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Planning for Nepal - comments please

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Jul 18th, 2010, 08:59 AM
  #1
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Planning for Nepal - comments please

Moving on, here's my first pass at an itinerary (listing overnights) for the Nepal leg of my RTW. Same background info as for the other legs: I'm early 60s, solo female. I'm not really into big cities, neon, nightlife or shopping - although I love markets. I also love mountains, waterfalls and rocky coastline, and I'm interested in architecture, religion and especially food. I prefer crafts - glass, textiles, ceramics, jewelry - to fine arts. Of course, I understand that Nepal is the kind of place that may blow any schedule to bits...

Sun Nov 7: Arrive Kathmandu late (22:10) - I'm thinking of staying at the Courtyard Hotel that dogster wrote about.
Mon Nov 8 - Fri Nov 12: Kathmandu - day trips to Patan, Bhaktapur, etc. plus the flight-seeing trip to Everest.

Sat Nov 13: Bus to Bandipur
Sun Nov 14: Bandipur - short hikes
Mon Nov 15: Bandipur - too much time here?

Tue Nov 16: Bus to Pokhara
Wed Nov 17: Pokhara
Thu Nov 18: Pokhara

Fri Nov 19: Bus down the Siddhartha Highway to Tansen
Sat Nov 20: Tansen
Sun Nov 21: Bus to Lumbini - I hear that the Korean temple is the place to stay
Mon Nov 22: Lumbini

Tue Nov 23: Overland to India. I can pick up the Indian railway system 3 hours south at Gorakhpur. I'm thinking I may skip the north this trip - a couple of nights at Lucknow and then fly to Hyderabad - but that's the next thread.
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Jul 18th, 2010, 03:48 PM
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IMO, five days is too long for Kathmandu. Even with day trips, Patan is close maybe 1/2 hour by car subject to traffic. Bhaktapur is about an hour each way, again subject to traffic. Other sights in the Kathmandu valley include Hindu Temples and Buddist Stuphas. Allow half a day for the mountain flight. Kathmandu is a crowded chaotic, conjested city. See the sights in the Kathmandu valley of interest and leave to other areas of interest.

The only reason I would spend five days in Kathmandu is if you anticipate any sort of problems there that will prohibit sightseeing for a few days, now that's anybodies guess as to what the politcal situation will be. Honestly, the best way out of Nepal when there's trouble in the country is by air from Kathmandu. Flights are the last to be affected at times of trouble, buses and vehicle traffic can come to a standstill, and has for days on end. With a destination like Nepal, make sure you have a plan B.

Well, after typing this post I am aware how bleack I sound. Sorry, just make sure you have a plan B to get to India to continue your trip.
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Jul 18th, 2010, 04:37 PM
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justshootme, there is so much to see and do in the Kathmandu Valley! Yes, Patan is a mere half hour from Kathmandu, but you can easily spend all day there. Likewise Bhaktapur. A full day for the Durbar Square in Kathmandu, a day for Pashupatinath and Boudnath, and a day for the Everest flight, and that's five days. I expect Thursdays may have counted days from my trip report. If you really want to explore the major world heritage sites, I think it takes 5 days.

jsm is right, you will want to have thought through a plan B.

Have a great time in Nepal!
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Jul 18th, 2010, 06:22 PM
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Just want to add Swayambhunath to the sights Kathie has mentioned.

I am really really sorry to chime in and be so bleak about travelling around Nepal independently. It certainly can be done. Please don't think I'm trying to be mean or nasty. I really think you need to organize things so that you can leave the country asap, if need be. On the bright side, since you are on a rtw ticket, changing flights/routes/dates is much easier than on point to point discounted airline tickets.
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Jul 18th, 2010, 08:16 PM
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Kathie - I missed your TR when it first went up (I think I was traveling) but I read it (and enjoyed it) last night and it did help me decide I needed five full days in Kathmandu.

justshootme - I figured one day for Kathmandu itself, one for Swayambhunath, Bodhnath and maybe Pashupatinath, one for Patan, one for Bhaktapur and Changu Narayan, and one for the flight. I wanted to allow for days when the flight might not go, plus I figured I needed time for just chilling out and soaking up atmosphere.

As for Plan B, after I fly into Kathmandu Nov 7 I don't have another flight scheduled until Jan 27 out of Sri Lanka, so I won't be under a lot of pressure to stay or go. I may book a flight from Lucknow to Hyderabad, but it wouldn't be a big deal to miss it. I suppose I could fly back to Kathmandu from Pokhara or Lumbini if there's a strike, but I imagine there would be a lot of competition for those flights! (Likely easier to arrange something to the border from Lumbini - friends of mine did that going the other way during a strike last year.) If things go south before I get there, no doubt I can work something out with Dragonair/Cathay Pacific to fly into India instead.
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Jul 18th, 2010, 08:25 PM
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I hope you don't have any problems with Nepal.

