1. VISAS – HAVE USD
When you land at the airport in Kathmandu they have a system for visa on arrivals – but it’s not a great and request 3 stages of quing.
You need CASH to pay for your visa; ideally USD. We had to pay in pounds, which meant we got a poor exchange rate and no change! They will say they don’t accept card, even though the sign and the website says they do. So best have cash to save any problems! Also there is no ATM in the airport at Kathmandu (so you need cash for transfer or use the currency exchange desk)
2. TAXI TRANSPORT
So only use the official taxi stand and prepay your taxi. I turned around to Nkosi having made best friends with a guy working for a tour company who gave a good price for a taxi so we agreed to go with it.. to discover it meant 1h 30mins in the smallest car known to man, being talked at for the whole way about booking a trekking tour with them. It’s not uncommon, and happened to our friends too!
3. WOMEN; WEAR CLOTHES PAST YOUR KNEE!!
So it is touristy, especially is staying in the main part of Thamel, and I was advised by our hostel we would be ok, but I felt uncomfortable the moment I stepped out in shorts. It was hot, but I went and bought some trousers straight away. If you don’t want to be stared at, cover up!
4. TEMPLE HOPPING IS EXPENSIVE!
So having travelled SE Asia we didn’t even think to pre-check the price of temples; but in Kathmandu, the attractions are expensive (when considering cost of living) and of course you pay a foreigner fee (double the price at least). We hired a car for the day and had a driver take us around for $20 (4 of us sharing) which we thought was ok for a full day and some of the attractions were far, however had not factored in entry and actually ran out of money and ended up being an expensive day! Check out the entry prices here to give you an idea.
They are helpful, full of information, but don’t advise that they are a guide you have to pay for until the end. If you don’t want to know what you are looking at, don’t get one; if you do – you need to pay. I recommend at the Pashupatinath Temple (Hindi cremations ceremony) so you understand the rules, the ritual and the culture; however AGREE a price first!!!!!
6. SELFIES WITH SADHUS! (HOLY MEN)
They look cool, and always welcome you for a picture, but beware many are fake.and just dress up like this for money and so to get your picture you have to pay! Even the ones inside the temple, when the guide will say they are authentic, will want your money!!
7. WATCH YOUR STEP!
Kathmandu is full of dust in the air and serious holes in the ground. You will notice no one on their phones as they walk; I have my theory that this is because they are making sure they don’t fall through pot holes / can’t see the screen through the thick dust. Kathmandu has to be the worst city for dust, apparently it is because they put in a water system and didn’t cover the pipe into he ground properly; resulting in the road falling away and the gravel lifting into the air.
8. CROSSING A ROAD!
Just walk, there are so many bikes and cars that are used to dodging the many cows and pigs and dogs, that a human is just the same. Take a step of faith and hope they just stop! They normally do!
9. DEAL or NO DEAL!
I think Nepal is one of the few countries where they refuse to barter. They tell you a.proce, and on many occasions are prepared to let you walk away rather than go down in price.
10. WiFi – GET A SIM CARD!
WiFi in Nepal is the second worse in the world after Libia! (Fact). So best thing to do? Ensure you have a scan of your passport and some spare passport pictures and go and pic up a sim card! Download maps.me so you can access the map offline and it will just go off your GPS location. It is handy for at least one of your group to have WiFi (and then hotspot the others). Just because if you get lost, want to check out restaurant reviews or book accommodation before arriving somewhere. Also handy if you need to direct taxi drivers (yes this did happen).