We were departing from Okinawa, Japan and at the time (2017) there seemed to be 2 main options;
- China Eastern; this seems to be the cheaper option however there are 2 stopovers, one of which is pretty long overnight in Kunming.
- Peach airways to Bangkok and then booking separate tickets to Kathmandu; this was slightly more expensive (I want to say it was maybe $20-$30 per person more) and the not great flight times (the Peach flight departs Okinawa late at night and on the return leg departs Bangkok in the small hours) but overall was less travel time and we managed to grab good prices from Bangkok – Kathmandu on one of my favorite airlines, Thai Airways.
Regardless of where you are departing from you are more than likely going to be arriving into Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.
My best advice for arriving into Tribhuvan is to get organized before you depart by checking out the latest visa requirements and ensuring you have all the paperwork, photos and money. It isn’t super complicated by any means but there is a lot of lining up and waiting so the more prepared the better. We did see a quite a few people who weren’t prepared and it definitely delayed them entering.
Exiting the airport can be overwhelming particularly if you haven’t experienced arriving into heavily populated Asian countries before! There are a lot of people trying to get your business. We had organized with our hotel for an airport transfer, however Matt walked up and down the line twice and couldn’t find our name, or our hotel! Eventually someone turned up from the hotel, however they were there to collect someone else. The hotel driver ended up sorting a taxi for us which was great because he negotiated the price (which was really cheap, less than $5).
TIP : Always confirm your transfers with the hotel prior to arrival!
WHEN TO GO
This naturally depends on what you want to see and do!
There were 3 main things we wanted to go to Nepal for;
- Holi Festival (spring time) the date changes each year but generally the end of spring after the full moon in March
- Trekking; has a season and you want to avoid the summer months which is monsoon time
- Safari; open year round but for what we wanted to see we knew going in the dryer months/spring time would be best
THREE WEEK ITINERARY
Nights 1-3 | Kathmandu
Kathmandu isn’t for everyone but I loved it! Yes its dusty and busy but I loved walking and getting lost in the streets, admiring all the architecture, the markets, food stalls etc.
- We stayed in the Thamel area; we wanted easy access to cafes, shops and sites and Thamel was great for this.
- Great place to celebrate Holi
- Durbar Square
- Swayanbhunath; we visited at sunset and it was beautiful
Nights 4 – 5 | Pokhara
Pokhara is A LOT quieter than the bustling Kathmandu, it has a beautiful lake and loads to places to eat. We had heard great things about Pokhara and while we are pleased we went it wasn’t my favorite. There is plenty to do here but our main reason for swinging by Pokhara was using it as a base for our trekking; we stayed a couple of nights before and a few nights after.
- Eden and Matt went paragliding here – a definite highlight for them both
- Phewa Tal
- Eat – lots of great places to eat, we loved the dessert pizza and the milkshakes!
- Old Pokhara – I had read this would be great place to check out the Newari houses, but it was kind of out-of-the-way and not a whole lot of Newari houses left.
Night 6 – 10 | Trekking
I have written all about our trek so I wont repeat myself but it was everything I had imagined and more; exhausting, breathtaking views, simply incredible.
We chose a 5 night Ghorepani – Poonhill trek and it was perfect for families with children. If you are interested in doing some trekking I would encourage you to read my post and if you have any questions please message me!
Night 11 – 13 | Pokhara
As I mentioned above we came back to Pokhara after our trek, my thinking when booking the trip was that this would be a great place to rest and recover, and it was but I actually wished we had done things a little different. If I could do it again, I would have stayed an additional night in Pokhara at the start and done ‘more stuff’ then, then only spend one night in Pokhara after our trek before moving on.
Night 14 – 17 | Chitwan
Our time in Chitwan was our ‘splurge’ and we stayed in a beautiful lodge where we hung out and ate some amazing food and of course did a safari.
The safari was incredible, we saw so much including rhino, baby rhinos and even a bengal tiger!
I think we would have spent one less night here also, it was a great place to relax but after a couple of days I was ready to move on. I should also confess that I am someone who likes to be on the go and tend to get ‘itchy feet’ if I have too much down time!
Night 18 – 19 | Kathmandu
With the nights that I would have shaved off in other places I would have added to Kathmandu. I would have loved to have explored more of the Kathmandu Valley area. We did use this time to eat all the momos and do some exploring.
This trip was so memorable, even a year on we still think about it all the time and definitely can not wait to return. If you are thinking about going and want more information or have any questions, leave a comment or send me a message!