I don’t think I’ve ever met somebody who’s been to Nepal and didn’t love it. It’s one of the best countries in the world to travel as a backpacker. If you haven’t been you need to go because, well, chances are you’ll love it too.
From the heights of the Himalayas to the valley temples of Kathmandu, Nepal has a huge variety of beauty to show off. Need a little more convincing? Here are the top reasons why you should visit Nepal.
Food in Nepal
Momo dumplings, thukpa noodle soup, and gorkhali lamb – Nepali cuisine is a mash up of Indian, Thai and Tibetan dishes, all concocted with a Nepalese twist.
Dhal, veggies and rice are also commonplace at meal times but, as a Hindu country, beef is strictly off the menu – steak-lovers be warned. It’s also the Nepalese way to sit on the floor cross-legged at meal times, especially in more rural restaurants.
There’s enough choice in Nepal that you don’t need to confine yourself to restaurants. Be sure to hit markets like the Organic Farmer’s Market or Asan Tole open-air market, where some of the best fruits, nuts and sweets are found.
Drinks in Nepal
Let’s start with coffee and the fact that Nepal actually cultivates Arabica beans. That means if you’re a fan of a morning caffeine fix, you won’t be disappointed. Visit Phewa Lake’s Pokhara to see how the farmers get it from kernel to cup.
If you’re a tea lover then Nepal also has you covered. Chiya is extremely popular and Tibetan tea, served with a dollop of rancid butter, is a unique one to try. Heading right to the source, visit the district of Ilam at the bottom of Mount Kangchenjunga, to see the country’s oldest tea gardens.
For those in need of the harder stuff, keep an eye out for Nepal Ice, the local beer, or raksi and tongba, local liquors that will definitely get the party started.
Accommodation in Nepal
Forget hostels and hotels, in Nepal it’s all about lodges and guesthouses. Both options range from Rs300 to Rs1000 a night, which suits a backpacker stipend just fine.
If you’re off the beaten track and hiking, lodges are more popular, but definitely require a mosquito net. In more touristy spots, go for a guesthouse. Hot water, air con and wifi are all budget dependent, except in Kathmandu where every guesthouse tends to include them. Another bonus is the fact that you can choose to book ahead or not, so whether you prefer the piece of mind or the flexibility, you have both options.
A final reason for the big thumbs up for Nepalese accommodation is that you can also homestay in a traditional village like Tansen or Chisapani. City View Home Stay in Tansen is a good one to try independently, or for an organised visit go through a company like Crooked Trails.
Attractions in Nepal
Without a doubt, Mount Everest is the number one attraction in Nepal. While you may not be on form to climb to the top, you can still see the big daddy peak by catching a mountain flight from Kathmandu.
From there, try paragliding in Pokhara, visiting Patan’s ancient temples or exploring the Gyoko Lakes. And for the hikers among us, Nepal is trails galore. Check out the Annapurna Circuit, Lantang Trek and the Manaslu Circuit for epic views and some serious thigh-burning moments.
Transport in Nepal
In Nepal it’s rare for a journey to go as planned. The weather, the rusty vehicles and rugged terrain all play their part in constantly exceeding your ETAs. One way or another, you’ll get to your destination. The added dose of adventure is just another part of Nepali culture.
Tourist buses are the best way to travel between major cities and although there are rarely any helpful signs at the bus stations, locals will always be happy to help. Once on the bus, don’t expect it to move until it’s full, and then once in motion always factor in a few tea breaks for your driver. No rush here.
Back in the cities, rickshaws are probably the best modes of travel, but in Kathmandu try out a tempo. They’re basically mini three-wheel vans without bells or buttons, which means you have to bang a coin on the roof if you want to get off. Great fun.
People in Nepal
It can be said for most Asian countries that locals seem so much friendlier than in the UK, and in Nepal’s case it’s definitely true. With the Namaste greeting and the constant check-in on whether you’d like tea, the kindness here never ends.
From the western hill villages like Tansen to the bohemian city areas like Patan, people are always warm and willing to show you a little way of Nepali life. In fact, it’s not uncommon to receive the odd dinner invite on a trip to Nepal. If you choose to accept just remember it’s shoes off and legs crossed.