Home to eight of the ten highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everest, Nepal’s incredible snowy summits, picturesque mountainside monasteries and friendly, hospitable people combine to make it a traveller’s paradise. The country’s long-established and deep-rooted Hindu and Buddhist traditions also make it one of the most culturally diverse countries in Asia. And the great news for UK travellers is that the availability of cheap flights to Nepal has been increasing in recent years to meet demand, with more and more people keen to discover the wonders at the top of the world.
October and November are trekking season in Nepal, meaning that at this time you can enjoy the mountain views in pleasant weather. The period from June to August is monsoon season, with heavy downpours and hot days, while September sees thronged streets in Kathmandu for the spine-tingling Indra Jatra religious street festival. If price is a priority, flying outside of the busy trekking season of October and November and booking well in advance should ensure that you get the lowest fares.
Nepal’s only international airport is in Kathmandu, and various airlines operate one-stop routes to the city from Britain, usually with a stopover in India or the Middle East. Turkish Airlines fly from Heathrow via Istanbul, for example, while Jet Airways and Air India fly from the same airport via Delhi and Oman Air via Muscat. Travellers in Birmingham can fly with Turkish Airlines and Air India, again with stopovers in Istanbul and Delhi, while Emirates team with Royal Nepal Airlines to operate the route from Glasgow, with a pit stop in Dubai on the way. Depending on the route, flights can take anything upwards of 12 hours.
Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport is around four miles from the city centre. If you’ve pre-arranged a tour or a trekking package, hassle-free airport transfers are usually offered. Pre-paid taxis are the next best option, and these cost around 700-800 Nepalese rupees (रू) to the central Thamel area. Regular taxis are cheaper, at रू400-500, but make sure you agree the price before you depart to avoid being overcharged on arrival. The local bus is also an option, at only रू10, but it’s not for the faint of heart; it can get very crowded and is difficult to negotiate unless you know exactly where you’re going.
Nepal’s dramatic mountain landscape provides an awesome backdrop to its stunning scenery, which is easily explored thanks to its well-developed tourist industry. Hike the rugged Annapura Circuit and gasp in amazement at the towering peak that gives this famous trekking route its name, or marvel at the breathtaking lakes of the Gokyo Valley in the Everest region. When you’re done in the mountains, discover the melting pot of cultures making up colourful Kathmandu before nourishing your spiritual side at the World Heritage Site of Lumbini, said to be the birthplace of Buddha himself.
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