Buddhism in Nepal is the second-largest religion and is home to major Buddhist monuments and monasteries. Every year, travelers visit the Buddha Stupa Boudhanath and the Swyambhu Maha Chaitya Swayambhunath stupas, famous architectural sites found only in Nepal.
Nepal has many spectacular Buddhist monasteries. Hundreds of monks are trained from a young age and raised inside their peaceful walls, where they mostly use the Tibetan language in their studies, having limited chances to learn English. These monasteries are welcoming places following Buddhist philosophy and are open to international visitors. A week here is the perfect volunteer vacation for those interested in an immersive cultural experience centered on spirituality and learning.
Your project location is in Pharping town, 23km outside of the capital city of Kathmandu. Infrastructure and roads are still in development and the altitude is high, which may cause motion sickness for some of our volunteers. However, once you've reached it, you'll experience majestic views, popular hiking trails, and serene monasteries.
Volunteers land in Kathmandu on Sunday and spend one night at a city hotel. Monday morning, you are taken to the monastery to begin your volunteer vacation week. If you have chosen to stay at the monastery, this will also be when you are placed in your rooms.
You will have two coordinators throughout your volunteer vacation week. Your main point of contact will be your Globe Aware coordinator, with which you must have WhatsApp to communicate with them. Your second coordinator is a designated monk at the monastery who will help you settle in. However, they will not be aware of your Globe Aware schedule, and will not be assisting in the classrooms. Please understand that the monks have their own duties to perform. If you have questions, want more volunteer work, etc., always contact your Globe Aware coordinator first.
You will spend the week at the monastery doing cultural activities and exploring your surroundings. Your volunteer teaching time will ideally be around 4-5 hours daily, however, the volunteer work is largely independent, so you will have to be proactive with lesson planning and teaching. We recommend you prepare some arts & crafts, lesson plans, and games ahead of time. Bring sports equipment if you can, and play soccer with the children.
This is a unique volunteering experience in which you will be mostly in charge of the classroom and what the children learn. The children are usually around 7 to 14 years old and are excited and eager to learn! Occasionally there may be a small renovation and or cleaning projects at the monastery.
You may feel like you aren't making a dramatic difference in their lives, but providing interactions, global perspectives, and building new friendships make a world of difference for these developing young minds. There's a reason these monasteries welcome international volunteers to come and stay with them. You will also be learning Buddhist philosophy, practices, and traditions, and joining in on celebrations!
Please understand that it is a true privilege for the monasteries to host volunteers, so we take all rules very seriously and ask that our volunteers do the same, for the safety of the children who call the monastery their home.
Important Note: We highly recommend the monastery stay, as it is such a unique experience. If you choose the hotel stay, please note that it will be an additional 20-40 minutes drive back and forth from the project site daily.
FOOD AND LODGING
All meals are included.
Nepali cuisine is heavily influenced by India, China, and Tibet, adding an authentic culinary twist. Expect meals of rice, flatbreads, and side dishes. Beef is generally not eaten or requested.
If you are staying at the monastery, your meals will be simple, such as flatbread and tea in the morning for breakfast. Volunteers staying at the hotel will have a Nepali lunch at the monastery.
Please pack any snacks, condiments, and beverages you will miss during your stay. No alcohol is allowed on monastery grounds. It is also advised to not pack or consume any meat products on monastery grounds.
Our Mystic Nepal program offers you the chance to live at the monastery during your week!
There are usually four rooms at each monastery, two rooms with two single beds and two rooms with three single beds. Toilets are available in the common area, but we can not guarantee they are Western styles. Internet facilities are available, although the signal may be weak. For hot water, electric kettles are available to heat bathing water in the wintertime ( which starts in October and ends in February). Heaters are also available upon request.
Important: It can feel very cold for our volunteers during the winter season. Monasteries can provide one or two very basic heaters, which may not be enough. Please pack warm jackets, comfortable walking/hiking shoes, thermal wear, thick socks, gloves, and hats. For the summer, please pack comfortable clothing, and jackets for evenings that may get chilly.
