Renowned as a welcoming land of deep spirituality and peaceful mountains, Nepal is a popular destination for solo travel.
Travelling alone in this picturesque pocket of South Asia is generally safe for both men and women, but it’s still worth understanding a few cultural norms, and doing some research to maximise the enjoyment and ease of your trip. Arm yourself with a few resources, a whole lot of curiosity and an open mind, and travelling solo to Nepal could be the pilgrimage of your lifetime.
1. Think about how you get around
Often featuring in round ups of the world’s scariest roads, Nepal can prove exhilarating when moving from A to B. The Prithvi Highway, stretching from Kathmandu towards the mountain region of Pokhara, is known for its steep cliffs and narrow roads with scarcely enough room for two cars – let alone two trucks – to pass each other by. While most locals seem unruffled by the height (they’re often seen riding atop of buses in the open air), some travellers find the roads somewhat challenging. If hanging dangerously close to the edge of a cliff is something you might need moral support for, consider sacrificing the added scenery and catching internal flights.
2. Sign up for classes and activities
On a solo trip to somewhere like Paris or San Francisco, you may only need to plonk yourself in your hostel bar a few minutes to find like-minded travellers. In Nepal, however, things may not come so easily, with many travellers on introspective spiritual jaunts, and no apparent social atmosphere to tap into. Signing up for group activities – whether for a day or an extended trip – means you can share the company of others when you feel like comradery, when you don’t have a friend from home by your side. You might want to admire wild rhinos in Chitwan National Park or learn to cook traditional Nepalese fare in Kathmandu. You’ll find inspiring things to do all over the place, from sound bowl sessions to pottery workshops, Yoga classes and beyond.
3. Learn the cultural customs and norms
Travellers are often criticised for poor judgement when it comes to respecting local customs and norms when travelling, particularly in more conservative regions of South Asia. Nepal is a deeply spiritual country, where religious devotion weaves through many aspects of daily life. With over 80% of Nepalese noted as Hindu and nearly 10% Buddhist, dressing modestly and knowing what’s acceptable when visiting religious sites is very important. Travelling solo, you may feel a sharper pang of guilt if you unknowingly cause offense. Ask a local for advice relevant to the region of Nepal you are in, and understand widespread rules, like not putting your feet on chairs or tables, refraining from showing affection in public, and covering skin when visiting religious sites.
4. Make the most of the daylight hours
Use the daylight hours to get a good sense of your surroundings, scouting dinner restaurants and finding easy routes back to your accommodation so you’re not trying to navigate dark streets at night. In Nepal you’ll find your days are packed with so much awe-inspiring excitement that curling up in the evening with your diary or a good book is not much of a sacrifice.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
Communication and social interactions play out differently in all corners of the globe, which requires travellers to adopt a hefty amount of open-mindedness and even tolerance. In Nepal this can transpire through the exchange of personal details and invitations, with travellers often chuckling over the frequency of requests for their postal address and invites into strangers’ homes. Such solicitations are quite customary and usually done in good nature, and are rarely cause for concern. Be open to new experiences and willing to step out of your comfort zone. Using your intuition and common sense, your solo ventures in Nepal can lead to fascinating encounters and friendships that will last well beyond your return home.
Whether you plan to spend a few weeks lounging about spiritual and chaotic Kathmandu, or take a bout of Yoga in a tranquil town like Pokhara, visiting Nepal is a soul-stirring experience, one that many find they can absorb better when travelling solo. Putting group activities and tours at the beginning of your trip can allow you to settle in with the comfort of other travellers before choosing your own adventure. However you plan it, Nepal delivers a truly special travel treat.
Ready for an adventure through Nepal? Check out our range of small group trips – perfect for solo travellers – now.
Feature image by Lucy Piper.