Budget Trip to NEPAL

Home to the highest point on Earth, the mount Everest, Nepal is a small landlocked country between India and China occupied Tibet. The Himalayan Mountain Range spreads in the length of this country and acts as a barrier towards greater Tibet. The country is a hot destination for travelers around the globe to witness the Mount Everest from a distance, some even attempt the summit, some trek to the base camp. It is one of the cheapest countries to travel to.

Since Nepal shares border with India, there are land borders through which you can walk into Nepal. Indians only need to produce a valid government issued id card to pass through the border. Foreigners can also walk to Nepal from India if you have a valid visa for Nepal. The easiest land border to get into nepal from India is through Sonauli in Uttar Pradesh near the city of Gorakhpur.

The major tourist destinations in Nepal are Kathmandu, the capital of the country, Pokara, a lake city and Lumbini where Gauthama Buddha was born. It will only take six to eight days to travel to all these three destinations in Nepal and spend some wonderful time there. Indians can also just cross the border in Sonauli and visit Lumbini which is very close to the border in a day and return back for the sake of it.

How to get there :

Indians dont need visa to visit Nepal. But one should carry a valid id proof while in Nepal. The voter ID, Aadhar card or a passport will do. The currency exchange rate is 1.6 per 1 INR. So you get 16 Nepali rupees for 10 Indian rupees in Nepal. Most of the shops and street vendors in Nepal accepts Indian currency, usually the 10, 50, and 100 rupees notes. Big shops even accepts the 500 and 2000 rupees notes now. You can also exchange the Indian currency to Nepali rupees at any money exchange facilities or at the vendors in Sonauli as soon as you walk into Nepal.

When traveling from Delhi, its better to take a train from delhi to Gorakhpur and then change to a bus from Sonauli to Kathmandu. Else you can fly from Delhi or Kolkata to Kathmandu, where the flight rates are the lowest.

While traveling in Train from Delhi, get down in Gorakhpur. The bus station is just opposite to the railway station and take a bus to Sonauli from there. Once you reach Sonauli, walk towards Nepal and cross the land border. Buses to Kathmandu and Pokhara are available from the Nepal side of Sonauli once you walk about one kilometer from the border.

There is a small checkpoint while crossing the border, usually the security guards don’t check you while entering. Luggage is checked while returning from Nepal, as things are smuggled from Nepal to India and not the opposite. The security personnel may ask you the ID card, once you clear the checkpoint, you literally entered Nepal. The adjacent town in Nepal is Bhairahawa. You can get cheap accommodations there if you are planning for an overnight stay at the border. Buses to Lumbini, the birth place of Gauthama Buddha are available from Bhairahawa.

There are many shops and money exchange centres on either side of the road. The current Indian to Nepali currency exchange rate is 1.6, ie. you will get 160 Nepali currency for every 100 Indian rupees. It’s better to change some of your Indian currency to Nepali rupees for ease of travelling from the border itself. Although you can change the currency in Kathmandu or any other city.

The best travel route I suggest is to travel from the border to Kathmandu and stay there for at least three days. From Kathmandu you can travel to Pokhara the more hippie vibe town. There are a lot of bus and shared taxi services from Kathmandu to Pokhara. If you take a shared taxi at noon, you can easily reach Pokhara by evening. It hardly takes 6 hours, considering the traffic on road. Overnight sleeper buses are also available but the share taxis are faster and cheaper.

Pokhara is much quieter than Kathmandu and you can stay there for two days and travel around. If you are interested in Annapurna range trekking, this is where you start. There are small trekking and hiking options here. If you are interested in doing some small hiking you can stay here for few more days. The beautiful Phewa lake is in Pokhara. You can stay near the lake if you would like to spend a bit more money on your vacation.

For a budget trip to Nepal on a 10 day’s visit, it’s better to return from Pokhara. The holy city of Lumbini is on the way close to the border. Take an overnight bus from Pokhara to Lumbini, you will reach by early morning. Lumbi is a temple city, the birth place of Gouthama Buddha. Apart from the main temple, there are a lot of other Buddhist temples nearby which are built by different Buddhist groups from different countries.

Each temple here shows the architectural marvel of different countries. It will be a wonderful experience to look at the place of worship in other countries. All these temples are built like the ones in its respective countries. As there are a lot of temples here it will be hard to visit each and everyone on a single day. But the famous and larger ones can be visited in a single day.

If you choose to stay in Lumbini for a night you will be able to visit all the temples in two days. The temples here provide accommodations at cheap rates. But it won’t be available all the time, since pilgrims from the respective countries visit and all the rooms will be booked. You can ask the representatives at the temples if there are rooms available.

From Lumbini it’s hardly an hour’s journey to the border. The vehicles will drop you at Bhairahawa. From there, you can walk and cross the border or take a cycle rickshaw. You will be able to cross the border only after a security check.

More details about the places to visit and things to do in Nepal will be in the next post. Stay tuned.