By Jennifer Allman-Guinn, on May 23, 2019
Finding Spirituality and Adventure in Nepal
As one of the most spiritually-rich countries in the world due to its deep religious history within a unique and gorgeous landscape, Nepal has become a popular tourist destination for both cultural enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
US citizens traveling to Nepal should obtain their travel visas ahead of time through the APVI website, which includes a fast e-visa process if needed. Other requirements include a US passport valid for at least six months and one blank non-endorsement page. Tourist visas are valid at multiple entry points for six months and can cover 15, 30, or 90 day stays.
Nepal is rated at Travel Advisory Level 2 due to the potential for political violence throughout the country. While demonstrations begin with peaceful intentions, they have been known to turn violent quickly, requiring the authorities to use force to diffuse the situation. As such, avoid large crowds and demonstrations so as to not get caught in a potentially dangerous situation.
Violent crimes do happen on occasion, and solo travelers in particular have been targeted. As such, it is not recommended that tourists explore Nepal alone, especially at night. This is also important for mountain trekkers, as lone travelers have been known to be lost due to the dangers of mountain climbing. Theft is also a concern, particularly in high tourist areas due to pick-pocketing and ATM skimming scams.
Things to Do in Nepal
While Nepal is best known for its proximity to the Himalayan Mountains and Mount Everest, this is not a destination that will only be enjoyed by thrill seekers. The deep cultural and religious history, and the temples and monuments representing them, are open to tourists. Below are some of the more popular areas to visit in Nepal:
· Kathmandu – The capital city of Nepal is home to a number of temples, including the famed Swayambhu Temple, or “Monkey Temple”, as well as the Budhanilkantha and Hanuman Temples. The Upper Mustang trek is also accessible from the city, taking hikers into the old Buddhist Kingdom of Mustang.
· The Himalayans and Mount Everest – While the famed Mount Everest Base Camp and trek towards the peak are the most well-known destinations, there are also areas of the mountain that can be explored with fewer crowds. Annapurna, Manaslu, and Upper Dolpo are among some of the other trekking options.
· Pokhara – Another large city, though less touristy, is Pokhara and is best known as the home of Phewa lake. Other popular stops include Barahi Temple and Peace Pagoda. The Annapurna base camp is also accessed here.
A trip to Nepal is a spiritual experience steeped in both nature and culture, and one that will stay with the traveler for life. Be prepared for the high altitudes, and protect yourself against potential thievery to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for you and your entire party.