UPDATED AS OF JUNE, 2012
This handbook is designed to help anyone who wants to visit the place on this planet that has most captured my heart, Pokhara, Nepal. Having spent three months in Nepal in late 2010, much of the time in Pokhara, and returning for long-term stays over the following two years, I came to know the town quite well and wanted to share with other Nepal-bound travelers my tips for everything from the best hotels and restaurants, to the not-to-be missed sights, and even the best place to get a haircut:
CELL/MOBILE PHONE SERVICE:
If you have an unlocked smart phone you can purchase a Nepal sim card for 300 Nepali Rupees (NRS), which is about $4 USD. This price includes 50 NRS of “talk time” which is charged at various prices, according to the type of phone you are calling (landline or cell). When you need more credit, simply buy a recharge card at any store that displays the purple NCell sign, scratch off the strip on the back of the card and follow the directions. A local number is invaluable, among other things, for calling an honest taxi driver with whom you’ve established a relationship or getting in touch with other travelers who also have local numbers to team up for tours or trekking. I never travel for any length in a country without a local phone number, especially considering the cheap price. For three months in Nepal, my total cost will be about $5. If you have an iPhone, you may want to refer to my previous article: Traveling Internationally with an iPhone without Incurring High Cell Phone Bills. Nepal’s international country code is 977.
There is no such thing as a pedestrian right-of-way in Nepal; be alert at all times when walking in or crossing streets, however walking around Pokhara is much more pleasant than Kathmandu, as sidewalks are available in much of Lakeside and the traffic is much less. Additionally, the main street in Lakeside has recently been turned into a pedestrian mall every Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.
There are no public toilets in the Lakeside area of Pokhara, so you will have to rely on restaurants and hotels/guest houses. Many places now have western toilets, though in many places you will still find squat toilets. Hoard napkins, you will need them as toilet paper, but as in most places throughout Asia, if there is a trash bin in the stall it generally means you should deposit used paper in the bin rather than the toilet.
Many hotels are now buying five-gallon bottles of purified water and allowing guests to refill their bottles either for free or for a price that is much less than buying a new bottle. This water is perfectly safe to drink and travelers should not hesitate to refill their bottles from it. You will also be doing your part to help save Pokhara’s lovely lake, which suffers from the plastic trash that is so ubiquitous around Asia. Continue reading