Landlocked between China and India, Nepal is a small country with more than plenty to offer.
Majestic, vibrant, stunning- these are only a few of the words used to describe the little gem that is Nepal, a country that consistently places within the top 25 Countries of many travel websites and guides (Trip Advisor, Forbes, Lonely Planet, Absolute Travel etc.). From the dramatic scenery of the Annapurna Range to the bustling capital of Kathmandu, Nepal is a unique country that offers a one of kind experience.
The sheer diversity that Nepal boasts is unsurpassed, in both the land’s geography and the range of activities available. Activities as diverse as Elephant Polo and a micro-light flight through the Himalayas show that in Nepal, the only boundary is your imagination. With 15 National & Wildlife Parks (Two are UNESCO Heritage sites) Nepal is one of the last places on earth you can spot the Asiatic rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal Tiger. You could go on an elephant safari and seek out tigers in the tropical jungles of Chitwan, or go white-water rafting and kayaking in the wild Himalayan Rivers of Nepal, or maybe go trekking along the foot-hills of the Himalayas, the exciting adventures are endless and they await you.
Sunrise at a Temple
Nepal’s mountainous North has eight of the world’s ten highest mountains including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest (8,848m) or Sagarmatha in Nepali. More than 250 peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m) above sea level are located in Nepal. You can watch glorious sunrises and see the world light up, as the sun ascends over the Himalayas.
The strong Hindu and Buddhist influences make Nepal a peaceful and spiritual country. Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, has long been a place of pilgrimage for devotees from Tibet, India, and Bhutan. Nepal is also home to some of the most beautiful and holiest temples and monasteries. With a variety of yoga and meditation retreats available, Nepal truly is a place that nourishes the soul.
Undisputedly one of Nepal's greatest attractions is its people. The customs and famous hospitality that is present throughout all the regions is what makes Nepal so special. Whether you find yourself in the remote mountain villages or in the ancient towns of the Kathmandu Valley, you will no doubt experience the warm generosity of Nepali locals. You will undoubtedly be invited to join in the many festivities, with more festivals than days of the year you are bound to experience a vibrant festival or two. We only ask of you to immerse yourself within Nepal’s raw splendour and diverse artistic traditions.
Nepal offers an abundance of adventures. Along with the country’s delicious cuisine, Nepal is a place that guarantees not only a full stomach but an irreplaceable experience full with picture-perfect memories.
Fishing at Fewa Tal
School children in Dhampus
Your Trip to Nepal
Flying into Nepal has never been easier. Tribhuvan International Airport, Katmandu is fast becoming a regional hub. Nepal Airlines is the national flag carrier serving Nepal. Other airlines include Thai Airways International, Biman Bangladesh, Air India, Qatar Airways, Oman Air, Etihad, Druk Airways, Pakistan Airways International, Air China and Gulf Air. Other airlines operating in and out of Kahmandu include Jet and Sahara. Airlines that don't fly directly to Kathmandu but service the region include British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Malaysian and Austrian Airlines.
Nepal's National Flag Carrier
An important recent development has been the servicing of Kathmandu by low cost carriers, including, FlyDubai, Air Arabia, Kingfisher, Jetspice, Arkefly and Jetlite.
If you wish to enter Nepal overland, there are 5 entry points with India and one with China (Tibet).
From the border crossings with India one can easily reach Delhi, Varanasi, Kolkata, Agra, Darjeeling, Sikkim and Lucknow. On the Nepalese side there are plenty of buses servicing Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Nepal is a very traveller friendly country and you can purchase visas on arrival at all entry points. Alternatively, you can purchase a visa prior to your arrival at an Embassy of Nepal.
When to go?
Due to the huge range of landscapes, there is essentially never a bad time to visit Nepal in terms of weather, as it varies greatly across the country. Specifically though, September to November and March to May (Autumn and Spring respectively) bring the best weather all round and can be seen as the best time to visit any part of Nepal. Nepal has a monsoonal climate, with a two-season year. Dry season is from October to May, with the wet/monsoon season running from June to August.
Mustard Field in Terai
Tea Field in Ilam
Where to Stay?
Nepal boasts a wide range of accommodation, which all share the famous Nepali reputation for hospitality. From 5 star opulence to homely lodges, there is accommodation in Nepal to suit every taste and budget. Recently, there has been a rise in the number of world class hotels opening their doors in Kathmandu, Pokhara and elsewhere. These new hotels are already in esteemed company, joining distinguished establishments such as: the Hyatt Regency, Fulbari Resort, Yak and Yeti, Radisson, Shangri La, Le Meridien Gokarna Forest, the Malla, Soaltee Crowne Plaza and many others.
