The original Shangri-La !
>> Description ? A small, land-locked country to the north and west of India and south of China. Home to several of the world's highest mountain peaks but also steamy, tropical jungle. The world's only Hindu kingdom.
>> Why go there ? To trek in some of the world's most beautiful high-altitude scenery / To visit remote villages where cars and electricity are distant possibilities / To visit a wide range of ethnic and linguistic communities in a pocket-sized country.
>> Drawback ? A six year old Maoist insurgency is causing troubling times for the nation, especially now the army is actively fighting the insurgents. / Frequent electricity cuts / Incredibly bad roads that are made worse by landslides.
>> Cultural Highlights ? The city of Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu valley / The various Buddhist or Hindu temples and stupas / Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha / The women singing together as they weed the rice paddy.
>> Natural Highlights ? Mountain scenery, tropical jungle, raging rivers and waterfalls - more potential for hydro electric power than any other nation, friendly people, a birdwatcher's paradise, amazing variety of butterflies.
>> How long ? A month or more if you have the time. But at least four days for the Kathmandu valley, three days in Chitwan, a week or ten days for a trek followed by the ease of three days in Pokhara. And allow three days to travel between those places and an extra day to get to the airport.
>> Budget ? During the low season a room can be had for three dollars and you could probably eat for less than that each day, if you had to. The popular tea house treks can be done on the cheap as well. Generally, US$10 for those who can live on the cheap, US$15 for a better room and a beer or two at night.
>> Visa ? Yes for most nations. Available at the airport or border on arrival for US$30 for single entry visa, valid for 60 days. Then US$30 for each extra 30 days.
>> When to go ? The middle of September until end of November is the peak season for dry, cool weather and amazing mountain visibility. February and March are also popular times, although visibility can be less good.