Exploring Nepal: the Shangri-La
- You don’t need a visa! Get a visa stamp in the Airport or at any border!
- Fly in Kathmandu (TIA) Directly or from any Indian City or Take a land route through any Indian City if you are traveling in India
- Do not stay at the Luxury Hotels ($20-80/night), although you may find them cheap compared to foreign hotels. My point is, you are hitting this destination to enjoy its scenic tranquility not to spend your time sleeping! So, where to stay?
- Thamel Area Hotels, the best hub for tourists around the world, $4-7 per night. You can take a cab straight from the airport and ask for a moderate hotel in Thamel.
- Exchange money into Nepalese currency. Exchange little by little. An exchange of 100 can last for more than a week! Seriously!
Jump out of your bed. Hit the streets on foot. Do not worry about being lost. Always carry a business card of the hotel you are staying in. You can find Tourist Police signs everywhere and can take help any time. Besides, the local people, shops, restaurants, police, travel agents, room boy…everyone is Informative!
Take a tour of the Thamel area on foot. If you feel like taking a ride, hop on a tricycle (Rick-shaw), available everywhere in Thamel. Give the driver around $2 and he will be more than happy to show you all corners of the Thamel hub. Just keep your eyes quick to see what things are available in the area eg, soveniers, t-shirts, trousers, jackets, trekking gear, anything…..For lunch, try out a Nepali restaurant rather than intercontinental. Order Momo (chicken, lamb or vegan), the hot steamed juicy dumpling with a spicy sauce. DO NOT drink the water offered. It is always advisable to buy bottled water 2-3 bottles for a dollar. Drink Nepali Beer, Awesome! Spend your time in Himalayan Java, a cyber café in the main Thamel area. Enjoy varieties of coffee and liquor, chill out. Next, take a cab to Nepal Tourism Board, in Exhibition Road; this is where the Immigration Authority Office is if you want to elongate your stay like everyone does; You will find maps, touch screen computers, brochures, Grab some tourist information magazines, brochures and maps and decide where would you like to start with! Hop into several bars, discos, cyber café or continental restaurant around Thamel at night. If you are a Casino Freak, take a cab to any of the 5 casinos in the city (Soaltee Crown Plaza, Anna Royale, Everest Sheraton, Hyatt, and Yak & Yeti).
Day 2 and 3- Ancient wooden cities in the valley
Take a cab to Kathmandu Durbar Square, exotic ancient palace, Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Load your camera with enough rolls to capture the exotic lifetime experience you are about to get! Enjoy the restaurants around these historic palaces. For the evening, I bet you are already an expert from last night’s experience! Too many choices!
Day 4 Temples and Shrines
Take a cab to Shwayambhu Nath (The famous monkey temple) in the morning. Reload your camera! This amazing Buddhist shrine is famous all over the world for its exotic beauty! Food-to-go, advisable for this trip or you can even dine at the restaurants. Next, somewhere around 2-3 take a cab to Pashipatinath temple, the Jerusalem of Hindus! Non-Hindus are not allowed in here. Make your way to the east face of the temple, take the flight of stairs opposite of the temple and spend couple of hours there. Watch the cremation ceremony of the Hindus from a distance, watch the bodies’ burn to ashes and think for a moment-the meaning and purpose of life! That’s what everyone does once they are here! Get some pictures of the Yogis and the incomparable architecture. Take a cab to Boudha Nath from there. Enjoy this Buddhist shrine, the largest in the world! Especially enjoy the evening lighting of the shrine! Reload-reload your camera!
Day 5: The Mountains?
In advance, probably on the second day or third, request the hotel you are staying to book a ticket for a mountain flight sight-seeing. Get up early and take this once-in-a-lifetime flight. Decide which peak is for you! Probably, the almighty Everest, right?
Day 6 and 7 Pokhara
Take a next flight to Pokhara city-the all time favorite tourist city, on the foot of Fishtail Mountain (Maachaapuchhre). Stay at any hotel in the ‘Lakeside’ area. Enjoy your evening! Hike around Pokhara and adjust to the climate…!
Day 8-22- Annapurna Circuit
Plan a 14 day Annapurna circuit! Join the earliest available trek. Consult travel agents in Pokhara or your hotel.
The Annapurna Circuit is the popular name for a 300 kilometre trek in Nepal around the Annapurna mountain range in the Himalayas. The trek reaches an altitude of 5,300 metres on the Thorung La pass, touching the edge of the fabled Tibetan plateau. The magnificent mountain scenery, seen at close quarters includes Annapurna 8,091 metres which was the first 8,000 metre peak to be climbed, the magnificent ice pyramid Dhauligiri 8,167 metres, once the home of the legendary Buddhist guru Padmasamba, and Machhupuchhare 6,993 metres, considered by many to be the most beautiful mountain in the world. (www.yetizone.com/annapurna_index.htm ).
On the surface, the Annapurna Circuit sounds like the biggest challenge of them all. The Annapurna Circuit is basically a loop, normally walked anti-clockwise, that circles round the east-west Annapurna mountain range, starting and ending at Pokhara to the south of the range (http://www.moxon.net/nepal/annapurna_circuit.html ) (search for blogs and stories on this circuit).
Day 23-Rest, recall and ‘bootsnall’!Day 24-27 Sauraha
Head for Chitwan ‘Sauraha’ for a 3 day resort! From Pokhara, you will find shuttles going straight there; it takes usually 4 h-6 hours. You can also take a flight to Bharatpur-Chitwan instead. Experience the wild Nepal, the forest and the flora-fauna.
Day 28-30-Head Back to Kathmandu-back to the hi-tech civilization! Add this experience to your account. Share it with Bootsnall and ….Plan your next trip!