Personally I think that in Nepal it is never a good idea to rely entirely on ATM’s as apart from the load-shedding (16 hours a day in April 2013) they can often be either out of order or out of money, also you can often only access relatively small amounts of rupee and so have to effect several withdrawals which often rack up quite large bank charges, I used to take Travellers Cheques, but alas from November 2013 these will no longer be acceptable in Nepal, so from now on I will have to rely on a mixture of cash and plastic !!
As to which currency, Take a small amount of US $’s, these are handy to use buying your Visa (I know that theoretically you can buy this with any exchangeable currency, but $’s are the one that the immigration officials are most used to dealing in and you probably get the best deal using them) Buying snacks en-route to Nepal, using for emergency hard cash in Nepal and then you have the possibility to use up any remainder buying duty-free at the end of your trip.
For a little extra back-up / emergency cash, Living in UK, I always take a few £’s, If you live I the US then take $’sand if you live in the Euro-Zone take a few Euros along, In fact most “Hard” currencies can easily be exchanged in Kathmandu.
Luggage and bags:
Money (Debit Card etc)
Visa application form (Dowloaded and filled in with photo stuck in place)
Wear on the journey out there
Miscellaneous: Nepal Kit List (Trekking)
Rucksack and Pro-Tector
Good Sleeping Bag (Buy or Hire)
Fleece Liner / Cotton Liner (Depending on Season/ Trek)
Down Jacket (Buy or Hire)
Boots (Well broken in)
Thurlo x 3
Inner sock x2
Evening sock x 1
Waterproof / Windproof Jacket
Long Sleeved thermal T-shirt x 1
Short Sleeved thermal T-shirt x 2
Trekking Boxers x 3
Wash Gear (compact)
Sandals / Trainers
Shorts x 1
First Aid pack + Any extra medication
Digital Camera + extra batteries + charger & leads
Mobile Phone (Buy Local SIM card)
Battery chargers for above
Water Bottle (Sigg / Metal Type)
Powdered flavouring agent for drinking water (Vitamin C)
Guidebook / Maps
You won’t have any problems in finding maps in Kathmandu for a fraction of the price that you would be able to get them from “Home”
All popular trekking routes are now well covered with a variety of differing quality maps, shops are open 7 days a week and even in a strike situation you are unlikely to have difficulties obtaining one.
For planning purposes there is now a good website with downloadable maps of reasonable quality on the web address below
For a downloadable map of Bodhnath - Bodhnath Map
Insurance is Very Important in Nepal, You need to have a policy that includes High Altitude Trekking (Obviously if you don’t intend trekking then this does not apply) and make sure that it covers “Helicopter Rescue ” (Casualty Evacuation).
Then Once you arrive in Nepal and before you go trekking you Must register your insurance with whoever will “Manage” your rescue.
You have two main options here and although, So far (Luckily) I haven’t need a rescue I have tried both options
1) Register your Insurance with Your Embassy, I did this on my first trek in Nepal and was Less than satisfied, I am from UK and the welcome I received at The British Embassy was unfriendly, and that was after 3 trips there to eventually find them open !! Then later I realised that if I needed rescuing and the embassy was closed then I would have to wait until the embassy re-opened – Particularly over weekends people there might be difficult to contact so this might not the best of options !!
2) Register your Insurance with a Trusted and Reliable Agent, This is easy if you have a Good Agent and especially if you are hiring Guides from them, You have to make a copy of your insurance certificate, point out the emergency telephone numbers, the policy number etc and leave it with him Some agents will also offer you this service if you are buying Lukla Flights, TIMS / ANCAP in advance so it is always worthwhile asking, even if you have to offer reimbursing any expenses the agent incurs with international phone calls etc – It is better that laying in pain – Or worse for days waiting !!
Agents can usually be contacted out of hours as they nearly all have mobile phones so this is my own preferred choice of where I leave my own insurance details.
Then if you need a rescue you contact whoever you have registered your insurance with and ask them to put one into action, they would then telephone the insurance company, giving the details of both the policy and why the rescue was needed and then as soon as the insurance company authorised the rescue they would telephone one of the Himalayan Rescue Associations and if necessary the helicopter would be dispatched.
A word of caution is that the helicopter won’t be dispatched until the Himalayan Rescue Associations are 100% sure that they will receive payment for the rescue
As insurance policies are all different, it is well worth checking with your own as to what happens next. in many cases you will have to fund your own rescue and pay for it before leaving Nepal and then claim the money back once you are back home. Some insurance companies will make a direct payment to the rescue service and some won’t – So it’s a case of checking, and preferably before the event to avoid any necessary surprises !!
