The Ultimate Nepal Travel Guide

So, you’ve decided you want to visit Nepal. Good choice! This Nepal travel guide has everything you need to know about visiting the most beautiful country. Be warned, once you go once, you’ll probably end up like me and keep going back. 

Nepal has got to be my favourite country. It is so beautiful. It’s peaceful yet crazy at the same time. The landscapes are insane (have you seen the Himalayas?), and there’s something new around every corner.

Not only home to the beautiful Himalayas and 8 of the worlds 8000m peaks, but it is also home to the bustling capital city of Kathmandu, the chilled, lakeside town of Pokhara, and Chitwan National Park, where you can try your luck at spotting some tigers. I’m going to cover a little bit of everything in this ultimate Nepal travel guide, and link in my more in-depth blogs for more detail.

Ok, let’s pause for a little sob from me here before I get right into this blog. It’s April 2020, a tough time for everyone, and little old me was set to go back to Nepal at the end of the month to climb Island Peak and do Everest Base Camp. Oh, and of course, hang out in Kathmandu, because damn I love it there. Ok, so obviously, it’s not happening, atleast not now anyway.

We have postponed the trip till next April, which is great but it’s so far away and I’m still sulking about it. ANYWAYS, it would have been my third time in Nepal (can you tell I love it there?). I was going to hold off on this guide until after my trip, but seeing as it’s a whole year away I’m doing it now and will just update it later. Happy days.

Fast facts about Nepal

  • Continent: Asia
  • Capital City: Kathmandu
  • Population: 29.3 million (as of 2017)
  • Currency: Nepalese Rupee
When is the best time to visit Nepal

When is the best time to visit Nepal?

Weather in Nepal circles around the Monsoon, which typically begins in June and ends in September. During this time, you can expect rain daily, heavy particularly in July and August. Typically, the rain can actually be predictable and doesn’t last all day, so you can still travel to Nepal during the Monsoon season, just be flexible with your travel as some flights or transport methods may get cancelled when bad weather occurs. This time is also known as low season in Nepal, so there will be considerably less crowds.

Autumn (September to November) and Spring (February to April) are great times for trekking, and considered the high season in Nepal. Spring welcomes the climbing season, where climbers flock from around the world to try to summit some of the world’s highest peaks.

Winter is colder, but offers less crowds, particularly during trekking. I personally did my Annapurna Base Camp trek in 2019 in January (Winter), and loved the lack of crowds, and the snow!

Money Matters

The currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee. The current exchange rate sits at around US$1 = 103Rs.

ATM’s are readily available throughout the main tourist areas of Nepal (Kathmandu and Pokhara), and are more common in the central places such as Thamel in Kathmandu and Lakeside in Pokhara. Most ATM’s have limits of around 10,000Rs per withdrawal, and you can expect some fees.

Credit cards are accepted in some places such as tourist class hotels. Currency Exchange offices and counters are common and easy to find, and also offer very competitive rates.

Tipping is generally expected in Nepal, and a little goes a long way. Carry small notes to tip drivers, guides, waiters and hotel workers, when the service is good. It can be hard to know how much to tip, so check out this in depth guide to tipping in Nepal for everything you need to know.

Tourist visas for Nepal

You’ll need a tourist Visa to enter Nepal. They are available on arrival at the airport, at land border crossings, and can sometimes be arranged online in advance. Make sure you have atleast 6 months valid on your passport, and 2 passport photos.

15, 30 and 90-day single entry visas are available. At the time of writing, prices are as follows:

  • 15 days: US$30
  • 30 days: US$50
  • 90 days: US$125
how to get from Kathmandu to pokhara

Getting to and from Nepal

The main airport in Nepal is Tribhuvan International Airport, just 5km from Kathmandu, and this where almost all international arrivals land. It is recommended to book in advance, especially if you plan on travelling during the peak season, as there aren’t many airlines which operate flights in and out of Nepal.

Tribhuvan International Airport is old and not very efficient. There are generally long waits for immigration and baggage claim.