Hyatt Regency, Kathmandu
Fulbari Resort, Pokhara
For a unique stay, the award winning boutique hotel, Dwarikas Hotel, offers a luxurious blending of historic Nepalese architecture and craftsmanship with a world class hotel. If you desire the quiet sophistication of boutique hotels, you may also like to stay at the exquisite Ambassador's Garden Home, located in the ever popular Thamel area of Kathmandu.
Hotel Dwarika, Kathmandu
Conference Hall Hyatt Regency
Fishtail Resort, Pokhara
There are of course plenty of other options to suit every wallet, in a range of different locations with varying facilities. As tourism grows and expands in Nepal, no even the most remote areas provide lodgings and activities for tourists.
Getting Around in Nepal
One of Nepal's big advantages is its small size, making it possible to experience a diverse range of landscapes and activities in a short space of time whilst easy to get around. Like so much else in Nepal, transport methods offer a huge variety. From helicopter to elephant or your own two feet, getting around in Nepal is part of your experience.
Tenzing Hillary Airport, Lukla
The most popular way to get around is by bus. There are a large number bus companies offering service on every conceivable route. Bus travel is very cheap and a variety of new deluxe buses have started operating on new routes, particularly to the west of the country.
The narrow-gauge train line from Janakpur to the border with India is a great way to experience the sights of the Terai.
Elephant Ride in Chitwan
Clouds and Peaks
Flying within Nepal is a popular and visually breathtaking way of getting from A to B. Flying to into Lukla in the Everest region for example, shows how in Nepal the journey itslef is an attraction. Domestic airlines include: Buddha Airlines, Yeti Airlines, Skyline Airlines and Nepal Airlines.
In Kathmandu and Pokhara, there are plenty if taxis available. It is also possible to rent motorbike and bicycles, both great ways of exploring the country.
Holy Places,Architecture, Art and Museums.
Kapilvastu, Birthplace of Buddha
Nyatapola Temple, Bhaktapur
However, there is much much more to Nepal. From a cultural point of view, there is nowhere else in the world like the UNESCO World Heritage listed Kathmandu Valley. Experience the ancient and majestic architecture of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan, centres of religious devotion and home to some of the most important Hindu and Buddhist temples. If holy cities fascinate you, be sure to visit Janakpur, birthplace of Sita, the wife of Hindu god Rama and home to ancient Maithill culture. The awe-inspiring royal palaces and squares will transport you back to to the Nepal of days gone by. Don't miss the chance to see the home of the worlds only living goddess, the Kumari, at Kumari Bahal.
Kumari, The living goddess of Nepal
Janaki Mandir, Janakpur
For a more modern take on Nepali art and culture, why not visit the famous Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre? There are also fascinating museums across the country dedicated to themes as diverse as mountaineering, the Gurkhas and ceremonial jewellery.
Historical Snapshots and Key Dates
Prithvi Narayan Shah
Kathmandu in 1930s
Nepal is an ancient land whose history has been shaped by its mountainous location and is position between its two neighbours, India and China. Travellers, traders and religious devotees from India, China and Tibet have all added to the historical traditions of Nepal. Over centuries, many diverse groups have settled in Nepal, all contributing to the rich and distinct tapestry that forms Nepalese society today.
In 563 BCE, Lord Buddha Siddhartha Gautama was born in Kapilvastu, Lumbini.
Many dynasties, confederations and principalities both Hindu and Buddhist, ruled over what is now known as Nepal for many years. These included the Thakuri, Malla and Shah
1768. Foundations for a unified Nepal were laid by Gurkha ruler Prithvi Narayan Shah.
1846. The Nepalese Royal family, the Ranas, began their rule.
1923. Britain and Nepal sign Agreement of Friendship.
1950. Ranas overthrown in democracy movement.
1953. Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay climb Mount Everest
1962. New constitution and "panchayat"
1991. Advent of Democracy- People soveriegn constitution promolugated
2004. Nepal joins World Trade Organization
2008. Nepal declared Federal Democratic Republic
The Nepalese Culture
Dashain is the 15-day national (religious) festival of Nepal. The festival falls around September-October, before the rice harvest. This festival is known for emphasis on family gatherings, as well as on a renewal of community ties. People return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together. Families will visit various temples around the Kathmandu Valley. On the tenth day, "Dashami," a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermillion will be prepared by the women. This preparation is known as "tika". Elders put this on the forehead of younger relatives to bless them with fertility and abundance in the upcoming year.
