Budget Travel – Nepal
Kristina and I are fortunate enough to have quite a bit of time to travel but making sure we can sustain it budget-wise for as long as we want will always be a challenge! Even before we departed, we have put together a massive travel budget spreadsheet where we attempted to estimate how much we are going to spend in each country so we have more certainty about what we can and can’t afford. There is no doubt we will have all sorts of mishaps and situations where spending additional is unavoidable but I still think (especially if you want to travel on a budget) failing to plan is planning to fail.
For this reason, I have put together a list of (realistic not anticipated) prices to help you budget for travelling in Nepal or simply avoid overpaying. It is worth mentioning that during our stay (more here) we resided in Thamel which is one of the most touristy areas which means prices will be slightly inflated.
It is worth mentioning that hotels and some bigger places might accept bank cards although this is not guaranteed and even if they do additional charges for card transactions are not unusual. Taking out cash from the ATMs are 500Rs (£3.3) per withdrawal plus your bank fee if there is one. We found that exchanging cash (all major currencies should be okay) in exchange points in town might just be the best option as rates (at the time of writing) offered at the exchange points are only 1-2% worse than the official rate.
Note: In our case we did not have much cash on us and Revolut which has already helped us in Istambul and Dubai does not have Nepalese Rupee, so we just had to use a regular UK debit card to withdraw cash.
Note: 1 GBP = 150Rs, 1 EUR = 130Rs, 1 USD = 110Rs (October 2018)
Taxis are quick and affordable in Nepal even for those travelling on a budget. Consider buses for travel between cities and rickshaws while out and about if you are not fancy walking.
Taxi from airport to Thamel – 500Rs (£3.3)
Taxi Thamel to Kopan Monastery – 500Rs
Taxi Thamel to Patan Durbar Square – 500Rs
Taxi Thamel to Swoyambhunath – 300Rs (£2)
Tip: Always negotiate the price in advance and don’t just accept what you are first told – google the location you want to go to and check the distance. You won’t be miles off if you use a rule of thumb where 1km = 100Rs or 1mile = 150Rs.
Hotel room with private bathroom – 750Rs – 1500Rs a night (£5 – £10)
An excellent budget friendly option for travellers looking for a clean room at a reasonably central location – Stupa View Inn. The owner of the property Lapsang Lama can also offer you market beating prices for trekking.
Bunk bed – 150Rs – 450Rs a night (£1 – £3)
Note: Prices are for budget hotels or hostels in Thamel. Prices can vary depending on location if trekking.
Meal (budget restaurant per person) – 200Rs – 600Rs (£1.3 – £4)
Himalayan tea – 70Rs (£0.5)
Bottle of water (1l) – 15Rs (£0.1)
Local beer (budget restaurant) – 400Rs (£2.3)
Local spirits (60ml, budget restaurant) – 200-300Rs (£1.3 – £2)
Note: Can be significantly higher if trekking or in popular tourist destinations. An easy way to save a bit of money is to always have a refillable bottle of water and avoid alcohol which seems pricey compared to everything else.
Tourist destination entrance fees
Kathmandu Durbar square – 1000Rs (£6.7)
Patan Durbar square – 1000Rs
Swoyambhunath Stupa – 200Rs (£1.3)
The Garden of Dreams – 200Rs
Guide – 3000Rs a day (£20)
Porter – 2500Rs a day (£17)
Note: Assuming treks are arranged locally and not via international travel companies you would find online. Prices should include accommodation and food for your guide/porter. You might be able to get even better prices if you are good at bargaining!
Meditation course (10 days in Kopan Monastery with food and accommodation included) – $150 or around 17500Rs (£117)
Visa – $40 for 30 days (or approximately £30)
In conclusion, staying in Kathmandu/Nepal is affordable even for budget travellers. If you are not going trekking, you could easily get by with 2500Rs (£16 / €20 / $23) per day. Having said that, trekking is probably one of the main reasons why people come to Nepal and if that is the case you need to allow extra.
As an example this is the indicative budget for a 2 week trip to Nepal from the UK for 1 person including a 1 week long trek.
Example on the left does not include insurance – this will be highly dependent on the duration and the level of cover you think is appropriate. If you are going trekking, always check your policy includes trekking to the elevations you expect to go to. Note that some insurance policies exclude helicopter rescue so check that yours does – if there was an emergency it could set you back $5000 or more which if traveling on a budget could mean a quick end to your trip.
*Similarly to insurance, costs of air travel (flights) will depend on the season as well as where you are flying from. In this example I used an indicative price of a return flight from the UK of £500.
Total = ~£1100 or just under £80 a day.