We hope you’re all getting excited for our epic Nepal & Bhutan adventure! Below are some general packing tips and information. Please read the luggage requirements/limitations carefully.
Please do your best to keep your luggage to 1 medium sized suitcase PLUS 1 smaller carry on size. Additional backpack/camera bags are also OK in addition to above.
We will be traveling in different sized vehicles during each segment of the trip and some have limited room for luggage storage. If you bring a large size suitcase, bigger than the ones in the below image, we will not be able to fit them in the vehicle and you will be forced leave it in Kathmandu for the entire trip.
CHECKED BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE: The maximum weight for CHECKED BAGS: 20 kg (44 lbs)
CARRY-ON BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE: The maximum weight for CARRY-ON BAG: 5 kg (11 lbs)
Weather in August
We’ll be visiting Nepal & Bhutan at the end of summer BUT traveling to a number of different climate zones. Thus, the weather will vary significantly during different segments of the trip. For a rough guideline, see below:
As the summer monsoon rains wind down during the second half of August, travelers to Nepal will be welcomed by dazzlingly green rice fields & less crowded streets, temples, & trails.
Kathmandu (Elevation: 4,593 ft)
Average High: 81-84 °F
Average Low: 70-73 °F
Pokhara (Elevation: 4,593 ft)
Average High: 81-84 °F
Average Low: 70-73 °F
Chitwan National Park (Elevation: 330 ft)
Average High: 87-90 °F
Average Low: 73-75 °F
August is a good month for exploring the monasteries and temples of the kingdom. Despite some rain, the landscape is lush and green, with the summer wildflowers blooming in the meadows and fields.
Thimphu (Elevation: 7,656 ft)
Average High: 68-70 °F
Average Low: 54-57 °F
Punakha (Elevation: 4,075 ft)
Average High: 79-82 °F
Average Low: 67-70 °F
Paro (Elevation: 7,218 ft)
Average High: 69-72 °F
Average Low: 55-58 °F
Voltage & Plug Adapters
The voltage in Nepal & Bhutan is 220-240. Please see link below for more information. Bring a plug adapter to charge camera batteries and any other electronics you may need. There are THREE types of plugs in Nepal & Bhutan and you should bring an adapter for both.
Both Nepal & Bhutan require tourist visas for US passport holders:
Nepal: 25 USD / Visa is easily obtained on arrival when going through immigration at the Kathmandu International Airport. (http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa)
Bhutan: This visa is INCLUDED in our program. Our ground team has pre-arranged and obtained tourist visas for everyone in the group and our tour director will hand these out during the trip.
Nepal: The unit of currency is the Nepalese Rupee, which is pegged to the Indian Rupee. Currently, 1 USD = 109 NPR
ATM/Credit Cards: There are lots ATMs in Kathmandu & Pokhara which accept Cirrus, Maestro, and Visa bank cards. Money exchange offices can also be found easily throughout both cities. Major credit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, and fancy shops in the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara only.
Cash: There are exchange counters at the international terminal at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport and banks and/or moneychangers at the various border crossings. Pokhara, Kathmandu and the major border towns also have official money-changing facilities.
*Most places levy a 3% to 4% surcharge to cover the credit card company’s fees to the vendor
SIDE NOTE: The Battle of the Haggle
Sure, things are cheap to begin with and you may feel silly haggling over a few rupees, but keep in mind that if you’re given a verbal quote for an unmarked item, it’s probably (but not always) twice the realistic asking price. Use discretion though, because items that are priced ridiculously low to begin with are hardly worth reducing further — either you’re being conned or you’re being cruel. To haggle effectively, make a counteroffer under half price, and don’t get emotional. Protests and adamant assertions (“This is less than it cost me to buy!”) will follow. Stick to your guns and see what transpires; stop once you’ve reached a price you can live with. Remember that once the haggle is on, a challenge has been initiated, and its fun to regard your opponent’s act of salesmanship as an artistic endeavor. Let your guard slip, and he will empty your wallet. Take into account the disposition and situation of the merchant; you don’t want to haggle a genuinely poor man into deeper poverty! And if you’ve been taken (and we all have), see it as a small contribution to a family that lives on a great deal less than you do.
Bhutan: The unit of currency is the ngultrum, which is pegged to the Indian rupee. Currently, 1 USD = 68 BTN.
ATM/Credit Cards: There are ATMs in most main towns, but it would be wise not to rely entirely on being able to use plastic. Credit cards are accepted in some hotels and souvenir shops, but only in major cities or well-touristed areas.