Tihar Tihar is a five-day Nepalese festival celebrated in late autumn, which comes soon after Dashain. Two of these days incorporates the Hindu festival Deepawali, where one day is celebrated for goddess Laxmi and the other one is celebrated to worship brothers for their long life. However, all ethnic groups celebrate this festival. The festival is celebrated from Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna to Katrik Shukla Dwitiya every year.The name Tihar means the festival of lights, where many candles are lit both inside and outside the houses to make it bright at night. The five-day festival is considered to be of great importance as it shows reverence to not just the humans and the Gods, but also to the animals like crow, cow and dog, who maintain an intense relationship with the humans.
Chhath is an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya, also known as Surya Shashti. The Chhath Puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. The Sun, considered the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the Chhath fesival to promote well-being, prosperity and progress. In Hindu mythology, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.
This is the Buddhist New Year of Nepal which falls in February. The Buddhist monasteries in Kathmandu like Boudhanath and Swayambhunath are decorated with eye catching colorful prayer flags pulling the crowd. The people perform their traditional dances and welcome their New Year with feasts and family gatherings wearing all the new clothes and finest jewelleries and exchanging gifts.
Holi is a spring religious festival celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs. It is regarded as one of the greatest festivals, as important as Dashain and Tihar. Since more than 80% of people in Nepal are Hindus, Holi, along with many other Hindu festivals, is celebrated in Nepal as a national festival and almost everyone celebrates it regardless of their religion. The day of Holi is also a national holiday in Nepal. People walk down their neighbourhoods to celebrate Holi by exchanging colours and spraying coloured water on one another. A popular activity is the throwing of water balloons at one another. It is believed that the combination of different colours played at this festival take all the sorrow away and make life itself more colourful.
Food in Nepal is as diverse as the country itself and each region will have its own delicious specialities. Traditionally, Nepalese food has strong Indian and Tibetan influences with unique twists. The food in Nepal is rich in flavour, high in nutrition and always tempting!
Daal Bhat Tarkari
Most of the western, continental and Halal food are found throughout major cities in Nepal. The popular food to try is MoMo!
Spirituality: Yoga, Meditation and Relaxation
When you venture further afield, you would be amiss not to experience first hand the rich and varied cultures of Nepali village life or take a walking tour through one of Nepal's many medieval towns or to remote Buddhist monasteries. At Lumbini, birthplace of Lord Buddha, wander for hours around a multitude of temples built by Buddhist countries and organisations from around the world. Be sure to join in the celebrations at either Holi, Deepvali or any one of the hundreds of festivals going on throughout the year.
Holymen, also known as Sadhu
Lumbini, Birthplace of Buddha
Relax and unwind spiritually, mentally and physically at a yoga and meditation course or with ayurvedic treatments at one of Nepal's many health-clubs. If it is these gentler pursuits you are after, try taking a row-boat out on the magical and inspiring Phewa Tal or enjoy a round of golf with a unique Himalayan backdrop
Yoga in the Himalayas
Tallest Shiva Statue in the World
Well, where to begin?
Nepal is well known as a Shangri La for those seeking adventure and high altitudes. This world wide reputation is well deserved because in Nepal you can involve yourself in unrivalled:
Nepal boasts the worlds highest peak, Mt. Everest, as well as 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world. The Himalayas, or abode of snows, with all their majesty and splendour have meant that Nepal as a special place in the world of mountaineering. As the roof of the world, Nepal is the perfect destination for those seeking adventure at the top of the highest peeks.
The mountainous and hilly terrain of Nepal make it unbeatable when it comes to trekking. Whether it be through the Annapurnas, Everest region or remote areas such as Mustang on the Tibetan border, your trek will take you through a diverse mixture of landscapes, peoples and wildlife.
Nepal has earned a reputation for being one of the world's best rafting destinations. There are a series of routes for absolute beginners and an abundance of rivers routes for those experienced rafters after serious adventure.
Nepal is blessed with a fantastic diversity of rivers and therefore there is a river to suit every level of paddler. Exploring Nepal's rivers via kayak is the perfect way to reach those
pristine areas of untouched beauty and cultural fascination.
For many people, a mountain bike is the perfect way to explore the varied landscapes of Nepal, from the heights of the Himalayas to the subtropical plains, mountain biking routes to suit all levels will open up parts of Nepal to you that few get to see.
If you want to experience commanding views of the Himalayas and the worlds highest peak with all the freedom of a bird, then paragliding in Nepal offers you opportunities that nowhere else can.
A helicopter flight through the Himalayas is an exhilarating way to observe the dramatic landscape below you. The small size of a helicopter makes them perfect for accessing those remoter parts of Nepal with the ultimate in flexibility.
