Nepal

A land of geographic icons, historic adventurers and monumental landscapes, Nepal sits in the shadow of Everest but shines with myriad treasures. National parks hiding rare wildlife, vibrant cities filled with art and culture and simple villages preserving an ancient way of life make Nepal a constant source of inspiration for curious globetrotters in search of enlightening experiences.

Nepal Tours & Travel

Top holiday deals in Nepal

Departing Days Price USD
12 Sep 2015 Everest Base Camp 15 $1317
27 Sep 2015 Himalayan Teenage Adventure 11 $1691
3 Oct 2015 Experience Nepal 10 $990
17 Oct 2015 Everest Base Camp 15 $1462

All our Nepal trips

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USD $990
CAD $1,024
AUD $1,007
EUR €675
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ZAR R10,072
CHF FR820
Travel from charismatic Kathmandu to some of Nepal’s hidden gems. Explore medieval Bhaktapur, visit the Nuwakot...
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CAD $1,360
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Go trekking in Nepal on an adventure that takes you to Mt Everest Base Camp. Explore the Nepalese Himalayas from...
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Go trekking in Nepal on an adventure that takes you around the Annapurna Circuit. From Kathmandu to Pokhara,...
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Journey around Nepal from Kathmandu to Pokhara and Bandipur, meet the creatures of Chitwan National Park and discover...
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Journey out from Kathmandu to the rugged Himalaya. Follow the footsteps of Hillary up to Everest Base Camp and trek...
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Travel from Beijing to Delhi on this epic 32-day trip. Experience the highlights of China, Nepal and India and be...
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Travel to Nepal and visit Kathmandu for a spectacular Himalayan experience. Trek from Shivapuri to Bhaktapur, meet...
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Travel to India and Nepal on a tour from Delhi to Kathmandu. Visit the Taj Mahal of Agra, the sacred River Ganges,...
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Take a tour of Nepal and India from Kathmandu to Delhi. Visit the birthplace of Buddha at Lumbini, the ghats of...
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Embark on a 16-day Annapurna trekking experience in Nepal. Cross the Himalayas and visit Kathmandu and Pokhara, and...
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Enjoy an adventure travel experience on a round trip from Kathmandu. Tour across the world's highest mountain range,...
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Experience trekking in the Himalayas with an experienced guide and explore the Annapurna Mountains. Along the way,...
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Take a scenic and spiritual tour of China and Tibet. Travel across the top of the world from Beijing to Lhasa, visit...
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Travel to Nepal and visit the Chitwan National Park for a spectacular wildlife experience. Travel from Kathmandu into...
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Travel to Nepal and hike the Annapurnas. Travel from Pokhara to the Modi Valley, trekking to Siklis and Ghalegaun...
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Join Intrepid on the ultimate adventure travel experience in Nepal and India. From Kathmandu, travel into the heart...
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Travel from Kolkata to Kathmandu on this captivating journey through India and Nepal. Visit colourful Kolkata and...
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CAD $1,540
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Travel to India and Nepal on a tour from Delhi to Kathmandu. Visit the Taj Mahal of Agra, the sacred River Ganges,...
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USD $2,700
CAD $3,040
AUD $3,017
EUR €2,055
GBP £1,711
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ZAR R29,389
CHF FR2,444
Travel Overland from Kathmandu to Mumbai and see why India and Nepal are two of the world's most popular off-road...
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Journey around Nepal from Kathmandu to Pokhara and Bandipur, meet the creatures of Chitwan National Park and discover...

Nepal trip reviews

Our Nepal trips score an average of 4.79 out of 5 based on 257 reviews in the last year.

Everest Base Camp, April 2015

Annapurna Explorer, April 2015

Video

Articles on Nepal

Nepal four months on: this is where your donations went

Posted on Fri, 28 Aug 2015

Four months on from the quake, we thought we’d take stock and show you exactly where your money went (you generous travellers, you).

Read more

What was it like to live through the Nepal earthquake? A first-hand account.

Posted on Fri, 21 Aug 2015

How a regular traveller suddenly found himself in the middle of a disaster zone.

Read more

Nepal festival guide: five Himalayan parties you need to see

Posted on Thu, 13 Aug 2015

Time your Nepal trip just right and you could have the ultimate mountain send-off (or welcome back) – we’re talking street dancing, candle lighting, dog worshipping fun (that last one is totally true).

