…If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard those words!
And if you threw in, “Do you know how lucky you are to be able to go to Nepal?! You know, not everyone can afford to travel like that!,” I would certainly be retired on a sandy beach with my feet in the water right now.
Here is the absolute truth: each of us makes choices in our daily lives. I choose to make choices that allow and/or help me to travel. One of those choices includes travel hacking. If you haven’t yet read “Fly to Nepal from the U.S. for as Little as $150!,” please do.
Travel hacking, along with the fact that most Asian countries are at least 3x cheaper than Europe, Canada and the United States has allowed me to literally spend (some times, significantly less than) one month’s rent in Chicago for an entire month’s stay in a country such as Nepal… while doing just about whatever tourist activity that I wanted. And I promise you that you can very easily do the same… if you choose to Live A Life In Motion.
“Asia is three times cheaper than Europe, Canada and the United States? Get out of town! I don’t believe you!”
“It absolutely is! Let me give you some examples what you can expect to pay in Nepal.”
Note: Since the motto of the Live a Life in Motion community is “one step out of your everyday life,” and we are about sharing the most effective solutions with each other, all of the examples that will be used in this article are via utilizing the local approach to visiting Nepal. Not only does the local approach give one access to more Nepali people and, in turn, a better understanding of Nepal, but it also allows you to receive a lot more in return for your hard-earned money without diminishing the quality of your comparable goods received. Each of the solutions that is mentioned in this article is one that Ingvill and/or myself has implemented each time we have visited Nepal.
Generally speaking, regardless of location, the cost of airfare and lodging are usually the most expensive portions of any adventure. The good news is that not only can we use travel hacking to significantly reduce the cost of our airfare, we can also use it to significantly reduce the cost of our lodging! However, travel hacking notwithstanding, let’s take a look at what to expect on lodging per night in Kathmandu.
Five-star luxury hotel: $100/night USD (includes airport pickup/return, wifi and breakfast; amenities include swimming pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, gym, etc.)
Three-star hotel: $40/night USD (includes airport pickup/return, wifi and breakfast)
One-star guesthouse: $10/night USD (includes wifi)
Note: The per night costs above are an estimate for what to expect for a one week stay and take in to our example from last week’s article. (Prices are as of July 29 for a September 21-28, 2015 stay). Lodging in Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest city, and its second most visited tourist destination, is comparable to Kathmandu.
Food and Drink
Food and drink are our lifelines … so, naturally, this is a very important topic to many people who may wish to travel to Nepal. Therefore, below we will do our best to answer the following common questions:
“How much can I expect to spend per meal in Nepal?”
“What is Nepali food?”
“I am a vegetarian. Can I find a vegetarian option in Nepal?”
“I have food allergies. Will that be a problem?”
“I am a picky eater. Are there western alternatives in Nepal?
“Is the water safe to drink?”
“I am afraid to get sick. What advice might you have for someone with a sensitive stomach or in general?”
Just like in the developed world, there are a plethora of food and drink alternatives in Nepal… and the prices for each can fluctuate mightily. In Kathmandu and Pokhara, just as in many tourist areas, one can find just about any type of food and drink one could ever want – this includes villages in tourist trekking areas. Usually, the only difference is the price that one is expected to pay as the altitude increases. Generally speaking, one can expect to pay between $5-15 per meal in the tourist areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara for western-style food.
It goes without saying that by and large the best food available in every country is that which is indigenous to each country. While one can go to Nepal and eat pizza, steak (Yak) or Thai, the best food in Nepal is Nepali food. Not surprisingly, Nepali food is usually also the most economical.
The main food staple in Nepal is dal bhat, which consists of rice, lentils, vegetables and chutney. It is common for Nepali to eat dal bhat at every meal and its energy is so well known that the Nepali say “dal bhat power 24 hour.” For certain, this is the meal that trekkers, guides and porters alike enjoy after a long day. A good dal bhat is absolutely delicious and, unlike all other meals in Nepal, it generally comes in unlimited quantities when ordered out. A dal bhat meal costs anywhere from $3-$12, with the highest end being at the highest altitudes in popular tourist trekking areas.
As meat is very expensive for the Nepali, many Nepali are vegetarian, therefore, vegetarians will find the Nepali cuisine, such as dal bhat, to be very accommodating. Since Nepal borders China, there is also a large Tibetan community and gastronomic influence in Nepal, which includes many types of delicious chicken and/or beef soups, noodle and dumpling-filled dishes. In popular areas of Nepal, restaurants and teahouses, alike, have become accustomed to tourists with food allergies; however, it is wise in all cases to ensure proper attention is paid.
When in Kathmandu and Pokhara, generally speaking, I always buy bottled water and have never had an issue with it. When trekking, however, I use iodine drops to ensure that my water is bacteria-free. I prefer liquid iodine drops to iodine or chlorine tablets because even though they are much more messy, I have found liquid iodine to be much more effective and quicker acting. Liquid iodine is also much more cost effective. Alternatively, boiled water can be purchased inexpensively in teahouses on most tourist trek locations. It is advised to use treated or boiled water when trekking so as to prevent any issues with bacteria. While foregoing stomach or diarrhea issues cannot be guaranteed, drinking treated water goes a long way to preventing it.
