Nepal Probably the Cheapest Place to Travel Right Now

cheap travel nepal

Nepal was already one of the cheapest places in the world to travel and it’s usually on my short list when travelers ask where there money can stretch the most.

Lately though, Nepal has gotten even cheaper. The U.S. dollar is currently worth more than 100 Nepalese rupees, meaning an effective 20% decrease in prices over this time last year. For 100 rupees you can get a full meal, a bus ticket, a pot of ginger tea, a short tuk-tuk ride, and much more.

Nepal already had some of the cheapest accommodation in the world, with sub-$5 cheap guesthouses that have solar hot water and nice hotels with maid service and breakfast for under $20. When I searched HotelsCombined for Kathmandu for a night in mid-September, high season now, there were double rooms for under $10, the 3-star Chillout Resort for $13 double including breakfast, and I had to go six pages deep before crossing the $50 a night mark. There are only a few hotels where you can pay more than $150 a night in the capital in high season: the Yak & Yeti, Radisson, Hyatt, and Crowne Plaza—where spending that much gets you on the executive floor. In the countryside, spend $40 a night and you’re probably in the best hotel in town.

If you’re going trekking, you’ll have to lay out some money for permits and if you hire a porter you’re looking at $10-$20 per day including his expenses. But you can do without one if you’re fit (no need to bring a tent) and on the trails, tea house lodges and meals are very cheap.

Nepal trekking

Here’s a good rundown on the currency situation from a blog on Nepal, but as usual there, the good news comes with some accompanying bad news. Getting there is still going to be difficult and expensive. The decrepit airport in Kathmandu can’t handle large planes.

CAAN has issued a request letter to international airlines to restrict their payload to 196 tonnes until Sept 30 to prevent damage to the runway of the country’s sole international airport.

This provision means, for example, Thai Airways which flies Boeing 777 aircraft has to offload almost 100 passengers from its aircraft to meet the aviation regulator’s obligation. “And the payload restriction request has come when the airlines’ major business season is almost at hand,” said Shyam Raj Thapaliya, managing director of Osho World Travel Nepal.

International flights to Nepal tend to be pricey. I couldn’t find one from the USA for under $1,000 for any city for random upcoming dates. So a lot of the backpackers you see in Nepal have come overland via India (grueling, but cheap) or have come on a shorter flight from China, Thailand, or India.

Because of this issue and just a general fear of travel there that is a hangover from the long-running insurgency in the past, Nepal is not nearly as thronged with tourist as you probably think. Here are the official numbers the Kathmandu Post put up recently: “On aggregate, Nepal received 368,386 foreign visitors, down by 2.29 percent year-on-year in the first eight months (January-August) of 2013.”

Fewer than 50,000 visitors per month in such a gorgeous country? Orlando, Florida probably gets that many on a Saturday. You could probably put up that many people in just one block of Vegas hotels. It’s still a buyer’s market in Nepal, even though it’s probably the cheapest country on Earth for travelers. Well, the cheapest one that’s actually worth spending weeks or months in, that is.

[Nepal Flickr photos by Nomad Tales and Jeane Menjoulet.]

Comments
  1. Jeannie

    I was reading your blog and book before we left the USA for eight months and we hit the places that seemed the cheapest: Cambodia, Indonesia, India, and Nepal. I’d say Nepal is the best value overall, especially now that the dollar is worth even more. Prices are kind of hit and miss because Pokhara is more expensive than it should be and there are a lot of big money tourists in Kathmandu and heading to Everest. Overall even in those places though it was cheaper for hotels and meals than any other big city we visited.

  2. Adam B.

    It kind of doesn’t seem right that a place with the mountain beauty like this would be one of the cheapest, while Switzerland would be one of the most expensive. No skiing in Nepal though.

  3. Codewing

    Nepal is not only cheapest but also provides the best value for your money.

  4. Avvy

    Hi thanks for the blog. May i ask if you know a cheap hotel in thamel kathmandu? :) thanks..

    • Tim Leffel

      There are literally a hundred+ of them. Start with a guidebook, then check the online booking services.

  5. BG

    Nepal should bring a policy of Voluntism (volunteer programs combined with trekking packages). This will benefit the country.

  6. stefano mancink

    nepal is cheap for you that come with your dollars for a little time and than go home for us that live in nepal nepal is very expensive i mean for the actual earning possibility here the prices are out of mind for sure

  7. Ram

    Actually Nepal is a cheaper country for foreigner but for the people of Nepal it seems expensive. Tourist come to Nepal not only because it is cheaper country but because it is very rich in its natural resources like let me give the examples. The highest mountain in located in Nepal. Nepal is the Birth place of lord Buddha and many more. One can find various specious of animal and plants. Ethnic group is 61. One can find the varieties of animal around 200. The varieties of mammals are around 903 Varieties of Birds are 853 etc.

  8. Freds

    Nepal is not as cheep as you think. it depends on how you want to travel in Nepal. It’s upon your status, Backpacker’s or Luxurious one.

    • Tim Leffel

      What destination in the world is that NOT true for?

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