Kathmandu Valley, Nepal: itinerary, cost breakdown, packing list

Last week my friend and I took a seven-day Kathmandu Valley, Nepal trip. I’m still slowly coming down on my travel high and have yet to sort my photos (you can see some at my Instagram), but in the meantime I wanted to post a little about our trip, our itinerary, and the cost we incurred–since a number of people have asked us about this. My friend’s costs are slightly different than mine, and she’s also doing her own costing post so stay tuned for that ;)

Kathmandu Valley

Why Nepal? Nepal isn’t something I would choose off the top of my head for a short trip. My friend scored some good Malaysia airfare tickets, and since we didn’t want to stay the whole time in Malaysia, we went scouting for other places to go from there, until we settled on planning to spend pretty much the whole time in the Kathmandu Valley.

Why only the valley? We had two locals comment about the fact that we were spending seven days in Nepal but did not include Chitwan and Pokhara, two other popular tourist destinations, in our itinerary. The simplest reason for this is that we are “slow” travelers (we walk slow, we take pictures slow, we sit down and people-watch a lot) and we initially planned to DIY the whole trip (as we usually do). Post-trip, I’m still confident that we made the right decision to focus on just the valley for our seven days in Nepal.

We booked about three days of touring with Himalayan Trails, who actually do more adventurous tours than ours, but were very accommodating and helpful.


Day 1 Thursday
Arrival at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (2pm)
Check in at guesthouse in Patan, settle in, etc.
Patan Durbar Square

Day 2 Friday (with Himalayan Trails)
Mountain flight to see Everest peak
Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square (AKA Kathmandu Durbar Square)
Swayambhunath (AKA Monkey Temple)
Boudhanath Stupa
Pashupatinath Temple

Day 3 Saturday
Patan Museum
Golden Temple
Transfer lodging to Bhaktapur
Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Day 4 Sunday
Thamel walkabout
Garden of Dreams
(admin stuff in Bhaktapur)

Day 5 Monday (with Himalayan Trails, afternoon)
Gai Jatra at Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Changu Narayan
Transfer lodging to Nagarkot

Day 6 Tuesday (with Himalayan Trails)
Nagarkot sunrise
Nagarkot to Dhulikel day hike

Day 7 Wednesday
Thamel last minute shopping
Departure from Kathmandu at 3pm

Cost breakdown: Pre-trip expenses

457.12 SGD Airfare: AirAsia, stopover at Kuala Lumpur
20kg check in luggage
selected seat for KUL-KTM leg
54.40 SGD Travel insurance
144.50 SGD Lodging (split with friend)
508.16 SGD Himalayan Trails tour
(US$390 + split wire fees with friend)

TOTAL: approx 930 USD

Obviously, the biggest expense we booked pre-trip was the tour. Coupled with the wire fees (both the local wire fee and beneficiary wire fee, which we also had to pay for) it did add to a hefty chunk of money. I’m not sure if it would have been cheaper if my friend wired it from the Philippines.

Not included: one night’s worth of lodging in Kuala Lumpur.

Cost breakdown: On-trip expenses

25 USD 15-day visa fee (on arrival)
9,212 NPR Food
Approximately 800 NPR for lunch/dinner, 450 NPR for breakfast
2,350 NPR Transportation (split with friend)
1x airport transfer, 4x taxi rides, 1x rickshaw ride
2,650 NPR Additional entrance fees not included in Himalayan Trails tour
8,375 NPR Shopping
2,670 NPR Miscellaneous
i.e. Ncell sim card + data plan, tips, etc.

TOTAL: approx 285 USD

I had a total of 200 USD and 100 SGD changed while I was there, and I still have some rupees to spare. My friend disposed of all her rupees by shopping at the airport, and I regret not doing the same or not getting it changed back to USD since once I got to KLIA2, there were no money changers who accepted NPR.

We under-budgeted for food; we expected food to be about 1,200 NPR a day, but we ended up eating in touristy places and playing it very safe, as we were very wary of falling sick.

