Nightlife in Pokhara lakeside with immersing view of lake and the buildings.
06 Aug, 2022 - North Nepal Travels and Treks

How to prepare yourself for your trip to Pokhara ?(2022 )

What you should know about the Immigration office?

This is where you extend your tourist visa. Located at the tourist information centre and trekking permit office in Damside, The immigration office charges US 30 dollars for the extension of your tourist visa, and it takes a minimum of 15 days. You can stay in Nepal on a tourist visa for 150 days each year. If you arrive on 3 august 2019, you can stay till 29 May 2020. The extensions must be 15 days earlier. Every day afterwards costs you US 2 dollars per day. If you forget to extend your visa you will be charged a penalty of US 3 dollars per day.

Money management 101: how to sort your currency in Pokhara?

You don’t have to worry about monetary problems, Pokhara has you covered! There are several options in Lakeside and Chipledhunga to access or exchange your money for Nepali rupees. There are essentially three options for you:

  1. Foreign exchange offices who change cash and traveller’s cheques in major currencies.
  2. Western Union offices.
  3. Upmarket hotels and restaurants which have credit card facilities.

ATMS:

ATMs are a solid option for you to manage your finances. All major cards are accepted and the rates are good. Most ATMs in lakeside allow you to withdraw up to Rs 35000 with Rs 500 as an ATM charge. The best two banks for you are:

  • STANDARD CHARTERED BANK:
    SCB is one of the top commercial banks in Nepal. The bank allows you to withdraw up to Rs 35000 with no ATM fee. Its branches and ATMs are located at Hallan Chowk and Barahi Chowk. You can also withdraw your money from many ATM lounges around Lakeside, including the one at the lakeside centre.

  • NABIL BANK:
    Also one of the most reliable banks in Nepal, NABIL allows you to withdraw up to Rs 35000 with an ATM fee of Rs 500. Their ATM is located at Barahi chowk as well as in several atm lounges, including one at the lakeside centre.


More is always better when it comes to currency!

If you're planning to leave Pokhara and explore the glory of the Mountains, you might have a shortage of Nepalese currency. It won't be possible for you to exchange your money in the upper regions. So, always take enough cash with you, including lots of smaller banknotes plus extra in case of any emergency you might encounter.

How to manage drinking water in Pokhara without hurting your pockets:

You don’t have to worry about your drinking water situation as long as you are in Pokhara. Many shops, offices and cafes have safe drinking water refill stations, which are the cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to get safe drinking water. These stations use water from the same source as bottled mineral water; it just comes in a big container, which is cheaper to buy. We recommend you buy a good quality water bottle and use this facility as it helps to reduce plastic waste and is good for your wallet too!

Transportation: Your pocket advisor to reach Pokhara.
 

For Kathmandu:

Tourist Buses:
The spacious, comfortable tourist buses depart every morning at 7- 7:30 am from the tourist bus parks in Thamel, Kathmandu and Lakeside, Pokhara. The journey will take you about 7-8 hours depending on the traffic and road conditions. Most buses stop for breakfast and lunch at roadside tourist restaurants and often for an extra bathroom break. For basic buses, prices range from  Rs 700 to Rs 900 and for luxury buses prices(inc lunch) are around US $20.
There are now tourist night buses between Pokhara and Kathmandu. Operated by Jagadamba, it arrives/ departs daily from Hallan chowk in Lakeside and Balaju Bus Park in Kathmandu (2 km north of Thamel on Ring road). It departs at 8 PM  and arrives at 5 AM. The normal fare costs Rs 1600, while the deluxe fare is Rs 2200 ( AC, food, big seat).

Local Bus and Micro Bus:
Local buses
are a whole new level of fun. They depart every hour (or when they are full) from the Kalanki bus park in Kathmandu and Prithivi Chowk bus park in Pokhara from 6 am to 5 pm. The microbuses and white Toyota minivans take 6-7 hours and cost approximately Rs 800. The local buses take 7-8 hours and cost approximately NRS 700. Both buses stop only once for a main meal at a local roadside restaurant and for a couple of toilet breaks. 

Aeroplane:
Flights operate daily between Pokhara and Kathmandu, conducted by several domestic airlines. You can easily arrange your tickets with local travel agents in Thamel and Lakeside. if you do face bad weather (fog, clouds, rain), flights are quickly delayed or cancelled. The 25 minutes flight is priced at US $105 one way, including the domestic airport departure tax. Pokhara’s Domestic airport is a 10-minute drive from Hallan Chowk.

