Why go to Nepal ?
by David Woollan

 

You will find here the results of our backpackers' survey as well as comments on some aspects of Nepal.

We asked backpackers who had traveled in Nepal for more than two weeks already to answer the followings.


Do you like Nepal ?  100% of the backpackers surveyed (40) say yes !

Natural scenery and the unhurried lifestyle together with cultural diversity make up for recent political unease and the poor country infrastructure.

 

Would you happily come back ? 100% of the backpackers surveyed (40) say yes !

There is much to see, the Nepali people are notorious for being friendly and many visitors leave their heart behind after a visit. 

 

Would you recommend Nepal ?  100% of the backpackers surveyed (40) say yes !

Nepal is one of the least developed countries in the world and, as such, usually a big contrast compared to the visitor's country. This contrast plus the fact that the trend toward "global conformity" can not yet be applied to Nepal impresses most budget travelers. Don't come here if you want to lunch at MacDonald's. Come here to walk among landscapes that haven't changed in centuries. 


We also asked them to rate the followings :

The tourists attractions        Backpackers : 13.90 /20 (up)
If you're after huge shopping malls, Disneyland, long strips of neon lights and miles of golden beaches, might I suggest you look elsewhere? 

The city scenery       Backpackers : 12.90 /20 (up)
It seems that many of those surveyed are rather depressed by the unplanned growth of the urban landscape, most of it very ugly and, let's face it, quite unimpressive. Sure, Kathmandu has areas of charm and intrigue but it's mostly the in the historical area. The modern city scenery of Nepal is not much to behold. But did you come here to visit Nepalgunj or Biratnagar? I doubt it.

The natural scenery         Backpackers : 19.11 /20 (up)
This is Nepal's selling point - the raison d'etre! All those surveyed were highly impressed with the mighty rivers, majestic mountain ranges, steamy jungles and the rural landscape. 

The cultural opportunities        Backpackers : 16.80 /20 (up)
Dance, music, dress, language, religious or shamanistic belief and building techniques all reflect the diverse cultural development of this country. It is there for you to see at first hand as you travel about the country and the proud Nepali people are usually ready to spend time answering any questions you have.

The food         Backpackers : 13.60 /20 (down)
I suspect that many of those surveyed would have liked to answer this question in two parts: rate Nepali food and rate the international cuisine on offer. Go on a long trek and most people tire quickly of the monotonous daal bhat. Come back to Pokhara, gorge for a few days in the tourist restaurants and then question just how true is Nepali pizza or cheese/bean burrito. Of all the questions in the survey, this one had the widest range of replies.

The infrastructures         Backpackers : 7.70 /20 (up)
There ain't no doubt about it! The roads are bad (and when they're good they'll get washed out by flood or hit by landslide), the electricity is on again/off again and finding a phone at all (let alone one that works) in the villages is no small thing. 

The cost of living and traveling        Backpackers : 17.30 /20 (down)
Fierce competition has kept hotel prices low in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Teahouse accommodation and food prices on the treks is also low. Buses might be slow but the ticket price is unbeatable.

The safety        Backpackers : 15.90 /20 (down)
As in so many countries where there is a large divide between rich and poor, personal safety is becoming ever more an important issue. But those surveyed were also aware that the Maoist insurgency has not targeted foreigners and most felt quite safe while trekking. Many felt the danger came in traveling in poorly maintained buses and drunk drivers. And don't forget the landslides.

The cleanliness        Backpackers : 9.30 /20 (same)
Perhaps arriving at Kathmandu for your first glimpse at Nepal is not a good idea. How can people live in such a filthy city? (And it's twice as clean as five years ago). Most surveyed wanted to note that their vote was heavily weighed by what they saw in cities. But most of Nepal is rural landscape and mountain scenery - and as clean as anywhere.

The pollution        Backpackers : 8.40 /20 (up)
As above, what we see in the city affects our vote for the rest of the country. How can holy rivers be allowed to be used as sewers? 

The Shopkeepers' attitude        Backpackers : 13.90 /20 (down)
There are two points to successful shopping in Nepal: (1) When you are quoted an outrageously high price laugh and suggest something stupidly low. (2) Don't queue patiently to ask a price or pay for an item. Just barge straight in. The shopkeeper will respect you much more for this.

The Nepal people's attitude        Backpackers : 16.10 /20 (up)
Nepal is well known for its friendly folk who will so often go well out of their way to help you. Some western travelers have a hard time of the (general) eastern attitude toward privacy and personal space.

Entertainment        Backpackers : 11.30 /20 (same)
Outside of the big cities, there isn't much of it. In the villages the locals might put on a dance for a tour group. Do what the locals do; sit around and talk into the evening.

Shopping        Backpackers : 14.90 /20 (up)
The carpets are just great and the kukhuri knives quite impressive as well. The locally made trekking clothes can be good but choose with care. Beware of anything "Chinma baneko" (Made in China). It is junk and don't even consider buying it. Nepal is not a shopper's paradise and luxury items are heavily taxed.

Generally, the country        Backpackers : 18.00 /20 (up)
There is no doubt about it - those surveyed were highly impressed. Good walking and fantastic mountain views, friendly people and hassle-free days make for an excellent stay.

Value for money        Backpackers : 17.70 /20 (up)
If one needs to budget hard then Nepal is the place to do it. Stay in accommodation further away from the "center" and eat where the locals do. Most surveyed who organized treks or whitewater rafting through agencies were pleased with what they paid for.


Give your opinion !  If you have traveled in Nepal for more than 2 weeks, please participate to our surveys !

Compare Nepal with other countries in the Asia Section

 


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