We’ve tried to cover all the pre-departure information you’ll need to ensure you have a great holiday. If there is any information we missed and is not covered in the other Be Prepared links, email us and we’ll answer your queries.
Visas, customs and your arrival at the airport
Passport & photos
A passport is essential for entry to any country in the world. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months on the date of your visa application.
If your passport is valid for less than 6 months and only has a few pages remaining, it’s better to apply for a new passport before commencing the Visa application process. The tourist Visa will have the id of the passport with which you applied for the visa and if this does not match the passport you arrive with, you will be refused entry.
When travelling to any country it is advisable to ensure your passport has plenty of validity remaining on it. Some countries require you to have a minimum of 6 months validity remaining in order to depart their country, not just to enter it!
It is highly recommended that you make a photocopy of your passport or a digital scan and store separately in case you lose your passport or it is stolen. If you have a paper copy or a digital copy on your phone or drive, then it makes the process easier when reporting to the relevant authorities.
It’s a great idea to bring some copies of passport-sized photographs (at least 5-6), for Visa, trekking permits and TIMS card. There are some places to get passport style photos taken, but it’s always good to be prepared in advance and have them with you.
Getting a Visa
Foreigners who come to Nepal must hold a passport valid for at least 6 months and a visa.
You can apply for the tourist visa online within 14 days of departure from your country, and bring a print out of the visa application receipt to show to the Immigration Authority at Kathmandu airport.
Please follow this link for application: http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa
If you did not obtain an entry visa for Nepal from your home country, you can obtain it on arrival at the border or airport.
You may apply for a tourist visa prior to departure from your home country from nearest Nepal embassy, please bear in mind this process may take up to 2 to 3 weeks and they will require your passport.
Upon arrival in Kathmandu there are a few things you should have ready to enable a smooth and easy exit through the airport, if you need a visa on arrival.
You will need to fill out two forms: a customs declaration form and visa application form. Sometimes the airline will provide you with one of these forms on the plane, but they sometimes do not have them. To find the customs forms, walk into the airport and on your left are some tables with scattered papers on them – the customs forms and sometimes visa application forms are here, but you will still need your own pen.
The line for the visa machines can take some time to get through, especially when some passengers are unprepared or during the peak tourist season (September-May). After that, when you approach the counter to pay for your visa, have your passport and money ready for the Nepali officials.
The current fees are:
15 Days – 30 USD
30 Days – 50 USD
90 Days – 125 USD
Up to date information can be found at: http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa
Tourist Visa Extension
The Visa extension fee for 15 days or less is US$30 (or equivalent convertible currency), and for more than 15 days it’s US$2 per day. Tourist visas can be extended for a maximum period of 150 days in a single calendar year (January to December). For an extension you will need to go to the department of immigration, bear in mind the process may take at least half a day or more.
Gratis (Free) Visa
Free visas for 30 days are only available for tourists of SAARC countries. Indian nationals do not require visas to enter into Nepal.
Collecting bags upon arrival
Once you pass through the visa line, head down the escalator to baggage claim. There are only two conveyor belts and a limited space on them at any one time, so it is normal for airport staff to take bags off the conveyor belt and put them around the room to make space for other bags coming off the latest arriving planes. So if you don’t see your bag, make sure to do a thorough walk-around and search of these collections of bags before claiming your bag is missing.
If you have thoroughly checked all these areas, there are no more bags coming off your aircraft, and your bag is not to be found, do not panic!
You can report your missing bags at the lost luggage counter. Be sure to have your baggage claim ticket and give them all your information; they will contact you when your bag does arrive, probably on the next flight.
It is also wise to get their information so that you can call and check about your bag status if you don’t hear from them. DO NOT PANIC, bags arriving on the next flight from your departure point is quite common in Kathmandu and they almost always arrive on the following flight.
All baggage must be cleared through customs before leaving the airport. Passengers arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) without any dutiable goods can proceed through the Green Channel for quick clearance without a baggage check. If you are carrying dutiable articles, you must pass through the Red Channel for detailed customs clearance.
