Kathmandu on a Shoestring: A 2-Day Budget Travel Guide from Kolkata

Kathmandu, the lively capital of Nepal, is nestled in the stunning Himalayas and offers a mix of ancient culture, spirituality, and natural beauty. While it might seem far from Kolkata, you can experience its wonders even on a tight budget and a short timeframe. This step-by-step guide will help you plan an affordable 2-day trip from Kolkata to Kathmandu, ensuring you make the most of your time and money.

1. Choosing Your Mode of Transport:

The cheapest way to reach Kathmandu from Kolkata is by bus. While the journey is longer than flying, it offers a scenic route through West Bengal and into Nepal. Several bus operators provide services between Kolkata and Kathmandu with different comfort levels and prices.

  • State-Run Buses: Operated by the West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation (WBSTC) and the Nepal State Transport Corporation (NSTC), these buses are the cheapest option. However, they may not have amenities like air conditioning and reclining seats.
  • Private Buses: Several private bus companies offer deluxe and semi-deluxe buses with more comfortable seating and amenities like air conditioning and Wi-Fi. These buses are slightly more expensive but offer a more comfortable journey.

Booking Your Bus Ticket:

  • Online Booking: Many bus operators allow you to book tickets online through their websites or third-party platforms like RedBus or MakeMyTrip. This is a convenient way to secure your seat in advance.
  • Direct Booking: You can also visit the bus terminal in Kolkata and book your ticket directly from the operator’s counter.

2. Planning Your Accommodation:

Kathmandu offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget. For budget travelers, guesthouses and hostels are excellent choices. These places offer basic amenities like dormitory beds, shared bathrooms, and common areas, providing opportunities to meet fellow travelers.

Finding Budget Accommodation:

  • Thamel: This busy tourist hub has many guesthouses and hostels catering to backpackers.
  • Freak Street: Once a hippie haven, Freak Street still has its bohemian charm and offers budget-friendly guesthouses.
  • Patan: This ancient city, located across the Bagmati River from Kathmandu, has a quieter atmosphere and some affordable guesthouses.

Booking Your Accommodation:

  • Online Booking Platforms: Websites like Booking.com, Hostelworld, and Agoda offer a wide selection of budget accommodations in Kathmandu.
  • Walk-In: If you’re flexible, you can walk around Thamel or Freak Street and find guesthouses with vacancies.

3. Crafting Your Itinerary:

With just two days in Kathmandu, it’s essential to prioritize the must-see attractions and experiences. Here’s a suggested itinerary:

Day 1:

  • Morning: Arrive in Kathmandu and check into your guesthouse/hostel.
  • Afternoon: Explore the lively streets of Thamel, browse shops selling souvenirs and handicrafts, and enjoy local food at affordable restaurants.
  • Evening: Visit the Boudhanath Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest spherical stupas in the world. Witness the evening prayers and enjoy the spiritual atmosphere.

Day 2:

  • Morning: Visit the Pashupatinath Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most sacred Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Observe the rituals and ceremonies performed on the banks of the Bagmati River.
  • Afternoon: Explore the ancient city of Patan, known for its Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with intricate temples, palaces, and courtyards.
  • Evening: Enjoy a farewell dinner at a rooftop restaurant in Thamel, offering panoramic views of the city.

Tips for Saving Money in Kathmandu:

  • Eat Local: Try the delicious and affordable street food and local cuisine at small eateries and cafes.
  • Use Public Transportation: Use local buses and microbuses, which are much cheaper than taxis.
  • Bargain: Negotiate prices when shopping for souvenirs or hiring taxis.
  • Visit Free Attractions: Many temples and historical sites offer free entry.
  • Travel During Off-Season: Consider visiting Kathmandu during the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn) when prices for accommodation and flights are lower.

Additional Tips:

  • Apply for a Visa: Indian citizens need a visa to enter Nepal. You can get a visa on arrival at the airport or apply online before your trip.
  • Currency Exchange: Nepali Rupees (NPR) is the official currency of Nepal. Exchange your money at banks or authorized exchange bureaus in Kathmandu.
  • Stay Connected: Purchase a local SIM card for affordable data and calling services.
  • Respect Local Customs: Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites.
  • Learn Basic Phrases: Knowing a few basic Nepali phrases can enhance your interactions with locals.