Confession: i LOVE reading “places to go” lists. I daydream about when i would go, where the destination fits in my current travel schedule, etc. But this is the first year, i’ve actually seen countries I already visited pop up the popular destination lists.
Which brings me to Nepal. I have seen this country on at least two lists (apologies, can’t remember which ones to link to, sorry!) and think there are a few important things to consider before you jump on a 15 hour flight to Kathmandu.
I am biased in that i loved Nepal. The loved the culture, the people i encountered were kind and generous. The experience was one of the best in my life. But, Nepal is not for everyone. Let me repeat, Nepal is not for everyone. Three things to consider:
1. Nepal is subject to political unrest. I visited Nepal for 10 days, nine of which the country was under a Bandha. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it is a Nepali word meaning ‘closed.’ It’s basically a form of protest where the town, markets, city or even the entire country is shut down. The protests range from quiet and peaceful to violent and freakin’ scary.
Group of Bandha protestors
2. Nepal requires a special kind of mentality. The political unrest,Bandha days and need to be flexible are probably one rolled together. You must be nimble and willing to change your entire trip itinerary. You must be prepared to walk. A lot. Bandha’s typically prohibit any means of transportation beyond your feet. You must be prepared to be without money. Without transportation, ATMs run out of cash quickly and banks are closed until the Bandha is lifted.
3. Nepal is a developing country. Put aside what you know or think you know about developing countries. You will see the most beautiful sights of your life and the most heart-wrenching sites typically side by side.
Pashupatinath Temple on the (extremely polluted) Bagmati River
As a developing country, i beg you to be considerate of local customs and culture. There are many. Understand if you are not Hindu, you cannot enter many of the sites in Kathmandu. They are still beautiful from the outside. Understand that tipping is customary, especially for pictures. Seriously, your tip is less than a dollar and is all the money some people see.
What this really means is that you should be prepared for an enriching, amazing experience. But if you are Four Seasons kind of person, this might not be the best country to visit. That doesn’t mean the experience doesn’t exist, i’m sure it does. But think strongly about why you are going to Nepal and how the Four Seasons can accomplish that. I was blessed to have a host how allowed me to stay at her house.
For me, Nepal was amazing and life changing. Never in my life would have guessed i would have the opportunity to go, but i am so glad i did. If you are considering a trip to Nepal, i would love to share my experiences and offer ideas for an itinerary. You know where to find me.
I will put a separate post up on trekking as it is one of the country’s biggest attractions.