Apart from personal belongings, visitors are allowed to bring to Nepal free of duty:
- 250 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 20 grams of tobacco
- whisky/wine not exceeding 1.15 liters or beer up to 12 cans
- clothes and goods for personal use
- steel camera film 15 pieces and movie camera film 12 pieces
- medicines for personal use up to a value of 10,000 NPR
- tin pack food stuff up to an value of 1,000 NPR
- fresh fruit up to a value of 2,000 NPR
- 50 grams of gold ornaments and 100 grams of silver ornaments
You can also bring in the following articles free of duty on condition that they leave with you:
- binoculars, movie or video camera, still camera, laptop computer, and portable music system.
- foreign currencies exceeding 2000 USD must be declared.
The export of antiques requires special certification from the Department of Archeology (National Archive Building, Ram Shah Path, Kathmandu). It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old such as sacred images, paintings and manuscripts that are valued for cultural and religious reasons. Visitors are advised not to purchase such items.
For more information on customs matters, contact the Chief Customs Administrator, TIA Customs Office (Phone: 4470110, 4472266).
There are currency or money exchanges inside the arrivals terminal. It is advisable to exchange only a small amount in the airport as these exchanges will charge higher commissions. Money changers in Kathmandu will charge less or no commission at all.
You can bring MasterCard/Visa card, cash EUR, GBP, USD are also accepted and easily changed at one of the money changers. Solo, Cirrus and Maestro debit cards are rarely accepted in ATMs.
We advise you to either use ATMs inside a reputable bank or go to one of the ATM ‘Lounges’ that have a security guard.
Leaving the airport
Now you have your bags in hand and you’re ready to leave the airport.
Please note that around the exit doors will be many people wanting to help you with your bags, but they will charge money for their services and will try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge of what local prices are and try to overcharge you. You do not need any assistance as you will be collected here by our company representative.
Our representative will be waiting for you at the exit area of the arrivals terminal, holding a sign with your name on it or that of your group booking.
From here he will drive you to your hotel or homestay depending on your tour package. It can take 30 to 50 minutes to drive to your accommodations depending on the time of day and traffic conditions.
Once arrived you will have time to relax, enjoy Nepalese hospitality and begin your experience of a lifetime.
What to bring & what not to
What to pack?
Most things you will need are available in the tourist hub of Thamel, in Kathmandu, so don’t worry too much if you don’t get everything before you depart. You may also want to consider fitting out with kit in Kathmandu as it can be cheaper, it can also be expensive depending on where you shop and your bargaining prowess!
There are some things to consider when packing:
What time of year and where are you traveling?
One of the main things to consider is the season and where and to what altitude you will be travelling.
Nepal’s weather is generally predictable and pleasant. There are four seasons: Spring (March to May), Summer (June to August), Autumn (September to November) and Winter (December to February). The monsoon runs from approximately late June to the middle of September. About 80% of the rain falls during that period, leaving the remainder of the year quite dry. Spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons, since summer sees the monsoon and in winter temperatures drop to freezing with a high level of snowfall in the mountains.
Summer and late spring temperatures range from 28ºC (83ºF) in the hill regions to more than 40ºC (104ºF) in the Terai. In winter, average maximum and minimum temperatures in the Terai range from a brisk 7ºC (45ºF) to a mild 23ºC (74ºF). The central valleys experience a minimum temperature often falling below freezing point and a chilly 12ºC (54ºF) maximum. Much colder temperatures prevail at higher elevations. The Kathmandu Valley, at an altitude of 1,310m (4,297ft), has a mild climate, ranging from 19-27ºC (67-81ºF) in summer, and 2-20ºC (36-68ºF) in winter.
In the cold months of December to February you will need a warm jacket or two, gloves, warm socks and hats. There is no heating in most remote Nepali houses so you may find you want to be dressed up in warm clothes even indoors. During the day the sunshine may be warm, but inside or in shade it remains cold. A sleeping bag to supplement provided blankets during these winter months is also a good idea.
Additionally, note that Nepal is full of cheap shops selling and renting every kind of trekking equipment as well as clothing you could want, so do not panic if you forget something. In fact, if you need a new jacket or sleeping bag it might be better and cheaper to buy it there.
About the Beds!
Beds in Nepal are harder than you are used to at home. This is not because of poverty, they simply like hard mattresses.
