We noticed a great improvement in place at the point of entry at the Kathmandu airport. As you first climb down from the plane and line up in the immigration queue you are required to pay a fee of US $30 (yes, they take dollars there) for a tourist visa of 60 days. However, you need to provide a few of your own passport-sized photos, and in the past there was no way to get new photos if you forgot to bring them with you on the plane. The immigration checkpoint had no photo booth and you were not allowed to move on. You couldn’t have anyone pack up your face to go into the city for a new photo. I was relieved to find that there is an automated photo booth available there now. I’m glad that the Nepalese government have embraced the philosophy in this case that tourists are not perfect. Interestingly, the immigration point at the Bangkok airport has a webcam at each desk and they just snap a picture of you on the spot and they don’t charge a fee for their visa.
Compared to Thailand it seems that Nepal is pretty greedy with tourists. At Tribhuvan International Airport you get hit with the visa fee, if you go hiking you have to pay to enter the national parks (about US $13 each), you probably will have to pay a hiking fee (in the tens of thousands of US dollars in some cases), then there’s the airport departure tax of about US $15. Thailand, on the other hand, has just one fee of about US $12 on the way out, but you don’t feel like they’re hitting you at every turn. How can I possibly complain though, since the fee to enter even the most remote of the National Parks in the US is about US $20 and lunch costs a lot more than most places in the world.