With eight of the ten highest mountains in the world residing within its border as well as one of Asia’s best preserved jungles and one of the best rafting rivers in the world, just to name a few, Nepal is an adventurer’s paradise! Not to be overlooked, Nepal is also home to the birthplace of Buddha as well as to many important temples and UNESCO world heritage sites. In short, it is difficult to run out of things to do and places to see in Nepal!
When one thinks of an adventurer’s paradise or hears of a friend’s travels to a place such as Nepal, many times, it is widely assumed that one must pay nearly a king’s fortune to obtain experiences that will, most certainly, last a lifetime. Generally speaking, nothing could be further from the truth!
Note: The following examples are of top-notch quality trips. As with any trip, costs can vary based on exclusions/inclusions, transportation options, size of group, single supplement, etc. Please check out Ingvill and my special offer below for further information. Lastly, when adventure traveling in Nepal, it is important to consider adventure travel insurance. In the past, I have used World Nomads. Luckily, I have never had to file a claim, so I cannot attest to any claim experience with them. Insurance is a very personal matter and requires due diligence. This is not an endorsement; it is just an example. We do not have an affiliation.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek is Nepal’s most popular trek and, although the 14-day trek now has a shortened route that includes a road to Manang, it is largely considered one of the best treks in the world and includes a short trek to the famous Poon Hill and its sunrise view of the Annapurna range.
Not to be outdone, the shorter 10-day Annapurna Base Camp also includes the famous Poon Hill view of the Annapurna range and also a 360-degree view of some of the tallest and most beautiful mountains in the world.
The cost, per person, for a two-person trip: including all transportation to/from Pokhara, accommodation, food and drink (tea/water), guide and porter salaries, insurance and room and board, permits, taxes and cold weather equipment = less than $1,000 for the Annapurna Circuit trek and less than $800 USD for the Annapurna Base Camp trek.
Home to the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, adventurers flock to Nepal in order to get a glimpse at this 8850 meter (29,035 foot) giant. By adding on the Island Peak side trek and a few more days, one has the option to summit a 6,000-meter (19,685 foot) peak. The Everest Region tends to be more expensive than the Annapurna range, especially if one wishes to add-on the Island Peak trek, which requires climbing gear, climbing guides, etc.
The cost, per person, for a two-person trip for the 14-day Everest Base Camp: including all transportation to/from Lukla, accommodation, food and drink (tea/water), guide and porter salaries, insurance and room and board, permits, taxes and cold weather equipment = less than $1,200 USD
The cost, per person, for a two-person trip for the 19-day Everest Base Camp with Island Peak: including all transportation to/from Lukla, accommodation, food and drink (tea/water), guide and porter salaries, insurance and room and board, permits, taxes and cold weather equipment and climbing gear = less than $2,000 USD
Have you ever wanted to bathe with an elephant or play with baby elephants? Have you ever desired to ride on an elephant in a jungle in search of tigers and rhinos? Or maybe paddle on boat and watch crocodiles in their natural habit? If so, one of the Asia’s best-preserved jungles, Chitwan National Park, awaits you in Nepal!
The cost, per person, for a two-person 3-day/2-night trip to Chitwan: including all transportation to/from Chitwan, accommodation, food and drink (tea/water), permits, guides, cultural tour, riverside sunset, canoe ride, elephant breeding center, elephant bath, elephant safari, jungle/nature walk, bird watching = less than $150
Do you want to experience one of the most difficult rafting rivers in the world? Or do you prefer a more relaxing, lazy river ride? If so, look no further than the, respective, Upper Bhote Koshi and Trishuli rivers!
The cost, per person, for a two-person 2-day/1-night trip on Upper Bhote Koshi River: transportation to/from the Bhote Koshi, accommodation, equipment and lunch = less than $100
The cost, per person, for a two-person 1-day trip on Trishuli River: transportation to/from the Trishuli, lunch and equipment = less than $50
Important Note: As we reported in “Nepal: More Than Meets The Eye… A Country in Peril,” western countries reaffirmed that Nepal is a safe place to travel again in early July. We also reported on the absolute necessity for tourists to return to Nepal this autumn. If you haven’t already read our article on the immediate issues that Nepal now faces or “10 Reasons to Put Nepal at the Top of Your Travel Destination List This Autumn,” please do. Now is the time to visit Nepal – and not just for obvious reasons, either. Not only will it have an impact on your life, it will leave a huge impact on the lives of many others.
As you can see, visiting Nepal is more reasonable than one might think. When you compare what we learned from travel hacking, a trip to Nepal — and a once in a lifetime experience — can be less expensive than a traditional trip within the U.S. or Europe. This is especially true when we are willing to take “one step out of your everyday life.”
Because Ingvill and I believe so much in the need for tourists to return to Nepal, we have decided to introduce a special introductory offer: for each person who purchases a t-shirt from the Happy Heart Universe store or donates $100 or more to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund, we will offer our hands-on assistance in helping you to travel to Nepal this autumn. All you need to do is to send us an e-mail to Ingvill@livealifeinmotion.com, along with an attached PDF of your purchase/donation, and we will help you to organize your trip this autumn to Nepal. (Valid until December 1, 2015. If you purchased a Happy Heart Universe or made a donation of $100 or more to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund prior to the publishing date of this article, this introductory offer is extended to you as well. We thank you again for your generosity.)
We look forward to seeing you in Nepal!