Read more

Annapurna vs Everest. Your definitive trekking guide

Posted on Wed, 12 Aug 2015

It's the choice facing every Nepalese adventurer: Annapurna vs Everest. Whose scene reigns supreme? We've got the definitive guide.

Read more

Transport

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Nepal, you may find yourself travelling by:

Accommodation

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in Nepal you may find yourself staying in a:

About Nepal

At a glance

Capital city: Kathmandu (population 700,000)
Population: 29.5 million
Language: Nepali
Currency: NPR
Time zone: (GMT+05:45) Kathmandu
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin) Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type M (see D)
Dialing code: +977

Best time to visit Nepal

Nepal's climate is primarily temperate, with some tropical and alpine regions. From June until August the monsoon hits, making it too wet and humid for trekking. The post-monsoon period from September to November is rice-harvesting season and is characterised by lush vegetation, clean air and excellent mountain views. Days are warm and sunny, although nights become increasingly cool. This is the start of the trekking season, which runs until May. Winter (December to February) is dry and clear with temperatures dropping below freezing at high altitudes, although in Kathmandu, it can still sometimes reach a pleasant 25 C. Spring (March to May) is warmer and is a particularly beautiful time to visit as the rhododendrons and the orchids are in flower.

Kathmandu weather chart

Culture and customs

Friendly locals in Kathmandu welcome their guests with joy
With more than 30 different ethnic groups and a wide range of religions and language dialects, Nepalese society is rich in diversity. With Indian, Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian influences, Nepalese food, clothing, customs and music vary, depending on what area you're travelling in and what ethnicity people belong to or identify with. Hinduism is the dominant religion, followed by Buddhism. Standing alongside these religions, there are also small populations of people who follow Islam and Christianity. Simultaneously, animist beliefs and belief in spirits is common throughout Nepal, particularly within rural communities. Like India, the caste system exists in Nepal, as does the custom of arranged marriage. As one of the least urbanised countries in the world, life differs greatly between the rural and city-dwelling populations, with rural people largely living a very simple, traditional life - slow-paced, village-based, in connection to their family and local community. Visitors will be charmed by the hospitality of Nepalese people, who are generally very friendly and welcoming of travellers.

Eating and drinking

Traditional Nepalese Curry on bed of Rice

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world. With Tibetan, Chinese and Indian influences, Nepalese food is flavoursome without being too spicy, filling without being rich and reasonably priced for travellers on a budget.

Things to try in Nepal

1. Kothey

These fried or steamed dumplings are usually filled with meat or cheese. Comparable to Tibetan momos, kothey are flavoursome snacks that can usually be bought cheaply from street stalls or markets.

2. Dal

Popular with vegetarians and vegans, this lentil soup is usually served with rice and found almost everywhere in Nepal. A safe yet tasty choice for everyone.

3. Masu

This spiced meat curry will usually consist of chicken, buffalo or mutton, as beef hardly features on the menu in Nepal for religious reasons.

Geography and environment

Nepalese monkey stands protective of youngster
Landlocked Nepal shares borders with China and India and is home to a wide range of landscapes and habitats. Possessing the world's highest mountain, much of Nepal's land is dominated by hills and mountain ranges. Much of the rest of the country is known as the Terai region, characterised by forests, plains, marshes and scrub. While Kathmandu is a busy city with a population of upwardly mobile residents, most of Nepal's people are rural-dwellers, with more than 80% of Nepalese people living in small towns or villages.

History and government

Durbar Square in Nepal bustling during rush hour Landscape view of snow capped Mt Langtang in the morning

Early History

Nepal has been inhabited by people for more than 2,500 years, with evidence suggesting tribes of mountain-dwelling people moved to the area from China and other Central Asian regions. Due to a lack of archaeological evidence, little is known about the early periods of history in Nepal, with legend and folklore providing the backdrop to this kingdom of mystery. Ruled early on by the Kirati Dynasty, Nepal continued to be ruled by a succession of dynasties until the Malla Dynasty emerged in the 12th century. During this time, the kingdom expanded rapidly and widely before evolving into small communities with local rule. By the 15th century many temples and palaces had been built in Nepal, some of which are still in existence either as functioning temples or UNESCO World Heritage sites. The kingdom of Nepal was unified by King Shah in 1768, and went on to sign commercial treaties with Britain in 1792 and 1816 after hostilities with the British East India Company.

