|Most popular in||December||High demand for flights, 5% potential price rise|
|Cheapest in||March||Best time to find cheap flights, 3% potential price drop|
|Average price||$1,380||Price for this month|
|Cheapest price||$919||From Auckland to Kathmandu|
Cheap flights to Nepal are in demand by adventure travellers and those seeking spiritual enlightenment. This mountainous country, situated between China and India, has a reputation for otherworldliness. It is the birthplace of Lord Buddha at Lumbini and the Hindu Lord Sita at Janakpur, home to a living goddess (or Kumari), warriors famed for their bravery (the Gurkhas) and, perhaps most famous of all, Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. It is also said to be the stomping ground of the abominable snowman (or yeti).
Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital and largest city, was, in the 1960s and 1970s, a must-visit destination for hippies seeking spiritual enlightenment. Today, it’s still a required stop on the backpacker trail, more sprawling and smoggier than it was 30 years ago. It’s still a wonderful and magical city and many visitors use it as a starting point for trekking holidays in the Himalayas.
The Kathmandu Valley alone boasts seven of Nepal’s eight World Cultural Heritage Sites: Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu), Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Bauddhanath and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan. Nepal is also home to the Natural World Heritage Sites of Everest National Park and Chitwan National Park.
The most popular treks are those to the Everest region but the Annapurna region in west-central Nepal and Langtang treks in central Nepal are also hugely popular, offering the experiences of a lifetime.
Nepal has a range of climates – tropical forest, jungle, snowfields and glaciers. As in neighbouring India, the monsoon winds have a great influence on the weather. Late June to September is the rainy season and October to May the dry season. During the rainy season visitors can expect an average of two to three hours of sunshine each day. There’s also a good chance of flooding in parts of the country. The dry season is much more pleasant – warm weather and between six and nine hours of sunshine each day. Naturally, the higher you go, the colder it gets.
The busiest times of the year – but also the best times – to search for cheap flights to Nepal are between February and May and late August to December.
The main festivals of Dashain and Tihar occur during these months. Dashain, Nepal’s most important festival, commemorates the gods’ victory over demons. The celebrations are reminiscent of Christmas; homes are decorated, families get together and gifts are given. Tihar follows Dashain. This festival – worship of the Hindu Goddess of Fortune – lasts for five days and is all about celebrating one’s siblings and friends. In March, the festival of colours (Fagu Purnima or Holi) takes place. This Hindu festival is marked by the throwing of coloured water or coloured powder.
Mid-June to September is the low season in Nepal. It’s the monsoon season when rainfall is heavy and temperatures are high. Landslides, flooding and avalanches can occur during the monsoon season.
If you’re trekking or seeing the sights of Kathmandu, you’ll be getting around on foot. Domestic airlines offer flights around Nepal, but to get the authentic Nepalese experience take the bus. There are micro buses in Kathmandu (and Tempos – three wheeler auto-rickshaws), local buses and tourist buses that travel between Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan, Lumbini-Bhairahawa and the border towns. Renting a car with a driver or renting a motorbike are also options.