Getting a visa on arrival may seem daunting, but it’s really not. Here’s the steps to take for getting a visa on arrival:

  1. Fill in the immigration card, which is on the left against the wall when you enter the airport.
  2. Fill in the online tourist visa form on one of the Kiosks near the immigration cards.
  3. Pay for your visa at the counter to the right of the Kiosks. It is best to pay in cash, USD is preferred.
  4. Get a receipt
  5. Take your receipt, passport and immigration cards through passport control.

Getting around Nepal

The one thing that sucks here is traffic. It can take up to 10 hours to travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara, even though it is only 200km. This is one thing you just have to deal with in Nepal.

For smaller distances and getting around the city, Taxis are generally the best option. They are comfortable, and not overly expensive for a short trip. You can barter for your fare.

For longer journeys, such as Kathmandu to Pokhara, a tourist bus is generally the best option.

Safety in Nepal

Nepal is considered to be a safe country for tourists. I have never felt unsafe in Nepal. It does go without saying however, to exercise normal caution.

  • Travel with travel insurance
  • Be aware of your personal belongings at all time
  • Don’t flash expensive items
  • Avoid trekking alone

Scams in Nepal

Generally, Nepalese locals are extremely kind, helpful and welcoming. However, like anywhere, there are some scams to be aware of.

  • Pick-pocketers
  • Children asking for milk – they will get to you buy them powdered milk at a store with a very inflated price, before the child will return the milk after, keeping some of the profit.
  • ‘Holy Men’ – will either try to get you to take a picture with them, or give you a blessing before demanding payment.
Poon Hill trek Nepal

Is it safe to drink the water in Nepal?

The tap water in Nepal is not drinkable. It’s fine for showering and brushing your teeth, but not for drinking. You will need to use a method of water purification of buy bottled water in Nepal. I highly recommend NOT buying bottled water anywhere, especially in Nepal. This is even more important to consider if you are trekking, as most of the time the plastic just gets left.

There are several options for water purification. I personally have used tablets several times, and you can also use a SteriPen or other purification system. For more information on the options, check out this guide to water purification for travel. 

Food and drink in Nepal

Food in Nepal is DELICIOUS! It can probably be described as a mix of cusines and cultures, incorporating Indian, Tibetan and Chinese, of course with a little Nepalese spin. You’ll find meat and vegetarian options in most places, and there’s also no shortage of western and international dishes to be found, if that’s what you feel like.

Food and drink in Nepal

Must try Nepalese dishes

  • Dal Bhat power 24 hour – this is a common saying amongst Nepalese. Dal Baht is extremely popular in Nepal. Made up of rice, lentil soup, vegetables and often a range of other sides, often a curry or meat.
  • Momo’s – These are Nepalese dumplings and can be filled with a variety of fillings, and are served with different sauces. YUM. I actually did a cooking class in Kathmandu where we learnt to make Momo’s.
  • Everest Beer – Need I say any more? There are several Nepalese beers, but the Everest beer if definitely a personal favourite.

Must see places in Nepal.

Must see places in Nepal

Kathmandu – Nepal’s bright and bubbly capital

Kathmandu is the bustling capital of Nepal and honestly, can be a little scary at first because it’s so crazy! But, rest assured, you get used to it quickly. You will likely fly into Kathmandu, and straight away you’ll be thrown into the way of life in Nepal.

There’s not really anyway to describe Kathmandu while doing it justice. Its chaotic and colorful, cultural and historic, beautiful and bustling. The population is 1.7 million, and although the constant nag of hagglers, the sound of car horns and the all-around craziness can be overwhelming at times, it’s hard not to love.

Must do’s in Kathmandu?

Durbar Square
Durbar Square

Featuring many UNESCO World Heritage sites, Kathmandu’s squares are made of up of temples, courts and idols, as well as many open spaces and markets. Durbar Square is also home to Hanuman Dhoka, the former royal palace in Kathmandu. Although some of the buildings were destroyed during the 2015 earthquake and are still being restored, it is still definitely worth a visit.


The heart of Kathmandu is Thamel, home to narrow lined streets filled with shops, hotels and restaurants. Whatever you need to find, you’ll find it here. Shop for mountain gear, books and souvenirs, and just explore. Sit back for a coffee, a beer or a meal in one of the many cafes, bars and restaurants. When you need to escape the craziness, you can head into the Garden of Dreams, a perfect oasis on the outskirts of Thamel.

