Travel to Nepal

The country of Nepal, officially a Republic, is a country locked in by Tibet in the north and India to the south, east and west.

Geographically it is mainly constituted of the mighty Himalayan range and to a lesser extent the Indo-Gangetic plain.

Nepal lays claim to containing ten of the world’s highest peaks, Mount Everest being the highest point on Earth. Naturally, Nepal is a mountaineering paradise.

Tourism contributes to the country’s economic growth. Despite Nepal’s global image as a holiday spot for trekkers and climbers, there is more to the country than backpacks and peaks.

Kathmandu, the nation’s capital has a wealth of ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples. Some of the places you must visit in Kathmandu include Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhanath Stupa and Swayambhunath Stupa.

If trekking is not your thing, then you might consider a panoramic mountain flight over Mount Everest as an alternative to climbing in the infamous ‘Death Zone’. The often rocky and hilly terrain of Nepal lends itself as an exciting spot to venture into a variety of adventure sports. Rafting on the Bhote Koshi River, mountain biking in and around the country (Annapurna Circuit by mountain bike, Kathmandu to Nargakot etc), canyoning, bungee jumping, kayaking and paragliding are wonderful options.

Whatever you decide to do, a visit to Nepal, should provide you with a memorable trip, allowing you to take in spectacular mountain views and scenery, jungle wildlife viewing, witnessing ancient temples and much more.

Your only problem will be trying to fit in everything into the length of your trip window.

Travel tips for Nepal

Visa Requirements for Nepal

Tourist visas are available on arrival for citizens of most countries (with the exception of Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iraq etc) so please do check the visa requirements for your particular country prior to arrival.

The cost of a visa can be paid in USD with the cost rising with visas for extended periods (150 days the maximum extension time in each 1 year period). All visas are multiple entry types. Citizens of India do not currently need a visa to enter Nepal.

Visit the official website of Nepal immigration to gain an accurate idea of visa requirements and if you can acquire your Nepal visa online.

Important Cultural Information

The Nepalese take great care to show respect to elders.

When greeting a Nepalese person it is customary to bring the palms of both hands together with the fingers pointing upwards, with a ‘Namaste’.

The feet and the left hand is considered unclean. Use the right hand when passing money or objects to a Nepalese person and eat with only the right hand. Avoid pointing feet at people or religious monuments.

Remove shoes when stepping into a Nepalese home.

Walk around temples and stupas in a clockwise direction.

The word for ‘thank you’ is ‘dhanyabad’.

Culture in Nepal

Facts about Nepal

Surprising Cultural Facts About Nepal

A small country squeezed between the Indian and Chinese borders. There are many interesting cultural facts about Nepal, a multi-ethnic society.

Banking & Money

The currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR). 100 paisa make one rupee. The currency in Nepal is controlled by the Nepal Rastra Bank. The most frequently used banknotes are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 NPR. The 1 and 2 NPR coins are also frequently used in circulation. 1.6 NPR is approximately equivalent to INR. However, notes over 100 INR are not accepted in Nepal.

Certain banks in Pokhara and Kathmandu have ATMs where money can be retrieved using debit and credit cards. It’s best to avoid having too much unused currency at the end of a trip and certainly hold on to ATM receipts at the airport before you leave – as they are required for the conversion back from NPR to local currency.

The major banks of Nepal include Nepal Bank, Prabhu Bank, Everest Bank, Nepal Bangladesh Bank, Himalayan Bank and more.

Medical Emergency Information

Here is a list of numbers to keep handy in case of emergencies in Nepal.

Police (Emergency) – 100
Fire Brigade – 101
Ambulance – 102
Inquiry – 197

The best medical facilities in Nepal are to be had in Kathmandu. Make sure you have medical evacuation insurance if in need of rescue during trekking and other outdoor activities.

During mountain climbing there are a few points to keep in mind. Leave ample time for acclimatization otherwise Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) may ensue, which in some cases might be fatal. Symptoms of AMS include dizziness, headaches, nausea and breathlessness.

Don’t consume untreated tap water on trips. Chlorine tablets are easy ways to purify water during treks.

The names of a few medical facilities in Kathmandu are Nepal International Clinic and CIWEC Clinic.

Make sure to get good travel insurance before you head to Nepal. WorldNomads offer a specific travel insurance plan for hiking and trekking – check out the details here.

Wi-Fi and Internet in Nepal

The two major mobile phone operators in Nepal are the privately owned Ncell and NTC (Nepali Telecom Company)- a government owned company.

It is possible to acquire SIM cards for as little as a few hundred NPR. All you need is a passport with visa stamp, a passport photo and a filled out form. You can buy two types of SIM- a data only SIM (with cheaper data rates) and a SIM with data and ability to make and receive phone calls.

Coverage of the 3G SIM has been extended to the extent that 3G coverage is available at Everest Base Camp.

