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Installment #3 in my Budget Breakdown series details the cost to travel Nepal. This series provides transparency on travel costs for various places around the world.
Of course, like any travel budget, there are variances depending on your travel style, the time of year you visit, and what you choose to splurge on.
I spent two weeks in Nepal in December, which is considered low season. My time was spent between the capital of Kathmandu, trekking in the Annapurna mountain range, and relaxing in Pokhara, the jumping off point for Annapurna.
My time in Nepal was definitely on a backpacker’s budget, so if you’re more of a luxury traveler, this may not be as useful for you. (Though maybe take a look and see how much you could save!)
Otherwise, here’s how much it cost to travel Nepal based on my experience.
Table of Contents
Visas and flights to Nepal
Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu is the only international airport in Nepal, so it’ll be where you arrive unless you’re coming over land.
The price of flights obviously depends on your point of origin. From the West Coast of the United States, tickets tend to range between $600 and $1300.
Nepal requires visas for citizens of most countries, but the process is painless for most tourists (and even free for those from certain countries!). That’s because Nepal has visas on arrival.
Make sure to fill out the disembarkation “arrival card” that your flight crew gives you on the plane.
Once you land, get in line for the visa application kiosks as quickly as possible. With this e-visa kiosk, no passport photo is needed. But you will need to include accommodation info on that e-visa form, so make sure you’ve booked a night somewhere before you arrive.
(Alternatively, you can fill out a tourist visa form on the Department of Immigration’s website ahead of time and print out your receipt. This can only be done within 15 days of your arrival.)
Then get in the line for the visa fee collection counter. This was probably the biggest bottleneck in my experience as there were only two fee collectors, and the lines only seemed to budge every so often.
The fee for a visa on arrival is currently:
- $25 USD for a 15-day visa
- $40 USD for a 30-day visa
- $100 USD for a 90-day visa
Make sure to have enough cash in a major currency. The sign said they accept U.S., Australian, Canadian, Singaporean, and Hong Kong Dollars, along with the Euro, British Pounds, and a variety of other currencies.
Visa and MasterCard were also purportedly accepted for a $1 USD surcharge, but those weren’t available the day I arrived. Perhaps that was also a cause of the delays.
Then hop on over to the immigration desk to get your visa!
*A similar process occurs at border control points for land crossings.
Money in Nepal
The currency is Nepalese Rupees, or NPR. Conversion rates vary as economies change, but generally, 100 NPR equals 1 USD.
I’m typically the type of traveler who is all about the credit cards and gets local currency via an ATM upon arrival in the country. If I have cash in any currency on me, it’s usually less than $60.
But boy am I glad that I had more U.S. dollars on me when I landed in Kathmandu. The two ATMs at the airport apparently have had long-standing issues, even for those with Nepalese debit cards.
After more than 30 minutes of fruitlessly trying one ATM and then shuffling to the other and then back and forth again, I finally gave up and went to the currency conversion desk. (I’d been reluctant not only because those are known to have poor exchange rates but also because the cash I had on hand was meant for my trip to Bhutan, where our ATM cards don’t work at all.)
So learn from my lesson and make sure to have at least some starter cash when you go to Nepal.
Even working ATMs can take a few minutes to think, so be patient when taking out cash! In my experience, most ATMs in Nepal charged withdrawal fees around the vicinity of 500 NPR.
Two weeks in Nepal cost
During my two weeks in Nepal, I spent a total of 5 days in the Kathmandu area, 3 days in Pokhara, 2 days getting between those two cities, and 4 days trekking.
Here’s the budget breakdown for two weeks in Nepal:
- Food: 9505 NPR
- Lodging: 3818 NPR (hostels and guesthouses)
- Transportation: 5235 NPR (includes 3000 NPR to whitewater raft from Kathmandu to Pokhara instead of taking the bus)
- Entertainment/attractions/tickets: 2610 NPR
- Trekking gear (sleeping bag rentals, etc): 2400 NPR
- Trekking permits: 4000 NPR
- Misc (mouth mask, SIM card, massage, etc): 10,763 NPR
Total: 38,331 NPR, or ~$369.45 USD based on the conversion rates at the time. That’s about $26 USD a day!
Cost of things in Nepal
To give you a better idea of what things cost in Nepal, here are some averages for various common expenses you may face while traveling in Nepal.
- A dish of street food: 60-100 NPR
- A dish at a restaurant: 100-300 NPR
- A dish at a nicer restaurant: 400-600 NPR
- A dish on trekking trail: 500-700 NPR
- Shared hostel dorm: 250-750 NPR
- Trekking guesthouse: 200-700 NPR
To end on a related note, my sunglasses disappeared one day while I was in Nepal and I had to get some new ones given I was going to be in the Himalayas for a bit longer. I discovered that sunglasses that don’t even have UV protection are rather expensive compared to other costs in the country.
These “shades” cost around 1200-2000 NPR while the ones that have UVA/UVB protection were more in the 8000-15,000 NPR range. Eek!
So consider bringing a few extra pairs of sunglasses with UV protection for the folks you meet while you travel Nepal — eye health is important, and it doesn’t have to cost you that much! (You can also help by buying your own sunglasses from certain places. This company is one of my favorites — for every pair you buy, they also give an eye exam, glasses, and sunglasses to someone in need.)
Hope this helps you plan and budget your trip to Nepal!
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