Swayambunath Stupa

Climb the 365 stairs and navigate lots of monkeys to reach one of Kathmandu’s most iconic sights – Swayambunath Stupa, or what is commonly called the monkey temple. You’ll also get some pretty incredible views of Kathmandu from the top!

Swayambunath Stupa

Where to stay in Kathmandu

Oasis Kathmandu Hotel

Situated just on the outskirts of Thamel, close enough to the action but far enough away to get a good night’s sleep, Oasis is a little slice of paradise in Kathmandu. With comfortable rooms, an onsite coffee house and restaurant, and many other services, you can’t go wrong.

Oasis Kathmandu Hotel
Kathmandu Guest House

Kathmandy Guest House is basically an institution and anyone who is anyone tends to stay here (in the climbing world that is!). Although it isn’t luxurious, it features nice rooms, a great location and beautiful gardens.

Where to eat and drink in Kathmandu

Sam’s Bar

A favourite among trekkers and climbers, this hidden upstairs bar has an open terrace and reggae on a Saturday.

Yangling Tibetan Restaurant

It is claimed that Yangling serves the best momos (a traditional Nepalese dish) in Kathmandu, so it is vital to have a meal here. With a range of traditional dishes on the menu, you won’t be disappointed with a visit to this family run restaurant.

Kaiser Café

Located inside the Garden of Dreams, you can opt for a peaceful dining experience at Kaiser Café. Stop for a coffee and cake or opt for a meal with the varied menu.

Pokhara Nepal’s backpacker paradise

Pokhara: Nepal’s backpacker paradise

Pokhara is a dream. It’s got that chilled-out vibe which is just so good and easy to love. Situated 150km from Kathmandu, which isn’t far, the journey will take you a while by road due to the road conditions in Nepal.

Situated lakeside with a mountain backdrop, there’s not much to love about Pokhara. It’s an adventure and backpacker hub with a little bit of everything. You can expect to dine in cute cafes and bars, shop without anywhere near as much hassle as in Kathmandu, and just relax.

That is of course, if you don’t plan on some serious adventures. Pokhara is the gateway to trekking in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas, which boasts the Annapurna Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit and Poon Hill hikes, all of which are extremely popular.

Must do’s in Pokhara


A must-do for adventure junkies in Pokhara, with one of the best backdrops for paragliding in the world. With safe take-off and landing zones, you’ll get incredible views over Phewa Lake and the Himalayas. All flights launch from Sarangkot, which is a 30minute drive from Pokhara, however most companies offer a pick up and drop off service from your hotel.

Visit Phewa Lake

Phewa Lake has to be seen to be believed. With colourful boats and a mountain backdrop, visit at sunrise or sunset to make the experience even more surreal. You can also go for a boat ride, simply approach one of the vendors on the lake.

Phewa Lake
World Peace Pagoda

Situated atop Anadu Hill, this Buddhist monument towers over Phewa Lake and offers some incredible views. A half or full day excursion from Pokhara, you can opt to hire a driver, or take a boat across the lake and hike up from there.

World Peace Pagoda

Looking for more things to do in Pokhara? The best things to do in Pokhara, Nepal

Where to eat and drink in Pokhara

Roadhouse Café

Roadhouse Café is authentic and cosy, and serves up some delicious pizza and Italian dishes. Make sure to pop in during the late afternoon for all of the happy hour specials!

AM/PM Organic Café

Healthy, quality dishes are served up at AM/PM Organic Café. You can expect good coffee, and delicious, fresh breakfast dishes.

Where to stay in Pokhara

Zostel Pokhara
Zostel Pokhara

On a budget, Zostel Pokhara is a great choice. With a great location close to lakeside, you can relax on the rooftop terrace at this social hostel.

Hotel River Park

Within walking distance of lakeside, this mid-range stay is amazing for the price you pay. Head to the rooftop for great views over the lake and enjoy the yummy breakfast.

Hotel Barahi

For a more luxurious stay, you can enjoy the lakeside deluxe rooms, bar and swimming pool at Hotel Barahi.

