Nepal November '19 - Trip advice needed

Jul 8th, 2019, 12:25 AM
  #1  
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Nepal November '19 - Trip advice needed

Hey guys

So, a friend of mine and I are planning to visit Nepal in November '19. Below is an itinerary that I've chalked with some preliminary research. Could you'll please help streamline it? Any suggestions or alternatives, welcome.

Note:
  • We can reach Kathmandu on a Wednesday, instead of Friday. Which would give us 2 more days, if needed. With the plan currently in place, 11 days works for us. Adding 2 more days is entirely possible.
  • The plan is to relax, but at the same time, not sit indoors after having travelled all the way to another country.
  • I'll leave the ABC and the EBC's to people who are more skilled than I am. Because, if there's a level below beginner, that would be me! But, half-day or full-day basic hikes suggestions would be appreciated.
  • If there's anything missing, or if you think I can safely skip any of the things I've mentioned below (too commercial, tourist trap, etc.) please let me know. I'm looking for hidden gems, that would otherwise be difficult for me to locate.
  • Will shop at Thamel for souvenirs to take for folks home. Do suggest ideas of things to buy, if you'll have purchased things when travelling.
  • We plan to pre-book the flight tickets and accommodation - in Thamel at Kathmandu (Thamel Hostel or similar); and near Lake Phewa in Pokhara (Pokhara Backpacker's Hostel or similar).
Itinerary


Kathmandu

Day 1: (Friday)

Land in Kathmandu on Friday evening.

Day 2: (Saturday)
UNESCO World Heritage Sites (D-I-Y)
  • Swayambhunath Temple - the hilltop temple
  • Amideva Buddha Park – 10 mins from Swayumbhunath
  • Boudhanath Stupa - sacred place of Buddhist worship for both Nepalis and Tibetans.
  • Shechen Monastery – 10 mins from Boudhanath
Day 3: (Sunday)
  • Nagarkot Sunrise View and Day Hiking from Kathmandu (3:45 AM departure) (tour from Tripadvisor)
  • Kathmandu Durbar Square
  • Local Women's Handicrafts – need to check Google Maps
  • Kopan Monastery or Pullahari Monastery (the rest of the day is reserved for just chillin’)
Day 4: (Monday)
  • Everest Flight from Kathmandu (6:30 AM departure) (INR 7k) From Buddha Air or Yeti Air
  • Patan Durbar Square
  • Budhanilkantha (public bus from Patan)
Day 5: (Tuesday)
  • Dhulikel – Namo Buddha Stupa tour. DIY looks difficult. (Tour from Tripadvisor)
  • Bhaktapur Durbar Square – Pass by en route to Namo Buddha;
  • Kailashnath Mahadev Statue is the world's tallest Shiva statue – pass by en route


Pokhara

Day 6: (Wednesday)
  • Morning Flight to Pokhara
  • The Tibetan Encounter – An opportunity to spend a day in a local Tibetan community and discover what life is really like for the Tibetans today.
  • Movie Garden – watch movies! @ 7:30 PM

Day 7: (Thursday)
  • Viewing sunrise or sunset from Sarangkot Hill.
  • Day hike to the World Peace Pagoda
  • Boat Rentals – 415 NRP ($4 USD) for one hour.
  • Paragliding
  • Movie Garden – watch movies! @ 7:30 PM

Day 8: (Friday)
  • Whitewater rafting: ½ day Upper Seti whitewater rafting by Rapid Runner Exhibitions
  • Movie Garden – watch movies! @ 7:30 PM

Day 10: (Saturday)
  • Muktinath Temple early morning via helicopter (for moi, weather permitting)
  • Enjoy a day at Jiva Spa
  • Movie Garden – watch movies! @ 7:30 PM

Day 11: (Sunday)
  • Morning Flight to Kathmandu
  • Afternoon flight back home.

Thanks in advance for the assistance.
Auntie_Em2 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2019, 01:00 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,881
A few comments:

Overall, I think this is a reasonable plan. There are a few more World Heritage sites I would encourage you to consider: Changu Narayan and Pashupatinath, in particular. Also, we enjoyed visiting the Garden of Dreams on the edge of Thamel.

The plan to view the sunrise from Nargarkot is unlikely to be successful. Decide whether you want to spend half a day driving there and standing in the cold and driving back to Kathmandu. I did it on my first trip to Nepal in1994 and opted not to go when I was there in 2008.

You may find my trip report to be of interest: Kathie Returns to Katmandu 2008. While it is now over a decade old, Most of the report concerns the World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley, and those have not changed.

Do have an agency that is setting up some of this for you? (e.g. The Tibetan Encounter, paragliding, white water rafting, etc). Be aware that medical care in Nepal is pretty rudimentary. I wouldn't want to need a doctor there. I highly recommend that you do your research and get appropriate immunizations before you go (www.cdc.gov/travel) and that you have medical evacuation insurance. I will tell you that I am always suspicious of agencies that say they will provide "An opportunity to spend a day in a local Tibetan community and discover what life is really like for the Tibetans today." While there are still enclaves of Tibetan refugees in Nepal, they are mostly assimilated. And I think the idea that a brief visit will show you what life is "really like" is unrealistic. I do encourage you to visit some of the places that have remaining Tibetan communities, like Patan. An agency setting this up for you is likely to offer an artificial experience (much like the hill tribe visits in SE Asia).

Personally, I would skip the helicopter ride to the temple near Pokhara.

Be prepared - you will be appalled at the air quality in the KTM Valley and the quality of the tap water (DO NOT under any circumstances drink the tap water). Remarkably, the air quality is better now than it was on my first visit in 1994. The air quality is still terrible.