If you have difficulties sleeping on a hard mattress, please consider bringing a self-inflatable camping mat to supplement it. That said, in many modern and more upmarket hotels you will find very comfortable mattresses just like at home.
We also recommend a cotton sleeping bag liner in case you need more warmth, or to use it on it’s own in hotter conditions or if you are concerned about the mattress hygiene in the more remote areas.
Essentials to bring
- Clothes: You will (most likely) be hand-washing and line-drying your clothes on longer treks, so don’t bring heavy clothing. Light cotton pants are good for summer, and cotton/poly blends make good t-shirts, collared shirts etc as they don’t wrinkle, they wring out easily and dry quickly. To respect the local culture, please do not wear strappy tank tops, shorts above the knee, short skirts, and clothing made of sheer material. You’ll be fine wearing pants most of the time, and anything below the knee is acceptable.
- Shoes: You will be walking a lot on unpaved roads and on trails, so comfortable trekking boots are a must and sandals with a thick sole are good for hot weather.
- Light rain jacket and/or small umbrella to use for sun/rain cover
- Water bottle plus we recommend bringing your own water purifying system
- Toilet paper is readily available at grocery stores here
- Day pack for carrying your personal essential while walking
- Alcohol based hand sanitizer
- Soap, we highly recommend biodegradable bar soap
- Sleeping bag depending on seasons either thick or thin to supplement bedding provided in lodges and teahouses
- LED headlamps, please consider bringing a USB chargeable lamp
- First aid supplies: a basic personal first aid kit
- Pocket knife, a Swiss army knife would be ideal, remember to pack it in your checked in luggage or airport security will confiscate it
- Money: Bring some cash that you can exchange for rupees to start you off. You also need cash to pay for your visa at the airport when you arrive in any major currency. Please ensure to bring sufficient cash with you to exchange for Nepalese Rupees at the many money changers. Certain ATM and credit cards can be used at some vendors and hotels and at Banks and ATMs
- Sunscreen, we strongly recommend natural sunscreen
- Copies of passport and other important documents
- Photos: You will need a few passport photos: one for your visa, plus one for each time you renew your visa, about 4 for permits and TIMS for trekking.
It would be nice to have
- Laptop: luxury item, but great to have. Wifi is easily found in the cities, in hotels, restaurants and cafes. If you are planning on keeping a blog, doing a lot of emailing or working online, then it is worth bringing it along. Don’t bring your laptop if you want it to stay in pristine condition as it is likely to get dusty and scratched if you take it trekking and we are not liable for such items during treks and tours. Basically, bringing it is at your own risk.
- Cell Phone: you can buy cheap SIM card and data to use while you are here.
- USB drive: nice to keep your files safe, plus store all the amazing photos and videos you’ll be taking!
- Solar charging power bank or rechargeable batteries and their charger.
- A good book to read: There are great book stores in Kathmandu and Pokhara, but if you’re an avid reader bring your latest. You can trade in books at most bookstores.
- A great Nepali language book, which most of our guests use, is the Nepali Phrasebook published by Lonely Planet. You can purchase it here.
- Earplugs if you are a light sleeper while staying in cities or large towns. Nepalese people start their day very early and Kathmandu in particular is known for its street noise.
- Sleeping eye mask for long bus rides and if you are a light sleeper, some remote trekking lodges may not have heavy window coverings as you are used to.
- Bring music with you, there will be ample opportunities to listen to your favourites.
Better to bring than to buy
- Baby wipes: A good all purpose way to clean up spills and dirt and an emergency hygienic product should you need it. BUT please only bring these if absolutely necessary and if possible bring bio-degradable ones as they do impact the environment.
- Women: tampons are difficult to find in Nepal. Sanitary pads are easier to find. So better to bring your own or better yet, bring a menstrual cup.
- A pair of flip-flops strictly for showers, bathrooms and toilets.
- A quick dry travel towel, towels are not provided in teahouses and trekking lodges.
- Biodegradable toiletries: most products such as shampoo, soap, razors, etc. can be bought in Kathmandu and Pokhara, but most are not environmentally friendly or biodegradable. Some items such as razors are considerably more expensive here.
- You can buy plenty of food products to make trail mixes such as nuts, raisins, chocolate and dried fruits, but they can be very expensive. If you have packing space it can be a good idea to bring your own.
