December 10, 2013

Tips for Nepal, Our Favorites & Hiking to Kopan Monastery

Cities Visited: Kathmandu, Patan, Pokhara, Bhaktapur, Nagarkot.

Average Cost per day including accommodation and food: $52/day for two people.

Splurges: Buddha Air flights to/from Pokhara ($90 per person per direction)...read the reason why we splurged here...hint: carbomb scare! This cost was not included in the average cost per day calculation.

Favorite Nepali dishes: steamed chicken momos (mmm!) and chicken chilly.

Favorite Places: Pokhara and Bhaktapur...and ofcourse we giggled a lot when we repeated "We're in Kathmandu"...ok we = I.

Favorite Restaurants: Madhushala in Pokhara for happy hour, dinner and a lakeside view (*ahem* we came to Madhushala about 5-6 times..maybe even 7 times), 
Mike's Restaurant in Pokhara for a delicious lakeside breakfast and OR2K falafel stand in Kathmandu.

Favorite Experiences: chilling out in Pokhara, mountain biking through Old Pokhara to a Tibetan settlement, doing yoga twice at Himalayan Yogini in Pokhara (I was so relaxed, I didn't care that a bug crawled on me during part of the session...it may or may not have been larger than just a bug...but I was cool with it), painting an elephant tote bag for Women's Empowerment (and I have a cute souvenir), exploring Bohdnath Supta and hiking to Kopan Monastery (pics below!), arriving in Bhaktapur at night during a power outage and seeing the temple outside our guesthouse surrounded by candles and Nepali men chanting.

Funny Experiences: random run-ins with monkeys around Kathmandu and seeing them run around in front of the domestic airport. Landing in Kathmandu a few days before a national election and having our taxi driver tell us not to take the bus to Pokhara because the army was escorting tourist buses because gas bombs were being thrown at roads (....excuse me what?)

Things we loved about Nepal: the friendliness of the people, cheap happy hour and chilled out private gardens decorated with prayer flags, candlelight, incense with just an all-around relaxing vibe! Oh and did I mention how friendly the Nepalis are? ;)

Things we weren't so crazy about: Beers at Rumdoodle Bar were WAY overpriced (Rumdoodle Bar is a place where Everest summitters eat for free...forever!), the noise in Kathmandu (eternally grateful for the earplugs Christian's brother and his wife gave us...I'm sure a 14-hour time difference jetlag made us ultra sensitive, too), our Nagarkot guesthouse was eh so-so (...but the views were outstanding!), guides in Bhaktapur asking why we didn't want a guide (it gets old when they ask it 5-6 times over and over).

Favorite Guesthouses: Peacock Guesthouse in Bhaktapur was a very cool cultural experience.

Least Favorite Guesthouse: Peaceful Cottage, Nagarkot. It has tons of great reviews. We'd give the view 5 stars too but the place itself...it was alright :-/.

Cheapest Guesthouse: Nepali Cottage Guesthouse in Pokhara was $6/night! And we really liked the owner Hemon (Disclaimer: super cheap means you get what you pay for...and we wanted to save some cash).

Regrets: Not trekking! But we knew early on that we wouldn't have the gear or time to do a 1-2 week hike in -5 C! But after talking to fellow travelers, we would definitely want to do an Everest Base Camp trek. Next trip! Hopefully with our travel buddies Denis & Emma.

Would we return to Nepal? Yes!! We loved Nepal and the people were so nice and friendly. We never felt scammed. When shopkeepers or taxi drivers offered their services, we politely declined and they would never push it beyond that (besides the guides in Bhaktapur).

Accommodation we would recommend:
Pokhara: Nepali Cottage Guesthouse. At $3 per person per night in a private room, this place was a steal! Very centrally located, free wifi, hot showers and cool owner Hemon. Granted this place was very very basic and the beds were hard but this is Nepal, right?! 

Bhaktapur: Peacock Guesthouse. This was about $30 per night, including a big breakfast and was centrally located on one of the main squares. The guesthouse is in an old building/wood factory so the rooms were really cool and we had a small balcony where they served us breakfast.

And our last pics from Nepal...when we hiked from the beautiful Bohdnath Supta through a tunnel of spiders (might be exaggerating a bit...but there were spiders and they were big) to Kopan Monastery. Unfortunately Kopan was closed due to a private retreat! But it was still a cool hike and we quite liked the monastery next to Kopan...and several Buddhist temples we saw on the way.

Namaste, Nepal!
{Enjoying beers and Everest history at Rumdoodle}
{And a delicious dinner at OR2K falafel stand in Kathmandu for only $1.50)

3 comments:

Georgia Christakis said...

looks like an amazing place...

Bailey@Lost&Found said...

i miss nepal sooo much! can't wait to take my little man trekking when he is older! and or2k- omg!!!!!!!!!

voyages-of-discovery.com said...

Good idea to save the best for next time - WITH US! Woot! I know someone who'd be up for that in a heartbeat...and me too for that matter ;D