One thing, KA flies via Dakkar, Bangadesh (flight goes HKG - DKR - KTM), so worse case senario, you can even work something out with KA/CX to fly to DKR instead and then travel to India/Sri Lanka. Bangadesh gives a visa on arrival so no worries there. CX's load factors to the Indian subcontinent are extremely high, assuming you are on a LONE3/4/5/ ticket, with L class inventory it will be difficult to snag a seat at the last minute. Just thought I'd mention this.
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Jul 18th, 2010, 08:36 PM
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Yes, I had actually thought about stopping off in Bangladesh, but figured I already had enough countries on this trip! From Dhaka I hope it shouldn't be too hard to get to Kolkata...

Not sure what a LONE3/4/5/ ticket is - I'm on a One
World FF award in business class.
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Jul 18th, 2010, 09:03 PM
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Opps, wrong Dhaka! My mistake.

I thought you are on a paid rtw ticket. If you are using a OW award then that changes things. Ignore what I said about rtw tickets.

BTW, you could NOT have stopped in Dhaka and then flown to Kathmandu later. I wanted to do this, but couldn't. KA can transport passengers from Hong Kong to Dhaka OR Kathmandu on these flights and vv. They DO NOT transport passengers between Dhaka and Kathmandu an vv. You will need to stay onboard while the cabin is cleaned, this usually takes an hour. Flight attendents do come around with beverages during the stop.

From Hong Kong to Dhaka there is a full meal service in business class, and a light Indian style snack is served between Dhaka and Kathmandu. If you don't eat spicy things, request a special meal in advance. The snack was way too spicy for me. BTW, KA's business class seats are much better than CX's.

Since CX is the only OW carrier that flies to Colombo, from there you'll be flying to either Singapore, Bangkok or HK.
Have you thought of visiting the Maldives before you leave from Sri Lanka? Flights on UL aren't too expensive and Male is an hour away by air. Just a thought. Of course you could go from India too, but I think this will complicate things with the Indian visa.
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Jul 18th, 2010, 09:25 PM
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Thanks for the info - good thing I decided against Bangladesh, I guess, although that's an odd restriction - presumably they have empty seats from Dhaka to Kathmandu. Happily, I love spicy food.

I'm flying Colombo to Singapore and later Singapore to Bangkok - no award seats to Bangkok for a week either side of my proposed date. Since I'm traveling solo and I'm not much of a beach person I don't think the Maldives would be worth the time and cost.
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Jul 19th, 2010, 10:54 AM
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Hi, I live in Nepal - last 25 years. Some of the comments about Plan B are OK but overly melodramatic. Traffic has occasionally come to a standstill in Kathmandu for 2 days and once for 3 - most times this does not affect tourist vehicles. Yes, the country has had its political problems and yes, they rumble on, but since 2008 there has been a marked change for the better as far as tourism goes.

5 days fine in the valley - get out to Changu Narayan and to smaller towns like Kirtipur, Bungmati, etc. too.

Time in Bandipur well spent. In Pokhara consider Fishtail Lodge, Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge, Trek o#Tel, Barahi, for pleasant accomodation.

Marcus
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Jul 19th, 2010, 11:22 AM
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Thanks Marcus - I'll keep an eye on the news, of course, but I'm not worrying too much about Nepal at this point.

Friends of mine who stayed there last year recommend the Hotel River Park in Pokhara - any comment on that?
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Jul 19th, 2010, 06:58 PM
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Finally, some internet access in Phnom Penh.

Well thursday, I can't imagine what has happened to justshootme in Nepal, but I couldn't agree less with his/her conclusions. As Marcus said, overly melodramatic, I'd add confused and misleading.

As you know, I've been there multiple times in the last five years, in the midst of bandhs, festivals, mayhem and excitement. You could easily spend ten days in KTM alone wit6hout repeating yourself once. Places like Boudnath and Pashutatinath need repeated visits.

I have a cool little place right in Boudnath if you're interested. Boudnath you could stay two three days alone. Obviously justshootme just doesn't get it. I did a search trying to find what happened to just... His/her posts are so numerous and kinda odd I'd take the KTM comments with the proverbial grain of salt.

Bravo you for doing the Pokhara drive to Tansen and Lumbini. Two hitel options in Tansen, take the one IN town. {I Forget the names right now]. Goat sacrifices take place on Saturedays from memory. That 'Little Goat' temple is about 20 mins outta town.