- If you have any special dietary needs that you can not live without, it is best to bring these with you as you may not find such items in Nepal.
Buying and renting clothes and gear
Clothes in many sizes and styles can be bought here and are very cheap. You may want to fit yourself out after your arrival, once you have directly experienced the temperatures, weather and the culture.
Most gear needed for trekking like jackets, boots, trekking poles, down coats, packs, vests, gaiters, and specialised equipment can be purchased or rented in Kathmandu, but the quality usually reflects the price. Prices can be anything from very cheap to really expensive.
Renting equipment for trekking and mountaineering is a good option for some people, you can even rent sleeping bags. Rates do vary some are quite reasonable others not so. Bear in mind you are likely to be requested to pay a deposit for renting gear that is often more then the rental fee for the gear, or the equivalent of replacing it understandably.
Brace yourself for culture shock!
Preparing for Nepal & Kathmandu
There are thousands of descriptive articles about travelling in Nepal and the many attractions and experiences available. These articles do well in describing the “what” and “where,” but very few address the inter-personal experiences of travel in Nepal.
One such experience is culture shock; an idea that can be both a welcome and a startling experience for any tourist.
Hang tight for our coming article on Nepali Culture Shock in which we will cover topics like:
- Cultural Shock and Adjustment
- Coping With Your Emotions
- Slower Pace and Nepali Time
- Cultural Differences and Empathy
- Trust and Humility
There are hundreds of definitions to what constitutes culture shock, but put simply it’s the feelings of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty and anxiety one experiences when arriving in a foreign culture very far from home.
Culture shock is something we experience when we travel to any foreign country, but it is particularly pronounced for most people arriving in Nepal because of the vast cultural differences and the sights and sounds of being in a densely populated and impoverished nation.
The first hours in Nepal, and Kathmandu in particular, can create an intense feeling of culture shock, more so than months of travel through somewhere like Europe. In some ways you could say that initially it is akin to an assault on the senses and everyday things we take for granted back home, simply do not apply in Nepal. That said, once you relax into it all, these aspects actually become part of it’s charm.
But do prepare yourself to be shocked initially and even overwhelmed, there is so much new information, sights and sounds and the near chaos of Kathmandu city that it can be disorienting and it’s not unusual to feel anxious.
Advanced preparation will ease your arrival into Nepali culture and reduce the more anxious aspects of it. Rest assured most people adjust quite quickly and it helps to come with an open mind and a non-judgemental attitude. Life is just very different there, but like most people, you will grow to love it quickly, even the chaotic Kathmandu that with all it’s shortcomings is a fantastic, nearly mythical place to visit. What makes it all so much easier is to know that despite all, the people are very friendly and warm hearted, courteous, respectful and helpful.
Cultural guidance & etiquette
One traditional Nepali “rule” is to not share plates of food with others. It used to be considered rude to give or take food from another’s plate, and while it’s slowly becoming accepted now in Nepal, some places still find it offensive.
Do not take a bite of some food or touch your lips to a bottle and then offer it to your Nepalese friend. When you travel around Nepal, you will see locals drinking from water bottles by tilting their heads back so the bottle doesn’t touch their mouths. This way more people can share the bottle because it is not contaminated.
If you want to take a photo of someone, ask them first. How would you feel if someone came up and started taking your photo as if you were an animal, without respectfully asking you?
This might sound like common sense, but do not take photos of people bathing or going to the bathroom. A large number of Nepali people do in fact bathe on the side of the road, but even though they are bathing in front of strangers this does not mean that you should watch or take photos.
Spitting is quite normal here: you will see men, women, and children spitting on the sidewalks. The same goes for littering. You might see a local throwing something on the ground, but to help keep Nepal beautiful it is best to dispose of trash in designated trash bins or the community trash piles.
Never show affection in public. Although some younger couples hold hands in public, it is still frowned upon. It is more common to see same-gender friends i.e. girls and girls, or boys and boys holding hands.
Do not step over a person, and do not make other people step over you. For example, if you have your legs stretched out and someone wishes to pass, move out of their way.
Do not use your left hand as it is known as the toilet hand.
Give items and receive with two hands (like giving or receiving a cup of tea).
