Traveling to the Himalayas can be a thrilling, life changing experience, so you’re probably really excited to plan your trip. The Himalayas are a mountain range in Asia that spreads along the Indian border with China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan. In addition to its scenic views, the area is home to a variety of interesting cultures. You can trek through the Himalayas during the warmer months and ski the slopes during autumn and winter. While the easiest way to go to the Himalayas is to book a tour, you can also travel there on your own.
Booking a Guided Tour
1. Work with a tour group for simple, easy planning. Although visiting the Himalayas can be a magical experience, the terrain is also physically demanding and can be difficult to navigate. Fortunately, it’s easy to book a tour with one of the many tour groups operating in the area. Consider booking a tour if it’s your first time visiting the Himalayas and if you want to make the most of your trip.
- Since most tours book all of your accommodations for you, they make traveling the area super easy. You won’t risk finding yourself far away from the place you booked for the night, which might happen if you’re on your own.
2. Research tour companies to help you pick the one you like. There are several group tour companies that operate in the Himalayas, and you can find tours at a variety of price points. Most touring companies operate from a specific side of the Himalayas, so decide which area you’d like to see. Then, narrow down your search to tours that feature the activities you want to do, like hiking, skiing, or visiting cultural sites. Additionally, compare the itinerary for each tour group to help you make a selection.
- Where you start your trip will determine what you get to see. For instance, you might start your trip to the Himalayas in Nepal, Tibet, or India, which are the most popular areas to see. Most of the famous sites in the Himalayas are going to be in Nepal and Tibet.
3. Check what each tour package includes so you can make comparisons. Most guided tour packages include your housing, transportation, and guide costs while you’re in the Himalayas. Some packages also include meals, and you may also find an all-inclusive package that pays for your trip to the tour’s starting point. Find out what each package includes so you know what you’re getting for the price.
- In some cases, a pricier tour may be a better value if it offers more. You might also look at which destinations you’ll see. For instance, a tour that takes you to Mt. Everest will likely cost more than a tour that visits a less popular area.
4. Compare ticket prices so you can pick the best value. Once you’ve narrowed your focus to a few similar tours that interest you, look at what you’re getting for the cost of each tour. Choose the option that best fits your needs at a price you can afford.
- If you’re into hiking, you might choose a tour that offers multiple treks through different parts of the Himalayas. If you just want to enjoy the scenery, you might pick a tour that takes you through a popular resort town. If you’re hoping to absorb the local culture, focus on tours that take you to the Buddhist monasteries and that allow you to mingle with locals.
5. Purchase your group tour tickets through a touring company. Once you pick the tour you want, visit the website for the company you chose for your tour. Select the group tour you want to go on and enter your information. Finally, pay for your guided tour using a credit card.
- You might try the touring company Himachal Helicopter Skiing if you want to ski. For trekking tours, try Wild Frontiers, Work Expeditions, The Mountain Company, or Mountain Kingdoms. If you plan to go to Everest, you may try World Expeditions, Mountain Kingdoms, Exodus, Escape2Nepal, or KE Adventure Travel.
6. Purchase airline tickets to meet your tour group at the starting point. You will likely need to take a flight to your tour’s starting point unless you live near the Himalayas. Check the directions from your touring company to find out where the tour starts. If your flight isn’t included in the ticket price, book airline tickets through your favorite travel website.
- For instance, some tour companies meet you in New Delhi, India. Others might meet you in Beijing or Nepal.
7. Meet your touring group for a guided trip through the Himalayas. The great thing about booking a tour is that you have little planning to do. Once your trip is booked, all you need to do is meet your tour guide on the designated day. From there, stay with your tour group as you take the trip of a lifetime through the Himalayas.
- Your tour group should provide you an itinerary each day. If you’re not sure what’s on the schedule for a particular day, ask your tour guides. Your tour guides will help you stay safe during your travels, so follow their directions and advice, especially during long hikes.
Traveling without a Tour Group
1. Fly or go by train from Beijing to Lhasa to visit Tibet in the north. You may dream of seeing the mountains of Tibet, as well as the Buddhist cultural sites in the area. Start your trip in Beijing, China. From there, you can take a flight or train ride out to Lhasa, Tibet. From Lhasa, you can rent a taxi to travel around the area.
- Keep in mind that Lhasa is at a high altitude, and it may take time for you to adjust to it. Don’t push yourself too hard on hikes or ski trips until you feel comfortable with the altitude.
2. Go to Kathmandu or Pokhara if you want to see Nepal. Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal, and it’s a great branching off point for your visit to the Himalayas. It’s very close to the Everest Region where you can visit Mt. Everest. Pokhara is a city in central Nepal that provides you gorgeous views of the Himalayas and the comforts of a metropolitan city. Book a flight to either of these lovely cities to tour the Himalayas in Nepal.
