kept up.  With the increased roads along the Annapurna Circuit, Around Manaslu is quickly becoming the regions new “epic trek.”  The lodges are generally quite a bit more basic than you find in the Annapurna region.  Despite the lacking amenities the prices are not much cheaper than they are on the Annapurna Circuit.  If you are trekking in peak season you may not have to be content with lesser lodges as some of the ‘best’ lodges may be booked up with large high paying large international groups. As always it pays to get on the trail early arriving early is the best way to secure a good room.

Manaslu Lodges at a Glance

  • Price: average (about $25 per day for food and lodging)
  • Quality: medium
  • Food: menus vary in extent and quality
  • Room supply: can be tight during peak season at the most desirable lodges

 

Lodge Kitchen

Tsum Valley

This off the beaten track trek is an offshoot of the Around Manaslu Trek.  While the Around Manaslu trek’s popularity is increasing this region still feels remote and sees far fewer trekkers.  The ‘lodges’ in this region feel more like homestays or at times basic rooms in monasteries.  The food is basic, expect dhal bat (lentils and rice) or noodles, outhouses are the only toilets, and some places do not have running water.

 

Tsum Valley Accommodation at a Glance

  • Price: below average about $20 per day for food and lodging
  • Quality: basic (homestays)
  • Food: basic
  • Room supply: basic rooms are usually available
A very basic outhouse toilet.

 

Rolwaling Valley

This off the beaten track region of the Gaurishankar Conservation Area is most often used by camping expeditions entering the Khumbu (Everest Region) via the mountaineering pass, Tashi Laptsa.  It is also a great off the beaten track teahouse trekking destination in its own right.  Perhaps because many of the groups that pass this way camp and because it’s still a rather little known as trekking destination, the lodges are basic, with all of the lodges having outhouse style toilets.  There are only one or two lodges at each overnight spot but since there are usually very few trekkers on the trail there is usually plenty of available rooms during all seasons.  There is also a basic shelter at Yalung Ri Base Camp but no one staying there permanently.

Sign advertising a bucket hot shower at a lodge in the Rolwaling Valley

Rolwaling Accommodation at a Glance

  • Price: below average about $20 per day for food and lodging
  • Quality: medium to basic
  • Food: limited menus
  • Room supply: rooms are usually available despite few lodges.
Travel Information Nepal

ATMs and Changing Money in Nepal

ATMs

Many ATMs accept foreign cards throughout the major cities of Nepal, including Kathmandu and Pokhara, and at the international airport.  However, most banks usually limit the amount of currency that can be taken out in 24 hours. Check with your bank to see what your limit is. Please keep in mind that if you are going for a trek and planning to rely solely on ATM cards, make sure you have enough time in Kathmandu to get the amount of cash out you need for the entire trek.

Local ATMs have rather low limits of what you can take out per transaction and relatively high fees, usually 500 NPR per transaction (a little under $5 USD).   The highest limits I’ve seen are 35,000 NPR (a little under $350 USD) per transaction.  Taking out the largest possible amount is a way to limit these fees.  You can do multiple transactions up to your home bank’s limit, but you will incur 500 NPR fees on each transaction in addition to any fee your own bank may charge.

Nepal Banks with 35,000 NPR maximum withdrawal on their ATMs

Nabil Bank
view locations in Kathmandu
view locations in Pokhara

Standard Chartered
view locations in Kathmandu
view locations in Pokhara

 

Locations with ATMs or banks on Trekking routes

If you are in a pinch for cash on a trek you may be able to withdraw cash at in these places however they should not be relied upon.  Down network connections, power outages, and the machines running out of cash can render the ATMs useless.

Namche Bazaar (Everest Region)– There are 2 atms operated by Siddhartha Bank in Namche Bazaar as of the last report they only accepted visa debit cards not Maestro/ Mastercard.  There are also 3 banks where money can be changed, the banks are not open on Saturday. 

Jomsom (Annapurna Region)– There is an ATM and two banks in Jomsom.

 

Banks and Money Changers

There are also many money changers in Thamel where you can change US dollars at slightly higher rates, longer hours, and with less bureaucracy than at banks.

Currencies that can be changed in Nepal

  • US Dollar
  • Euro
  • Canadian Dollar
  • Australian Dollar
  • Singapore Dollar
  • Hong Kong Dollar
  • UK Pound Sterling
  • Swiss Franc
  • Japanese Yen
  • Chinese Renminbi (Yuan)
  • Saudi Arabian Riyal
  • Qatari Riyal
  • UAE Dirham
  • Malaysian Ringgit
  • South Korean Won
  • Swedish Krone
  • Danish Krone
  • Kuwaiti Dinar
  • Bahraini Dinar
  • Thai Bhat