If you are able to pick up in Bangkok first, consider getting an AIS SIM that will work in Nepal.

Remember to use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi hotspots – we recommend ExpressVPN.

Arrival in Nepal

There are quite a few entry points into Nepal for tourists.

One major air route is through Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. This airport is the hub for Nepal Airlines that runs flights from major Indian cities, Bangkok, Doha, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Dubai. Other airlines flying to Nepal from destinations in Asia include Air China, Air India, Etihad, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar AIrways, Thai AIrways and Silk Air, among others.

Check Expedia for available flights to Nepal.

It is relatively easy to cross the India-Nepal border at Banbasa-Mahendra Nagar via motorcycle. A border toll is required along with a transport permit.

If entering by bus, there are 5 border crossings open to tourists. They include the Banbasa-Mahendranagar border (closest to Delhi), the Sunauli-Bhairawa border (closest to Varanasi), the Raxaul-Birganj crossing (nearest to Patna), the Siliguri-Kakarbhitta crossing (close to Darjeeling) and the Bahraich-Nepalganj border (closest to Lucknow).

These points of entry will allow you to visit many beautiful places of Nepal on your Nepal sightseeing trip.

Areas in Nepal

Based on elevation, places in Nepal may be divided in to the following zones from north to south. These region are considered the foremost Nepal tourist spots:

The Himalayas

This region, better known by the glorious term of the ’Rooftop of the World’ contains some of the highest mountains known to man. Worthy of mention is the highest peak on Earth, Mount Everest at 8848 m above sea level, Annapurna, Langtang National Park and The Great Himalaya Trail. For those who love traveling on two wheels, consider a motorcycle tour of the Himalayas.

Kathmandu Valley

The valley is home to the nation’s capital, Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. The area is well known for many monuments and temples.

Middle Hills

This region is separated from the Tarai by the Lesser Himalayas. The hills in this region range from only 700 to 4000 m in altitude. It includes the beautiful Pokhara valley.

Western Tarai and Eastern Tarai

This constitutes the southernmost region of Nepal- the western and eastern tarai. The eastern tarai is close to the Royal Chitwan National Park.

Transportation in Nepal

Using domestic flights is a good way to get about Nepal. Places connected by air to Kathmandu include Pokhara, Lukla, Nepalganj, Bharatpur, Biratnagar, Janakpur, Simikot etc. Airlines include Buddha Air, Cosmic Air and Yeti Air.

Greenline is a reliable tourist bus company and plies between Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan and Lumbini. There are a number of transportation options over the land, depending on the distance traveled and the location (urban vs rural).

Local buses are known to run in towns. They may very often be crowded, slow and might carry domestic animals as passengers as well.

Taxis are of two kinds. The first type will run from the airport to your hotel. Insist on using the meter and pay a 10% tip. Another type of taxi will not run until filled up.

Old fashioned trams run between Kathmandu and Bhaktapur.

Rickshaws are great ways to navigate shorter distance. Have an idea of how much the fare should be and negotiate the price before starting the journey.

10-13 passenger micro buses or Toyota vans are also good ways of getting around. These are usually found in the city.

Accommodations in Nepal

Accommodations might be the cheapest part of a Nepal holiday budget if you choose to go down the economical route. Types of accommodations range from the basic budget style hotels and guesthouses, to four star and luxury hotels.

Budget accommodations range from 250 to 750 NPR per night for a double room. They might not include towels, bed linen, towels etc and it a good idea to haggle with prices. 1500 NPR should buy you a double room in a mid range (three star equivalent) hotel. Facilities should include air conditioning, attached bathrooms, Internet access and satellite TV.

Luxury hotels with a swimming pool, room service, sumptuous breakfast buffets should come along with four star accommodations and might cost anything upward of 5000 NPR. Dwarika’s Heritage Boutique Hotel in Kathmandu and the Pavilions Himalayas in Pokhara are some luxury hotels to look out for. You’ll also find the usual luxury chains in some locations like the Hyatt Regency in Kathmandu.

Food & Dining Guide for Nepal

The staple grain of the Nepalese is rice and this is incorporated frequently in to the everyday meal.

Daal-bhaat-tarkari is usually consumed twice daily and consists of rice, lentils and seasonal vegetable curry. Vegetables widely used are green beans, cauliflower, mustard greens, cabbage, squash etc. Goat meat and chicken dishes are occasionally consumed along with freshwater fish. Hand-made chapattis (whole wheat tortillas) can also accompany a meal. Yoghurt and spicy pickle are popular condiments to liven up the meal.

Snacks that are eaten include samosas, vegetable fritters called pakora and sweets. Momos (like Chinese potstickers) are a snack, which though Tibetan in origin, are popular to eat in Nepal.

Different Nepalese ethnic groups have variations in diet. These include those of the Newars and the Sherpa among others. The Sherpa rely on potatoes and the potato pancake is a delicious local dish.