Personally, I have used “Columbus Direct” (08708940005) for my last 2 trips to Nepal and they cover high altitude trekking on recognised paths as well as the usual lost baggage and cancellation clauses etc
My last annual policy with a 60 day trip limit was £99 so not so expensive either.
Prior to using Columbus I was with Direct Travel Insurance and they badly let me down on my 2006 trip to Nepal when the British Government put a warning to travellers out on Nepal.
I rang Direct Travel Insurance to see how my cover was and they said if I chose to go in spite of the British Government put a warning to travellers then I wasn’t covered, They also said that I wasn’t covered if I cancelled my trip because If I cancelled then I was doing so of my own volition and hence no cover – So basically I wasn’t insured if I went and I wasn’t insured if I didn’t go – Talk about the Best of both worlds, For the Insurance company that is
Columbus Direct no longer covers trekking at altitude, even with a policy loading, therefore it is no longer any good for trekking trips to Nepal.
So – After shopping around I have now insured myself with “The True Traveller” Insurance and have to say that I am Very Impressed with their professionalism, taking time to go through exactly what is covered – and what isn’t.
Helicopter Rescue is covered, but one thing that was pointed out to me is there is no cover on a total group size of less than 3 – When I asked why this was, I was told simple, one to raise the alarm, one to stay with the injured party and of course, the injured party themselves – It All make perfect sense to me
Prices are very good too, with an annual multi trip policy including the “Sports Pack” (trekking at altitude cover) and additional “Baggage and Personal Effects” cover coming out at £109
“The True Traveller” offer insurance cover for most European residents.
Give them a go is my Best Advice
Looks like I got in just in time as prices have increased – By Age Group, 19-49's by approximately 20%, and for over 50's by approximately 50%
This was as a direct result of the amount of helicopter rescues in the last 14 months, BUT, If you want a Good Level of cover then it’s far better to pay for it than to find out you aren’t insured when you really need it !!
There are a Lot of things that you can buy Very Cheaply in Kathmandu for your trek, Down Sleeping Bags and Down Jackets, Adequate fleeces, Windstoppers, Waterproof Jackets (They say “Gortex” on the label and invariably aren’t – But they keep you dry enough but don’t expect them to breath !!), Trekking socks and trekking trousers.
Personally I would buy the following before you set off from Home
Trekking Boots (Make sure that you have broken them in)
Socks – Over the years I have tried varying combinations and have now settled on Thorlo outers and Bridgedale Liners (Socks are available locally but tend to be wool and apart from being difficult to wash, they can mat up and cause blisters)
Rucksacks, You can buy Rucksacks at a fraction of the price in Nepal to what one with a similar label would cost you at home, The problem is however that All these rucksacks tend to be fakes and often fall apart quickly. Also the carrying systems aren’t nearly as good as the genuine item. If you are doing a trek as a one off, then with careful buying then you can get away with a fake (Make sure that the stitching is good and give a good old Hard Tug on the carrying system) But if you are going to be using your rucksack a lot then Personally I buy mine at home !!
Technical underwear should also be bought at home (2 ways to go and down to personal preference, Natural Fibres such as Angora or Technical, Such as Dry-Flow, Polar Tech etc (Both work well, I usually opt for the latter simply because it dries quicker)
I have listed my own personal favourite trekking gear shop under Shopping Tips and have posted my own Nepal Kit List under Packing list tips – Both might be worth a glance.
AC was my 1st trek in Nepal and I had so concerns over the quality of mattresses while on a trek so took along a Thermorest – I only used in once, and that was just because I had it with me – Since that 1st trek, I have done EBC / Gokyo form Jiri, Langtang (twice), ABC / Jomsom Combination and short Helambu Circuit and never carried it !!
So – My Own view – Waste of carrying the extra weight / space as after a good days trekking, Personally, I never notice if the mattress is a bit on the “Firm” side.
Good Luck and Happy Trekking
Luggage and bags:
Pack Light (goes without saying!)
An internal framed pack is suitable for any trek in Nepal
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: ** = available to buy cheaply in Nepal
Footwear - Below 3000m Gortex-style boots are suitable. Above, full leather will prove more waterproof and warmer. Remember - dont bring new boots without breaking them in at home first, espeacialy full leather.
Socks - strongly recommend wool socks worn over thin cotton liner socks to prevent blisters. (Ammendment below...)
Fleeces** - One thick, one thin (layers are easier if treking independantly) Long fleece pants for at night.