Recent History

Nepal held its first elections in 1959, but with the king dissolving parliament and banning political parties soon after, Nepal's monarchy retained power. After decades of pro-democracy movements, Nepal was finally declared a democratic republic in 2008, with Nepal's monarchy being removed from power after ruling for more than 240 years. Nepal celebrated its Year of Tourism in 2011, with arrivals increasing year upon year since 2006 due to increased infrastructure, expansion of air travel and the enduring popularity of the Himalayas and mighty Mount Everest.

Top Picks

Mother carrying child ascends Bhaktapur temple stairs Colourful prayer flags hanging over mountain camps of Langtang

Top 10 Must-Visit Places of Nepal

1. Bhaktapur

This ancient, cultural gem draws people in with temples, grand palaces, colourful festivals, beautiful art and royal history. Walking the car, tuk tuk and rickshaw-free streets is a pleasant change from the electric energy of Kathmandu.

2. Langtang National Park

Featuring everything from tropical rainforest to perennial ice, Langtang National Park is an example of Mother Nature at her most extreme. With so much geographic diversity, it's not wonder you'll be able to spot a menagerie of creatures including red pandas, musk deer, rhesus monkeys and Himalayan black bears. Langtang is simply unmissable!

3. Kathmandu

Nepal's busy capital is an epicentre of trade, tourism and history. Acting as a launching point for international visitors, Kathmandu is a handicrafts hot spot, hippy hangout, travellers' rest stop and artistic enclave all at once.

4. Pokhara

Pretty Pokhara offers travellers attractive vistas, tranquil ambience and views of three of the highest mountains in the world. Lakes, waterfalls and canyons ensure visitors are well rewarded for the effort.

5. Bandipur

The hilltop town of Bandipur was once a very prosperous trading centre, and is now popular with tourists for its old-world charm, quiet atmosphere and nearby national park teeming with wildlife.

6. Royal Chitwan National Park

A conservation success story, this park has managed to preserve one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. Home to one-horned rhinos, wild elephants, hyenas, leopards and more than 450 species of birds, visitors will delight in the thrilling wildlife-spotting opportunities here.

7. Annapurna Range

This popular trekking region can lay claim to some of the most beautifully treacherous peaks in the world. Surrounding valleys of green fields, wildflower-studded meadows and lowland villages just add to the stunning views on offer.

8. Namche Bazaar

Once a trading post, now a popular stopover for Everest trekkers, the small settlement of Namche Bazaar is a fascinating place to spend a few days acclimatising. With yaks, sherpas, small cafes, bakeries and a vibrant weekly market, Namche Bazaar is a microcosm of Everest-life.

9. Nuwakot

Experience an authentic slice of rural Nepal in Nuwakot. Organic farms, lush terraces, fresh mountain air and friendly locals make this idyllic country hideaway a rare find.

10. Everest Base Camp

Sherpas, yaks, travellers, climbers, teahouses and tent villages - nothing beats the electric energy of Everest Base Camp. All have come to either tackle the mighty mountain or stand in its epic wake, either way it's a privilege and the experience of a lifetime.

Shopping

Nepalese Colourful Himalayan prayer flags

Arguably, the most interesting shopping in Nepal can be found in Kathmandu - with its vibrant local artistic community populating the markets and laneway shops with colourful art and handicrafts.

It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring some items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

Things to buy in Nepal

1. Prayer Flags

You don't have to be a spiritual person to appreciate the beauty of vibrant prayer flags. Take some home to inject a bit of Nepal into your home or backyard.

2. Scarves and Wraps

Travellers will be able to find top-quality cashmere in the boutiques and markets of Nepal, so take the chance to stock up on colourful scarves, pashminas and wraps at good prices.

3. Buddhist Art

Beautifully painted, coloured thankas and mandalas are commonly found in the markets and shops of Kathmandu and make a meaningful souvenir to take back home.

Festivals and Events in Nepal

Phalgun Festivals

Kathmandu explodes into a whirlpool of colour, dance, music and rhythm with the annual Phalgun festivals - Losar, Shivaratri and Holi. Expect everything from public bathing ceremonies to people committing extreme feats of weight lifting with their body parts! With Tibetan rice wine flowing and an amazing array of festive food on offer - this is a great time to be in Kathmandu.

Indra Jatra

This eight-day festival held in Kathmandu features ceremonies, dancing and displays of spirituality, but none of these events compare to the spectacle of the third day when Kumari (the living goddess) tours the city streets aboard a chariot. Other popular gods also come out to play and parade, as masked dancers perform in Durbar Square in this exceptional display of local culture.

