Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Nepal’s only international airport, is located in the heart of Kathmandu Valley. Inaugurated in 1955, TIA originally had a grass runway that was paved with concrete in 1957. Today, the airport has one international and one domestic terminal, as well as a VIP terminal. As of 2015, approximately 30 international airlines fly to Nepal through Kathmandu. TIA is more modest compared to other airports around the world. Be prepared for long lines at immigration and a crowded luggage collection area. Beware also of “baggage handlers” who will try to charge you for use of the luggage trolley (it’s free!) and to carry your luggage to your taxi. Within the airport, you can find basic amenities such as a duty-free shop, toilets, several airline lounges, and, an ATM. There is a currency exchange counter where you can get Nepalese rupees, however, the exchange rate here is lower compared to what you can get in the city center of Thamel. The exchange rate as of 2015 is 1HKD$ to 13.41 rupees.
Stepping outside the airport, you will encounter a crowd of taxi drivers trying to get customers. The city center is approximately 30 minutes from TIA via taxi, and the ride should cost you between 400-500 rupees, depending on how much you bargain. The prepaid taxis at the airport are known to charge almost twice as much compared to the normal taxis. Alternatively, arranging an airport transfer with your hotel would be a safer and more convenient, albeit pricier, way to travel.
Geographically, Nepal is a landlocked area located between India and China. Nepal has an extremely diverse terrain – the Himalayas in the north is made up of eight of the world’s tallest mountains, including the highest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest. As expected, Nepal is extremely popular for mountaineering. The peak visitor period is during autumn from late September to late November, when the weather is clear, dry, and not too cold. Two of Nepal’s most important Hindu festivals, Dasain and Tihaar, also fall during these months. Going towards the South, you will start to see Terai landscapes, which are lowland areas with lush grasslands, savannahs, swamps, and valleys. During the spring and monsoon seasons, the Terai springs to life. Flowers bloom, fields become a deep green, and the streams rush with water. This is the best time to experience nature, see the wildlife, and witness Nepal’s breathtaking green landscapes that span as far as your eyes can see. Do note that it also becomes hotter and mountain views may be become rare because of the haze. Nepal is considered to be a developing country with high levels of poverty, particularly after the earthquake in 2015. However, it is also a country steeped in rich and unique history, culture, and religion, and is increasingly a popular tourist spot. Some places you can’t afford to miss out on include the ancient towns of Bhaktapur and Patan, Boudhanath (one of the largest Buddhist stupas in Nepal), the Hindu temple Pashupatinath, or the Swayambhu aka Monkey Temple.
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