How is your week coming along so far? I hope you have a happy and productive week. I loaded the blog with my experiences of traveling alone in Nepal. This trip was my first so I am sure a lot of things described are ‘first-time’ experiences many of you will recognize.
Traveling alone in Nepal is fairly easy and save. You will meet lovely people along the way who will try to help whenever they can. Most Nepali speak English very well which helps a lot. I really enjoyed traveling alone and two weeks is perfect. I could have extended it up to three weeks.
Developing a new schedule has been one of the best experiences of my first trip as a digital nomad. Normally I work during daytime (09:00 – 16:00h six days a week) but when I travelled and worked in Nepal I completely changed my schedule. It happened automatically, as I tried to combine working with sightseeing or doing something special everyday. I woke up at 7 AM each day (something I already do at home), took a breakfast and started my day with doing some tasks. Around noon I either had an appointment planned or I felt like taking a break and I took it (which I normally avoid). But I felt I already managed to do a lot and could afford the break. After an afternoon with either sightseeing or appointments, I felt re-energized and full of inspiration again. I took a dinner and as it is regular in Nepal, went into my hotel around 20:00’ish. Then I had another couple of hours to be productive and work. With this schedule I became productive and effective.
Me-time: as Nepal is the perfect country to meditate, spend time doing yoga or retreat and spending days in silence, traveling alone in Nepal gives you every opportunity to work on yourself. There are many hotels, hostels, home stays and resorts, lodges where you can spend a lot of time in silence, do yoga and restaurants where you sit in lotus pose. The opportunities are endless to do classes and get retreats or massages. Doing this alone will bring you further than doing it with someone, so take the change and spend your time on you.
Reading and writing: I personally loved the calm and easy vibe in Nepal, and being alone makes it possible to read and write as much as you are capable of. Especially writing down your thoughts becomes easier when you are alone. I would recommend anyone who has the dream to write a novel someday, to go to Nepal and start doing it. The mountains, the jungle, the views and the calmness combined with being alone will bring you into a writers mode instantly.
What I liked and dis-liked of traveling alone:
Easy: but you do whatever YOU like to do, on the time you like to do it. Waking up, eating, sleeping – everything on your own terms.
People tend to talk to you easily when you are alone. In public transport, in restaurants, at sights – people talked to me all the time. You learn so much about their habits, the community, the history of the places you visit and you get the best tips. A lot of what they learn or recommend you, isn’t written in books. So enjoy their company and learn from what they can tell you.
People talk to you all the time because you are alone. So there is not much space to enjoy ‘alone time’ if you would like to. If you are together you will mostly talk to each other and that makes it less attractive to approach you.
Sharing experiences with someone can be a preferred situation. Especially when you see or experience unusual things it can be a relieve to talk about it with someone. But hey, we all have Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime these days.
Sometimes you may experience a feeling of loneliness. I personally don’t feel lonely easily, but when I did my safari tour I was the only one not ‘together.’ So it was all couples or families and they share their experiences with each other. At that point I would have loved to have company, but enjoyed the safari on my own anyway.
After my safari, it would have been great if someone could check my neck and back for harvest bugs, so traveling alone makes it a bit harder when you do trackings or safaris. It’s something you may like to ask a stranger, but I decided to try and figure it out myself with the mirror.
If you get scared at a certain point, there is no one who will talk to you to calm down. You will need to do it yourself.
My best tips for traveling alone in Nepal:
Try to be close to your hotel as soon as dawn sets in (around 19:00h) and try to be inside your hotel at 21:00h as the country turns off basically (streetlights out, shops closed, people gone). It’s hard to find a taxi after 19:00h if you are not in the city centre yet, so try to avoid that too.
I bought a simcard and I would recommend everyone to do so if you travel alone. A simcard with internet of 1GB costs about 7 euros and it will definitely help you when you get lost or need to reach someone. Ncell or Namaste are common telephone operators and you will find simcards easily.
To get cash, find an ATM which is a closed ‘booth’ with a door so no one can distract or disturb you. My best tip is the Nabil Bank ATM (many locations) which looks like a phone booth for one person. I personally had good experiences with these ATM’s.
Taxi’s tend to raise their prices when a tourist asks for a ride, so my tip: inform the reception of your hotel where you would like to go and let them arrange a taxi. They will already discuss the price for you so you get a fair price instead of a tourist price. Also the guys from my volunteering projects arranged taxi’s for me in Nepali – works best!
Addresses are a thing in Nepal, as most streets don’t have names or numbers. My best tip is to download Google maps with the ‘offline-map’ option of the area you stay in. Try to pin or ‘favorite’ some locations in advance so they are saved in the offline map. This way you will always be able to show the taxi-driver, bus driver, hotel manager or a passant where you would like to go. Even if you don’t have 4G, it will show you exactly where you are or need to go.
It helps if you have a phone number of a person on the location you try to reach, so try to arrange numbers if you can. Because if the address you try to get too is unclear, taxi drivers easily call the person and get descriptions of how to drive. They do this all the time and is a common thing in Nepal.
To find a store or office, you’ll need to have a lot of patience. It’s hard to find places sometimes. Try and ask your hotel (manager) as much as you can before going out there and trying to find it yourself. Oh and keep a detailed map with you at all times.
Nepal has a lot of options to stay in a single-room in hotel, lodges, home stays or hostels. Traveling alone is very common here.
Same goes for ‘table for one’ in a restaurant. It’s common so don’t worry about that.
As stomach ache from food poisoning isn’t uncommon in Nepal, try to stay on a Vegetarian diet and avoid unfiltered water & salads (raw veggies) at all times. Getting sick is something to avoid at all times, but getting sick while being alone is the worst and even dangerous at times. Try all you can to avoid food poisoning.
Traveling is easy and save by plane, bus and taxi so don’t worry about any of these. I didn’t experience any trains as they are barely there.
Walking is fairly easy and save too, as I did it a lot. They only thing with walking is the fact Nepal lacks in having sidesteps sometimes. And they lack of pedestrian crossings so crossing the street is a challenge too. Please be careful with that:) Try crossing the street at a place with traffic lights or a traffic controller.
Walking in the city of Kathmandu or in Thamel comes along with many people addressing you for tours, trips and guidance. They are all friendly and non-offensive, but personally I found it annoying at some points. My best tip is to either plug in music if you are done with being addressed or tell the person you like to be alone for a bit. I talked to so many people during my walks around town, at a certain point I also wanted to enjoy the city by myself. Saying that was fairly easy and true and everyone friendly accepted my point. Don’t be rude because they aren’t either.
Check for more tips where to go, stay, eat and volunteer my blog Nepal The Journey.