Do not point your feet, especially if they are dirty, at people. Feet are considered to be the lowest and dirtiest part of a person. Also do not point your finger at anything, rather use your whole hand.
Do not give gifts (even as small and seemingly insignificant as a pen or candy) to the local children.
Do not buy antiques or anything made from animal products, flora or fauna, because most of these are protected and there could be a government penalty for trying to take it out of Nepal.
Do not give to beggars, unless they are an elderly person or have some sort of disability that makes them unable to get a job. This will only encourage begging behaviour.
When shopping, do not overpay, pay only fair prices. (see shopping tips below for more info.)
Just for an extra fact: a Nepali person will never tell you if they think you are being rude, because this would make them rude.
Nepali people are highly respectful of others and very courteous, please behave the same, treat others as you would like to be treated.
Visiting religious sites
- Do not eat, smoke or be loud at religious sites.
- Some temples will have rules on signs for the public.
- Pay attention to all signs and follow their instructions.
- Some temples only allow Hindus to enter.
- Walk clockwise around stupas and temples or places of worship. Keep the object of worship to your right at all times.
- Never touch or step over offerings like tiki powder or rice/flowers.
- When you travel to certain places of worship you may or may not be permitted to take photos or video of these sacred places.
- Make sure to find out if you are supposed to take your shoes off before you enter, it is however almost always mandatory.
- For the most part, just be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what the locals are doing and all signs.
- Visitors to Nepal may wear short sleeves, long sleeves, sleeveless t-shirts or dress shirts but avoid stringy singlets.
- Skirts should be knee length or longer and are appreciated by the locals.
- Women do not usually wear shorts in Nepal. but if you choose to, make sure they are long shorts.
- Shorts or long pants are fine for men, preferably below the knee.
- It is recommended for everybody travelling through Nepal wear more conservative clothing.
- You should always have a shirt on and if it buttons up, it should have all the buttons fastened.
- Dress appropriately for your activity and if you are not sure about what you are wearing, just observe local traditions.
Day to day essentials
The Nepali currency is the Nepali Rupee NRP (different from the Indian Rupee). Mostly paper money is used, although there are coins for smaller denominations. Nepali Rupees are found in denominations of 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 rupee notes. Coins are found in 1 and 2 rupees. One rupee equals 100 paisa.
There are many money changers. The first place in Nepal that you will find to exchange your money is at the airport. These counters are safe and offer fair rates. Remember to keep your exchange receipts when changing currencies, as these may be needed to change leftover Nepalese Rupees again before leaving the country.
Payment in hotels, travel agencies, and airlines can be made in foreign currency, and credit cards like American Express, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. ATMs are widely used in Kathmandu and in Pokhara so cash is readily available.
Make sure you check and are familiar with the exchange rate as it can change daily. Money changers post exchange rates at the front of their businesses and it easy to compare rates.
You can also change money in banks, for which you need your passport. The bank will take a copy of your passport and they should give you a receipt. You will need to keep this receipt until your travels in Nepal are over and you leave the country, which as stated above, can be used to exchange the unused portion of Nepali currency back into your home currency.
Banks and money changers will not accept any notes that are in any way damaged, such as small rips on edges, so ensure to take good care of your bills are kept in good condition.
Along trekking routes, it is less common to find banks, except at larger towns. There are some in the mountains, but if you do not have access to a bank and need cash some hotelas lodges might offer the exchange service at a more expensive rate.
It’s always wise to carry sufficient cash for the duration of any travels in Nepal as it is a largely cash based society.
When travelling in Asia it is typical that you and/or someone you are travelling with will get travellers diarrhoea.
Do not worry if this happens to you it is quite common. Small pharmacies are common and don’t require prescriptions or insurance; just go up to the counter and tell them what you need, it should only cost a few dollars. They also sell antibiotics, allergy pills, and ibuprofen.
Make sure you have good travel insurance, like WorldNomads, that also covers high altitude trekking and helicopter evacuation if needed.
If you become more seriously ill just notify our staff or your guide and we will assist you to get medical attantion.
If you are injured
No one ever plans to get hurt (or sick for that matter), but it can happen. There are medical offices and hospitals in all the major cities. Your stay and check-up should not be too expensive, depending on your injury.
