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active 5 hours ago

Raj Gyawali

I specialize in soft adventure experiences that are custom tailored, and that generally go beyond the surface and immerses into the country resulting in participatory experiential experiences that leave a lasting impression.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"I love the outdoors, and have enjoyed almost everything that Nepal has to offer in terms of soft adventure. I also am very interested in the deep inter cultural learning that travel offers. Combine the two and this is my expertise in this region - Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, India, and now is slowly extending to Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand."

How did you get involved in travel?

"What attracted me to travel as a business was the ramifications it has on development, specially in countries like Nepal, where travel goes deep into the countryside, and puts money into the hands of people who really need it. In 1998, while still working in manufacturing and exports, I participated in designing a tour for British school kids which fundraised to build a school hostel in a village and also participate in the process as part of the travel experience. Thats where I realized how deep travel can reach. The seed for socialtours was born there.

More recently, I went on a mountain biking holiday in Bhutan with my friends who are all enthusiasts as well. Rather than hit the well beaten trail, we use our connections in Bhutan to design a fully custom tailored five day experience, which went from first descents on trails never before biked, to deep immersive local stays in family run lodges, to enjoying a drink with royalty in Thimpu, courtesy of the connections we have in the region. An experience that will last forever in my mind, specially as it was at a time when a holiday was needed the most for all of us."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"I go to different places for my holiday, mostly to expose my daughter to the same sort of experiential experiences that will expand her learning of cultures and inculcate a love for outdoor activities. Plus that is what we love as a family too. We end up mostly going to Thailand and Austria for this now, as we are connected with family in these countries, and you can only take so much holiday, and when we have other time, explore deeper into Nepal and adjoining countries."

Raj is part of the following groups: Bhutan Travel Agents, Nepal Travel Agents
Top itineraries and travel advice
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Recent trip reviews for Raj

Responsible tourism, well-connected and flexible trip. The best "relaxed" way to see Nepal.
Nepal | Feb 7 - Feb 12, 2024

Orielle
Orielle G.
Spain | Reviewed on Feb 13, 2024
Certain things are priceless. Life constantly throws challenges at you, so it is important to have a tour company as flexible and well-connected as social tours. They were able to change plans for us at a moment's notice. When sickness ravaged us, things were moved around seamlessly. We never had to worry a single time about missing anything or enduring the hassle of reorganizing / rescheduling. More importantly, Social Tours has taught us about responsible tourism. Eco-friendliness,... Read more

Certain things are priceless. Life constantly throws challenges at you, so it is important to have a tour company as flexible and well-connected as social tours. They were able to change plans for us at a moment's notice. When sickness ravaged us, things were moved around seamlessly. We never had to worry a single time about missing anything or enduring the hassle of reorganizing / rescheduling. More importantly, Social Tours has taught us about responsible tourism. Eco-friendliness, sustainability, community-driven and their people-first values made them stand out from all other travel agencies we ever worked with.

About the tour itself: the walking tours led by Bippin (e.g. Hinduism and Buddhism) as well as the hike with our trekking guide Parbati will always live in our memories as the highlights of Nepal. I have never seen two philosophies and belief systems living so harmoniously side-by-side. Eating freshly grown food while staying with the mountain locals was also a once in a lifetime experience.

Local specialist: Raj Gyawali
Raj
Raj Gyawali
Local specialist in Kathmandu | Replied on Feb 15, 2024

Dear Orielle & Aleks,

We're incredibly grateful for your prompt review, especially amidst your departure. Your feedback means the world to us. Flexibility is key, and we're thrilled it enabled salvaging your trip, crafting unforgettable experiences. Your encouragement reaffirms our path. Thank you deeply.

