If you are planning a trip to Chitwan National Park, here’s some stuff to know to equip you for your journey!
Quick notes: There are currently no accommodations within the zone of the park where you have to pay the permit. Too many people getting eaten by tigers…just kidding, but there was considerable enough danger that they closed inner park lodges. The town where you will stay is called Sauraha which is across the river from the main park. It is essentially for tourists only. Enjoy watching the red sun descend past the horizon over the river at sunset!
Activities: Either than shopping in Sauraha for trinkets, snapping pictures of elephants walking down main street, watching the sunset, or taking an ox cart or pony cart ride for transport, we give the Top 9 Best Things to Do in Chitwan in the video below! While there are other things to do in Chitwan, such as bird watching, we pretty much cover what you will need to know.
Transportation: Tourist buses from Pokhara or Kathmandu to get to Sauraha to visit Chitwan National Park will be your best option (5ish hours from each), as it can take you directly there. If you are in a hotel in Pokhara or Kathmandu before coming to Chitwan, the staff at the hotel can help arrange that for you. The local buses are significantly cheaper, but for either routes it will usually involve three buses, one to Narayangadh/Bharatpur, then one to Tandi Bazaar, and another one down into Sauraha. Within Sauraha there are ox carts and pony carts for negotiable prices. But most places you can walk to, the farthest point being the Elephant Breeding Centre, which is nearly a 4 kilometer walk, but it gets you out of the tourist zone.
Hotels: They have all kinds of levels of hotels, from budget to luxury hotels in Sauraha.
We would suggest the Evergreen Ecolodge for the best hotel experience (see the video).
For tour packages and for the most popular guides and elephants, Hotel Parkside is the place to go. Gopal is a man well-known for his pleasant disposition and guiding skills. One of the oldest elephants in the area has been a resident of Hotel Parkside for a long time, with trainers who show more care than others.
A note on elephants in Chitwan: some trainers can be very cruel to their elephants. Unfortunately, knowing which ones are cruel and which ones aren’t can prove difficult. But in general, those who wish to inflict more pain on their elephant carry a metal tool with a spear and a hook on the end. Avoid them, apting for ones who don’t carry any sticks or just use a bamboo reed for guidance and discipline.
Food: You would find this on Trip Advisor, but we will confirm it for you: KC’s Restaurant has consistently good food and a nice atmosphere. It is our top choice. Unfortunately, generally Sauraha isn’t known for it’s great cuisine. The restaurants in Pokhara and Kathmandu are noticeably better. There isn’t really many legit local joints you can get real experience from, so make sure you try local Nepali food restaurants elsewhere on your travels.
If you are planning a trip to Nepal, you will enjoy Chitwan very much. Bardia National Park is another option, which is less touristy, but it is in the far west and further away.