Gokarna Forest Resort. The hotel
provided a driver to collect us from
the airport, and we were taken to a
converted royal hunting lodge on a
quiet, forested hill where the staff was
attentive and friendly, and the rooms
were spacious and full of character.
The hotel became our home away
from home for the four nights that
we were in Nepal, and has earned
amazing reviews on several booking
Day one, we headed for the most
tourist-friendly part of the capital,
Durbar Square. This was the former
palace of the king, who was deposed
in 2010 to institute a constitutional
wooden statues and shutters line
the courtyards like pieces of a jigsaw
puzzle shaken loose by a toddler. Most
of the buildings are in various stages of
reconstruction, but are safe to enter. If
you’re lucky, you can even see a living
Unfortunately, she had
school exams the day we were there.
This was also the case in Bhaktapur, an
ancient city closed to traffic (except for
the ever-present motor scooter). Tour
guides can be booked on the spot
at the entrances to the historic sites,
and you can negotiate prices. We paid
approximately 70 AED for two guides
over five hours, and it was good value
for money. The guides keep the street
vendors from pestering too much, and
can get you admitted to rooftop views
unlike anything else you’ve ever seen.
in Kathmandu to leaving, and
everything in between (including
how to bargain for souvenirs and
how much to pay for what).
The most famous site in Kathmandu,
Boudhanath, was the most noticeably
Walking around the
shrine, always clockwise, according to
Buddhist tradition, spinning the prayer
wheels half-hidden under multicolored
prayer flags, I enjoyed being a part of
the crowd all doing the same.
• Talk to your hotel staff. They can
give you so much great information.
Our visit to Kopan Monastery, home
of the monk featured in the film
“Unmistaken Child,” was peaceful
and spiritually refreshing. Situated
high above the city, the views are
spectacular and the air is fresh and
clean. As my family and I wandered
through the beautiful grounds,
greeting smiling monks, nuns, and
retreat participants along the way, I felt
that we had entered an oasis of calm
away from the bustle of Kathmandu.
After returning from our trip, we found
ourselves giving helpful advice for
Here are some practical tips that
may help with your trip.
• Do your research. The most
informative blog/travel guide I
found was thelongestwayhome.
com, which offers hints about every
aspect of your trip, from arriving
• Be ready for anything: petrol
shortages, power cuts, long detours
because the road is damaged, six
lanes of traffic in a two-lane road.
• On that note, you cannot drive in
Nepal. When you rent a car, you get
a driver. You don’t want to drive in
Nepal. Trust me. Just use taxis – they
are convenient and inexpensive.
• And the final tip – say “Namaste” to
everyone with your palms together
at chest or chin level.
Visiting the historic sites, it was very
obvious that the April 2015 earthquake
decimated the tourist business. Our
tour guides Bishwo and Mr. D sat with
us at a rooftop restaurant, shared
lassis and momos with us, and told
us how things have changed in the
year since. According to locals, the
best way for the world to help Nepal
after the disaster is to come back and
visit. Now that I’ve been to Nepal and
experienced their unique, friendly and
rich culture, I know that I will be back
soon to explore more of this amazing
country, and I encourage join the
adventure as well.
All photos by Jonathan Fuentes.