Warm regards,

Best tour ever!
Nepal | Jun 16 - Jun 19, 2023

C
Clara R.
Brazil | Reviewed on Jun 21, 2023
I was invited to Nepal for a work event and only had four days to visit Nepal With lots of flexibility, considering my interests and time limits, Raj and his team organized a simply amazing four-day trip for me. From the narrow streets of Patan and the cultural nuances of Kathmandu's Hindu and Buddhist communities to a beautiful hike in Nagarkot and the stunning temples of Bakthapur! Everything was planned to the detail: the tours, the historical and cultural background explanations,... Read more

I was invited to Nepal for a work event and only had four days to visit Nepal

With lots of flexibility, considering my interests and time limits, Raj and his team organized a simply amazing four-day trip for me. From the narrow streets of Patan and the cultural nuances of Kathmandu's Hindu and Buddhist communities to a beautiful hike in Nagarkot and the stunning temples of Bakthapur!

Everything was planned to the detail: the tours, the historical and cultural background explanations, the food and the local delights to enjoy. The drivers were extremely professional and, my guide, Bipin, was not only an incredible professional as well, but also one of the nicest and most attentive persons I've ever met!

Cannot highly enough recommend Social Tours! The vision behind the company is also a plus, for they promote local sustainable development and care about all the people they work with. I can´t wait to come again to Nepal to plan a week-long hike with them!!

Local specialist: Raj Gyawali
Raj
Raj Gyawali
Local specialist in Kathmandu | Replied on Jun 21, 2023

Clara,

Thanks for taking the time to put together this review. It gives us great pleasure to see that we fulfilled exactly what we set out to do - provide lifetime experiences in Nepal through custom tailored trips. Every time we get a review, it validates that we are in the right direction, and its heartening to know that travellers appreciate it.

We cannot wait to have you back and design another experience in Nepal for you!

Fantastic Nepal!
Nepal | Apr 8 - Apr 25, 2023

J
Jennifer F.
Brookfield, IL | Reviewed on May 01, 2023
I had such an amazing experience. It was truly all, if not more, than what I wished for. Raj and his team are so incredible at getting people to love and understand the Nepalese culture. Rabin was an excellent guide out to the Everest Basecamp region of the Himalayas. We had an amazing experience. Read more

I had such an amazing experience. It was truly all, if not more, than what I wished for. Raj and his team are so incredible at getting people to love and understand the Nepalese culture. Rabin was an excellent guide out to the Everest Basecamp region of the Himalayas. We had an amazing experience.

Hotel Reviews
Local teahouse / Lodge

Mingma and his staff create such a warm and inviting experience for people! I strongly recommend the Panorama.

Authenticity & Character
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Staff
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Hotel Everest View

A very Himalayan experience. This village and teahouse were so authentic and welcoming.

Authenticity & Character
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Staff
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Khumbu Rivendell Lodge

This tea house was more hostel like than tea house. I was hoping for more of the tea house feel.

Authenticity & Character
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Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
The bathrooms were ok.
Local teahouse / Lodge

Such a great experience. The tea house was welcoming and warm and clean. The main dining area was both beautiful and friendly.

Authenticity & Character
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Staff
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Hotel Manaslu
Kathmandu
Authenticity & Character
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Local teahouse / Lodge
Authenticity & Character
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Local specialist: Raj Gyawali
Raj
Raj Gyawali
Local specialist in Kathmandu | Replied on May 01, 2023

Jennifer,

Hope you are back now and well rested. So happy to hear that your trip was what you wished for. Thanks also for the very thoughtful detailed feedback that we have got from you. I cannot wait to work on future adventures together!

