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.
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, 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.
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.
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!
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