"Namaste, Naya Nepal!" Top 5 Page for this destination Nepal by Saagar

Nepal Travel Guide: 4,011 reviews and 10,830 photos

Welcome to Nepal!

Nepal is my second country - at least in spirit. I have been so lucky to visit the country many times as a student, as a tourist, for work and visiting friends and "adopted" families. The main draw for me has always been my good friends in Nepal. The fantastic Himalayas, the diversity of the Middle Hills, the exotic and tropical Terai lowlands and the architectural wonders of the old cities are strong, additional bonuses. I like to travel in Nepal, despite the hardships and uncertainties. But I am not romancing it, either; it is hard to witness the terrible plight and misery of the people of Nepal and see the stagnation and in fact worsening of the human condition brought on by internal strife, violence and government mismanagement. Let us hope that the Constitutional Assembly set to write a new constitution will bring out radical improvements to the human condition of the Nepalis. New Nepal in the making as we speak!

Nepal is a wonderful place to visit, but perhaps not a place for the faint-hearted, impatient, intolerant and those preoccupied with being super-hygienic. Some people get so entusiastic that they return again and again. The reasons vary: statistics tell that the vast majority of foreign tourists come to Nepal for the mountains. However, the add-ons are also strong pull-factors, and a trip to Nepal wouldn't be feeling complete unless you take your time to take in cultural aspects and try to gain insight into the human and ecological make-up of Nepal.

After a two-week trip you feel you can write a book about Nepal, after your third visit you believe you can begin administring advice to Nepal, but after 25-30 years of visiting you feel you have barely scraped the surface of this so enigmatc, multilayered, yet so close and friendly place.

I have tried to keep my Nepal page fairly general, highlighting what I think is useful, appropriate and really worth doing and seeing at a national or regional level. For specific cities and places in Nepal, see my pages and tip sections for the cities, trekking areas and regions that I have visited. That's the place where you will find nitty-gritty details.

As of early 2010 there are very few places in the hill and mountain country that should be off-limits to tourists, however, in the Terai you need to be careful.

I hope you find my advice and tips on my VT Nepal page useful as an introduction and preparation for visiting Nepal. You will be welcome there! Get in touch with if you have questions, suggestions and comments!

LATEST NEWS:
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Best English commentary: Nepali Times

Some web links that I myself find useful. Check these web sites for tourism info, news etc.:
The key tourism portal to Nepal: Nepal's Tourism Board
The Nepal Mountaineering Association: NMA
Two live sources on Everest: Everest News Everest Net
The Government of Nepal: GoN
Nepal economic and business directory: Yellow Pages
A selection of Nepalese news media: News from Nepal
To get news uncencored as they unfold, check the blog site UnitedWeBlog
The best analysis, most reliable English news you will find here:Nepali Times (Weekly)
For facts and figures, the UN Development Program site is useful: UNDP.

How to visit Nepal, what to see and do

Nepal is a bit off the main intercontinental air routes and that causes flying to Nepal to be expensive. Nepal is a dead-end sort of place for air travel, with limited transit opportunities - but some exciting ones! The easiest is to fly in and out via India, Thailand or a Gulf country, but the most interesting is to arrive and depart overland through India and/or Tibet.

Old hands in Nepal see that the Annapurna and Everest paths are crowded every main season, while the rest of the country remains largely devoid of the tourist crowds.

Prepare yourself well for Nepal, that will ease your stay here. Things in Nepal work in a different mode and in a different step than the rest of the world - even the clock ticks differently; GMT +4 hrs 45 minutes. But one thing said - you rarely have that sneaking suspicion or feeling of being cheated in Nepal, and people you meet honestly wish to please.

You can visit Nepal easily as an independent traveller, just go there and you can quite easily sort things out upon arrival, do individual ticketing, trekking arrangements, jungle tours etc. But there are also luxury packages, tours and treks where everything is cared for and you have the comforts of home, with the not-so-rare jolts from potholed roads and strains of delayed flights thrown in... And, let me add, you can have everything inbetween. After a though trip in the mountains you can recover and splash out at a Kathmandu or Pokhara hotel or jungle resort.

Most people visit for three things: The views of the Himalayas, the lowland jungle national parks and the old art and architecture of the Kathmandu Valley cities. Nicely packaged tours to include all this will take you at least two weeks without being totally stressed. The best way of seeing Nepal is by "trekking", taking a hike through the scenic landscape of the hills and mountains. There are all sorts of options: there are the well-beaten trails in the Annapurna, Langtang and Everest regions and slow hiking here is really the thing to do in Nepal. You get to see a fantastic landscape amongst the world's mightiest mountains, encounter a diversity of people, livelihoods and nature unsurpassed. And the locals enjoy seeing you pass on the trail and will greet you "Namaste" - I salute to the good in you!

