Tourism in Nepal: best value for money
Nepal in international rating
· Lonely Planet has awarded Nepal the title of “Best Value Destination, and 5th among the top 10 countries.
· Nepal was voted No 1 destination to visit in 2016 by Rough Guides based in UK.
· Nepal ranked 6th in National Geographic Traveller magazine’s “Cool List 2016”
· Nepal featured in Fodor’s Go List 2016 and Forbes’ 14 Coolest Places to visit in 2016.
· Kathmandu is in 19th position in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Destinations 2015.
Lumbini of Nepal and Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) are the only places on earth of its kind. The Birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha, the holiest of the holy for more than 300m Buddhism believers in China, can be a place to be visited at least once in their lifetime. Mount Everest- the highest peak on the earth with 7 more world’s tallest mountains are the unique treasure of mankind situated in Nepal.
Nepal is gifted with natural beauty with pristine land, white Himalayas, clear lakes, clean air, blue sky, white clouds, and white water.
Occupying only 0.1% of the total landmass of the earth, Nepal is home to
· 2 % of all flowering plants of the world
· 8 % of the world’s population of birds with above 848 species
· 4% of mammals on the earth
· 11 of the world’s 15 families of butterflies with above 500 species
· 600 indigenous plant families
· 319 species of exotic orchids
The altitude of the country ranges from 60 m above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8848 m, all within the aerial distance of 150 km. resulting into climatic conditions from subtropical to arctic. Nowhere in the world is there such a great variation. Travelling in the hilly region, one can feel difference in every 100 meter walk up or down in the mid-hills of Nepal.
Unique place for adventure
Nepal is a unique place for adventure tourism as it holds:
· 8 highest peaks of the world including Mt. Everest
· Unique opportunity for Trekking and expeditions, bungee jumping, canyoning, kayaking, white water rafting, paragliding, sky diving, hot air ballooning, mountain biking, Everest marathon, mountaineering, elephant polo, elephant riding, jungle safari to watch tigers, rhinos, spotted dears and many other products of adventure tourism.
Nepal’s Lumbini is the birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha. There are a number of Buddhist sites of ancient civilizations such as Kapilvastu, Sagarhawa, Niglihawa, Ramgram and Kudan. There are stupas of historic significance like Swayambhu and Bauddhanath. Also there are innumerable Hindu temples. Nepal is the unique place of blending of Hinduism and Buddhism, where Hindus and Buddhists visit each other’s holy sites such as Swayambhu, Muktinath and Haleshi with same faith and affinity. Nepal is the only country on earth having living goddess,
The country of about 30 million people embraces more than 100 ethnicities and 100 plus languages and dialects.
Tourists are given high respects from Nepali people. Nepali traditional culture regards tourists as their gods. Travelers go to Nepal as tourists and return as friends.
World Heritage Sites
There are 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal. Two are in cultural category and two are in natural category. The World Cultural Heritage sites of Nepal are Lumbini, the birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha and seven monuments of Kathmandu valley within a radius of 20 km (together counted as one Heritage Site). The two World Natural Heritage Sites are Chitawan and Sagarmatha National Parks. Kathmandu valley World Heritage sites comprises of three historical palaces- Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur Durbar Squares; two Buddhist Stupas- Swayambhunath and Bouddhanath; and two Hindu temples-Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan.
Major Tourism Sites
Kathmandu Valley comprising of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan represents rich cultural history with temples, pagodas, stupas and breathtaking ancient architectural excellence.
Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is one of the world’s oldest cities. The old part of the city, with narrow medieval streets and lovely little shrines, centers on the Durbar Square. One can find distinctive pagoda-roofed temples, stone sculptures, old monasteries and historic monuments in Durbar Square.
Bhaktapur is a museum of medieval art and architecture with many fine examples of sculpture, woodcarving and colossal pagoda temples consecrated to different gods and goddesses. The city is shaped like a conch shell-one of the emblems of the god Vishnu. Pottery and weaving are its major traditional industries. The cityies fifteen Kilometers to the east of Kathmandu. The city is at about 1,400 meters above sea level.
The ancient name of Patan is Lalitpur which means a city of beauty. It is indeed a city of beauty and grace and is planned on a circular format with Buddhist stupas at each of the four points of the compass. The city is three Kilometers south-east of Kathmandu across the river Bagmati. Like Kathmandu, its center of attraction is Durbar Square complex, situated right in the middle of the market place.