Hotel Courtyard is a very good choice in KTM. Tell 'em you 'know' Dogster.
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Jul 19th, 2010, 07:31 PM
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Nice to hear from you, dogster - give my regards to PP. Hope the cruise is going well. I'm off to Canada for a week tomorrow, but both hotels advertise wi-fi - we'll see.

I was thinking of moving to Patan for a couple of nights, but I decided that I'll just settle for Kathmandu for my first visit (never made it back in the '60-'70s).

I will be in Tansen on a Saturday... Last time I encountered a sacrifice was the Kali temple in Kolkata for Durga Puja - maybe Tansen will be a bit less frenetic! LP lists Gauri Shankar Guest House and Hotel The White Lake in town, Hotel Srinager 2km outside.

"Tell 'em you 'know' Dogster." - after I get checked in, lol.
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Jul 19th, 2010, 08:12 PM
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I might go to KTM again next week. Or not.
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Jul 19th, 2010, 08:19 PM
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I'll stay tuned. Lot of interesting places between SR and KTM....
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Jul 20th, 2010, 12:44 PM
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WOW, I can't believe the bad advice you have been given.

My cousin in is the middle of a rtw trip and was in Nepal a few months ago (April/May), she was there during a strike and was told, oh, it will only last a day or two. When in doubt always ask the locals, right? Wrong! She was stuck in a remote area of the country 5 days before her flight was to leave from Kathmandu. The strike lasted a week, and during this time she was confined to a small guesthouse which was overcrowded (as many tourist had been affected by the strike) and a food supply that was depleted in two days. This cousin choose North India and Nepal for it's wildlife as an alternative to a costly African safari. She now says the savings were not worth it, those saving were quickly depleted, she had to make several expensive telephone calls to her ta in England. The ta had to rearrange part of the cousin's itinerary. Royal Nepal were totally unhelpful, and told the ta, well, we are still flying, and refused to rebook her flights, that was just one problem. She got to Kathmandu two days after the strike ended, had to buy a new ticket to Bangkok and missed the cruise she was supposed to take (She knew she would miss the cruise when she was in Nepal. Giving my cousin this advise cost her dearly. Two people have given you good advice on this thread, two have not, take their comments with a "proverbial grain of salt".

BTW, I was in Kathmandu for three days on a rtw trip during my gap year. I found three days to be sufficient to see the sights Kathie mentioned. I did not get outside the Kathmandu Valley. Boudath, is a small sight, can't imagine spending three days there. I spend a day visiting Boudath, Monkey Temple and Pashupatinath. The second day in Kathmandu and Patans Durbar squares, and the last day in Bhaktapur. All the Durbar Square were similar and the sights became repetitive.
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Jul 20th, 2010, 01:47 PM
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2g, people have different levels of interest in various sites. For me, I'd feel rushed doing two durbar squares in a day. We spent most of a day at each Durbar square. I'm not sure where you got the idea I was recommending three days for Boudnath... I mentioned it as a site to visit the same day as Pashupatinath. We did make three visits to Boudnath at three different times of the day, as Boudnath was walking distance from our hotel, but not everyone has the interest/desire to do that.

Are you recommending that Thursdays not visit Nepal because of the possibility of a strike? I feel it's always a good idea to have a plan B, and I had a plan B for my visit. Thursdays is very well traveled and has experience with winging it, when necessary. I expect she can decide just before her flight whether to go there, and I expect she will have at least one plan B.
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Jul 20th, 2010, 01:59 PM
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Thursdaysd, please, please move your Kathmandu dates to October. We need you to witness and report on this long anticipated event:

kimmyejones: dogster,
I haven’t met you yet but I’m presumptuous enough to say I will this October. I dare you...


dogster: My bridal gown is nearly ready. These Bangkok tailors are amazing. Lollipop Pink suits me.
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Jul 20th, 2010, 06:32 PM
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2g, dogster is referring to staying in the town/area of Boudnath part of the time, not that visiting the stupa there takes three days.
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Jul 20th, 2010, 07:21 PM
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Checking in from incredibly touristy (but cooler than NC) Quebec City.

Actually, when I said that Nepal was the kind of place that could blow a schedule to bits I wasn't referring to strikes. I was referring to the possibility of liking it so much I wanted to stay longer. I know strikes are a possibility - friends of mine got caught in the tail end of a long one last year and had to skip part of their itinerary. So long as I'm fed I'm cool with this bit of my trip taking longer than expected.

Marija - very tempting, but I'm afraid October is South Korea and Taiwan.
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