The situation in Nepal today

Sadly, sadly, Nepal has fallen into an abyss. Now categorised by the UN as a "fragile state" (the next below is "failed state"), the human condition in the country is among the worst in the world. Exactly this poverty and misery was the reason for beginning an armed communist uprising in the countryside in 1996. Everybody could in fact subscribe to the picture drawn by the maoist fanatics, and in fact also to many of their 40 demands, but not so many of their violent methods. In April-May 2006 a popular campaign to remove the king and bring the parliamentary system into place again succeeded, and with that, the maoists came to the government table. By April 2008 this has further evolved into elections for a constituent assembly that will re-write the constitution and form an interim government until proper national and local elections can be held. Very interestingly, the maoists (Communist Party of Nepal/ml-m) won by a landslide in elections called fairly free and fair - well not entirely.... The disregard of rules and lack of parliamentary experience made the maoists withdraw from the government coalition in 2009, believing they would be retaking their cabinet posts very soon. Nearly one year later this doesn't seem to work out - they are left with no willing coalition partners and are organising one strike - "bandh" - after the other. The none-maoist politicians are not really doing much better for the country either, and there is now a check-mate in nearly all governance.

On my recent visits to Nepal I found it is easier to travel around the country. The maoists who used to run the countryside are loosening up somewhat on their extortionist and violent methods of keeping people in check. However, the political thugs of the maoists, the YCL, are in a revenge modus and the news are pretty bad. violent outfits created by other parties and some ethnic fronts are also helping pulling Nepal into an abyss.

Generally, during these years of troubles tourists, trekkers and other visitors have been left to pass problem spots unhurt and have not been in any particular danger as long as they have heeded local advice on where and when to go and not to go. The main tourism infrastructure is intact and the main trails in the Annapurnas, Langtang and Everest/Khumbu and access to the Chitwan jungle national park are safe. The Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara are safe areas to visit, too. The Terai districts between the cities Biratnagar and Birgunj, however, are the scene of a pretty violent Madhesi lowland peoples' uprising, a mix of banditry and seeking equal treatment for the law as other Nepalis. For the rest, just be alert, sensitive to local advice and generally careful as Nepal's rural areas are opening up again. Because of the small arms proliferation courtesy the maoists, crime is on the rise, but show common sense and you will not get into any trouble. So, go see Nepal!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Fantastic and beautiful people, great friends, stunning plain and hill landscapes and the stunning Himalayas
  • Cons:Dirty and unhygienic, polluted main cities, hopeless politics and casteism.
  • In a nutshell:All the wild dreams of Kew come alive.
  • Last visit to Nepal: Apr 2008
  • Intro Updated Apr 3, 2010
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Reviews (108)

Comments (16)

  • Oct 12, 2008 at 2:29 AM

    thanx.u were right.higher quality tea in lower price and a friendly seller.i was one time visitor to nepal & i thought good tea is over for me but they told me that i can buy tea from internet also.all i need to log on to www.nepalteahouse.com

  • into-thin-air's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2008 at 12:15 PM

    Great updates Olav

  • mad4travel's Profile Photo
    Oct 17, 2007 at 8:33 AM

    Fantastic Nepal pages. Your photos are lovely. Nepal is a great place, I really enjoyed my time there.

  • LeCeleste's Profile Photo
    Jun 20, 2007 at 2:20 AM

    No feeling of being cheated in Nepal???Only foreigners have to pay (discrimination ?!)Example: trekking permit 2000 rupees (that's a months wage in Nepal)!Taxis ask 5x the normal price. Every durbar square: pay entrance+pay to see temples+pay for pictures

  • Mar 9, 2007 at 3:29 AM

    hello, tell me please - what is the best time ( during the year) to go trekking to Nepal? btw.. your photos are FANTASTIC!

  • hindu1936's Profile Photo
    Oct 4, 2006 at 9:34 PM

    thanks once more for some really useful advice. detailed, functional, and appreciated. we will use a different msoqutio med. printed out and saved them

  • LuisGuimaraes's Profile Photo
    Aug 16, 2006 at 6:46 AM

    THANK YOU is the least I can say for this page. I happen to be personally interested in Nepal, but even if not, this page is a great contribution for VT.

  • Jul 22, 2005 at 5:14 PM

    Hi, Bored at work on Friday, I was browsing to see if there is anything on Ilam, I found out your website. I am from Ilam, (near Fikkal) and reside in Seattle, WA, USA. Happy to chat further with you. Drop me a line in ckarki@gmail.com Thanks, Chhatra..

  • KiNyA's Profile Photo
    May 14, 2005 at 6:36 AM

    Great, great page!!! I'd really like to go trekking to Nepal :-)

  • Jan 17, 2005 at 9:30 AM

    Excellent Nepal pages.

Saagar Used To Live Here!

Saagar

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