Private Car and Taxi:
If your idea of an unforgettable experience includes a road trip, this is the most comfortable way to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the Prithvi highway. Cars of various sizes can be hired with or without a driver, from small taxis to large 4WDs. The journey takes 5-7 hours depending on breaks and traffic/ road conditions. For small cars, prices start around rs 10,000 including driver and petrol.

For Trekking routes:

Taxi and Mini-van:
Since Pokhara is the gateway to all the fun trips, you might need to arrange transport for your treks. From Lakeside, taxis cost NRS 1000 to phedi and NRS 1800 to Nayapul. If you plan to depart early in the morning, you or your hotel can always book a taxi the night before. If you are travelling in a large group, then booking a private minivan from a travel agency can be both comfortable and economical. 

Local Bus:
Local buses on the Baglung highway depart from the Baglung bus park every hour from 6 AM till 3 PM. Most treks in the Annapurna region start along this highway at villages such as Phedi, Kande and Nayapul. Only the Annapurna Circuit starts at Besisahar the east of Pokhara. Two buses leave daily for Besisahar at 6 am from Prithivi Chowk Bus Park.

For Chitwan:

Tourist Bus:
This is the easiest way to travel to and from Sauraha, Chitwan. Buses leave daily from the tourist bus park at 7 am, take 5-7 hours and cost Rs 1100 one way. 

An all-inclusive list of all the bus parks in Pokhara:

Tourist Bus Park:
Tourist buses are all found in the South of the lakeside near Rastra Bank Chowk. All tourist bus services depart and arrive at the tourist bus park. Your operator will request you to be present at 7 am for the 7:30 am departure to Kathmandu, Chitwan and Lumbini etc.

Prithvi Chowk:
This is Pokhara's local bus park for buses departing to the east, south and southwest. It is located on the Prithvi highway. Local buses are parked on the left, just after the roundabout whereas for microbus services, turn left at Prithvi chowk which is 100 metres up on the right.

Baglung Bus Park:
Baglung bus park
is the terminus for all the buses departing to the north and northwest of Pokhara along the Baglung highway, as well as local services to Sarangkot. Taxis from the lakeside take 5-10 minutes and cost Rs 250. To get here by local bus from Hallan chowk, take the chipledhunga bus to Zero kilometer where you need to change buses to go left to Baglung bus park.

Hallan Chowk:
The bus stand at Hallan chowk is located on the Phewa Taal side, next to S-mart minimart,  Opposite is a 24-hour taxi stand. Small buses departing from Hallan Chowk go to chipledhunga, the shopping area of Mahendra Pul where there are large supermarkets, fruit and vegetable markets, boutiques etc, leaving every 10/15 minutes. Larger buses departing from Hallan chowk go to Gatechhena, the village at the end of Phewa Tal’s valley, in the direction of Panchase. This route passes alongside Phewa taal, through villages such as Sedi, Khapaudi and Pamay.


6 Ways You Can Travel Around Pokhara:

Bicycle:
Hiring a bicycle for the day is a cheap and fun way to get around Pokhara, whether it is a leisurely cruise around the lakeside and Phewa lake or a trip to the city centre and old bazaar. If you plan to ride up any hill such as to the peace pagoda and Sarang Kot, hire a good quality mountain bike in good condition. Before setting off make sure you thoroughly check the gears and brakes.
Note: if you are an inexperienced rider or a little unfit, the hills surrounding Pokhara are pretty steep.

Local Bus:
There are city buses and minivans that operate throughout Pokhara and nearby villages. The buses are often overcrowded on the popular routes but they are a cheap mode of transport and it's an adventure in itself. The timetables are practically non-existent, but as long as you know where you need to go someone will help you onto the right bus. See the Pokhara and lakeside maps to see where the bus stop locations are: the main ones in Lakeside and Hallan chowk and Barahi Chowk.

On Foot:
It is pleasant to walk along the lakeside strip where you have the choice between the bustling road lined with restaurants, shops and cafes or the more scenic footpath along the lake shore. There are many possibilities for walks in and around Pokhara, such as the hikes up to the Peace Pagoda and Sarangkot or around the northern edge of Phewa Taal.

Taxi:
There are several taxi stands throughout Lakeside with a 24-hour stand located at Halan Chowk. It is usually very easy to get a taxi anywhere in the city and if they see you walking along the road, drivers will often stop and ask you whether you want one or not! Taxi number plates are black so make sure that you're not getting into a private car. If you are carrying anything valuable with you, it is a good idea to ask for the driver’s name on the journey so if you accidentally leave something, you can have a chance of finding him.

Do Taxis Use Meters?

