When you’re riding, you’re exposed. Warm valley updrafts caress your mountain chilled skin. Nostril burning cityscapes give way to sweet forests and fields. Curious locals greet you every time you stop to rest. You experience the world without filter. The resulting memory is vivid, pure, and forever beckoning you to return.
Having motorcycled through parts of the USA, Canada, Egypt, Thailand, Laos, & Guatemala, I can honestly say that Nepal presented some of the most challenging but most spectacular riding of my life. Although the roads were rough, and the traffic comically dangerous at times, nothing beats riding among the Himalayas, meeting it’s gracious people, and immersing oneself in the ancient Buddhist traditions born in this land.
1) Nepal is cheap! And so are motorcycles for rent. If you’re interested in a 220cc Pulsar, you can rent one in Kathmandu or Pokhara for just 15$/day. But, if you’re looking for something a little more classic and powerful, I highly recommend the 350cc Enfield Bullet for 25$/day. Remember, if you’re planning on renting for more than a week, definitely haggle down the price. The rental includes a helmet, but you can easily buy a new one for 20$.
Although I’ve only worked with one rental company, BS Motor Bike in Thamel, based on their English skills, commitment to their customers, competitive prices, willingness to negotiate, and collection of well maintained rentals, I feel confident recommending them.
2) If you’re addicted to lentil soup (Ashby Ashby) you’re going to love Nepal. New York has its pizza, Ethiopia its Injera bread, and Nepal has Dhal Bhat. It’s a simple and delicately spiced lentil soup that is usually poured over rice for just about every meal. It’s delicious at first but monotonous overtime. Nevertheless, as the locals say…Dhal Bhat power 24 hour!
1) Traffic in Kathmandu is on par with Mumbai, Cairo, Hanoi, and all cities where road rules are considered suggestions, and you gotta do what you gotta do to get from A to B. It’s butt clench-ingly terrifying at first but after a few hours you start to go with the flow; the flow being every man for himself.
2) Pollution and lack of emission standards necessitates covering your nose and mouth most of the time. In big cities, car fumes mix with wood burning stoves to create a suffocating smog. On the single lane highways that define the infrastructure of Nepal, getting stuck behind a truck will paint your face with soot. Definitely invest in a face mask.
3) Some roads in Nepal are unpaved, which makes for some pretty precarious riding, especially when you’re going down a one way towards side by side trucks. It was the closest I ever came to dying on a motorcycle. If you want to know more, check out Riding From Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park.
1) Nepal’s roads can be dangerous & challenging, but that’s exactly what makes them so fun. I’ve never felt more in focus with myself and the world then while dodging oncoming traffic on that 30 mile stretch of sand, dirt and gravel.
2) The 10 hour ride from Lumbini to Pohkara was the best riding of my entire life. All day long I carved up and down the foothills of the Himalayas. The closer I got to Pohkara, the more the snow-covered peaks of Annapurna range revealed itself. The entire day made life feel like a dream within a dream.
3) Although the people are relatively poor, they are honorable, humble, proud of their cultures, and infinitely friendly, whether you’re in the largest city or the smallest town. Family structures are strong, family honor is foremost, and there is a great sense of community within villages. It’s a simpler way of life, and it’s beautiful to witness.
4) The first stop on my adventure was a small village an hour west of Kathmandu called Panauti. Here I got to experience village life while at a homestay. The mother cooked us true Newari fare. Her friend took us on a tour through this historic temple filled town. At the end of the night, we all had a dance party in her garage. It was delicious, awkward, and enlightening all at once. If you’re interested in doing something similar, check out Community Homestay.
5) Chitwan National Park is a jewel of a jungle nestled on the border of India. It’s known for its Bengal tigers, rhinoceros, leopards and elephants. Although we didn’t get to see any tigers, we did get to see some rhinoceros, and loads of deer and elephants during a 2 hour safari through the jungle. It was like Disney Land’s Jungle Cruise but for real. It’s no wonder the UN deemed this park a World Heritage Site. If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s luxurious yet authentic, check out Tigers Top’s Thauru Lodge.
6) Whether you’re into Buddhism or not, you need to visit the birth place of Buddha in Lumbini. The actual site where Buddha is born isn’t much more than a collection of ruins and prayer flag covered trees but it seems to emanate an indescribable energy. More than the birth site itself, Lumbini consists of dozens of Buddhist temples. There’s one built by China, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, and even Germany and France. In no other place of the world can you discover so many types of Buddhist temples in one place.
Ride Nepal! From the people and the Himalayas to the Dhal Bhat and the prices, riding Nepal is budget friendly and simply spectacular. If you’re a little hesitant about riding alone, there are plenty of epic affordable (and not so affordable) group motorcycle tours available. Whichever you decide, you’re going to push yourself and you will suffer, but you’re also going to discover this incredible land from a perspective only a motorcycle can give you.