I spent longer planning my trip to Nepal than probably any other. My cousin and I talked about it for years and even bought plane tickets ten months out. This was a well-planned two week trip. And after years of planning and my time there, I don’t think I would make any drastic changes to our itinerary. I think we got it right. Now don’t get me wrong, if I had more time, I would have spent a couple of more days in the Katmandu Valley and definitely more time trekking. But for two weeks, I recommend the following schedule:
4 days in Katmandu Valley with at least half day in Thamel, half day in Katmandu’s Durbar Square, Monkey temple, half day in Patan Durbar Square and half day in Bhaktapur.
3 days in Chitwan National Park. You can drive or fly to the park from Katmandu. Door to door it is probably about the same amount of time. We chose to drive in order to see the scenery. If you get car sick, it is a rough trip. But the Katmandu airport is up there with one of my least favorite in the world, so I would probably chose to drive again.
5 days trekking and in Pokhara. I didn’t love Pokhara but I loved the trekking!
I will write more in the coming weeks about each of the above locations, but here are some overall impressions of Nepal!
The Katmandu airport is a mess. I flew through several times both domestically and internationally and it never got “better.” It is busy and unorganized. At times there was nowhere to sit. It was hard to hear when flights were leaving. There are people everywhere. When leaving internationally, there are two lines (A and B) but the lines are so long it is hard to see which one you need.
Get your visa online prior to arrival. This will save you at least an hour and one extra line at immigration. Get off the bus and walk to immigration as quickly as possible. If you have your visa, go to the windows immediately to the left. You can then go through immigration.
As always, I recommend Klook from the airport.
There is an ATM at the airport after you leave the building along the right hand side of the wall. When I arrived the first time, the crowds were so thick I couldn’t get through. Don’t worry, there are plenty of ATMs in the city and if you booked Klook you are pre-paid.
I feel in love with both Masala tea and Dhal Bat. Nepal is probably the easiest place I have ever been to be a vegetarian. There are plenty of meat options but at most places it is probably 50 / 50. There is also lots of Italian (as well as other cuisine) options for when you are tired of Dhal Bat and just needs some carbs!
I was going on to Tibet after Nepal and had to leave my passport in Katmandu for my visa. I was extremely worried even though I was told by multiple sources I would not need my passport for domestic travel in Nepal. They were right. I never had a problem. Just make sure you have a copy.
Everyone spoke English.
Bring toilet paper. Even where it was provided, Nepal has the smallest rolls of toilet paper ever.
Both electricity and hot water were fickle across the country. Bring chargers for your electronics.
Plan on stairs. I did not see a single elevator in two weeks.
For large expenditures, everyone took US dollars. However, they needed to be new (after 2013), crisp and with no marks or tears.
Everything has a 10% service fee and 13% VAT added to it.
Must pack: chargers for your electronics, a small first aid kit, water filter, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and a book.
I was there with four friends and we had mixed feelings about Nepal. Two say they are glad they came but have no need to return. Two would return if they had unlimited time and money. When surveying our group Chitwan hit everyone’s top three list of things we did. Additionally, for the three of us that got up early to see the sunrise at Sarangkot outside of Pokhara it was a favorite.
I plan to return regardless. I would like to do a much longer trek in the Annapurna range. I’d like to do some Yoga, take a singing bowl class, and learn to Thangka paint.