Hints for Nepal

1) Check with an embassy regarding any protests etc. We got held up for a day at the border as the roads to Kathmandu were impassable. As a result we had to pay for a flight at an inflated price. There are no ATMs in Kakarbittha, and the local bank won’t advance cash against a Visa card. We were bloody lucky Hans had a stack of US dollars!

2) If you intend to buy travel tickets, especially flights, in Kathmandu then bring US Dollars in with you. The airlines will only accept this as payment, therefore if you pay in Nepalese Rupees at the travel agent, you’ll lose out. Our agent was very honest in explaining this. The actual exchange rate was around 70NRP to 1USD. The local money changers were asking 72NRP to 75NRP for a dollar, and he had to convert based on this rate otherwise he’d lose out. Therefore paying with dollars you’ve brought in is cheaper.

3) Don’t forget the departure tax at the airport. The domestic flight from Kakarbhitta to Kathmandu was 170NRP, and flying from Kathmandu itself varies depending on your destination. My flight to Malaysia cost me $US23 or 1695NRP. Hans’ flight to Delhi was around 1350NRP. The tax is not put on your ticket, and I believe they accept both local currency and US$ at the airport.

4) Planning on being there for four days? Go for the free-of-charge 3-day visa and ring the immigration people before you leave. I had absolutely no problem whatsoever with the additional day. Getting up to five days without charge is also not unknown. The penalty for going over that is still less than the $30 charge for a visa, as long as you don’t take the Michael.

5) Buy any hiking/camping equipment in Pokhara, not Kathmandu. Most treks start from there anyway, so it saves you lugging the stuff on the bus – and it’s cheaper anyway.

6) Scour the bakeries in Kathmandu for the ones which sell stock off cheap late in the evening. As they bake fresh each day, the stuff will be fine for breakfast and lunch the next morning.

7) As with any Asian country, learn to haggle. I managed to get 10% off an already very good price for some convertible waterproof trouser/shorts.

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