It's also important to note there is usually a strict evening curfew at the monasteries, which volunteers have to follow. You may see there are classes such as yoga being held by the monks as early as 5 am, we ask that you respect the monastery if you are not allowed to join in. Your Globe Aware coordinator can arrange a yoga session for you if an instructor is available. There are also meditation and chanting sessions held by the monks, which volunteers have been invited to join.
*It is important to note, that if you choose the monastery stay, the expectation is that you will stay the entire week. Some mornings may require you to wake up as early as 5 am to help the children prepare for the day, and rooms are extremely basic. If you wish to be totally immersed in the Buddhist way of life, then this option is right for you! Please respect the rules of the monastery, Globe Aware and your coordinator can not change any rules or regulations the monastery may have in place.
The monasteries do not allow opposite genders to reside or teach on their grounds. However, some boys' monasteries allow women. Groups with mixed company may be separated and teach at different monasteries, although we will work with the monastery to try and have all volunteers together. A group is limited to 10 volunteers.
In addition, your Globe Aware coordinator can not always enter the grounds with you. So you will be left alone to explore your surroundings.
Any personal excursions will be at an out-of-pocket cost.
Your hotel in Kathmandu will be a 3-star or equivalent hotel. Two people can share a room; however, you can book a private room for an additional price of $279. Please inform us ahead, so that we can book the private room for you. Rooms will have running water and western toilets. If you choose a hotel, there is no curfew after you have completed your day volunteering and exploring. Do not be alarmed by the occasional power blackout and spotty hotel wi-fi.
A taxi will be arranged for your daily transportation to the project site, however, this will take away 20-40 minutes of your time back and forth from the site. Requesting a taxi for anything else will be an out-of-pocket cost.
You can purchase a sim card upon arrival in Nepal, with the help of the coordinator, which is highly recommended. Transportation will be provided to and from your project site. Please download WhatsApp in order to communicate with your Globe Aware coordinator.
Your week will also include:
- Nepali language workshop.
- Nepali dress workshop.
- Yoga workshop if requested.
- You can join the monks for early meditation and chanting ( usually as early as 5 am) if you are at the monastery.
- Kathmandu sightseeing of famous Buddhist monuments.
- Free time to shop in Thamel market, in the heart of Kathmandu.
If you would like to see some additional monuments or sites in or around Kathmandu, please contact us ahead of time, so we can plan with our coordinators for an additional out-of-pocket cost. Please be understanding of any potential weather and time constraints.
If you plan on any hiking excursions, please speak to your Globe Aware coordinator first so they can check on the conditions of the trail and its accessibility.
Please understand we schedule any leisure activities in accordance to the monastery's guidelines. Activities are scheduled on certain days and times for a reason.
Due to the rising cost of transportation in Nepal, any additional requests for taxis are a personal out-of-pocket cost.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
You will be landing and departing from Tribhuvan International airport in Kathmandu. Upon arrival, you will meet your Globe Aware coordinator and be dropped off at your accommodations, where you can catch up on some rest. If you have chosen the monastery stay, you will be transported to the monastery the following day. Your Globe Aware coordinator will assist with dropping you off for departure at the end of the volunteer vacation week.
You will need to apply for a visa to gain entry into Nepal.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Nepal has a low crime rate; however, you should take sensible precautions. Watch out for pick-pocket purse-snatchers, particularly in airports, buses, and areas popular with foreign nationals. You should take care when walking around at night, especially if you choose to remain in the city.
The monastery usually has a curfew and is in a more remote setting.
There have been reports of smugglers trying to entice travelers to assist in smuggling items. Under no circumstances accept - smuggling is a criminal act.
Do not buy any illegal substances, the penalty in Nepal is severe. Exercise general caution and feel free to ask your Globe Aware coordinator for assistance or clarification of a given situation.