Nepal on a Shoestring

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Nepal is the budget travellers’ paradise. Sleep cheap, trek independently, take the bus and eat daal bhaat twice daily, and you can get by on less than US$15 a day.

Kathmandu

Magical, medieval Kathmandu is fantastic value. Budget hotels (US$5-15) and restaurants (mains US$5) are found in the bustling Thamel district. Restaurants here serve an astounding array of delicious meals. If you’re really on a budget, drink water: a bottle of beer will nearly double your bill. And the best Kathmandu sights are free: take yourself on an excursion through temple-strewn alleyways to ancient Durbar Sq.

Pokhara

Pokhara, on the edge of a gorgeous lake, is the second traveller enclave in Nepal. Lakeside has clusters of budget hotels, restaurants, and bars. You can stay in a dorm here for Rs150 (US$2). Or set up your tent for free at Camping Chowk – though there are no facilities, and the nearest loos are at neighbouring restaurants.

Trekking

Hit the Himalayas and their foothills for an unforgettable – yet affordable – trek.
Many trails – including some in the Annapurna Sanctuary and Langtang Valley – have cheap lodges serving food along their entire length. So you don’t need to buy a tent, stove or mat. Forget the porters and guides. Set off with a friend down one of these well-marked trails and carry your own pack: you’ll spend less than US$15 a day.

Gear

For basic treks, there’s no need to bring expensive equipment from home. Hire gear in Thamel, Kathmandu: a sleeping bag for Rs 60 (80c) or a down jacket for Rs 50 (70c). Or buy ‘made in Nepal’ – OK it’s not great gear, but it’s a bargain and it’ll last a short trek or two.

Nepal for free

A monumental Himalayan view, a grin from a local host, the spiritual sights and unholy chaos of the city – the best things in Nepal are most certainly free. Check our photo gallery to see what we mean. Enjoy!

Further information

Check our Thorn Tree forum for the latest information on Nepal including costs, opinion, trekking and Frequently Asked Questions.