1:28pm, local Kathmandu time.
G and I are sitting in the departure hall of Tribhuwan International Airport, legs perched on our hand carries, waiting to fly home. FZ578 is delayed for an hour, argh.
Looking out through windows here reminds me a little of being in Queenstown. Mountains, blue skies, endless clouds.
Unfortunately, the similarities end there. Please forgive my honest opinion, which is very biased as we’ve only spent 4 nights here, but if you were to ask me to sum Kathmandu itself in 3 words ( as Catboy and Geordiebird would ask in their morning show ), it will be – powercuts, potholes and rich, rich culture 🙂
Let’s wind back to Monday July 21st when we found out that G was going to be here over the holidays. Jumped onto ‘Inspire me’ on the Emirates website and the only cities that fell within our budget and flying time was either a) war-torn or b) requires 101 vaccinations. So again, we put our ‘only-fly-Emirates’ ego away and browsed through skyscanner.net to see what else was left. Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Moscow all came up on top. Hmm. Then came, Nepal.
G spent the following day doing the research and Thamel Tours, one of the highly rated locally-based travel agencies on Tripadvisor was very prompt to respond. Approx 800USD for 4 nights in 5-star hotels, inclusive of all transfers, english-speaking guides through various cultural sites (inclusive of entry fees) around Kathmandu. Alright, let’s give it a shot 🙂
I’ll entertain you with the numerous shots within and around Kathmandu that formed the 4 days that we spent here. Colourful, and so rich with culture. They definitely have a lot to go with infrastructure, and hopefully the 84 000 megawatts of hydro-power they are able to provide will do good to the country if and when the dams are built. Sometimes we felt like we had stepped back in time, which does make the experience even more interesting 🙂
If you are planning to follow our itenary around the same time-period, here are some tips :
Where to stay
We had requested for the more luxurious options through Thamel Tours, and if you are up to the same, here are our honest thoughts of :
- Hyatt Regency Resort, Kathmandu – Read my review of it here.
- Club Himalaya Resort, Nagarkot – we stayed for one night here at the top of the hills, and at 2000m above sea level it is quite beautiful from above. Unfortunately it was very foggy in the morning so we didn’t have a clear view of the mountains and honestly it wasn’t as impressive as we had expected to be, but it was good to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city for some fresh air.
3. Shangri-la Resort, Kathmandu – it claims to be 5-star but hmm, if you were to compare to those in Dubai like St Regis Saadiyat or Le Royal Meridien, I’ll consider it 2.5, maybe 3-stars. It was pretty good for Kathmandu standards probably- the rooms were clean, we had a nice view of the garden which was quite pretty, the pool although small was in a nice green location, and breakfast was alright. It was also very close to Thamel (2 USD) taxi ride. If you wanted something comfortable and not too shabby, and don’t want to pay a fortune for Hyatt, consider the Shangri-la. Just don’t expect anything grand.
Tips for travel
- What to bring – An umbrella (as it does get quite hot when you’re walking through the sites, and mid-year is rainy season), hand-held paper fan (I bring this everywhere and is a lifesaver), and never forget your sunglasses.
- What to wear – Comfy low-profile, respectful clothing. T-shirts, singlets, cargo pants, aladdin pants. Jandals as you’ll need to take it off everytime you enter a temple. Leave your Louie Vuitton bags and high heels at home.
- How much cash to bring – Food and drinks are very cheap, a lunch of 20 pieces of momo (equivalent of chinese dumpling), chicken chow mein, a 650ml of local beer (Everest/Gorkha), fruit juice, enough for 3 would be less than 10 USD. So budget accordingly.
- Was it safe – Unlike Paris, we weren’t bombarded by child thieves or beggars. There are the occasional locals who would ask you for money but we generally felt quite safe. Just use some common sense and you should be OK 🙂
What to expect
- If you’ve chosen Kathmandu as a getaway, it’s because you’re genuinely interested to learn about the rich Nepalese culture, and Buddhism/Hinduism as you will be seeing a lot of old villages, and beautiful temples. So expect to be walking around a lot, in fairly dirty areas – dress accordingly 🙂
- We didn’t have time to do any hiking, but a lot of people come here to do the Himalayan Mountains 🙂 Raincheck for next time, especially to check out Pokhara!
So there you go, that’s our two cents of the random getaway over Eid 🙂 Sincere thanks to Balaram from Thamel Tours who organised everything for us, making it a stress-free holiday. To Mukesh, for patiently guiding us on the first two days and putting up with G who was always so hot and so tired, haha. You were very knowledgeable of all the sites. To Sandeep as well who took us to Satkar for local food, and the various drivers who took us everywhere.
Another short trip from Dubai, 4 hours by flight, 1hour45minutes time difference and not-too-expensive overall 🙂 Just be prepared and do a bit of research before you go, if what I’ve written above suits you and you would like to be part of all the colour and culture, give it a shot. Definitely something completely different than what you’ll get in Dubai 🙂