Stick to bottled water and tea when in Nepal, as untreated tap water is not safe for consumption.

Nepal’s Attractions

One of the main reasons tourists travel to Nepal is for the trekking although there are a number of other activities and places to visit in Nepal.

There are a number of popular routes for trekking in Nepal. They include Annapurna Base Camp Treks, Langtang Valley Treks, Helambu Trek, Upper Mustang Trek and of course Everest Region Treks in the larger realm of Himalaya Trekking Routes.

The best way to access the Everest region is to take a bus to Jiri or fly in to Lukla. You have to then hike to Namche Bazaar, which lies at the foot of Everest. Trek time can vary from less than a week to much longer. Lukla to the Everest Base Camp Trek (EBC) is a wonderful way to take in the scenery, meet the Sherpa people and ascend Kala Patthar- providing the most accessible view of Mount Everest.

The Gokyo Lake trek is another popular trek in this region. The Poon Hill Trek is a wonderful place to go hiking in Nepal.

The Annapurna Treks affords hikes through lush middle height hills found north of Pokhara. The Annapurna Circuit is 2-3 weeks long.

Aside from trekking, Kathmandu is Nepal’s crazy, crowded capital filled with incredible temples. You can indulge in a jungle safari in Chitwan National Park, visit the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini, thrill yourself with a number of adventure sports like white water rafting, an Everest skydive, canyoning down gorges and lots more.

There is certainly more to Nepal than just trekking.

Things to do & see in Nepal

Reasons to do the Langtang Valley trek, Nepal

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Shopping in Nepal

Shopping in Nepal can be a paradise for shopaholics, given the inexpensive nature and the beauty of some of the handcrafted items.

Perhaps top on everyone’s list are the beautiful Thangka paintings. Thangka paintings contain Hindu and Buddhist religious symbols. These paintings are usually embroidered and use silk.

Rice paper handcrafted items are also popular Nepalese souvenirs. Diaries, journals, calendars, lampshades and other paper items are made from such paper.

Silver jewellery inlaid with a variety of semi-precious stones make nice gifts as well. Turquoise is a popular inlaid stone. Asan Market in Kathmandu and Baidam lakeside in Pokhara are popular locations for buying jewellery.

Singing bowls made from metal produce a soothing vibration and can make good gifts as well. They are often engraved and made of brass.

Nightlife

The best nightlife to be had in Nepal is in Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Kathmandu Durbar Square is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is also vibrant and lit up at night. The temples and building surrounding the square glow up and there are a few cafes and restaurants to try out as well. Shisha Cafe and Clay Pit are two places to try out. Durbar Square is to be found in Basantapur in Kathmandu.

In Kathmandu in particular, there are a few rock bars, trendy lounges and nightclubs to try out. The Thamel area of Kathmandu has a number of swanky bars, discos and pubs.

Safety Tips for Nepal

Nepal has a low rate of crime and the Nepalese people in general, are warm and welcoming.

However, there are a few safety points to be aware of before arriving in the country.

When trekking, always trek in pairs or with larger groups. People have been known to be murdered in Langtang.

Please keep in mind that flying into Lukla Airport is fraught with risk – as it is considered the most dangerous airport in the world- with its location on a cliff top.

The wet summer monsoon season has chances of bringing in summer storms and landslides.

Evacuation medical insurance should be bought during trekking trips.

Avoid pickpockets in crowded areas like the airport or on crowded buses.

Take care and avoid unsafe neighbourhoods if walking about Kathmandu at night.

Conclusion

Nepal is a country whose panorama is dominated by mountain peaks. These mountain peaks are veritable giants- Nepal lays claim to ten of the world’s loftiest mountains.

Due to the ever increasing popularity of the trekking routes to the Everest Base Camp and to the top of Mount Everest itself, mountain tourism is an important source of income for the Nepalese government and provides invaluable income to the indigenous Sherpa people, without whose help, reaching the top of Everest would have been quite, quite difficult. Trekking and climbing in Nepal, is therefore, on many a person’s travel bucket list.

Aside from mountaineering it is worthwhile looking into other places in Nepal, if there on a longer trip. Kathmandu and Pokhara are old cities with a wealth of temples, palaces and stupas. Opportunity for participating in adventure sports also presents itself, when in Nepal. Wildlife viewing in the National Parks is also an exciting option. Even after the 2015 earthquake that decimated the country, Nepal continues to be the place at the centre of Himalayan tourism.

Trekking long distances, taking in the changing scenery and experiencing a slow life, distant from social media and the cities, is a chance to muse over the meaning of life and to recharge one’s batteries.

Don’t miss the opportunity to travel to one of the most uplifting countries in the world.

Travel tips for Nepal

Everest Base Camp Trek Itinerary, Nepal

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Facts about Nepal

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MAP - Nepal
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