Raj and Bipin organized an 11 day trek to Lan...
Nepal | Oct 30 - Nov 12, 2022

T
Tim C.
Belmont, CA | Reviewed on Nov 23, 2022
Raj and Bipin organized an 11 day trek to Langtang and Gosaikunda for me. Raj was responsive and patient as he worked with my preferences and scheduling constraints and made sure that I was prepared for the trip before I left home. Once I arrived in Kathmandu, Bipin briefed me before the trip as well as debriefed me afterwards. I appreciated their professionalism, responsiveness, and friendliness throughout. Thanks to them, the trek itself was exactly what I wanted: long days of hiking... Read more

Raj and Bipin organized an 11 day trek to Langtang and Gosaikunda for me. Raj was responsive and patient as he worked with my preferences and scheduling constraints and made sure that I was prepared for the trip before I left home. Once I arrived in Kathmandu, Bipin briefed me before the trip as well as debriefed me afterwards. I appreciated their professionalism, responsiveness, and friendliness throughout. Thanks to them, the trek itself was exactly what I wanted: long days of hiking through alpine terrain with enough moments to appreciate the surroundings.

Hotel Review
Hotel Holy Himalaya
Kathmandu
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
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Activity Review
Free day | Kyanjin Ri Hike
Free day | Kyanjin Ri Hike
Kyangjin Gompa
Local specialist: Raj Gyawali
Raj
Raj Gyawali
Local specialist in Kathmandu | Replied on Nov 23, 2022

Tim,

Thanks a ton for the wonderful review. We are so glad the trip was what you wanted and am glad we took the time to land on this particular trek - it was worth the work.

Raj

Bhutan & Nepal in 15 days
Nepal | Oct 23 - Nov 6, 2022

L
Linda S.
Darien, CT | Reviewed on Nov 10, 2022
Many thanks to KimKim for Raj of Social Tours (Nepal) & Sherab of Bhutan Travel Club & their addressing all of the details of this glorious trip. Leki Tshering, guide (for hiking as well) in Bhutan, was exceptional, full of life, an educator & ambassador. I was immersed in nature, social & religious learning. Our driver, Kim, was always helpful & courteous. In Nepal I hiked from village to village, (all steps) through beautiful farmlands & traveled through different parts of the country,... Read more

Many thanks to KimKim for Raj of Social Tours (Nepal) & Sherab of Bhutan Travel Club & their addressing all of the details of this glorious trip. Leki Tshering, guide (for hiking as well) in Bhutan, was exceptional, full of life, an educator & ambassador. I was immersed in nature, social & religious learning. Our driver, Kim, was always helpful & courteous. In Nepal I hiked from village to village, (all steps) through beautiful farmlands & traveled through different parts of the country, lodging in locally owned home stays, a pleasant experience. Some of the properties for lodging were an oasis…just what is needed after an arduous few days of trekking. & then there was a hiccup in Bhutan which Sherab tended to with care and immediacy. His dedication to providing an over the top travel experience is greatly appreciated. I am so thankful for such a lovely experience.

Local specialist: Raj Gyawali
Raj
Raj Gyawali
Local specialist in Kathmandu | Replied on Nov 10, 2022

Linda, it was a pleasure to design your trip and execute it too. Had some nervous moments, but you are such a wonderful traveler - you provide feedback early, and show appreciation when issues get resolved. This is much much appreciated.

Am sure to transfer the wonderful feedback to Sherab. He is a gem!

Nepal trip (11 days)
Nepal | Oct 10 - Oct 21, 2022

V
Vinitha S.
Austin, TX | Reviewed on Oct 29, 2022
Raj planned a 11 day trip to Nepal for us. During the planning stages he provided quick and very detailed responses to our questions and also made himself available for a couple of video chats. He has a great team of local guides. Our trekking guide Rabin was exceptional. After we landed in Nepal the itinerary had to be modified a bit but Raj and team took care of it and everything went well without a hitch. His team was very easy to reach during the trip - we always got a response in a... Read more

Raj planned a 11 day trip to Nepal for us. During the planning stages he provided quick and very detailed responses to our questions and also made himself available for a couple of video chats. He has a great team of local guides. Our trekking guide Rabin was exceptional. After we landed in Nepal the itinerary had to be modified a bit but Raj and team took care of it and everything went well without a hitch. His team was very easy to reach during the trip - we always got a response in a timely manner.

