Things to pay attention to when visiting Nepal
Nepal’s history dates back more than 2,500 years with a fascinating and warm culture.
New modern day Nepal is a charming and diverse place. But neighboring countries have had a huge influence on their life. Influences from India, Tibet, China, and even Mongolia can be seen all over the country.
As more and more tourists come to Nepal, the country struggled to meet tourism demand. This has resulted in poorly maintained transportation infrastructures and the use of natural resources in unsustainable ways.
In this article I will try to tell you the main thing you need to know before traveling to Nepal
Currency: Nepalese Rupee (NPR)
Primary Airports: Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM)
Water: Not safe. Drink only bottled, or by bottled water in the stores.
Local SIM: Travelers can easily purchase a SIM card as well as data. And it’s quite affordable.
Visas: Nepal issues visas on arrival for citizens of most countries. These can be purchased for 15, 30, or 90 days and range from $25 to $100. You must bring a passport-sized photo, or stand in line and pay for one when you arrive.
Festivals to Note:
Phalgun Festivals, Kathmandu (Feb/March).
Dashain, country-wide (September/October).
Indra Jatra, Kathmandu (September).
Safety: One of the most common issues facing travelers is food poisoning. There is very poor sanitation in Nepal so you will need to be careful with your food and water you drink. Bring your personal medical kit. Be sure to get good travel insurance .
Budget: very budget friendly and cheap country to travel. Hiking and camping will add some expenses, but even those are reasonable. A solo traveler can plan a rock-bottom budget of $15 per day if traveling around.
When to Go:
The hiking trails are closed during June to August.
- Trekking season is September to May. Autumn and spring are wonderful - lush and green in the fall and flowering and cool in the spring.
Winter can be chilly at altitude, but is pleasant in the Kathmandu Valley.
- To travel between cities is easy to plan with the buses.
- The buses are the main form of transportation, but Nepal has serious infrastructure issues so be careful.
Bicycle and taxis are great for ride around Kathmandu.
Rental cars are a good option if you are traveling in a group
Women should not trek alone in Nepal, not under any circumstances.
- Landslides and road accidents are high all year round, especially during the summer rains. I highly recommend travel insurance as health care quality is low in case of serious accidents
Hiking in Nepal
- plan on keeping your waste to an absolute minimum. This includes packaging from food or items you have packed and plastic water bottles. All trash has to be burned or carried down from the mountain.
- Women should also use a menstrual cup for ease of travel, as it is eco-friendly, too.
- Carry the lightest pack possible
General guidelines are 7-8 kilos per person or (10% of your own weight), with a porter carrying max 12kg. Stick to this limit! You won’t need the extra clothes you’re over-packing anyway.
Visiting Religious Sites in Nepal
The Nepalese are a spiritual people. Visiting the temples, stupas, and religious sites is a clear highlight to any trip to Nepal, but keep in mind a few behavior best-practices.
Show respect by dressing conservatively on the day that you plan to visit temples or religious sites. Although you should generally dress conservatively around the country too, this is very important at holy sites.
- Women should cover their shoulders and knees.
- Men should wear pants or long shorts and shirts with long sleeves.
- Be respectful with your camera - you are not allowed to take pictures inside of many temples.
Remove your shoes before entering temples, and never point your feet at the altar,
Do not step over people. Feet are considered dirty and people will shift their legs if you need to pass.
Socializing in Nepal
- The traditional manner of greeting in Nepal involves placing your palms together in a prayer style and saying "namaste" or "namaskar".
- To talk to anyone older than you with respect use the terms "dai" for men and "didi" for women.
- If you are invited into a Nepali home, remove your shoes before entering.
- At dinner time, you always wash your hands and mouth before eating. Always wait for the host to serve you
don‘t use your own spoon or fork to serve food
- the left hand is, literally, the poop hand. Its purpose is solely for more hygienic (aka wiping after the toilet) times, while your right is for eating, hand-shaking, and other, social functions
- When paying for taxi and rickshaw 10% service charge is fine and welcome
- tipping for service in restaurants is your own decision.
- Tipping of trekking is expected and additional 10-15% for each guide to thank them for a job well done.
- While exchanging your money in Nepal is totally fine, be sure to exchange all of your Nepalese Rupees back to your own currency before you leave. It’s illegal to take the currency out of the country
Bargain is a totally normal, and expected, part of life in Nepal - as long as it's done with respect.