Participants should plan for 2-3 additional days as travel will include traversing the International Date Line. One or more extra days in Kathmandu for sightseeing is recommended (cost not included).
Kathmandu is the largest city and capital of Nepal and the namesake of the Kathmandu Valley. Once thought to be the fabled and inaccessible Shangri-La, Kathmandu is now a hub for independent travelers as well as a growing vacation spot catering to all budgets. As a result of considerable urban growth in recent decades, it is now part of one continuous urban area together with Patan to the south.
Visas are available on arrival for citizens of most countries, and one passport-sized photograph is required. To complete the process, you must pay a fee: Transit ($5), 15 day ($25), 30 day ($40) or 90 day ($100.) Make sure that you fill in all of the forms and keep your departure card for when you want to leave. Facilities for taking passport-sized photographs are available near the immigration desk, though it saves a lot of time if they are prepared before arrival. SAARC nationals are exempt from visa fees.
There are no trains to Kathmandu, renting a car without a driver is not a reasonable option. You can hire bikes in Kathmandu and ride up, but you need to be brave. Alternatively, catch a bus. Check with other travelers to find a safe bus line (Green Line & Golden Travels have been recommended), some are quite dangerous and travel at stupid speeds through mountain passes. Many hotels will pick you up from the airport if you give them advanced notice. Otherwise, you can use a pre-paid taxi (the stand is on your right as you come out of baggage reclaim/arrivals.)
Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM), is the largest, and only international airport in Nepal. Most flights to Kathmandu arrive via Delhi, Dhaka, or Bangkok, and of the remaining only a few originate from outside Asia.
Many hotel and guest houses offer complimentary pick up and delivery from the airport. Taxis are also available. As always, negotiate the price beforehand with the driver. A taxi ride to Thamel or Boudha should not exceed 300 NPR. Otherwise, order a taxi at the pre-paid booth inside the airport, which costs 600 NPR (May 2011). This is more than the meter rate, but saves the hassle of long negotiations. Try not to exchange money at the airport. Money changers at the airport not only charge service charge but also offer a lower rate than is offered in Thamel or elsewhere in town. Don't pay for a taxi at the taxi desk or at any of the drivers immediately outside the airport terminal, they're all a rip-off. They'll ask for 500nrs at least, especially if they see you're a newcomer. Simply ignore them and take your bags out and past them to the edge of the parking lot where many other drivers await. Haggling with them can get you a taxi to Thamel for around 300nrs.
The first thing many visitors may notice about Kathmandu is the general lack of street names (except for major roads such as Tri Devi and Ring Road) and address numbers. In most cases directions are given relative to the nearest chowk or tole (an intersection or square, often with a market) or a noteworthy building such as a temple or restaurant. In the tourist district of Thamel, the Kathmandu Guest House and Hot Breads bakery are two main landmarks.
It is possible to get across the city by foot, but it is not always a pleasant walk and you may want to consider a rickshaw for anything more than wandering around a specific area. Rickshaws are bicycle driven; the motorized ones have been banned from the valley in a bid to check rising pollution. Rickshaws can hardly be found outside the tourist area of Thamel, however, since they are mostly only used by the tourists. Negotiate on a price before you get in, if you can't agree, just look for another driver. Prices go up after dark and in less busy areas. Taxis are easy to find; they park near all major streets and have fare-meters. The day rate should start at 10 NPR and tick over at 4.80 NPR; after 9PM, at 15 NPR ticking over at 7.20 NPR. The meter is your best bet if you are not confident enough to negotiate. After 11PM, taxis can be harder to find outside Thamel.
There are also buses and taxis for longer trips within the valley, ie Patan and Bakhtapur, and can be used for trips in town. It should be possible to hire a taxi for considerably less than 300rs one-way to Patan and 800-1,000rs to Bakhtapur from Thamel or the airport. For longer trips and to hire them by the day negotiate with the driver.
You can also consider hiring a car and driver. Just make sure you negotiate the price up front. Hotels can provide information.
The host hotel for the WMS Everest Experience is the Yak and Yeti. Visit the hotel's website for additional information:
CDC website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/nepal.htm