From most likely wherever you come from, Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu will be the first thing you see of Nepal. From here, you’re on the first step of your journey to Everest Base Camp!
Arrival in Kathmandu
Upon our arrival at the airport, we waited in line to get our visas. Americans need visas to visit Nepal and the process is fairly easy; it can all be done upon your arrival @ the airport! There is no need to get your visa ahead of time, though if you want to save time then you should do it beforehand. (We are Americans and unfamiliar with the requirements of other countries, so if you are unsure whether or not your country needs a visa to come to Nepal, it is best to check with your local authorities). There are many kiosks at the airport to do your visa and they take your picture on the spot, so no need to bring a passport picture with you either. Once you fill out the information on the kiosk and have your picture taken, you go to another booth where you pay for it. There are 2 types of tourist visas: the 15-day & the 30-day. Being that we were in Nepal 16 days total, we got the 30-day visa. The cost for this was $40 USD and cash is recommended for payment. The final step after you’ve paid for your visa, you wait on another line where they stamp your passport, check your visa and you are officially welcomed to Nepal! The whole process for getting our visa took approximately 1 hour.
After all 5 of us had our visas, we got in a cab and we went to our hotel, Adventure Home in the Thamel area of Kathmandu. Something interesting that we saw upon our arrival was that since it was the Diwali holiday (festival of lights), most of Kathmandu’s streets were lined with colorful lights, similar to Christmas lights. It was a beautiful sight to see. Another interesting thing is that in Nepal, cars drive on the left side of the road! This may not be a big deal if you live in England, but for us right-side drive countries, it can definitely take some getting used to.
Once we got to our hotel, we passed out & looked forward to a full day in Kathmandu!
Day 1: Kathmandu
After breakfast at the hotel, Sam, Anisha and myself went to go shopping for some sleeping bags for the trek. Gear such as jackets, hats, gloves, sleeping bags and trekking poles etc can be rented or purchased all over the Thamel area of Kathmandu. Keith and Aphrodite had sleeping bags that they brought from home, but renting is a great option because you don’t have to travel all the way with a sleeping bag that may or may not fit in your bag and everything in the city to rent or purchase is SO CHEAP! If you are planning to rent sleeping bags, make sure you get ones that cover for temps of 0 degrees celsius or colder. (You can thank us later!)
After we got all our gear and dropped it back off at the hotel, we went back out to explore the city. One of the most popular attractions in Kathmandu, which is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site (We love UNESCO World Heritage Sites!), is Durbar Square. This is a huge and incredibly beautiful temple complex. You must pay to enter and I forget how much, but there is higher price for foreigners than there are for locals & Indian Nationals. A lot of countries we have traveled to do this and it is kind of annoying, but also something to keep in mind when planning for expenses. Despite this, we enjoyed our time at the temple complex and were blown away by the beauty.
Another thing we saw in Kathmandu was a monastery. We were lucky to have walked in and encountered a lady who gave us an informative lesson and tour of the place. We did not encounter any monks there but did get to see the tables where they eat their meals. Most monasteries and temples in Nepal (and throughout Southeast Asia) require shoes to come off before setting foot inside. It’s ideal to wear shoes that slip easily on & off if you do decide to spend a day visiting these gorgeous sanctuaries (and you should!).
After an amazing day templing around the city, we found ourselves at a coffee shop where we got some awesome pick-me-ups before getting dinner a bit later on.
A place that was recommended to us for dinner was a small corner stand called Chick -N-Falafel. This was a one-man shop where you order at the counter and get the food to go. They had a variety of toppings that you can order in a pita with either chicken or falafel. We enjoyed this place so much, we actually went there twice!
After our amazing day in Kathmandu, we were ready to hit the hay, as we had to be up early to catch our flight to Lukla to begin our trek! (Read all about our exciting 11-day itinerary here)
After we finished our trek, we ended up back in Kathmandu where we spent 2 days before heading back home to New York.
Day 2/3: Kathmandu
Arriving back in Kathmandu after a physically demanding 11 days, we were so excited to shower and pamper ourselves and basically just be lazy for the next 2 days. Sam and I had decided to get on an earlier flight back to Kathmandu so we had one day to ourselves before the rest of our friends arrived. We stayed at a gorgeous hotel that was reminiscent of a palace more so than a hotel. We loved this place, not only because it was so beautiful, but because the hospitality was top-notch, the food was great (room service what what!) and they offered many spa treatments that were amazing and so much cheaper than anything we’d get back home. We spent the entire first day in the hotel (#NoShame), where we were finally so excited to shower after not having one in 11 days and spent the day adorned in robes, slippers and finally equipped with wifi (which was also pretty much non-existant on our trek). We found English stations on the TV and ordered amazing room service of Biryani and Rogan Josh and pretty much just had the best day ever. You never realize how much you take things like showers, heat and wifi for granted until you are without them.
That night sleeping we felt like we were in heaven. For the first time in 11 days, we were in a comfy bed, with actual real pillows and HEAT! Ahhhh …. 🙂
The next day our friends arrived at about 8 in the morning. We met them for breakfast and then went back into Thamel to return the sleeping bags and get some last minute souvenirs. Sam had gotten some rice paper postcards for his sons, a patch for a friend who let us borrow his camera strap and some ‘hobo pants’ and I got ‘elephant pants’. We had also booked spa treatments for later in the day that were just incredible! Sam got a massage and I got a facial. That night we had dinner in the hotel restaurant and then went to bed because we had our flight the next day back to New York.
The next morning was breakfast in the hotel and then 2 long days of airplanes to get us back to New York.
Kathmandu is an awesome city we highly recommend visiting. It’s just an awesome mix of history, temples, shopping and restaurants. We had a great time and we keep coming back to this part of the world because there is just something so special about each and every place we visit.
Where We Stayed:
Hotel Shanker Lazimpat, Kathmandu 44600 Nepal +997 1 441051
Book It Here
Wishing you all a new year filled with endless travels,
and as always ‘Saif Travels’