Nepal: How to Spend Your Money Wisely

Nepal is very cheap especially in terms of food, accommodation, and transport. However, I ended up spending so much on visa extension, winter clothes, and the trekking stuff. I figured this can help you plan your trip better so I’ve come up with some ways to save up in Nepal.

Visa

It doesn’t make sense that they have a #VisitNepal2020 campaign going on but have jacked up the visa fees. Not exactly inviting.

I paid 50 USD when I arrived for 30 days and extending 15 days was a whopping 45 USD. If you’re planning to stay 60 days, more or less, just get the 90 days visa straight away when you arrive. It will be cheaper in the end.

If you do end up needing to extend your visa, do it in Pokhara if you can. It’s a lot less busy so the process is quicker. It’s also not far from the tourist area, which is Lakeside, so a walk to immigration is actually quite nice.

In Kathmandu, you’d have to walk through so much traffic and pollution so a taxi would be ideal. Lines are long as well and it can get crowded. Extra tip, don’t wait too long to extend your visa as the late fees are expensive. A friend had to pay so much in the end. We met someone who convinced him extending it regardless of time was the same but I think they’re tightening rules on this.

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Lakeside, Pokhara

Trekking

Trekking permits are 5,000 NPR but they’re single entry. If you want to do several hikes, it will definitely add up. During your hike, the price of food in the mountain almost triple as well. 500 – 800 NPR per meal. Imagine eating 3 meals a day for your hike!

What I would suggest for hikes is to bring quick breakfast food like Muesli and granola bars. During your hike, order one meal a day and get the dhal bhat because you get free refills and it’s usually the cheapest item on the menu. This should be a good amount of food for a day, having two meals and some snack in between. Water can also get expensive, of course, so get yourself some Aquatabs so you can just take water from the tap. which is in every town.

Read about my Annapurna Circuit Hike experience [HERE].

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Each hike will be different. When I did part of the Annapurna Circuit, there were villages every hour or so, so finding food and tap water wasn’t difficult at all. I heard that in some hikes, villages can be hours away from each other so do a bit more of research around on your specific hike and see how you can manage rations for food and water.

If you are a big group and you can bring something to heat your water like propane or a portable water heater, do it because the price of a tiny cup of hot water can be 50 NPR or even 100 NPR. If you’re going to do long hikes, the costs will add up.

Hiking Gear

For those who don’t have hiking gear, based on my experience I’ve left behind so many things so before you buy anything, ask your hostel for anything previous guests have left behind. Walking sticks are everywhere and some people even leave behind winter clothing. Join Facebook groups online, particularly for hikers and backpackers in Nepal so you can connect with people you can get things from.

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This is also a good way to meet people to go hiking with and if you can get a good-sized group, you can hire a guide and split the cost. Novice hikers can take this option or simply those who don’t prefer to hike alone. Even though I did it alone and didn’t get into trouble, it is advisable to have at least one more person join you in case something happens. I heard a girl hiked alone and fell off a cliff. She was rescued many hours later because nobody knew. Luckily, she had a whistle and eventually people heard her. The next time I hike I will go with someone.

Costs of doing packaged rates for tour groups can get pricey so a DIY with or without a guide is a lot cheaper.

Transportation

Generally, it’s ridiculously cheap to pay for taxis and I generally go by the 100 NPR per kilometer (maximum) rate. As a budget traveler, I’d haggle for much lower and I’ve successfully haggled down to 30 – 50 NPR per kilomoeter but some days I don’t feel like haggling like if I’m carrying my heavy backpack or if I’m just exhausted.

Intercity local buses are sometimes half the price of a tourist bus and if you’re a seasoned traveler or simply someone who’s used to rough traveling, this isn’t so bad of an option.

If you’re arriving in Kathmandu airport and you don’t have a lot of luggage, walk 5 minutes outside of the airport and find the airport bus station on the main road. If you’re staying in Thamel, which is likely because most hostels and hotels are there, find a bus that will take you to Ratna Park. From there, you can walk to your destination and at the same time, enjoy the vibrant market streets. Total spend? 20 NPR.

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Read about my Annapurna Circuit Hike experience [HERE].