Waterproofs - Light jacket, trousers & cover for your pack
Ammendment; Advise from GillianMcLaughlin who suggests the new madmade fibre sock now on the market are supperior to those metioned above, keeping feet dry and a little less pongy ! I appologise to previous travelling companions for not having discovered this earlier !
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Water Purifying Tablets - Iodine are the most popular, except I bought Chlorine Tablets as they are cheaper and I am tight! Bottled water available but the bottles are wrecking the environment.
Photo Equipment: Film** - Lots! 100ASA and 200ASA
Miscellaneous: Headlamp - better than a torch
Map holder - type up your route from your guide book & slip a page in with your map for each day to save carrying a book around.
Whistle - emergencies only (or youll have to explain to the Nepali army!)
Another question that I have been asked a few times now is whether you can hire good quality extra long down sleeping bags in Nepal as some of the ones offered are to short for western trekkers.
So I asked Nirmal to go and physically measure some of the ones available for hire at my preferred trekking gear store, Yak Mountain and he confirmed that they have sleeping bags available for hire that are 2 metres long – So these should be long enough for all but the exceptionally tall trekker
For directions to Yak Mountain Please see my Nepal travelogue entitled “A Very Important Decision” and you will see a location map to Nirmal’s office, Yak Mountain is on the next corner to the office, same side of the road in the direction of Durbar Square
If you are going trekking then a water-bottle is a must !!
My own preferred type is a metal one such as a Laken or Sigg
The Big advantage of using one of these is that you can buy your boiled drinking water from the lodge owner last thing in the evening, pop your water-bottle inside a sock and put it inside your sleeping bag.
Then you have both a hot-water bottle for the night and cold drinking water first thing next morning !!
NB – Do Not put Boiling water in these bottles, make sure that the kettle has cooled Slightly before you fill up, Then you won’t have problems !!
The answer will depend on where abouts you intend to travel in Nepal. With such vast changes in altitude from north to south there are also vast temperature differences. In kathmanudu it will be warm enough for light clothing during the day but temperatures will drop at night so wrap up warm!
In the hills and montains further north it will be a little colder during the day and at night, but if you're trekking up and down hills you may also find that light clothing is fine during the day.
Down south in the Terai it will be warmer during the day and a little less so at night.
How many clothes? I take very few when going to Nepal. I love to buy the clothes that are sold up and down the streets of thamel (main tourist area in kathmandu) and all over kathmandu and pokhara. They are brightly coloured, practical and fun!
I hope you have a wonderful time! I know you'll have a wonderful time!
If you are planning to go to Bardia (you should) check out my pages...
Luggage and bags:
Soft luggage such as a large holdall is best for flying or by bus, preferably unbranded and not too flashy will help avoid the attention of idle hands. I normally then put my trekking pack and boots inside with space to bring souvenirs home.
Most hotels are happy to look after your holdall with any unneeded items while you go trekking.
I have tried PacSafe mesh nets in the past and while they are secure, they undoubtedly attract attention to the fact you may have valuables worth stealing.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: The climate varies greatly, with altitudes above 3000m often dropping below 0°C, this list will vary depending on the time of year and duration spent at altitude.
WARM WEATHER GEAR - for lower altitude:
* TROUSERS - cottons/linens are best (locals tend not to wear shorts in town)
* TEESHIRTS - sports tops with tiny air holes tend to be cooler
* UNDERWEAR - cotton is best
* SWIMMING STUFF
COLD WEATHER GEAR - for evenings and higher altitude
* ZIP OFF TROUSERLEG TROUSER/SHORTS
* THERMAL LONGJOHNS
* THERMAL (HELI) TOP
* BUFF SCARF - great flexible item, can be used as a hat or scarf
* WALKING BOOTS - broken in before hand of course
* WALKING SOCKS
* WARM FLEECE - zip front is more adaptable than pullover
* WATERPROOF TOP - I carry a poncho that can be used for shelter also
* WATERPROOF BOTTOMS - if walking in snow or rainy season
* COLD KILLS - if in doubt take an extra thermal layer, preferably with hood
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bare essentials, not incuding feminine or grooming items.
