Best Time for Backpacking in KathmanduKathmandu features a pleasant weather pattern stabilizing at 19 degrees C - 35 degrees C in the summers and 2 degrees C - 12 degrees C in the winters. Backpackers find the best time to visit Kathmandu to be during the September to November bracket. The skies part ways to reveal the glorious mountain ranges and views. Another great time to visit is around spring (March- April). This, however, is the peak tourism time and you’re likely to not enjoy the complete experience. Avoid backpacking in the months of June to October, when rainfall is abundant. in Kathmandu
Ideal DurationKathmandu is an inevitable destination to come across as you enter Nepal, being the capital city. You can spend as much as a week here feeling completely at home. We would recommend you to spend at least 3 days backpacking across the city covering major heritage sites, food joints, treks and nightlife.
Travel Costs and Backpacker BudgetsKathmandu is among the cheapest cities across the world and a perfect beginners’ start at backpacking. You can start from a basic budget of USD 10-15 per day ( INR 500-1000), covering dorms, historical sites and street food all on foot. However, you can extend your budget to USD 30 (INR 2000 and above) and upgrade to better hotels, travel in public transport and visit all historical sites with money left to spare. Don’t forget to haggle for items you buy, but offer a decent, deserving price. Negotiation skills help a lot in places you think you’re being ripped off. Be confident and choose to walk away if you aren’t getting the price you think the item/service deserves.
Some basic costs are:
1. A dorm bed in a hostel: USD 4 -
2. Airbnb room/entire apartment: USD 10- 50+
3. 10-minute rickshaw ride: USD 2
4. A meal in a budget Thamel restaurant: USD 3-6
5. Momos (Nepalese Dumplings): USD 1-3 per plate
Visa Details and Border CrossingIndians enjoy free movement in Nepal, while the citizens of SAARC nations receive tourist visas free of cost upon arrival. These include Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Pakistan. Additionally, citizens of China, Brazil, Thailand and Russia don’t require a visa due to diplomatic agreements.
However, if you’re a citizen of any other country, you can easily avail visa upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport. Overstaying is charged as USD 5 per day with detention until you pay.
The visa fees are:
15 days – USD 25
30 days – USD 40
90 days – USD 100
You can also choose amongst a wide variety of other options like Airbnb where you can choose from different price ranges and stay. Another favourite of backpackers is the ‘Couchsurfing’ accommodation, where you can choose to stay at a host’s place who has listed himself and experience the city like a local. You can check the host’s profile and after scrutiny can send them a message listing your dates of travel. However, since accommodation is available for cheap here, you can consider either for your stay.
Best Budget Hotels and Accommodation for Backpackers1. The Alobar1000 Hostel
Known for its friendly vibe and hikers retreat, this hostel provides great accommodation at an even better price. A perfect place to meet other potential hikers and backpackers, this hostel has provisions for private and dorm rooms to choose from. It maintains its commitment towards cleanliness, tourist-centred activities and hospitality. Other features include free individual lockers, covers, internet access, travel guides, city maps and satellite TV.
2. Zostel Kathmandu
Located at Thamel, this hostel is perfect for solo backpackers. Engaging in the vibes of cosy, spirited hospitality, this backpacker hostel is among the best in class. It features a rooftop bar overlooking the city and a garden cafe alongside a rooftop hammock to take in the evenings. Dorm room costs are a little over the usual rates due to the culture and services they provide but completely worthy for the pay.
3. WanderThirst Hostel
Another safe and clean hostel, this is perfect for people on a budget who want basic facilities for the best price. Resplendent with feature wall paintings in each room, this hostel provides for a game room, restaurant and bar along with other basics like laundry services and good Wi-Fi. It offers a great value for the buck and doesn’t compromise on the hospitality.
Travelling and Getting Around in KathmanduGetting around in a foreign city is always a task. Especially when the city is a labyrinth of shops and culture with the constant hustle-bustle of people on the streets. Local transportation is often the most reliable in cases of getting to places in Kathmandu while you can also hire private drivers.
- First things first, always carry an offline map, either on your phone (via the Maps.me app or Google Maps) or physical maps of the city. Localities are identified mostly through their landmarks than names, which makes navigating a little hard.
- Most facilities and places are best reached and absorbed walking around the city. But when you’re out on a longer journey, taxis or rickshaws are the best means to get places. A reliable network of local transportation promises to get you almost anywhere at the best rate, provided you drive a hard bargain and only accept the ones with a running meter.
- You can also commute through the public buses, however, it's not an experience for everyone. It's one of the most common means to commute, with the general public preferring it for longer distances. Yet, an experience is always valuable!
- Private mode of commute include motorbikes, which again are to be driven only if you’re an experienced driver. The roads and people behind the wheel aren’t the best for drives.
- Maintain safety measures like wearing a helmet gear and driving really safely.
- Private hiring services like Ola and Uber are currently not in operation in Kathmandu.