The city is full of Buddhist monuments and Hindu temples with fine bronze gateways, guardian deities and wonderful carvings. Noted for its craftsmen and metal workers, it is also known as the city of artists.
Pokhara, an enchanting city nestled in the tranquil valley, is the starting point for many of Nepal’s most popular trekking and rafting destinations. The serenity of Phewa Lake and the magnificence of the fish-tail summit of Machachhapuchhre (6,977m) rising behind it creates an ambiance of peace and magic. The valley surrounding Pokhara is home to thick forests, gushing rivers, clear lakes and the world famous views of the Himalayas. Situated 200 km west of Kathmandu, the city is connected by air and road not only from Kathmandu but from other parts of the country. Pokhara offers magnificent views of Dhaulagiri, Manaslu,Machchhapuchhre, five peaks of Annapurna and other snow-capped peaks.
Lumbini, the birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha. The Shakya prince and the ultimate Buddha, the Enlightened One, is the pilgrimage destination of the world’s millions of people faithful to all schools of Buddhism. UNESCO lists this nativity site as a World Heritage Site.
The main attraction of Lumbini remains the Sacred Garden which spread over 8 sq km, possessing all the treasures of the historic area. The Mayadevi temple is the main attraction for pilgrims and archaeologists alike. This is the holy place where Mayadevi, Lord Buddha’s mother, had given birth to him. Standing west to the Mayadevi shrine is the oldest monument of Nepal, the Ashoka Pillar. Emperor Ashoka erected the pillar in 249 BC to commemorate his pilgrimage to the sacred site. To the south of the pillar, we find the sacred pond, (Puskarni) where Queen Mayadevi had taken a bath just before giving birth to Lord Buddha. Places of various interest surrounds the area. There are other places of interest too nearby. It is accessible by air from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa. From Kathmandu it takes about eight hours by bus or car and half an hour from aeroplane.
Chitwan is one of the finest national parks in Asia, renowned for its concentration of wildlife and top class tourist lodges, which provide the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat. Chitwan which means the ‘heart of the jungle’ is among the last surviving example of the continuous band of forests and grasslands, which once extended from the Indus River in Pakistan to the Burmese border.
The main attraction here is the Chitwan National Park, One of the largest forests regions in Asia teeming with wildlife such as the rare great one-horned rhinoceros, several species of dear, sloth bear, leopard, wild boar, fresh water, dolphin, crocodile, more than 350 species of birds and the elusive Bengal tiger. Chitwan National Park is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Visitors to Chitwan may enjoy elephant back excursions, nature walks, canoe trips and jungle treks. There are several authorized agencies to organize such safaris. Visitors may also take a river raft, first driving from Kathmandu to the river Trishuli or Seti Khola. The five-hour drive to Chitwan (165km overland) from Kathmandu is filled with thrilling views of the hills, rivers and plains with jungles on either side.
Muktinath & Jomsom
It is believed that all miseries / sorrows are relieved once you visit this temple (Mukti=Nirvana, Nath=God). The famous temple of Lord Muktinath lies in the district of Mustang and is situated about 18km northeast of Jomsom at an altitude of 3,749m. The main shrine is a pagoda shaped temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Set into the wall around are 108 waterspouts from which holy water is pouring. The temple is situated on a high mountain range and is visited during fair weather. There are two ways to get to Muktinath from Kathmandu. Either take a direct flight from Kathmandu via Pokhara to Jomsom and hike for 7-8 hours via Kagbeni or trek all the way from Pokhara which takes 7-8 days.
This temple is held sacred by Hindus as well as Buddhists. The Jwala Mai temple nearby contains a spring and an eternal flame fed by natural gas underground. Jomsom is a major center in the Annapurna region. There is a world-class accommodation facility in Jomsom, where one can enjoy remarkable natural beauty.
Similarly there are other tourism sites like Khumbu ( trekking), Palpa, Janakpur, Rara, Dolpa, Shuklafanta, Bardia, Rasuwa (trekking), Barun Valley, Koshi tappu, Namobuddha, Haleshi, Ilam, etc.
Nepal can be visited round the year. There are four major seasons- winter (Dec-Feb), Spring (Mar-May), Summer(June-Aug) and Autumn (Sept-Nov). Rain starts from June till mid September.
What to wear
Light weight clothing is recommended from May through October. Warm garments are required in October-March. An umbrella or raincoat is a must for the rainy season. Depending on the area you travel, special clothings may require for your trekking or mountaineering.