Mani Rimdu Festival

Offering a rare chance to observe the Sherpa culture of the Everest region, this festival held at Tengboche Monastery features days of meditation cycles, religious ceremonies, masked dances and parades. This holy time for Buddhists sees locals travel by foot to receive blessings en masse against a stunning Himalayan backdrop.

FAQs on Nepal

NEPAL:
All foreign nationals (except Indians) require a visa to enter Nepal. Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport and at some land borders (including borders with India and Tibet).

Getting a visa at the airport can sometimes take time due to long queues. There have been instances when passengers were asked to show return flight tickets. You will also need to provide two passport photos and the following fees in US dollars cash. Other currencies are also accepted although rates may differ. The following costs were correct at time of writing:

- Multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$25
- Multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$40
- Multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$100

Please note if you are staying in Nepal for less than 24 hours while in transit a transit visa can be issued on presentation of your international flight ticket, there is a nominal charge of US$5 and one photo is required.

Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the website www.timeanddate.com to be very useful.
While tipping isn't mandatory in Nepal, it's considered polite to leave service workers in restaurants and cafes a 10% tip if a service charge hasn't already been included in the bill.
Travellers will be able to access the internet in large cities like Kathmandu. Smaller towns, isolated areas and rural villages may have limited to no access, so prepare to disconnect when leaving the city.
Mobile phone coverage is generally good in urban areas, but can be patchy and less reliable in rural and mountainous areas. Ensure global roaming is activated on your phone before you arrive.
Squat toilets are the most common toilets in Nepal. Always carry your own toilet paper and soap or hand sanitiser, as they aren't usually provided.
Cup of tea/chai = 70 NPR
Bottle of beer = 200-300 NPR
Simple lunch = 200 NPR
Simple dinner = 400-500 NPR
It's not recommended to drink the tap water in Nepal. Filtered water is a better option, try to use a refillable canteen or water bottle rather than buying bottled water. Remember to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit before eating.
Credit cards are usually accepted by modern hotels, restaurants and medium-large shops in tourist areas. Smaller shops, cafes, market stalls and places in remote areas probably won’t have facilities that support credit cards, so ensure you have enough cash to cover expenses while in rural areas or when visiting smaller vendors and bazaars.
ATMs can be found in Nepal's large cities. Smaller towns and isolated areas will have very few, or none at all, so have enough cash to cover purchases, as ATM access may not be available.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 30 Martyr's Day
Feb 15 Basant Panchami
Feb 18 Rashtriya Prajatantra Divas (National Democracy Day)
Mar 8 International Women's Day
Mar 10 Maha Shivaratri
Mar 26 Holi
Apr 3 Ghode Jatra (Festival of Horses)
Apr 11 Chaite Dashain
Apr 14 Navabarsha (New Year's Day)
Apr 19 Rama Nawami
May 25 Buddha Jayanti
Aug 28 Krishna Janmashtami
Oct 5 Ghatasthapana
Oct 11 Fulpati Saptami
Oct 12 Maha Ashtami
Oct 13 Maha Navami
Oct 14 Vijaya Dashami
Nov 3 Tihar
Nov 4 Govardhan Puja
Nov 9 Constitution Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. Many Hindu festivals are timed according to local astrological observances so it's difficult to predict specific dates ahead of time. Therefore, some of the dates of the festivals listed above are estimates only. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Nepal/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Nepal Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Nepal

1. Be considerate of Nepal’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.

3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

The Intrepid Foundation

The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.

In Nepal, the Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:

Just One

This relatively small non-government organisation targets disadvantaged children living in dangerous and vulnerable situations on the streets; living with their impoverished families and/or those required to work for a living. They help support access to appropriate educational opportunities, vocational training, and greater stability and security at home.

Image supplied by Just One

Prisoners Assistance Nepal

The children of female prisoners in Nepal are amongst the most vulnerable and socially excluded individuals. PA Nepal helps support the rehabilitation and integration of prisoners’ children, out of prisons and into the community after equipping them with self-sustaining life skills and education.

Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP)

The Kathmandu Environmental Education Project is a non-profit organisation that provides impartial information to ensure the ecological and cultural prosperity of Nepal. Training, workshops and other programs help locals to preserve their precious culture and environment.

Image supplied by Niraj Shrestha.

To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Into Thin AirJon Krakauer
The Snow LeopardPeter Matthiessen
Little PrincesConor Grennan
Arresting God in KathmanduSamrat Upadhyay
Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial SeasonNick Heil