Kathmandu is an old and colourful city with a culture and history dating back over 2000 years. The Nepalese capital, once believed to be the mythical Shangri-La, is an increasingly popular vacation spot and a hub for backpackers and independent travellers.
Nepal is a country of festivals and celebration. Timing a trip there to coincide with one of the holidays is a good idea. The year kick-starts with the Holi festival in March. A colourful celebration of love where people throw coloured water balloons and paint each others faces. April sees the parades of the Nepalese New Year, and in August comes the Gai Jatra, the Festival of Cows. Those travelling in September will be able to participate in Indra Jatra, an 8-day celebration of the Hindu goddess Indra. For music fans, Jazzmandu, an international jazz festival comes in November. The weather is also an important factor and dry season lasts from October to April, with June to early October being monsoon season.
British visitors to Nepal will need visas and passports with a minimum validity of six months; visas are available from the Nepalese Embassy. Health may be an issue so travellers should be sure to visit their GP well in advance of travel and follow advice concerning vaccinations. These should include the usual vaccines recommended for the UK e.g. Tetanus as well as Diphtheria and Typhus. In Kathmandu and Nepal as a whole it is advisable to drink water from bottles and avoid tap water to prevent stomach upsets. Avoid hiking without a sherpa (guide).
Costs in Nepal are typically low - visitors can expect to pay from around 200 NPR for a meal in a restaurant. Specialities in Nepal include rice and lentils (Dal Baat) and dumplings (Momos), which are widely available as street food.
Getting from the airport into the city of Kathmandu is possible via taxi (prepaid) at a cost of 800 NPR or thereabouts (other taxis will be cheaper, costing around 500 for the same trip). Sometimes airport transfers are organised by hotels. The journey from airport into central Kathmandu will take around twenty-five minutes. The cheapest otion is to take the bus: this only costs 10NPR or so, but note that buses are notoriously full and unreliable.
A bed in a budget hostel will be around 370 NPR. Guesthouse accommodation is from roughly 850 NPR while a three star hotel will set you back 1200 NPR or so per person. There is also the option of renting a holiday apartment, which will cost from ca. 2100 NPR a night
In general, getting around Kathmandu is cheap: microbuses cost around 15 NPR, bus fares are from approximately 15 NPR for return tickets. Rickshaw trips should be negitiated before boarding (expect to pay between around 60 to 100 NPR).
Taxi drivers will charge 200 NPR or so for the first three kilometres travelled and 60 NPR per km after this.
Due to the busy roads in the city, it will often be faster to walk.