We book our 21 days tour with Nepal’s Heian Treks (27 Sep - 17 Oct 2008) which offer us a very good price thanks to Richard’s recommendation. It cost us USD 596 (cost is ever rising due to global factor such as food and fuel price) per person, including Permit Fee, Guide, Accommodation and Food in the Mountains. It excludes Insurance (about RM 60 per person from AXA), Visa Fee, Airfare, All Drinks, Food in the City and Porter. It you are adventurous enough and tight on budget, you could just fly to Kathmandu, get a Trekking Permit, and head for the mountains without Guide, Porter or Travel Agencies. Many Europeans do that on the Annapurna Circuit, without Guide or Porter (you could easily find porter on the way).
We fly to Nepal by Royal Nepal Airline, it’s comfortable but always late (at least by 2 hours). The air ticket cost us around RM 1900+ (used to be RM 1600+ few months back, thanks to the recent fuel hike). Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you need to pay USD 20 for 15 days of VISA (USD 40 for 30 days), and a photograph as well. The queue at immigration is long, so it would be wise to rush to the immigration counter as soon as you landed (rather than running around taking photograph).
From the Aerial view, Kathmandu is really pretty big city with way too many custom houses across many miles. Kathmandu is really a very chaotic city (I was told that Bombay is worst), with small and bumpy road, and honking could be heard for 24 hours non-stop, and most did not obey the traffic rule. I was told Kathmandu is short of clean water supply (water is being pumped from the ground, though the mountains is full of clean water), so it’s advisable for tourist to consume mineral water (RS 15-25 per liter) and boil water. Nevertheless, it is still a very attractive and safe city (just noisy and crowded).
To Besi Sahar
We get out of the airport 3 hours late (2 hours due to plane delay, and 1 hour due to immigration), and was told there is going to be a transportation strike the next day so it is advisable to go to Annapurna region by tonight. The public bus is no longer available at this time, so we have to take a private car for USD 100. It’s a pretty hefty fee, but we have no options.
Off we go to Besi Sahar (5 hours of bumpy road ride on the so called highway, ouch!), the starting point of Annapurna Circuit. We have yet to explore Kathmandu (though we had a glimpse of Thamel area), and that we have to wait until the last few days of out trip.