|Frequently Asked Questions: Travelling to Nepal|
Not really. If you, like almost all travelers to Nepal, are flying into Kathmandu, finding a place is never really a problem even during the busiest tourist season of the year (October-December and March-April). If you are entering Nepal overland, you will probably spend your first night-stop in Nepal in either Kathmandu or Pokhara, the two main tourist centers of the country. Both these places have excellent ranges of places to stay, from expensive international style hotels to cheap and comfortable lodges.
If you plan to stay overnight elsewhere in the country, there is not much you can do in terms of pre-booking for accommodation anyway. And you will not have much of a choice in terms of comfort and sanitary requirements, but you will find a shelter for the night –just ask around.
Okay, I am in Kathmandu or Pokhara already. I haven’t done anything regarding finding a place for the night. How do I go about arranging it?
It is simple. If you fly in, step outside the airport. You will probably be badgered by a crowd of agents from various hotels all trying to win you over to stay at their place. You can bargain. Read further on for a guide on price level. If you find bargaining with dozens of agents outside the airport a little unappealing (which you probably will), just take a cab and ask him to take you to Thamel if in Kathmandu, (the ride is about 8 km and should cost you about $1.50), or Lake-side if in Pokhara (the ride is very short and should cost you less than $0.75). Practically every house in these areas is a hotel or a lodge.
As anywhere in the world, the cost of accommodation depends on what facilities are provided and where they are located. Yet, by international standards, accommodation in Nepal in most cases is very cheap. Kathmandu and Pokhara have their own tourist quarters (Thamel in Kathmandu, Lakeside in Pokhara) with fierce competition among budget lodges. These lodges provide a double room for $5 to $10 per night (depending upon your bargaining skills) with basic facilities like running hot shower facilities, flush toilets, foam mattresses and clean sheets. Then there are the so called “hotels”. Most of these are slightly more luxurious than the “lodges” with probably attached bath, carpeting, furniture etc. These hotels quote their prices in dollars ranging on average $15-$40 per night. Finally you can also stay at “luxury hotels” which are generally over-priced, like any world-class hotel, at a range of $100-$300 per night.
Beyond Kathmandu and Pokhara, “hotels” and “luxury hotels” are practically non-existent. But finding accommodation in “teahouses” and “trekking inns” is relatively easy, especially along popular trekking routes. They may or may not have hot water or electricity (less than ten percent of Nepal has access to electricity). Read the next answer for guidance on staying at these places. Expect the cost per night in most of these trekking inns to be between $1 – $4 per night. The teahouses cost even less: at most $0.50 per night.
Not really if you are staying at one of the lodges, hotels and luxury hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Your lodge-keeper is going to be a very helpful person who will most likely speak fluent English and will arrange for anything you may need during your stay such as laundry, bus tickets, phone calls and so on. It’s certain that your room is safe when it’s locked. However, it is advisable not to leave your valuables such as jewelry, money, passport, camera in your room while you are gone –have them stored specially with the hotel or carry them in a money belt or pouch around your neck or waist.
The teahouses and trekking-inns outside Kathmandu and Pokhara are not very wholesome. They generally have smelly squat toilets (if any), and no shower facilities. Bringing your own sleeping sheet/mat, mosquito coils (especially, if in the southern plaines), toilet paper is advisable. All these are readily available in Kathmandu or Pokhara for reasonable prices. As your own little contribution to prevent rapid environmental degradation of Nepal, whenever possible choose teahouses which use kerosene rather than fire-wood as the source of energy.