* WETWIPES - great for cleaning hands/face
* BIODEGRADABLE LIQUID SOAP - can be used for shampoo/soap/shower gel
* TOILET ROLL & LIGHTER - to burn it (one thing I cant go without)
* MICROFIBRE TOWEL - larger sizes aren't much more bulky but are big enough to dry you
* TOOTHBRUSH & TOOTHPASTE
* MOSQUITO REPELLENT - Deet based, stronger the better (can be diluted with sunscreen)
* SUNSCREEN - SPF30+ water resistant is a bonus
* MOISTURISER - to soothe rashes and burns
* LIP BALM
* TALCUM POWDER - to keep sweaty bits dry
* IMMODIUM - for those dodgey tummy days
* ANTI-MALARIALS - if travelling from or to high risk areas
* TRAVEL PLUG - useful if you like baths or wet shave
Medical supplies should be adjusted to the size of your group and your capabilities in using them, a first aid kit is only as good as you are.
Photo Equipment: .
* DIGITAL CAMERA
* MEMORY CARD - Larger the better, they always fill up, specially if you have a video function
* CHARGER - and perhaps a spare battery if you are going to be away from power for long
* POWER ADAPTOR - for charger
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: If you are 'Teahouse Trekking' then this list should suffice.
* SLEEPINGBAG LINER - I treat with permethrin to keep mozzies & bedbugs away, silk ones add c.5°C warmth
* PACK COVER - to keep rain and snow out
* DRYBAGS/COMPRESSION SACKS - to keep your gear dry and compact
* WATER FILTER PURIFIER - tablets or pump or inline systems so long as it gets rid of Guardia and Cryptosporidium
* WATER CANTEEN/WATER BLADDER SYSTEM
Miscellaneous: I also carry the following:
* MOBILE PHONE
* PHONE CHARGER
* SWISS ARMY KNIFE
* VISA CARD
* FOOD BARS/ELECTROLITE
Miscellaneous: Once you get on the road in Nepal, there is a lot of pollution. Mostly in Kathmandu Valley. It is my favorite place to visit, but the fact is, it is very polluted with vehicle emissions. My wife and I just got back a couple of weeks ago, so we recommend carrying a mask or two in your travel pack, so you can grab it when it's needed. Aloha, John
Visas for Nepal - Writeon
If visa forms are not handed out by airline staff prior to landing at Kathmandu, there will be stacks of them in the Arrivals building just before Immigration.To get ahead of the long queues that will form be sure to have two passport-size photos ready along with the exact visa fee in Pounds or Dollars (check with google for amount). Don't rely on Immigration staff to find change for you. Everything is tediously done by hand; I don't remember any computers being installed yet.
Charging Batteries whist trekking ??
This is now an often asked question, The answer is yes, there are facilities for charging batteries but the problems are two-fold.
1) If you are trekking in the height of season then you will often be competing with Lots of other trekkers for these limited facilities
2) The charges made by some lodge owners can be somewhat outrageous.
So – You should take Lots of extra batteries / Power-packs with you, try and keep them as warm as possible and then have a mass charge up whenever possible
Luggage and bags:
If you are travelling Anywhere and using a Rucksack / Backpack as your luggage then I would Strongly recommend that you use some form of Rucksack / Backpack Pro-tector !!
This tip is from my own personal experience, as I have had Big Problems having my Rucksack damaged or even destroyed by airlines, particularly on Airport Carousels,
What can happen is that one of the straps can drop in-between the lats on the moving Carousel and then as your Rucksack goes around a corner, the strap gets ripped off, I lost the entire back and carrying system from one of my rucksacks !!
I have tried many of the Rucksack / Backpack Protectors that are available on the market and was disappointed with how they performed, So after having many problems with these decided to design and manufacture my own.
Full details of how this came about are written up on my Nepal page.
So, Obviously my own recommendation would be to get your Rucksack / Backpack Protector from Pro-Tector.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Also, after successfully designing, producing and selling the Rucksack Pro-tector for several years, I have now introduced some new lines such as a Pro-Tector Travel Wallet and a Pro-Tector Document / Valuables Travel Pouch.
If you think that any of the above would be of benefit for yourself on your own travels then please take a look at my web-site at Pro-Tector.
Miscellaneous: The photo here is from this year, March 2007 and shows Nina retrieving her rucksack, safely packed away inside its Rucksack Pro-tector from the carrousel at Kathmandu Tribuvan Airport
I used a rucksack pro-tector again on my 2008 trip and am pleased to report that it Pro-Tected my rucksack well, Both on the journey out, as well as the journey back home again :-)
You can now see a video clip of my Rucksack inside a Rucksack Protector safely arriving at an airport by clicking
Dwarika's is close to the airport, safe and very good, gives excellent service, has good food and a...more
Fishtail Lodge is the most beautiful hotel we ever stayed. Even though it is small in size but its...more
Windy Hills, Nagarkot, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Good for: Couples