Not included: on the ground expenses in Malaysia.

Of the four places where we had our money changed to rupees, the best rates came from Patan and Thamel (the other two were at the airport on our arrival, and at Bhaktapur).

Packing list

Obviously this will be very subjective depending on what you’re doing. We had a one day hike, and the rest of the time was spent in the city. We had planned for cold-ish, rainy weather (since it is monsoon season) but it was quite hot in the city. We planned to do a bit of laundry.

I was also obsessively insistent on making everything fit my Minaal carry-on bag. (It is a wonderful bag. I am a fangirl.)

Nepal carryon, what's inside Nepal carryon and handbag, what's inside

My packing list (including things I brought on my person):

  • 5x pairs of underwear (1 sports bra)
  • 3x trek socks
  • 2x pairs of sleepwear
  • 2x leggings
  • 1x undershorts
  • 1x padded camisole
  • 1x maxi dress
  • 5x tops
  • 1x knee-length skirt
  • 1x casual shorts
  • 1x lightweight printed pants
  • 1x lightweight trek pants
  • 1x athletic capri
  • 1x convertible shawl
  • 1x trek shoes
  • 1x “nice” slippers
  • Foldable backpack
  • Cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Buff
  • Umbrella
  • Camera, camera lenses, camera battery, SD cards
  • Phones, powerbank, chargers
  • Small towel
  • Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, facial wash, bar soap, powder deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, q-tips
  • Makeup: Tinted moisturizer with SPF, lip balm with SPF, eyeshadow primer, eyeliner (WHATTT)
  • First aid: band-aids, Betadine q-tips, hiker’s salve, chewable vitamin C tablets, paracetamol tablets
  • Sunblock
  • Mosquito repellent

What I missed: muscle pain reliever pads and similar. I mean, wow, was I sore after that day hike!

In hind-sight

I think more active, less trigger-happy folks can fit in more activities than we did; certainly tour groups will be able to fit in more. Having a driver speeds things up considerably–you can see that the whole day we spent with Himalayan Trails (Day 2), we covered the most ground. We changed lodgings quite a fair amount (Patan, Bhaktapur, Nagarkot, Thamel) but in retrospect, for our sanity, we could have stayed in one place and taken taxis elsewhere. (Except for Nagarkot, where we wanted to see the sunrise.)

I would also change my packing list slightly, regardless of weather: the streets are rough and my feet and ankles took a bit of battering walking around in slippers. I would definitely opt for more solid soles, which really help with NOT feeling each and every stone under your feet while walking around in the city; After two days of walking in my slippers, I shrugged and put on my chunky, huge trek shoes under my skirt and felt a lot better (and told my friend to NOT take photos of my feet).

Another thing that we should have known and planned accordingly was the load shedding schedule in effect in Kathmandu due to power shortages: all places in Kathmandu lose power for around 3 hours, twice a day, every day. Some commercial places will have some backup power, but usually only for the lights. We did not pay much attention to this despite reading about it (more like “skimming”), but if we had known, we would have been much more aware and ready to take it on. Our go-to schedule website is here.

Overall, Nepal was both eye-opener and a visual delight, a veritable experience all on its own. Just come prepared and you’ll enjoy the experience! I’ll be posting some photos soon :)


  • A trip of a lifetime! Does Nepal require a visa?

    I’m amazed you were able to fit all that stuff in a carry-on bag. :)

    • Hi Vix! Yup there is a visa for Nepal, but you can get it when you arrive at the airport. 15 days visa is US$25, there are longer visa durations as well. 15 days is the minimum duration.

      It was a challenge to fit everything, but it was more of a challenge to figure out what exactly I can bring and what I can afford to leave behind. When I was planning my carryon I did not remember I bought checkin luggage, haha. Oh well! It still worked out in the end, being able to carry my stuff on my bag was very helpful with the amount of lodging changes we ended up doing.