Things to buy: Do visit the store in Thamel that sells items from the women's Handicraft collective. I have a lot of purchases form Nepal: I recommend getting a Thangka, maybe singing bowls (get the hand-made ones, not the machine made), puppets, hand-made paper books, textiles, pashimas I especially recommend a stop at Mahaguthi (in Patan), a fair-trade crafts shop with high quality goods.

Have a wonderful trip!
Kathie is offline  
Jul 9th, 2019, 05:53 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,967
In Kathmandu I'd stay in Boudhanath itself. You intend visiting the Shechen Monastery, so why not the stay in the attached guest house [Shechen Guest House], which is set in lovely gardens and the Rabsel Garden Cafe. It's only a few minutes traffic free walk from the Stupa.

Getting around from Boudhanath, to say the Gardens of Dreams, or Swayanbhu, or Thamel, or Patan, or Durbar Square is easy and inexpensive by the dinky sized taxis.

Another alternative for somewhere to stay is out at Bhaktapur, which is a 30 minute drive outside the chaotic pollution choked city centre. Bhaktapur is also handy for Nargakot, and easy to get there by local bus. But like Kathie states, getting a view of anything from Nargakot will be hit and miss.

In Pokhara have a look at the Pun Hill Guest House. Sherpa run, clean and very friendly. Suoerb views if you get the right rooms and from the roof top terrace. Again inexpensive and includes breakfast.

Be very careful hiking to the World Peace Pagoda, as it's poorly sign-posted, and muggings aren't uncommon.

We travelled in both directions between Kathmandu and Pokhara by tourist bus. Quite an experience, but worth doing it at least in one direction. Greenline Travel is best, opposite the Garden of Dreams just outside Thamel.

While in Pokhara, have a look at visiting Bandipur for the day......you'll travel back centuries, absolutely fascinating.
LancasterLad is offline  
Jul 12th, 2019, 06:28 AM
  #4  
 
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Posts: 24,977
For my visit to Nepal start here (links at the top of the page): https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...and-mountains/

However, I was there before the earthquake and I am not sure how much Bandipur, which I would otherwise recommend, has recovered.

Do NOT count on seeing the mountains, I spent several days in Pokhara without seeing them. Another vote for taking the bus between Kathmandu and Pokhara, but only in one direction!

I took taxis to the Peace Pavilion and the Tibetan settlement, no need whatever for a tour. The sights in Pokhara are really not that exciting, it is much more a base for trekking.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 13th, 2019, 02:18 AM
  #5  
 
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Posts: 1,967
Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
For my visit to Nepal start here (links at the top of the page): https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...and-mountains/

However, I was there before the earthquake and I am not sure how much Bandipur, which I would otherwise recommend, has recovered.

Do NOT count on seeing the mountains, I spent several days in Pokhara without seeing them. Another vote for taking the bus between Kathmandu and Pokhara, but only in one direction!

I took taxis to the Peace Pavilion and the Tibetan settlement, no need whatever for a tour. The sights in Pokhara are really not that exciting, it is much more a base for trekking.
Unlucky Thursdaysd. We got the mountain views every day for a week, and could almost touch them from our panoramic guesthouse bedroom window.

The views from Sarangot are pretty special too.

I think that Bandipur came through the earthquake pretty much unscathed.....like going back in time several hundred years.
LancasterLad is offline  
Jul 13th, 2019, 03:54 AM
  #6  
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@Kathie - Thanks a ton for all that help. I will definitely go check out whatever immunizations I will need. Better safe than sorry, methinks. Everything I read about Nepal told me that the tap water is NOT potable. Didn't know about the air quality, though. But, seeing as I'm from India...

I completely forgot about Pashupatinath, and I hear you about Nagarkot and the helicopter ride from Pokhara. Will add the former, and take out the latter. Nobody in particular setting up the day trips. Just samples of what I found on TripAdvisor that looked like they could be interesting. However, in hindsight, I might not have known enough to look too closely at it. I think I'll change certain sections of my itinerary after a little more research and taking all your suggestions into account. I'll put that down as a separate post below.

I've absolutely noted down the places from which we can purchase souvenirs. Going to go to all of them! When I'm 60 and fondly reminiscing about life, I want some tangible items to remember this trip

PS: I thoroughly enjoyed reading your 2008 KTM trip report. The references to the Noughties were fantastic. I suspect things are much more chaotic now after all these years. As someone who likes peace and quiet (even if I'm from Mumbai - one of the loudest cities) I like the idea of the contrast between serene Buddhist monasteries and familiar crowded markets. Something tells me that Nepal is going to end up feeling like a home away from home. Fingers crossed.
Auntie_Em2 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2019, 04:05 AM
  #7  
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LancasterLad I would love to stay at Boudha. However, the one direct flight I have from home going to KTM arrives there at 20:30. Pretty sure reaching at that time of the night, Thamel would be a better option. Especially if we're looking to check-in and go out for a meal after we land.

Like I mentioned in my reply to Kathie, I've updated my itinerary with some more things (after some more research) and I'll post that down below. I think I'll take your advice of staying at Shechen Guest House when I'm back in KTM before heading on to home (according to the updated plan, that is) Also, thanks for the suggestions of places to stay. They're at the top of our list, at the mo.

Grateful you told me that info about World Peace Pagoda. I think I'll give that a miss and head on out to Bandipur, instead.

It's funny that I'm looking forward to Pokhara more than Kathmandu. Especially as I'm not even trekking. The landscape there in itself was it's selling point. I think I wouldn't have given it a miss even if there was nothing to do there. Going there during the peak tourist season, however, is something that I wish were different. Oh well.

You and Kathie have given me a lot of food for thought. I'm going to try and slow things down a teeny tiny bit. At the same time, I'm going to try to ensure that I feel like I've experienced most things that Nepal has to offer in the limited amount of time that I have.
Auntie_Em2 is offline  
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