Safari at Chitwan National Park

Chitwan: The heart of animals

Situated in the mid-south of Nepal, Chitwan National Park is the home of wildlife in Nepal which became a world heritage site in 1984. A 5-6-hour bus ride from both Kathmandu and Pokhara, it’s worth a visit when in Nepal.

Safari at Chitwan National Park

The main reason to go to Chitwan is to do jungle safaris. Look out for rhinos and tigers! There’s also elephants, crocodiles and many species of birds. There are plenty of tour companies who offer safari tours of Chitwan National Park, ranging from one day to multi day tours.

Accommodation at Chitwan National Park

Most places to stay near Chitwan are located in the town of Sauraha, directly opposite Chitwan National Park.

Everest Base Camp

Nepal travel guide: Trekking and hiking

So if there’s one thing I know a lot about its trekking, and as most of these treks already (or soon will) have in-depth guides on my blog, I’m going to keep this to a shorter, sweeter summary of some of the top treks in Nepal.

Everest Base Camp

If you don’t know what Everest Base Camp is, then you probably live under a rock. One of the most popular treks in Nepal, this takes you to the base camp of Mount Everest. The high altitude makes this trek difficult, and you need to take a small charter flight in to Lukla to begin the trek.

  • Distance: 130km
  • Altitude: 5,364m
  • Duration: 11-14 days

Annapurna Base Camp

One of the most scenic hikes in Nepal, during the Annapurna Base Camp Trek (sometimes called Annapurna Sanctuary), you are basically in the mountains. The trek is hard, with many ups and downs and a whole lot of stairs, but is incredibly beautiful. Most Annapurna Base Camp treks also include a hike up to Poon Hill within the first few days.

Annapurna Base Camp
  • Distance: 115km
  • Altitude: 4,130m
  • Duration: 7-12 days

Read more: The ultimate guide to the Annapurna Base Camp hike

Annapurna Circuit

A more difficult trek, the Annapurna Circuit trek is in the same region as the Annapurna Base Camp trek, but instead goes around the mountains. The higher altitude and the crossing of 3 high passes makes for a challenging yet rewarding trek.

Annapurna Circuit
  • Distance: 230km
  • Altitude: 5,416m
  • Duration: 20 days

Poon Hill

Following the first few days of the Annapurna Base Camp trek, this is a much shorter hike without sacrificing incredible mountain views. Get up early one morning to reach Poon Hill for sunrise for the most breathtaking views in the world.

  • Distance: 51km
  • Altitude: 3,210m
  • Duration: 4-5 days

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is a real risk when trekking or climbing in Nepal. Having suffered it myself, both while climbing Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, I know how dangerous it can be. Make sure you know symptoms and chat to a doctor before you leave about your options.

Altitude Sickness

My number one tip is to go slowly – there is no rush in the Himalayas. Walk slowly and enjoy your surrounds. Going too fast is one of the quickest ways to halt acclimatisation. You should also drink plenty of water, most guides will recommend upwards of 4L per day, and you can consider taking a medication to help you acclimatise, such as Diamox.


There are so many places to buy trekking and climbing gear in Nepal, particularly in Thamel. Mostly all rip-off’s of high name brands such as The North Face, the quality is still great. You can buy down jackets, warm layers, waterproof layers – whatever you can think of, for a fraction of the price in Nepal. You can also hire items such as sleeping bags.

Make sure you have your essentials (such as a well-worn in pair of hiking boots and good jacket) and buy the rest there.

Essentials for travel in Nepal

  • Water purification: Either tablets, a filtering system or SteriPen.
  • Power bank: power can sometimes cut out in Nepal, so be prepared with a power bank or too. This will also come in handy if you are hiking and need to keep your camera charged.
  • Hand Sanitizer.
  • Reusable water bottle and cutlery – Say no to single use plastics.

You will love Nepal. There’s a reason it’s my favourite country in the world. The culture, the craziness, the people, the mountains. The shopping and the food. The feel-good vibe. I hope this Nepal travel guide has answered all of your questions and inspired you to visit. Trust me, you won’t regret a trip to Nepal.

Happy travelling,