- While in Nepal, you can visit both Langtang National Park and Mt. Everest. It takes about 2 hours to travel between Kathmandu and Pokhara by car if you want to tour multiple sites in Nepal.
3. Fly to New Delhi to start your trip to the Himalayas in India. The Himalayas stretch across northern India. Since New Delhi, which is the capital of India, is also in the north of the country, it’s a great starting point to tour the mountain area. Book your flight to New Delhi. From there, you can travel to the mountains by car or train.
- If you want to see popular sites like Mt. Everest or Tibet, it’s best to fly to Lhasa, Kathmandu, or Pokhara.
4. Book a flight to the Bhuntar Airport in India if you want to go to Manali. If you want to go to a romantic Himalayan resort town in India, Manali is the place for you. It’s nestled up in the Himalayas and provides beautiful views of snowy mountains. You can travel there all year round, but it’s very popular during winter. If you want to go to Manali, fly into Bhuntar Airport, then take a taxi or train to Manali.
- You might like to go to Manali if you want to taste the culture but don’t necessarily want to do a lot of hiking. From Manali, you can travel to the city of Ladakh, which allows you access to the Indian side of the Tibetan culture.
Meeting Health Recommendations
1. Build up your fitness and endurance by going on practice hikes. If you plan to go on mountain treks or want to ski, your trip to the Himalayas will likely be physically demanding. Train for your adventure by hiking, backpacking, and doing cardio workouts to build your endurance. Workout at least 4-5 times per week to help you get in shape.
- Consult your doctor before you try any new exercises or increase the intensity of your workouts. They can tell you what’s safe for you.
2. Visit your doctor to get recommended vaccines. The CDC recommends being up-to-date on common vaccines before you visit China and other parts of Asia. Call your doctor to schedule your vaccinations before your trip. Here are some vaccines you need to get, according to the CDC:
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis Varicella (chickenpox) Polio Flu shot Hepatitis A Hepatitis B (if you might have sex, get a tattoo, or have a medical procedure) Typhoid Japanese encephalitis (if traveling longer than 1 month) Rabies Yellow fever (ask your doctor) Malaria
3. Get a physical to make sure you’re healthy enough for trekking. In addition to being very physically demanding, treks through the Himalayas are at a high altitude. Check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to participate in activities like hiking or skiing. Agree to any tests they recommend so you don’t risk your health. Trustworthy Source Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health
- Tell your doctor you’re traveling to the Himalayas and what you plan to do.
Attaining Travel Documents and Currency
1. Check that your passport is valid for at least 6 more months. You’ll need a passport to visit any area of the Himalayas. Make sure your passport is current. If your passport is expired or you don’t have one, apply for a passport at least 2 months before you plan to travel so you have time for it to process.
- If you need a passport quickly, you can pay extra to have your application expedited, but this is typically expensive.
2. Apply for a visa to enter Nepal, China, or India 6-12 weeks in advance. You’ll need a visa to enter any of the countries in the Himalayas. To get your visa, fill out the application and send in a Passport photo that’s 33 mm × 48 mm (1.3 in × 1.9 in). Then, provide evidence of your booked flights and hotels. If you’re going to China, such as to visit Tibet, include a letter from your employer that states you’re going to China for tourism only. Finally, visit the Nepalese, Chinese, or Indian consulate in your country to finalize your visa, which might include giving fingerprints.
- If you’re going to Nepal, you’ll need a visa from Nepal. You can start your application here: http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa To go to Tibet or any Chinese province, you’ll need a visa to visit China. Don’t include the word “Tibet” on your visa application, however, as Chinese officials may send back your application. Additionally, don’t include proof of travel plans to Tibet. Visit here to apply for a Chinese visa: https://www.visaforchina.org/ If you want to travel to New Delhi or Manali, get a visa from India. Apply for a visa to India here: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/
3. Exchange your nation’s dollars for rupees, Nepalese rupees, or yuan. You’ll need rupees in India, Nepalese rupees in Nepal, or Yuan in China. Visit your bank or an exchange center to convert your cash before you go. You can also convert cash when you arrive, as well.
- You may be able to pay by credit card and have your funds converted that way. Be aware that your credit card receipts will be in the currency of the country where you’re making the purchase.
4. Observe cultural customs while you’re there. The Himalayas have a rich culture and heritage, so you’ll likely learn a lot on your trip. While you’re enjoying the sites and scenery, make sure you’re being respectful of the people who live there. Here are some things to consider:
- Wear modest dress because many areas are conservative. That means not taking off your shirt or wearing revealing tops. Pass mani walls and stupas clockwise. Remove your shoes before entering a monastery or sacred site. Offer donations of $1 to $5 to each person operating a monastery or sacred site. Don’t cross borders with guidebooks in your bag because they’ll likely be confiscated. Don’t bring up issues regarding Tibet, particularly while in other Chinese provinces.