By no means was Nepal on my top 10 family travel destinations list, but after having recently travelled there, it will take a place in my top 10 favorite places visited list. I will now encourage families to seek out a vacation to Nepal, whether it be trekking to different towns or remaining in one location, for it has so much to offer the souls of young and old. Here are some things to consider when planning your trip to Nepal and Chitwan National Park.
Getting There – Dubai to Kathmandu
From Dubai, we had many choices of airlines, but we wanted to stay budget friendly, especially when traveling with five people. We narrowed our options down to Air Arabia and Fly Dubai, both of which can get you there for around $200 RT depending on the time of year, and finally chose Air Arabia for no other reason than the Sharjah airport being closer to our home. Air Arabia has no bells and whistles. You need to decide how much baggage you want to pay for during your online booking, as well as choose your seats and order your meals (I strongly recommend ordering meals as they carry very few extra meals on the flight…which we didn’t do and ended up having very hungry kids.) You won’t have an in-flight entertainment system either. But hey, the whole trip is about being minimalistic, so it only prepared us for the journey ahead.
Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park (Bharatpur Airport)
Once you’re in Kathmandu, you can choose several local flights via Buddha Air, Yeti Air and Nepal Air (the latter was strongly advised against using.) We chose Buddha Air and were pleased. Again, a basic airline that will serve you some hard candies at take off, but the staff was pleasant. What we weren’t prepared for was the price per ticket. We read the website wrong and thought the prices were RT…nope, one-way tickets are quite costly. Calculate your trip first!
They will also ask for bank information in order to book the ticket. This is normal there, no online payments. You can always ask your hotel to book for you and then pay them back when you arrive, as some are willing to provide this service. Be prepared for tiny planes and some turbulence due to the mountain ranges. You’re only other option, much cheaper, is to take a bus or hotel van to your destination in Chitwan, which is a good 5 hour trip, one-way.
What to Pack (March/April)
- Lightweight clothing for the daytime and long sleeves and pants for the early mornings and evenings. It does get cool in the morning and evening, and we were happy we brought the warmer clothing, especially for the kids. There’s nothing fancy here, so leave your nice clothes at home. Prepare to get dusty, dirty, sweaty and perhaps even wet.
- Mosquito repellent. Everywhere I go, mosquitos attack me! We’re talking 80+ bites on me after two days of being somewhere. If you are like me, you’ll want to bring something to use, as mosquitos are everywhere. One of our last days in town we found some of those burning coils that repel insects. The chemicals are harsh but effective. We put it under our table at night while eating (open air, outdoors) and didn’t have any issues after that.
- Sunblock. As stated above, we travelled during March/April, and I wasn’t expecting it to be as hot and sunny as it was during the daytime. Be sure to bring your sunblock for your safaris and treks.
- Hats, water bottles, anti-diarrheal meds, camera, chargers or batteries
- Power plug adapters. This should always go without saying, but some hotels provide them and it’s not a big deal. You’ll need your own here if you plan to charge any electronic devices.
Cautions for Traveling to Nepal
- The hotel we chose had large bottled drinking water stands available throughout the grounds for refills, as well as smaller sizes to carry. They discourage drinking the tap water. We tried staying away from raw fruits and vegetables that didn’t have a peel/skin to remove, but felt ok eating the cooked vegetables. However, out of a group of nine people, four of us got the yucky travel tummy by day 7. Just be sure to use good judgement with food and water.
- Nepal involves a lot of chaos at times, especially in the airports. If you’re traveling with kids, my recommendation would be to wait until they are around 5 years old and able to keep up with the walking, trekking and sometimes running (to make the flight).
- Kathmandu airport is a very busy place. Make sure you have ample time, at least 1.5 hrs, between flights, as immigration, customs and the embarkation lines are very long and slow-moving. Also, the domestic terminal is a 10-15 min trek from the International terminal…I advise taking a taxi for about 300-500 rupees.