It’s fun to travel with kids in Nepal. It’s cleaner and cheaper than India. The Nepali people love kids so prepare them to an almost royal treatment. The views are stunning and (almost) everyone speaks English. And the biggest advantage over all the other southeast Asian countries is that there are almost no mosquito transferred diseases (other than in the south, on the Indian border).
I’ll write here a few tips for those planning a visit in Nepal in the hope they’ll help.
If you’ve never been to Nepal before- their airport looks like it’s taken from an old low budget film. After a long tiring flight, you stand in the very long line for visa. The Nepalese are very friendly and will take the younger kids (under 10 years old) to a shorter line for their free visas. the older ones will have to stand in line. Prepare a place for the kids to sit comfortably (maybe a small blanket to spread on the ground or something similar) because they’ll be very tired. If you have a cart- try to get it the minute you get off the plane, or if you have a Yuka use it.
Kathmandu is not an easy city to process. Make the trip from the airport to the hotel quickly, and stay in the Thamel area to begin with. I would recommend you leave Kathmandu and save it till the end of your visit, after you’ve had some time to get used to Nepal. It’s better to get to Pokhara as soon as possible, and start the trip there.
Make the way from Kathmandu to Pokhara in a hired minivan. It’s a long bumpy twisty road with high throw-up potential (7/10 by our measuring) so it’s best if the vehicle is hired by you, that way you could ask the driver to stop as needed. Invite other travelers to join you, they’ll pay their part and the kids could make a few friends.
Other option is the tourist bus, which is nowadays very comfortable and relatively safe. Few of them even have wifi that is actually working.
Food, water, showers…:
The water quality in the taps in Kathmandu is very low. In Pokhara it’s relatively fine. I wouldn’t drink it but they do go through some purification process.
Hot water- most places have hot water. Some only have a solar heater, which means there’ll only be hot water if there was sun.
Western food there is everywhere. Its quality- good. Pasta and pizza you can get anywhere. The local food in delicious and very nutritious, but don’t forget to ask not spicy if that might be a problem for you.
In my opinion the best time to travel to Nepal with kids is in October-November-early December. The weather is amazing; it doesn’t rain the skies are crystal clear. March-April-May is also a good time, but less so as visibility is less good.
In Nepal there is a hydroelectric system, but for political reasons, the Nepali people don’t really get to enjoy it. Power cuts are a part of everyday life. The more water flows in the rivers, the more power there is. Hence, in the monsoon and a few weeks after (July-November), there’s power almost all day long. The further away from the monsoon you are, the longer the power cuts become. In March for example there’s no power for 14 hours a day(!). during the day it doesn’t really bother but at night it could be unpleasant. Most good hotels, restaurants, and shops have generators, but they turn them off at around 11pm.
Safety, health, transportation:
There are decent hospitals and ambulances. And pharmacies everywhere.
There are some (few) taxis with sit belts. Make sure to choose only those and insist they take them out of the trunk.
Sidewalks- there are more in Pokhara than in Kathmandu.
I would recommend putting very young kids in a Yuka so you won’t have to worry about them crossing roads or disappearing in an ocean of humanity. Hold hands with older kids when walking in busy streets.
Keep the kids away from the stray dogs and Monkeys (yes, you’re reading it right, Monkeys). In the event something happens- go to a private hospital they’re experienced in giving rabies shots.
A local bus can be an interesting experience…
There are bicycles for rent everywhere, and it’s fun to paddle, but it’s nearly impossible to find bicycles for the kids.
In the Thamel in Kathmandu you can find anything. But it’s not as cheap as you’d think.
That’s why it’s better to shop in Pokhara where it’s cheaper.
Or if you are looking for brands etc- there is a nice variety in kathmandu to choose from.
Books: in most book stores you can find a small but high quality selection of books in many languages. If your bags are already heavy, don’t bother taking books with you you’ll find some here. The deal is that you buy the book, read it, then return it to the store to get half your money back. few children’s book are also possible, as well as books for young kids and teens.
Have no fear. In Pokhara and Kathmandu there is everything you need. Diapers (not of a great quality), wet wipes, soaps, hand sanitizers (a large, high quality selection), cornflakes, mosquito repellents, bandages and wound disinfectants, sunscreen (a large selection, including naturals and international brands), tooth paste and brush, pacifiers, vitamins.
You should bring baby food and medicines with you from home. Even though now, slowly, is gets easier to find formula in the big cities.
Here’s an article with all you need to know about traveling to Nepal
Things you can do that won’t be mentioned in the travel guides:
∴ A yoga course in Pokhara with the kids- warmly recommended.
∴ Go on a short easy trek to the village Astham. There is an amazing, friendly guesthouse there.
∴ You can visit Tara’s shop in front of Be happy restaurant in lakeside. It’s an organization that supports working women. See how they spin the strings, dye them, make them into fabric to use later in all sorts of bags, gloves, stunning hats, etc…
∴ Do a family Rafting.
∴ Taste organic Honey from wild flowers that grow only in high altitudes, or Butternut, or Mustard flowers in the organic shop in lakeside.
∴ Buy colorful Tikas in a stand just outside of Thamel in Kathmandu.
∴ Go to watch a movie at “movie garden” (pokhara) its awesome. On saturdays they show a children’s movie and kids can come for free.
∴ Go sit at “silkroad” in the evening. they have some local and international live bans on a low-volume levels, perfect for family bonding. they also have sweet momo and a pool table. the grownups can enjoy nice refreshing cocktails for a reasonable price.
here is a full article about how to explore the Nepali culture with your kids.
Nepal is one of the destinations that i cover in my new ebook “How to travel with kids for 1400$ a month (or less)”. download and see for yourself how simple and easy it is.
A good high quality hotel in kathmandu 40$-80$ a night. In Pokhara 15$-35$.
Guesthouse (definitely good enough)- 5$-10$ a night.
A meal for five– Kathmandu- 2000 rupees (1$= about 100 rupees). Pokhara- 1000 rupees.
indian pants– 300-600 rupees.
Family pizza– 250 rupees.
Small hand sanitizer– 100 rupees.
Fresh squeezed juice– 100-150 rupees.
Coffee– regular- 50 rupees, High quality espresso- 250 rupees.
Laundry– 80 rupees per kg (about 2 pounds)