If you’ve decided to visit the only country in the world that doesn’t have a quadrilateral flag, then you’re probably eager to see exactly what the Nepali flag represents: all of the magnificent mountain peaks of the Himalayas and the Annapurna range.
Unfortunately, the beautiful Annapurna range often doesn’t get all of the attention it deserves, with the mighty Himalayas stealing the glory most of the time. However, if you’re lucky enough to head over to Annapurna, do know that your trip won’t be short of any camera-worthy moments, no matter whether you’re going to spend time only on the trek or explore the area further on.
Nepal welcomed almost 800,000 tourists in 2016 so it’s safe to say, they know a thing or two about being great hosts. Even though you’ll be heading to one of the most affordable countries in the world, you’ll still need to take the time and do some appropriate cost planning beforehand. Planning your costs accordingly will save you a lot of unnecessary headaches and make your trip much more enjoyable.
Last grasp of twilight in the Annapurnas. Annapurna remained mostly covered for all the time. Taken on day 5 of the trek. Photo by Davide
Here’s a breakdown of all the costs you’ll need to plan ahead before your trip.
First things first – calculate how much the actual Annapurna trek is going to cost you. You have several options for this:
You could buy whole package tours sold by various agencies that usually start at around $800-$1000 and go up, depending on how long they last and what’s included in them. The good thing is that they’d take care of most things for you; however, sometimes those tours can be overpriced and still have some hidden expenses that will keep popping up all the time throughout your trip.
The second option is doing your own planning and only hire a guide and a porter, each for $25 and $15 per day, respectively. This includes a lot more planning and coordination on your part, but you’ll get larger flexibility on making end moment changes to your plans, the places you’re going to stay at, where you’re going to eat and so on – which is not that bad of a thing!
The last option would be going for a solo trek, which would cut a lot on the cost sides. However, if you’re not an experienced hiker and the weather conditions don’t look great, it’d be for the best to stay away from this option.
Cheap, tasty food and affordable accommodation are the two biggest things luring tourists to Nepal. You could easily eat large meals and enjoy a comfortable room in different teahouses for as little as $15 per day – and that’s with all the expenses covered!
Hot, wholesome and tasty, the food on the Annapurna trek is also easy on the pocket. Photo Credit
Of course, you’re welcome to spend more according to your budget and needs! Do note that if you opt for a whole package, you’ll likely have these expenses covered and you’ll only have to worry about an occasional Snickers bar here and there for a $1-$2 or a beer for $4-$5.
Pay attention that most of the places charge extra for hot water, Wi-Fi, as well as charging your own electrical devices. A hot shower can cost you an extra $4-$5, a phone charge is usually $3-$5, and Wi-Fi goes for $2-$3 for the whole day. Most of the prices vary mostly according to the location of the teahouse on the trek, so expect to see prices rising as you climb up.
Don’t forget that you’ll need to buy bottled water throughout your whole trip, which is pretty cheap but can easily add up over longer periods. Some visitors try and minimize this expense by using tablets or pens that clean the water; regardless of how you choose to proceed, don’t drink tap water in a desperate attempt to save money.
If you’re a passionate trekker and already have more than a few quality things considering trekking equipment, then you won’t need to pack anything special for the Annapurna climb.
The good news is that even if you don’t have any trekking gear or you’re simply not willing to haul it all the way to Nepal, you’d be able to find everything you’ll need in Thamel, the shopping district in Kathmandu. The stores there offer a somewhat weird (however, handy) selection of both originals and copies. A good advice here would be to stay away from the Nepal copies and just pick China fakes – the lesser evil of the two.
Even though this largely depends on what exactly you’ll buy, expect to spend an approximate of $150-$200 on trekking gear in Nepal.
Local transport in Nepal. Photo by ADB
Last but certainly not least, the flights and transportation part, since you do need to arrive in Nepal first before venturing out in the mountains.
International flights can be pricey and they represent a large percentage of the total cost of your trip. They can go all the way from a few hundred dollars up to a thousand and something depending on where you’re flying out from. Sometimes it helps if you book as early as possible so keep that in mind.
The transportation around Nepal is a story of its own. Chances are, you’ll be arriving in Kathmandu so you’ll need to get to Pokhara. You can either fly, go with a bus or a grab a cab.
The flying option is the most expensive, with ticket prices varying due to the season. However, while it’s the fastest option, it’s not the best one with flights being delayed all the time.
Local buses can be a bit too much for foreign visitors, so get on a tourist bus or on a so-called luxury bus if you’re choosing this option. Most of those buses are operating specifically for visitors and include a meal during the 7-hour trip. You could get a return ticket for somewhere around $50-$70 depending on the season you’re traveling in.
Finally, you could pay approximately $100-150 for a cab ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Sometimes, this works best for many, especially if you’re traveling in a group, as you could all share the travel expenses while not compromising on the comfort of the trip.
Here’s a short overview of some expenses that are often overseen. Write them down and save yourself from any unpleasant surprises on the way.
The cost of your visa depends on the length of your stay and yes, you’ll need one no matter where you’re coming from.
You’ll also need to pay $20 for a trekking permit to the Annapurna Conservation Area and $10-$20 for a Trekkers’ Informational Management System (TIMS) card which will do wonders for your safety in case of any emergency.
Caught up in the travel euphoria – Nepal, yay! – vaccines are probably the last thing on your mind. However, failing to get those things sorted out could leave you with more than just a headache on your trip.
Depending on the country you’re coming from, as well as your healthcare provider, all of the vaccines required for your Nepal trekking trip can cost you anywhere from $50 all the way to $200.
Tea houses in Nepal are perfect for trekkers. Photo by Christian
This is not something that you’ll want to save money on – actually, skip a few airport beers and splurge on your travel insurance. Don’t forget to double check that your insurance covers you even if you’d be climbing altitudes higher than 4,000m/13,000ft and if not, do the upgrade. This cost largely depends on your country, as well as the length of your trip but you can expect to pay somewhere from $150-$250.
While tipping is not traditional for the Nepali culture, you’re still expected to tip all of the porters and the guide – that is, if you’ve decided to hire them in the first place and you’re satisfied with the service you’ve been getting. The rule is that you need to tip them around 10% of the total trekking cost.
If you want to tip other service providers, following the 10% of the total amount is a good rule to follow.
Bearing that in mind, the costs per a 10-day trip can go from $1,150 without the international flight ticket and up, depending on how much you’d be willing to spend.
While trekking the Annapurna, you will meet many children. Photo Credit
If you did all the math by now and are ready to take awesome pictures on Nepal’s finest mountain peaks, here’s one last thing for you.
Remember to bring a lot of cash to last you through the whole hike before leaving the cities and going up on treks. In an ideal world, most villages on the way should have ATMs, however, a large number of those don’t work as they should. Since you’ll need money for random items like food, drinks, and accommodation, it wouldn’t be the greatest experience if you happened to run out of money mid-trip.
Keeping all of that in mind, Nepal really is one of the best places to head over if you’re on a budget. Oh, and the best part is that no matter how low of a price you pay, you can still be sure that the locals there will try their best to make you feel like home!