Looking forward to a return visit!!!

Hotel Reviews
Hotel Ambassador
Kathmandu

Well located, great people, great restaurant

Authenticity & Character
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Staff
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Temple Tree Resort & Spa
Pokhara
Authenticity & Character
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Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Buddha Maya Garden
Lumbini
Authenticity & Character
Lovely facility - like a huge old bungalow. Could use a bit of updating but definitely recommend.
Location
Staff
Very helpful staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Activity Reviews
Sunset Walk at Soyambhu
Sunset Walk at Soyambhu
Kathmandu

Could have used more time here - did not last 3 hours.

Transport
Kathmandu Heritage Tour
Kathmandu Heritage Tour
Kathmandu

The tour was done in about 4 hours, even after we added Patan Durbar square which presumably was not in the plan. Felt rushed. So many things to take in. Could have definitely used more time.

Traditional Welcome Dinner
Traditional Welcome Dinner
Kathmandu

Lovely dinner in a lovely place. Enjoyed chatting with Bipin and Rabin.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Drive to Trailhead & Trek to Ghandruk
Drive to Trailhead & Trek to Ghandruk
Pokhara

We changed our trek. But the whole experience was just amazing. Can’t say enough about Rabin - super nice guy and extremely knowledgeable.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Raj Gyawali
Raj
Raj Gyawali
Local specialist in Kathmandu | Replied on Oct 30, 2022

Vinitha, it was an absolute pleasure to design this trip for you, and go through the process - chatting withing KimKim - getting into a whatsapp video chat to learn about interests deeper, and then design the trip and eventually execute it. As you said, some changes were required last minute, but was not something unmanageable..

Rabin is an exceptional guide, and we totally recognise it - no wonder he has been with us for the longest time. we are sure to transfer this feedback to him.

Namaste

Nepal - dreams can come true.
Nepal | Apr 4 - Apr 19, 2022

R
rhona s.
United Kingdom | Reviewed on May 20, 2022
Every aspect of our trip was fantastically good - it was a trip I had been dreaming about for many, many years and it surpassed every expectation. Delayed by Covid, Raj and his team were endlessly patient in planning and re-planning our trip, and I felt at every point he really listened to and understood what I wanted - and delivered it. Every activity - trekking, rafting, sightseeing and more - were well-organised and truly memorable. Every transfer (there were many!)worked seamlessly. Big... Read more

Every aspect of our trip was fantastically good - it was a trip I had been dreaming about for many, many years and it surpassed every expectation. Delayed by Covid, Raj and his team were endlessly patient in planning and re-planning our trip, and I felt at every point he really listened to and understood what I wanted - and delivered it. Every activity - trekking, rafting, sightseeing and more - were well-organised and truly memorable. Every transfer (there were many!)worked seamlessly. Big shout-out to the legend that is Kumar, who guided us on our Mustang trek and who was generous in sharing his huge knowledge and expertise, meticulous in looking after us and with a great sense of humour too. If he is available, book him. Another big shout out to Bipin who took such great care of us in Nepal and made sure we always had what we needed and was again endlessly generous in sharing his knowledge with us. If you are thinking about traveling to Nepal, you would be in no better hands than this team - just go! We are already thinking about our next trip - as a destination, its highly addictive.

Hotel Review
Namobuddha Resort
Dhulikhel

Gorgeous location, peaceful and green. Food is delicious and accommodation is super comfortable.

Tips for future travelers

See above.

Authenticity & Character
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Staff
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Local specialist: Raj Gyawali
Raj
Raj Gyawali
Local specialist in Kathmandu | Replied on May 26, 2022

Rhona, I am so happy it did finally happen. We had all waited so long for the trip to finally take place. Thanks for being so adjustable and so patient.

I will definitely transfer this wonderful review to my team and to Namaboudha Resort, and nothing would have happened without them and their excellent attention to detail and service.

