Overall score (Dan) = C-
Overall score (Jocelyn) = D
Total days = 6 nights, 7 days
Total cost = $914
Cost per day = $131 / day
Flight costs = $170 one-way from Delhi
Cities visited: Pokhara, Kathmandu (trekked through three small villages)
Nepal quickly jumped to one of our favorite countries we’ve visited on the entire trip even though most of our time was spent trekking. We flew from Delhi to Kathmandu and caught another flight to Pokhara which is the second largest city in the country – where we stayed one night before starting our four day, three night trek through the Himalayan foothills and Nepal countryside.
Some of our love from Nepal might have come from relief after visiting India, but more likely it was the incredible views, great food, and lovely people that won us over. Our time in Nepal was short, but it’s high on our list of countries we’d like to revisit.
How far does your money go in Nepal?
Nepal’s Rupee is pegged to the Indian Rupee which means they’ve been severely hit by the major decline in the Indian Rupee. Nepal is already one of the cheapest countries in the world, and with the added strength of our currency, it was even more so. When we visited, $1 US dollar equaled roughly 100 Nepalese Rupee.
Here are our per day spending highlights:
Excursion = $49 / day
Transportation = $46 / day
Souvenirs = $14 / day
Total hotel points used = Zero
Our per day spending was a little wacky because our “excursions” included our lodging and food during our four day trek.
We didn’t climb Mt. Everest, but we did trek around the foothills of some of the other biggest mountains in the world – after all, Nepal is home to eight of the ten tallest mountain in the worlds! Our biggest decision was whether to trek the “Poon Hill Trek” which is a tourist favorite thanks to Lonely Planet, or to take our hotel manager’s advice and trek the “Panchase Trek” which he said had similar views, but offered much more as far as culture and experiencing how the locals live. We were somewhat reluctant because we had never heard of it, but in the end we took his advice and were happy we did.
Since we visited Nepal in monsoon season, our likelihood of great mountain views was pretty low due to mostly cloudy conditions, but luckily each morning we had a great view of the mountains. In addition, the Panchase trek took us through very small villages where we stayed in small guesthouses, ate with the locals who cooked our food, and allowed us to live like them.
One of our favorite moments on the trip happened in one of these small villages after our tour guide got in a small “scuffle” with the guest house owner who failed to prepare our breakfast for our early morning start. Because of this, our guide called a friend who lived in the next village down to see if their family could make us breakfast. After an hour of hiking, we entered into their very small village of 5-6 homes, and met the family who was making our food. They didn’t speak any English, but they were the most welcoming people we’ve ever met, and the lady was overjoyed at the hard work she put into preparing our simple but delicious breakfast of potato curry and bread as we ate it on the mud floor of their 200 year old adobe house. It was very cool.
In total, we trekked around 65km over mountainous terrain that was easily navigated over the rock steps which have been around for centuries. Trekking in nepal was even more rewarding than what he thought it might be.
Even though Nepal is one of the cheaper countries we visited, our per day spending was much higher at $131/day because of the short duration of the trip combined with the flights between Kathmandu and Pokhara. It’s a place backpackers could do on $15/day, but we had no time to waste so our spending was much higher.
Much like some of the other “off the beaten path” places we visited such as Laos and Myanmar, the hotels and lodging weren’t up to par with some of the more traveled countries. This was especially true in Kathmandu where our highly rated hotel ended up being pretty crappy.
We also were talked into spending more on our four day Panchase trek than what we needed to. Our hotel manager talked us into doing the “full board” option of $80/day ($40 per person) instead of paying as we went – which we learned would’ve been much cheaper as the guest houses we stayed the night in were only $5-$6 US per night! We probably spent $25 more per day than what we needed, but we were ok with it as it was nice to have everything pre-arranged.
Kathmandu is the only city I had heard of before in Nepal before I started researching our trip. It turns out that it’s the biggest city with over three million people, and it’s almost one of the least Nepal-like cities anywhere in the country! It has grown drastically over the last decade and locals don’t necessarily love the dirty, traffic-filled city it has become. With the influx of immigrants from neighboring countries has come beggars, thieves, and hard charging touts which Nepal was never previously known for. We spent one day in Kathmandu and I think that was about enough.
In conclusion, maybe it was because our expectations were beat down after India, but Nepal proved to be exactly what we needed to recharge us for our next couple of months of travel.
Next up: China