Sunday, 11 January 2015

Nepal Bare Essentials

Annapurna Range above Pokhara, Nepal ©Solange Hando

Nepal is as stunning as ever and after 14 visits, here are a few tips I'd like to share to help you along.
  • On arrival at the airport, pick up a visa form (if needed) plus an an immigration form. You don't want to queue for 30 minutes then have to start all over again.
  • Visa on arrival requires a passport-size photograph and cash payment (major currencies only). Costs from US$25 depending on length of stay.
  • If your hold luggage appears to be missing, check the bags and cases piled up on the floor to free the belt for the next flight.
  • If you need a taxi to get to your hotel, buy a voucher from the taxi desk in the arrival hall. The alternative is a long walk down to the road and you may end up paying more.

Kathmandu Valley ©Solange Hando

  • Money matters, check your notes... Those of a similar colour are easily confused, 500 and 1000 rupees, also 20 and 5. Always check the European digits on the reverse.
  • Safety matters, wait before you cross...Cross the road with a crowd whenever you can and once you start, don't step back. Motorbikes are allowed in pedestrian areas.
  • Buy local, save money: a small bottle of imported water costs 115 R, a large bottle of local water 15R. The same for biscuits and other supermarket goods.
  • Eating out? Check for extras, few menus include tax and service charge, that's an extra 23% (likewise for accommodation).
  • Shopping? Bargain but remember this is a poor country. Start around half the asking price and be prepared to climb a little.

On the Everest Trail ©Solange Hando

  • Trekking: if you can afford a flight, you can afford a guide. Use a registered agency, you will discover more, you will be safe and you will be providing employment.
  • On the narrow trails, let yaks and buffaloes pass on the precipice side, they're used to it and tougher than you.
  • Beware of altitude sickness, it can be a matter of life and death.

Durbar Square, Kathmandu ©Solange Hando

Enjoy and keep safe

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