All taxis are required to have meters in them. However, it is very rare for them to be used in Pokhara. Some destinations have “fixed prices” but mostly, you’ll have to bargain to get a good price. Some fixed-priced destinations from Hallan chowk:

  • Chipledhunga: $ 3
  • Sarangkot: $ 15
  • World Peace Pagoda: $ 12
  • Phedi: $ 15
  • Nayapul: $ 30

 

Boat:

The calm waters of Phewa lake are the perfect place to relax and marvel at the reflection of the Annapurnas. Colourful wooden boats are the most popular option to hire and they are available all along the lake shore at Barahi chowk, Hallan chowk and near Freedom cafe in the north of Lakeside. You can hire an oarsman to do the rowing for you or you can do it yourself. You can rent any kind of boat for as little as one hour up to the whole day. The prices vary from place to place.

Types of boats for hire:

  • Wooden boats: Available all along the lakeshore in Lakeside.
  • Paddle boats and sailboats: Available in front of Mike’s restaurant.
  • Paddleboards and kayaks: Available from a few shops around Lakeside.
  • Communal Boats: (for Barahi temple only) Barahi Chowk by the lake shore.

 

Motorbike:
Motorbikes and scooters are available to rent throughout Lakeside. There are several types of engine powers ranging from 100 ccs to 500 ccs available. You can also opt for different ride styles, though choose only what you are comfortable with. The road rules in Nepal are quite different to those in western countries. So, be very careful if it is your first time driving in a country like Nepal. Helmets are provided by the renting office and only the driver is legally required to wear one. However, we recommend that passengers also wear a helmet for their safety.


The Essential Equipment You Absolutely Need While Hiking: 
Are you about to set off on your first trek and you’re wondering if you are bringing the right gear with you? Or perhaps you are planning on carrying your own backpack? Here is our guide to some essential and useful items to ensure that you have a wonderful adventure in the Himalayas.

  • Down jacket: The best outer layer for the cold evenings and mornings in the Himalayas. Plus, it is always lightweight.
  • Sleeping bag: While blankets are provided by the tea houses, there can be shortages in peak seasons and one is usually not warm enough. A sleeping bag is both cleaner and warmer and you can always layer a blanket on the top on colder nights.
  • Gloves and Warm Hat: On cold mornings and evenings, keep your head and hands covered as heat escapes quickly from them.
  • Thermals: Take two pairs: a lighter set to wear during the day while trekking and thicker ones for the evening and nighttime wear: they are essential on cold nights at high altitudes.
  • Quick dry t-shirts: You can work up a sweat when trekking in sun and cotton t-shirts will stay wet for a long time, requiring you to bring more with you.
  • Waterproof Outer Layers: A wind/ waterproof jacket and trousers are very important as rain and snow is always a possibility- even in the warmer months.
  • Head torch: Any torch is better than none, but a head torch is a lot more practical- especially when the toilet is outside!
  • Trekking Poles: These are not necessary but are useful if you have difficulty descending a lot of steps or will be crossing snow and ice on the Thorong La.
  • Water bottles (2-3L): Although you can buy plastic bottles of water at every tea house, it is not good for the environment. Filtered drinking water is available for filling your bottle at many tea houses now for a small charge per litre. You can also take water purification tablets in case it's unavailable. 
  • Small Quick Dry Towel: In case there is an opportunity for a hot shower after a hard day’s trek!
  • Soap: Many teahouses do not provide soap in their bathrooms and washbasins.
  • Map: Essential for independent trekkers as the map indicates not only the trekking routes but also the tea houses, altitudes etc.
  • Mini first-aid kit: Take some plasters, ibuprofen, antiseptic, antibiotics(ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin) and knee/ ankle support especially if you are prone to those injuries.
  • Camp Shoes: At the end of the day when you have put on your clean clothes for the evening, the last thing you want to do is put on your trekking boots again. While a second pair of shoes can be heavy to carry, a great option is to buy a pair of (fake) crocs. They cost Rs 200-400, weigh next to nothing, slip on and off easily, can be tied to the outside of your backpack and you can wear your thick, warm socks with them.
  • Sunglasses And Sunscreen: At high altitudes, the atmosphere is thinner and this filters less UV radiation, so you will need to protect your skin (especially your face).
  • Toilet Paper: You will save some money by buying a roll in Pokhara but you can always buy it in the tea houses if you run out or forget.
  • Snacks: Having burned so many calories, you might find yourself craving a chocolate bar at the end of the day or a muesli bar on the way. While chocolate is ubiquitous and is only a little more expensive than in Pokhara, you cannot find muesli bars or trail nuts so stock up before you leave Pokhara.
  • Wet Wipes: When a shower is not available, then these are the next best things to remove sweat and dust.
  • Camera: Whichever camera you have, it is handy to take two fully charged batteries with you as well as plenty of memory cards. Also, beware of the dust entering your camera!

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