Nepal: Trip Costs & Suggested Itinerary
Okay, so the number of emails and messages I got for this post, makes me feel like half of you guys will be traveling to Nepal soon. Which would be fantastic because then we'd be joined together in this Nepalese bond that our grandchildren will hear about for years and years and consequently hate us for it (....minor digression).
So this post is going to give you a very rough estimate of the costs as well as a suggested itinerary for the trip. Everyone travels differently with varied spending brackets and contrasting preferences, like what kind of accommodation is acceptable (hostel/3 star/5 star/palace...?). So this is a general idea. If you come after me later with any kind of grievance, this is my legal statement to counter that when we go to court (although I know we would never do that to each other). ANYWAY.
So here we go.
COSTS FOR A TRIP TO POKHARA, NEPAL
On arrival for almost all countries, the excluded ones are mentioned on their website. For Pakistan, there is no visa requirement if it's your first trip so you enter with just an entry stamp :) So no visa fee on the first visit, after that I think it's USD 30 per person.
These are all approximate round trip costs for December 1, 2015 on Fly Dubai. I'm listing these for Karachi, Pakistan and Dubai, UAE. I took Fly Dubai and it was pretty great.
Round-trip tickets for 1 person (Dubai -> Kathmandu): AED 1400
Round-trip tickets for 1 person (Karachi -> Kathmandu): PKR 65,000
To get to Pokhara from Kathmandu, you have to take a local airline. It's a beautiful, scenic flight so I loved it. You could always drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara but after reading multiple Tripadvisor reviews on how the journey can be upto 9 hours because of bad roads and traffic jams, I preferred to use my time and money effectively.
These are all approximate round trip costs for December 1, 2015 on Yeti Airlines. We used Yeti but your options are also Buddha Air and Simrik Air.
ACCOMMODATION FOR 5 NIGHTS
We chose to stay at a high-end resort for two nights and then switched to a 3-star for the rest of the four nights. I'll give costs, including taxes, for 1) Staying the entire trip at a 5-star resort, 2) Do a mix like I did and 3) A complete 3-star stay. These are rates directly from the hotel websites as of December 1, 2015.
|Where our first resort was - The Pavilions Himalayas|
The Waterfront Resort (standard double per night): USD 65 / AED 240 / PKR 6700
5 Star Resort (5 nights): USD 855 / AED 3000 / PKR 89,000
5 Star Resort (2 nights) + 3 Star Hotel (3 nights): USD 535 / AED 1900 / PKR 55,000
3 Star Hotel (5 nights): USD 325 / AED 1200 / PKR 34,000
The 3 star I stayed at was right next to the lake in Pokhara so it was priced higher than others. You can check Booking.com and find an even cheaper option very easily since there are loads of hotels along the stretch of the lake.
Ziplining (1 person): USD 55 /AED 210 / PKR 6000
Ziplining Photos + Videos (1 person): USD 14 / AED 52 / PKR 1500
Paragliding (1 person): USD 80 /AED 300 / PKR 8500
Paragliding Photos + Videos (1 person): USD 16 / AED 60 / PKR 1700
Boating + Drive to Sunrise Point: USD 30 / AED 110 / PKR 3000
Food (6 days, being super luxurious): USD 60 / AED 200 / PKR 6000
Random tiny bits of shopping: USD 50 / AED 170 / PKR 5000
Taxi (6 days, using about once a day): USD 5 / AED 15 / PKR 500
Tips (6 days): USD 10 / AED 42 / PKR 1200
AVERAGE TOTAL FOR LOWEST COST OPTION FOR 2 PERSONS (All 3-star accommodation):
USD 770 (minus tickets) / AED 6500 / PKR 235,000
Can you do this trip cheaper than this? Absolutely. Pick a more inexpensive hotel (check Tripadvisor and Booking.com) and you should be able to cut back more. Bargain if you wish when shopping or taking a taxi because rates will be inflated, I don't bargain much so we surely paid extra there.
Nepal is a really, really cheap destination. It's the best if you don't want to spend too much yet come back with a motherload of fun in your system.
SUGGESTED ITINERARY FOR A TRIP TO POKHARA, NEPAL
You can follow the itinerary for my Nepal trip here in Part 1, 2 and 3. But I've also listed a slightly different one below. It's a very relaxed itinerary spread over 6 days but if you're a travel ninja on Red Bull you might be done with all of it in 3-4 days.
|One of the many, many, many shops at the Pokhara Lakeside|
Day 1: Stay at the Pokhara Lakeside. Chill out on the first day, explore the area, eat local food, check our the market, buy local tea.