Food in KathmanduKathmandu is a cultural hub of the best Indian and Nepali food that is available in the cheapest and mid-range costs. You’ll find various small and big restaurants with wafting fragrances of homely meals along the roads. The locals’ staple includes portions of lentils and rice known as Dal Bhaat. You will also find the inclusion of potatoes and buffalo meat on the menu.
But what Nepal’s cuisine is incomplete without, is their mouth-watering momos. So when backpacking in Kathmandu, make sure to try the best of food in Kathmandu. Choose amongst a variety of steamed or fried, vegetables or meat with a dollop of cheese!
Must try dishes1. A prominent Tibetian cuisine includes the Thupka (noodle soup) available for NPR 350-400
2. Thalis (a wholesome platter of rice, salad and curry), a common Indian-Nepali cuisine option promises to cater to your hunger at a price of just NPR 550
3. You can find a variety of cuisines in and around the Thamel area at cheap. It is a melting pot of the best food in Kathmandu and we highly recommend you to visit it when the hunger pangs start. You are sure to witness the best Indian and Tibetan food for cheap here.
4. Momos are the staple of Nepalese food with small stalls set up all across the town. With options ranging from cheap to expensive, you'll be spoilt of choice and taste.
Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the most famous is the Basantpur Durbar Square. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this is amongst the most popular places of tourist footfalls in Nepal. Strung across the entirety of it, tiny prayer flags in white, blue, green and reds adorn the area swarming with stalls of food, souvenirs and people offering prayers. You can come early in the morning to receive the best bargains at shopping stalls, with vendors selling items at a lower price as the first purchase of the day is considered lucky. This area is the best for great souvenir shopping, religious items (like the meditation bowl) amongst others.
Can be easily accessed via foot or a short rickshaw ride.
Entrance fees are as follows:
Nepali and Indians: Free
SAARC nationals: INR 140
Foreigners: USD 8
You can walk from Thamel (around half an hour) or take a pedal rickshaw. You will have to climb the stairs yourself.
Entry Fees: Free for Nepali and Indians.
SAARC Nationals: INR 30
Foreigners: USD 2
At the northern outskirts of Kathmandu, travelling to this stupa is through rickshaws or local buses plying.
Entry Fees: Free for Indians and Nepalis
SAARC citizens: INR 80
Foreigners: USD 4
Located on the outskirts of Kathmandu, you can reach the temple by a rickshaw or bus/taxi taking you about 15 minutes. Taxis might overcharge, so be sure to bargain at a rate of NPR 200- 250.
Entry Fees: Free for Indians and Nepalese
SAARC citizens: INR 80
Foreigners: USD 8
Entry Fees: Nepali and Indian: USD 1
SAARC nationals: INR 140
Foreigners: USD 5
Entry Fees: Indians and Nepalese: USD 1
SAARC citizens: INR 140
Foreigners: USD 2
- Phulchowki Hike (at Godawari):
A clear winner, this is a full day hike that will enthral you with sights of mountains and forests. It features botanical gardens, scenery and if you’re lucky- The sight of Annapurna range.
- Nagarkot Area:
With an intoxicating sunset point, we’d recommend you to leave in early from Kathmandu catching a ride to Nagarkot. You can tour around the village early in the day while trekking in the mid-afternoon, setting you up for the perfect sunset spot in the evening. Rest a day and return to Kathmandu with a full belly and vivid memories.
- Shivapuri National Park:
Again, a drive away, this is a worthy trek that rewards you through the views of the national park.
Safety Tips When Backpacking in Kathmandu
1. Monkey Business: Beware of monkeys lurking around temple complexes or markets. Notorious for their unforeseen plunders from unsuspecting tourists, you’re better off giving up your belongings than having them back.Backpacking in Kathmandu is among the best journeys one undertakes, bringing you closer to nature, tranquillity and self. Pack, Lace Up and Explore!
2. Stay Lit: Power cuts are frequent in Nepal. Always carry a headlamp or a head torch while travelling.
3. Insurance Ready: Ensure to secure travel insurance irrespective of your trip duration.
4. Cautious Crossing: Traffic in Kathmandu is brutal and very real. You won’t find roads marked properly and definitely missing pedestrian paths. Be careful when crossing busy roads and driving.
5. Unlawful 'Deals': Kathmandu and the entirety of Nepal sees hash dealers in aplenty. Drug penalties in Nepal are severe to tackle the menace of hash dealers. Dealers usually target tourists, so be extremely careful and harsh with hash purchase or indulgences.
6. Put Your Mask on: Pollution is a real problem in Kathmandu. Make sure you carry a scarf, bandana or masks (available locally too). Heat and pollution can make visits unbearable if you don’t protect yourself against it.
7. Keep Your Money Close: Beggars and thieves are common. Please be careful about your belongings and think twice before giving your money to others.
8. Have a 'App'y Journey: Useful apps worth your download:XE Currency: Saves you a lot of time when struggling with Exchange Currency Rate.Google Translate: Provides you with ease of communication with locals.Maps.Me: Maps can be used offline once downloaded while you backpack and Trek Nepal.