Hot Air Ballooning:For similar views, but at a gentler pace, why not take a hot air balloon ride. Usually taking off from Kathmandu, superb and unique views of the whole Kathmandu valley are only experienced through a hot air balloon.
Nepal boasts 848 species of recorded birds. Every year many different species migrate to Nepal from Tibet, Siberia and China. Bird watching is possible everywhere in Nepal, from the mountains, hills, valleys and plains there enough diversity to entertain the most avid of birdwatchers.
Birdlife International has identified 27 Important Bird Areas in Nepal, and the country has been identified as a major centre for the burgeoning birdwatching tourism industry. There are of course hundreds more areas which are great for birdwatching, why not combine a trek with spotting some truly amazing bird-life?
Nepal's landscape means that its biodiversity is unsurpassed. There are ideal conditions for flowers to grow and such is their uniqueness of Nepal's geo-climatic features that some orchids and rhododendron are only found in Nepal. Along with bird watching, flora tours are an important facet in responsible eco-tourism that is making great progress in conserving Nepal's outstanding natural habitat.
Sports: The wide and diverse range of actives on offer in Nepal extends to sport. Aside from golf and cricket, Nepal is one of the word major centres of elephant polo! With the World Championships regularly being held in Chitwan.
Fishing: is not always something associated with Nepal, however its lakes and rivers are fantastic for anglers. The Karnali river and Babal Valley are especially suited for fishing trips.
Golf: in Nepal is different to golf anywhere else in the world. Golf courses such as the Gokarna Forest Golf Course and the Annapurna Golf course are internationally renowned course set against an amazing Himalayan backdrop.
Bungee Jumping: About 4 hours from Kathmandu and close to the border with Tibet one has the opportunity to jump from a bridge of 160 meters into a tropical gorge and just above the wild Bhote Kosi river. The bride that one leaps from has been specifically designed for bungee jumping and offers the ultimate in thrill seeking.
Heliski: It may seem beyond the realms of possibility, but being flown in by helicopter to ski the worlds highest and most visually stunning mountain range is a reality in Nepal. Himalayan Heli Ski Guides are the company that provide an unrivalled experience that will not fail to exhilarate even the most hardy of adventure enthusiasts.
Health Spa: Imagine enjoying the luxury of a spa treatment while looking out at the beautiful snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. Imagine breathing in the crisp, fresh air and feeling invigorated while enjoying a relaxing message. These are the sort of things you can enjoy if you choose to visit one of the Nepal health spas available in the country.
Safari:Speaking of unique, Nepal is one of very few places left in the world where you can see the Royal Bengal Tiger and the Asiatic rhino at one of many internationally renowned natural and wildlife parks. Take an elephant safari through the diverse jungle of the Terai and see for yourself some of natures most magnificent and rare creations. There are over 800 species of birds in Nepal, making it one of the world's prime bird-watching locations. Popular National Parks and Wildlife Reserves where you can come face to face with tigers and rhinos include: Chitwan National Park, Sargamatha National Park, Bardia National Park, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve.
Chitwan, Elephant Ride
An Elephant Taking a Bath
A Yak Herd in the Himalayas
Shopping in Nepal is enjoyable experience in itself and provides a great opportunity for the traveller to take home a part of Nepali culture. The mesmerising range of products on offer represent the diversity of such an enchanting land. From fresh and aromatic spices and tea to Newari wood crafts, there is something for everyone. Most popular, and understandably so, is the pashmina. These soft and elegant shawls are a speciality of Nepal and highly sought after. It is also possible to buy the famous Tibetan wool-carpets, fabulous thangkhas (Buddhist paintings), rare jewellery, traditional Nepali paper products and lots lots more.
A Thanka Painting
Nepal's Famous Pashmina
Nepal Tourism Year 2011
2011 is a landmark and exiting year for tourism in Nepal, and for the country as a whole. The government and people of Nepal have made many efforts to make this a special year and too encourage many more people to come to Nepal through promoting all the amazing activities and sights on offer worldwide. Many special projects have been launch especially for Nepal Tourism Year 2011. These include: many hotel upgrades and improvements, new trekking routes unveiled, new deluxe buses and routes, improvements of infrastructure and airports, free visas for Everest summiteers, and many more initiatives to be implemented over the coming year.
Exquisite Wood Carving in Nepal
Tigers in Bardiya National Park
Nepal Tourism Year 2011 is the perfect time to come and experience the legendary hospitality of the Nepalese people and the breathtaking scenery and unique cultures that have made Nepal a much loved destination. With exciting developments happening outside of tourism as well, Nepal is waiting for you.