Cash: All foreign groups/tourists to Bhutan require pre-paid trips, including ours. All meals are included. So, in theory you could manage in Bhutan without any local currency, though we recommend changing US$50 to US$100 to pay for drinks, shopping, & tips.
If you plan to make a major purchase, for example textiles or art, consider using US dollars in cash. Most shops will accept this, and it can save you the hassle of exchanging a large quantity of money in advance and then attempting to change it back if you don’t find the exact piece you were looking for.
*Remember to have your passport ready when exchanging money since it is required by the government at all money exchange locations
SIDE NOTE: Bargaining/Haggling
Bargaining is not a Bhutanese tradition, and you won’t get very far with your haggling skills here, except with trail-side vendors on the hike to Taktshang (Tigers Nest Temple) and in the local handicrafts section of the Thimphu Weekend Market.
Tips and gratuities to hotel, lodges, guides & drivers: Budget approx. $2.00 – $4.00 per person per day for lodge and hotel staff, $1.00 per bag for porters, $5.00 – $10.00 per person per day for guides, and 2-3.00 USD per day for drivers. Tips are optional but we highly encourage them if you feel the service deserves it. We recommend budgeting a total of 150 – 200 USD for tipping.
*Tipping guides and drivers is an expected practice similar to tipping waiters and waitresses in the USA.
• Taxis: Round up the fare for taxi drivers; rickshaw drivers will also appreciate a modest tip.
• Restaurants: Tipping wait staff is uncommon, but tips are invariably appreciated.
IMPORTANT: We are not doctors and do not have the authority to give medical advice, including vaccine recommendations. Please consult your doctor and the website below and do as you see fit.
No vaccination proof is “mandatory” in order to get through customs however for your own personal safety you will want to consider malaria pills (very low risk) & hepatitis A & B, & the typhoid vaccine is also highly recommended. Please consult your physician for more information and recommendations.
Please see the government recommendations here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/nepal https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/bhutan
Recommended Packing List
- Shorts (quick dry preferred)
- Should go to or below knees for temple visits
- T-shirts/short sleeve shirts (quick dry preferred)
- 1-2 Shawls/Scarves (to cover bare shoulders during temple visits)
- Light weight long sleeve shirts (for cool mornings and mosquito protection) (quick dry preferred)
- Light weight long pair of pants or trousers (quick dry preferred)
- Underwear and socks (quick dry preferred)
- Sports bras for women
- Ear plugs (especially if sharing a room)
- Rain protection gear (rain jacket w/ hood, umbrella, quick dry clothes)
- Fleece jacket and/or warm jacket (cooler mornings at higher elevation)
- Wide brimmed hat/baseball cap
- Sandals/flip flops/ lightweight comfortable footwear
- Comfortable sneakers/hiking shoes
- Bathing suit
- Travel towel (quick dry)
- Sunglasses, prescription glasses and a spare pair
Please remember: Neutral colors are best for our safari in Chitwan National Park. Avoid bright colors and white clothing. Light, quick drying pants, shorts, and tops are best.
Toiletries & other essentials
- Money Belt
- Small denominations for tipping ($1, $5, $10 & $20)
- Large denominations for converting currency ($50, $100)
- Travel Insurance cards/confirmation (if you purchased)
- Insect repellant/bug spray (20-30% DEET) (More is NOT more effective and can damage clothes and your health!)
- Bonine/Motion Sickness Wrist Bands (During long drives/windy roads)
- Small daypack/backpack
- Reusable water bottle and/or water bladder
- Sunblock (SPF 30 Minimum)
- High factor sunblock lip balm
- Toiletries: shampoo, lotion, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. (try to avoid strong scents)
- Prescription medicines
- First aid kit including:
- Mosquito repellent
- Antibiotic cream
- Ace bandage
- Pain reliever
- Lip balm
- Anti-bacterial hand lotion
- SheWee (For women) (https://www.shewee.com/)
- Personal first aid kit (Immodium, Pepto Bismol, Band-Aids, Neosporin, etc.)
- Dry-Bag (Optional)
- Small flashlight/headlamp
- Lenses (Mid-Range and Telephoto for safari)
- Extra memory cards
- Extra batteries/charger
- Tripod (optional)
- Waterproof Rain Cover/Hood for camera (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000PTFDYO/ref=psdc_3346261_t1_B004AH10K8 OR https://www.amazon.com/Altura-Photo-Professional-Cover-Cameras/dp/B004AH10K8)
- Ziplock bags to protect technology in rain
- Waterproof/resistant smartphone case
- **Binoculars (there is one pair per vehicle but I HIGHLY recommend bringing a small pair of your own)