I am so sorry I did not get to meet you personally. I would have loved that!

Until next time.

Yogesh has been very good and helpful, he mad...
Nepal | Jan 24 - Jan 31, 2020

Z
Zhen L.
Hong Kong SAR China | Reviewed on Feb 04, 2020

Yogesh has been very good and helpful, he made my whole trip. Everything went exactly as in the itinerary, except for a minor mistake on Temple Tree Hotel check out and pick up time. The hotel staff told me the wrong time which was one and half hour earlier than the arranged. The last day photograph tour was the best, far beyond my exception. The guide was a super kind and knowledgeable gentleman. He was the best during this trip.

Overall, great experience. I will surely consider Social Tour next time in Nepal.

Local specialist: Raj Gyawali
Raj
Raj Gyawali
Local specialist in Kathmandu | Replied on Feb 04, 2020

Zhen, thanks for the wonderful review and apologies for the miscommunication in the hotel in Pokhara. They constantly change staff and sometimes communication between the teams is not always perfect.

I will definitely let Yogesh know how good you felt under his care. He has recently joined the company and is already a great asset in preparing all the logistics for the trip.

Thanks for taking the time, and thanks for the review. See you soon again in Nepal!

I had a great time and appreciate the profess...
Nepal | Nov 17 - Nov 23, 2019

L
Lou V.
Hollywood, FL | Reviewed on Nov 25, 2019

I had a great time and appreciate the professionalism and flexibility with my trip schedule.
Everybody from Social Tours did a great job.
I will highly recommend Social Tour for anybody looking to do trekking in Nepal.

Local specialist: Raj Gyawali
Raj
Raj Gyawali
Local specialist in Kathmandu | Replied on Dec 09, 2019

Lou, many thanks for this wonderful review. It was a short trip and I am glad it worked out well - Hope to see you in Nepal once again!

What a fabulous introduction to Kathmandu
Nepal | Nov 5 - Nov 8, 2019

F
Flaminia R.
New York, NY | Reviewed on Nov 12, 2019
What a fabulous introduction to Kathmandu ! Raj of Socialtours arranged for us the perfect exploration of the city and its surrounding areas. He understood that we were looking for contacts with the locals and this is exact what we did in the few days ( too few) we spent in Kathmandu. From the Aarthi ( sitting in the midst of the Nepali faithful) at Pashupatinath to the exploration of the local markets , and the walk in the Newari villages of Bungamati and Khokana we really felt the... Read more

What a fabulous introduction to Kathmandu ! Raj of Socialtours arranged for us the perfect exploration of the city and its surrounding areas. He understood that we were looking for contacts with the locals and this is exact what we did in the few days ( too few) we spent in Kathmandu. From the Aarthi ( sitting in the midst of the Nepali faithful) at Pashupatinath to the exploration of the local markets , and the walk in the Newari villages of Bungamati and Khokana we really felt the connection with the locals . We especially enjoyed the dawn walk of Bhaktapur ( not to be missed !) . In all of our travels , we never had a similar experience : we tasted street food breakfast , witnessed the morning prayers and offerings in the street and in the temples and got the major sightseeing spots all to ourselves. I especially want to commend Raj , Sarita and Bikram our extraordinary guides , not only did they explained to us what was happening but we also shared many laughs and had a lot of fun with them . Bikram in particular knows everyone in Bungamati and Bhaktapur and was able to introduce us to a lot of the locals. Naturally our experience would not have been the same without the kindness and the warm welcome we received from the Nepali people . We will be back !

Local specialist: Raj Gyawali
Raj
Raj Gyawali
Local specialist in Kathmandu | Replied on Nov 13, 2019

Flaminia, so happy to hear that the trip went well, and you loved our specials - we are also very fond of these trips, and think they are amazing experiences well worth offering. Am sure to transfer this feedback also to Bikram and Sarita and let them know how much you enjoyed their services.

Look forward to seeing you in Nepal again!