Day 2: Explore the lakeside some more. Check out Phewa Lake. Go boating for a couple of hours. Have masala chai at the Bomerang cafe after.
Day 3: Have a leisurely breakfast. Go paragliding. Chill out at the Fishtail Lodge (see Part 3) for food and drinks after. Have the chown mein and cheese pakodas, if you get there for hi-tea.
Day 4: Indulge in a good breakfast. Go ziplining. Have a Nepali thali or Margarita Pizza at the Chilly Bar.
Day 5: Go to Sarangkot Viewpoint to see the sunrise ((see Part 3). Have the chai there. Come back, nap. Go to Begnas Lake (I didn't do this). Hang out there, relax.
Day 6: Get a viewing flight for the Everest (I missed this). Get any last minute shopping in. Pack up. Leave with a smile.
- You can stay in cheaper hotels if you don't pick a hotel right at the Pokhara lakeside. You can enjoy the lake during the day when you're out and about.
- Everyone speaks Hindi/Urdu/English. Communication will be easy.
- Everything's super cheap. Bargain and it will be cheaper.
- Check if your hotel has a shuttle, you'll save on taxi costs.
- Paragliding photos and videos are completely worth it. Spend the money.
- Ziplining photos are worth it. Video is average, the camera isn't at an angle to give an idea of depth, nor can you see your own face in the video unless you look up.
- Your ziplining harness has a 'backpack' of sorts where you can stuff small things before the ride. Don't take anything too large. A DSLR can fit. For paragliding, not sure about the storage space but we hung our DSLR around our neck with the camera strap.
- You can wear anything in terms of clothing, so whether fully clothed or in the tiniest shorts, you should be fine.
- The bungee jump didn't seem worth it to me, not too high, better to skip it.
- If you want a mix of quiet and commercial, stay a couple of days in the mountains and the rest at the Lakeside. If you want all party, then just stay at the Lakeside and forget about the mountains.
- We used airline reward points and got discounts on all activities and hotels because the peak season hadn't started (starts October 1 and we went Sep 21) so we got lucky and spent even less. Goes without saying but look for deals and points whereever you can.- There will always be something someone will say you must see but you won't have the time, motivation or money. Go at your own pace and enjoy whatever you can to the max. No one can see everything. Relax, eat, laugh and come back with a full heart.
|Heading back home (or maybe it was the other way round? Let's pretend it's the return journey in that case)|
If I had the time, I would've also explored the following:
Everest Flight: Viewing flights to the Everest are happening nearly everyday, I think. Can't imagine how sexy those would be.
Bhalam Bridge: There's not much to do here except go check out the bridge but I love suspension bridges so I would have checked it out. It's a little off from the rest of the stuff in Pokhara so would need a few hours time.
Begnas Lake: This is one of the more untouched lakes of Pokhara and possibly much more beautiful than Phewa Lake. It's again a little off from the main Lakeside so would take some time to fit in. You can also stay here but you'd be cut off from the rest of the world (do a couple of days here perhaps?).
Trekking: Pokhara has the most gorgeous landscape and allows everything from hardcore to easy trekking. My foot was still healing from an earlier sprain so it was out of the question for me but I'd have loved to go jumping around in the rice terraces.
White Water Rafting: Actually, I wouldn't be able to do this (too scared of water), but it looks kickass.
Davis Falls: Popular waterfall in Pokhara, felt too touristy for me, but I may have checked it out if there was more time.
Other than Pokhara: I'd also have checked out Nagarkot, it looks gorgeous in pictures, but requires a different flight/route from Kathmandu. Chitwan National Park also seemed interesting.
The Pavilion Himalayas: http://thepavilionshimalayas.com
The Waterfront Resort: http://waterfronthotelnepal.com
Ziplining + Paragliding + Sarangkot Sunrise Trip: https://www.facebook.com/hgnepal & firstname.lastname@example.org
Other interesting hotels: Begnas Lake Resort, Raniban Retreat, Fishtail Lodge.
Hope this was helpful. If you end up going, I need to hear about it, so don't forget to tell me when you do. Happy, safe and enriching travels.