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Last updated : Nov 2009
Kathmandu Cost of Living
Kathmandu Cost of Living - TravelPuppy.com
Currency: Nepali Rupee

Meals (approximate)

 Budget: US$2-3

 Mid-range: US$3-10

 High: US$10+


 Budget: US$3-10

 Mid-range: US$10-50

 High: US$50+

If you stay in rock-bottom accommodation and eat a mostly Nepalese diet, you could live in Nepal on US$5 a day. If you choose more comfortable lodgings, eat in tourist style restaurants and use the occasional taxi, living costs are likely to be between US$15 and US$40 a day. The higher up, including an trek thrown in will cost you US$40-US$50 a day. An independent trek between village inns, cost between US$10 and US$15 a day, as long as you don't indulge in too many 'luxury' items.

Food is cheap but usually becomes the biggest expense for budget visitors. Generally, one meal will cost from $2-4/£1.50-2.50 per person, to $8/£5 or more in a truly nice restaurant. (But put that in perspective - that's about what you might leave for a tip in a comparable restaurant back home.) Daal bhaat, the all-you-can-eat national meal of lentils, rice and curried vegetables, costs less than $1 or 70p just about anywhere, and you can fill up on road snacks for just pennies. Tipping is becoming fairly common in nicer restaurants in Kathmandu, so leave 10% of the bill if service was good.

If you journey by bus, the fare is very little. An all-day trip on a tourist bus can be $4-10 or £2.50-6, half that on a local one. There are only a handful of tourist bus routes to spend your money on, and the local buses are so inconvenient that you possibly won't be riding them either. On a per-person basis, a hired private vehicle isn't that much more expensive than a tourist bus if you have enough people to fill it. However, prices go up spectacularly if you fly (one-way fare is normally in the region of $50-100 or £30-60). There's no need to tip in cheaper establishments or to tip taxi drivers. Porters on treks should be tipped around NPRs 100 per day. Bargaining is commonplace in markets and tourist shops, but approach it as a form of polite social discourse rather than a matter of life and death.

A value-added tax ( VAT ) of 10% is included in the price of most products; however, many more expensive hotels and restaurants quote the prices exclusive of it. An extra 2% tourism service fee is applicable to room and meal charges in tourist hotels, but the less expensive ones roll it into their prices.

There are 3 exchange rates in the country. The 1st is the rate that is set by the government's Nepal Rastra Bank. The 2nd is the little more generous (but still legal) rate that is set by the private banks. The last is the even more generous black-market rate that is set by carpet shops and travel agents. The daily Rising Nepal newspaper lists the Nepal Rastra Bank's rate, which is a good reference point. Exchange rates and commissions can vary largely, so shop around.

When you exchange money lawfully, you will be given a Foreign Exchange Encashment Receipt stating the amount of hard currency you have changed. When departing Nepal via Kathmandu Airport and have not spent all your rupees, you can change up to 15% of the amount shown on these unused receipts back into hard currency.

The only international currencies accepted are the US Dollar and Pounds Sterling; however, the Indian rupee is also considered a 'hard' currency. It might be difficult to use large-denomination Nepalese currency outside the Kathmandu Valley, so keep a decent portion of your money in small-denomination notes. If you are planning to go hiking, it is recommended that you take small-denomination cash with you to last the entire hike.