Access to Nepal from China
Air China and Sichuan Airlines(from/to Chengdu,Lhasa), China Southern Airlines (from/to Guanzhou) and China Eastern Airlines (from/to Kunming ) have direct flights to Kathmandu.
Visitors coming to Nepal by land may enter from Kodari or Keirong in Nepal-China border. The distance from Kodari to Kathmandu is 116 km. and from Keirong to Kathmandu is 153 km. Besides, visitors may enter into Nepal through Nepal-India border points.
Embassy of Nepal, Beijing, Consulate General Office in Guanzhou, Lhasa and Hong Kong, and Honorary Consulate office in Shanghai provide instant visa on the same day of application. Visa is also available on arrival at airport. Government of Nepal has waived visa fee for Chinese visitors.
Foreign Currencies must be exchanged only through the banks or authorized foreign exchange dealers. The receipts from such transactions are to be retained. Visitors can exchange money at the foreign exchange counter at the airport upon arrival also. Chinese visitors can carry and exchange RMB as well.
Prepaid taxis are available at the Kathmandu Airport. Similarly, metered taxis with black number plates are also available. Down town is around 10 km from airport and it may cost under $ 10 by taxi.
All baggage must be declared and cleared through the customs on arrival. Personal effects are permitted free entry. A tourist may bring in dutiable goods such as tobacco and liquor within the prescribed quantity free of duty. Carrying narcotics is strictly prohibited. Visitors can export souvenirs to their respective countries. The exports of antiques, however requires special permission from Department of Archaeology.
Nepal Airlines and other private domestic Airlines have extensive network of air services to major parts of the country. Many domestic airlines operate early morning one hour mountain flights round the year to view white mountains. Besides, Helicopter services are also available for viewing snow-capped mountains.
Metered taxis are easily recognizable by the taxi sign and black number plates and can be hailed off the street. It is also possible to hire mountain or motor bikes at nominal rates. Renting car to look around may also be a good idea. Tourist buses also operate between major cities of the country.
Tourist Police, which works as a special unit of Nepal Police, takes care of tourists in Kathmandu and in other major touristic destinations. Tourists sites are under patrolling and 24 hour service is available.
Hotel and tour facilities
Nepal has every category of accommodation facility ranging from international standard star hotels and resorts to budget hotels. Licensed tour guides and authorized trekking guides or porters may be hired during travel or trekking. Some sites in Himalayan region are allowed for group tourists only.
Eating and drinking
Kathmandu and other cities offer incredible selection of dining opportunities to meet the choice of visitors for food and drinks. There are many restaurants providing Nepali food and as well as Chinese, continental, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Thai food, etc. Food and are readily available. Drinking bottled water is advisable.
Shopping can be exciting in Kathmandu and other major cities. There are numerous tourists’ shops on the main streets and in hotel arcades. Main tourists attractions are on handicraft items such as jewelleries, statues, thangka painting, pashmina, pottery, wood carving. Nepal is also a good place to find genuine luxury goods in departmental stores and shopping plazas and in other tourist destinations.
Government offices are open from Sunday to Friday. Normal working hour is 10 am to 5 pm, however the offices are closed at 3 pm on Friday. Except public holidays, Saturday is the weekend holiday.
The country code of Nepal is 977 and the area code of Kathmandu is 1. Internet and wifi service is available in hotels and internet café in major streets. General post office is located in Sundhara in Kathmandu where express mail service is available. Other private mail services like DHL and Fedex are located in main streets.
Outdoor attractions and activities
Nepal has unmatchable world class attractions- be it mountaineering, trekking, mountain biking, nature tours, culture tours, pilgrim tours, white water rafting,
canyoning (cascading), kayaking, canoeing, mountain flights, pony trekking,heli trekking, jungle safaris, bird watching, fishing, paragliding, ultra light aircraft ride, bungee jumping; we have it all. Special interest tours like orchid tours, culture trek, honey hunting, village tours, meditation courses, and cave tours and other kinds of tours are also available. For organizing your tours please contact: Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (www.natta.org.np) or Nepal Association of Tour Operators (www.nepaltouroperators.org).
Nepal Tourism Board (www.welcomenepal.com)
Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (www.natta.org.np)
Nepal Association of Tour Operators (www.nepaltouroperators.org)
Hotel Association of Nepal (www.hotelassociationnepal.org.np)
Nepal Mountaineering Association (www.nepalmountaineering.org)