More possibly useful/possibly self indulgent tips from our experiences in Kathmandu/Pokhara and for packing kit for treks!
Prepare for immigration hell – ignore all the electronic machines and head straight to the queue to pay your fee, the immigration form can be found online and printed – the queues should be long enough for you to fill the forms in and attach a passport photo while you wait!
If you are there for Holi Festival – get involved! Wear old clothes and shoes and prepare to get drenched! If you have blonde hair apparently coconut oil will prevent some staining if you apply before hand – if not anti dandruff shampoo will make a bit of a dent in the colour but green highlights are a possibility…
Our favourite restaurants in Thamel were Gaias for both breakfast, lunch and wonderful coffees and soft drinks! Rosemary’s does delicious momos – ask to sit outside if you can. For beautiful middle eastern cuisine (would highly recommend their falafel) visit OR2K, they seemed to have lots of space for big groups too if you all fancy sitting on cushions at cosy low tables. One of our most amazing feast experiences was definitely pricey but super special so if you can splash out, try the 6 course tasting menu at Krishnarpan in the beautiful Hotel Dwarika.
Don’t rely on taxis to know where they are going, maps me is a great app to use offline for directing your cab!
If you happen to be travelling to Japan and are getting a JRail pass, there is an office in Kathmandu. Ignore any signs for it as it has moved, instead head to Citron Gardens which is like a mall complex in Thamel with the bank of Nepal also inside, there you can find H.I.S bel travel that supply the passes!
If you are independently trekking, collect permits in advance from the ACAP office (tourist information) just outside of Thamel by the Purano (old) bus park on Durbar Marg – bring passport photos and cash!
If you have limited time but still want to do some hiking, see my post (Chapter 32) and do the early morning taxi to Sarangot and ask to go all the way to the summit to save your legs. From there follow the yellow signs to Kasikot that mark the new trail (again maps me was super useful). If you make it to Pame the whole walk takes about 5 hours – from there we were quoted around $12 for a cab back to the lakeside but lucked out and got the local bus for less than $1! Pack water and snacks as there are plenty of nice spaces to stop off and sit but not many places to grabs either on route.
Streetcabs are very negotiable all along the lakeside so maybe try and grab one of these as opposed to any fancy car arranged by a hotel.
If there are any local events try not to miss out – the potato festival was HILARIOUS and beat all of the weird tourist restaurant “cultural” shows any day!
In terms of eating in Pokhara – Moondance for both service and their incredible pizzas was without a doubt our favourite! The highly recommended lemon meringue pie was a little sweet for us but the terrance and balcony were perfect spots in the sun to watch the world go by from! We also had lovely meals at the OR2K and Rosemary’s branches here but neither a patch on Moondance.
Hand sanitiser and loo roll are invaluable and actually very easy to get from most stores locally.
If for some reason like us you are dying for salt and vinegar crisps they do not exist! But supermarkets are very well stocked in every other aspect!
A head torch is useful for night time loo trips and early morning treks as well as for the occasional power cut as is a battery pack to keep devices charged!
We walked in March and it got really hot and really cold so pack if you can for all weather including rain!
Neither of us used walking poles even though we had them packed – I suppose it’s a a personal preference there but the terrain was just a little too rocky.
We had been convinced to bring filter bottles but we were better off with purchasing mineral water as there were enough places on our treks to top up and our filter bottles took so much more effort to actually get water out!
We didn’t see a single mosquito but maybe that was simply due to the time of year we visited so we didn’t use nets at all!
Always pack plenty of Imodium – it’s amazing how fast you can get through the packets and the stuff we bought here looked suspiciously unreliable…