If you are trekking with us and are injured, our guides are first aid trained and carry a first aid kit.
If you are seriously injured or experiencing altitude sickness or associated complications, our trekking crew will organise for your evacuation, by helicopter if necessary.
For quicker evacuation you should carry your credit card and travel insurance documentation with you.
Make sure you have good travel insurance, like WorldNomads, that also covers high altitude trekking and helicopter evacuation if needed.
Modes of transport
Taxis are available in all the major cities, although they are not usually cost-efficient. Taxi drivers take great pride in their vehicles and clean them daily. Even if the seat covers look old, they still have them to help “beautify” their vehicle for the tourist. be sure to negotiate your fare before you set out.
Tuk-tuks are also available in the larger places like Kathmandu, where the number of passengers allowed is flexible and can depend how many people can fit in the three-wheeled vehicles.
Buses and minivans run throughout the major cities and can be quite crowded. A “ten passenger van” could fit as many as 17 people with the windows open (or not), so if personal space is important to you, avoid this mode of transport.
Bicycle trolleys or rickshaws are three-wheeled bikes with a carriage like seat on the back and can be found in central Kathmandu. These carry 2-3 people.
If you are feeling adventurous, you could rent a motorcycle. This is not always recommended since navigating Nepali traffic can be daunting, but they are available for the fearless traveller. Many times you just rent it from an average local who has a bike they do not need for a few days or weeks, and a price is agreed between you.
The different modes of transportation do not always have a set destination – or price for visitors – and can often be crowded and confusing. We will take care of all your transportation, so you have more time to enjoy this exciting country.
Make sure you have good travel insurance, like WorldNomads, that also covers high altitude trekking and helicopter evacuation if needed.
Visiting or staying in the jungle
Make sure to drink plenty of clean water, you may be unaware of how quickly you will dehydrate in the tropical climate.
Be aware of leeches: watch where you step and sit and bring some salt along with you. Stomp your feet to shake them off your boots or pant legs. If you get bitten, sprinkle salt onto the leech, this will make it fall off.
You will want to invest in mosquito repellent or a plug-in for your room (if there is power) if you are staying in the jungle. Mosquito candles and incense are also helpful when there is no power. We advise you to treat your clothes with permethrin before you depart for Nepal. Be careful when using products containing DEET, as it may cause skin irritation and can dissolve plastics and is highly toxic to the environment. We recommend using bug repellent containing icaridin, also known as picaridin.
Make sure to bring the right clothes. Pack some shoes to do light walking through the jungle and that will stay on your feet (not flip flops).
You will want to have a change of clothes if there is a change in weather or if your clothes get wet.
Remain calm and tolerant when staying in the jungle: most of the lodges and resorts run on solar power, so there may be no power for several hours a day. Many also have no internet access.
If a lizard shows up in your room, do not be scared, you are in the jungle and lizards and geckos also eat bugs.
Take time to sit and relax, and entertain yourself with listening to real nature (no traffic) write about your journey, or read a book.
Food and drink
Nepal has a wide variety of food available, from traditional Nepali foods to international cuisine. Below are just a few items you are certain to encounter while in Nepal.
Dal Bhat Tarkari is the Nepali staple food. Bhat is rice, dal is a lentil soup/gravy to pour over the rice that is easily interchanged in some places with vegetables (tarkari). This dish can sometimes also come with meat and maybe yogurt; it is always different from one restaurant to the next. To get to know this country, give it a try in different places as you travel through Nepal.
Achar is a traditional Nepali pickled sauce/paste (sometimes very spicy) that is served as a garnish with almost every Nepali dish. There are countless ways of making this special treat so you should try every different one offered to you.
Mo-mo is a tasty Newari dumpling with meat (usually lamb, chicken, buffalo, or pork, but not beef) or vegetables and cheese, which you can find almost anywhere that serves food.
Noodle soup is now very common especially on trekking routes. Although it is not a traditional Nepali dish, it is there for foreign travelers as a comfort item. It is equivalent to fast food, and in fact many Nepali’s do not even cook it but eat it as a crunchy snack food.
Naan/Roti – roti means bread in Nepal, and it is usually round and deep fried in oil then served with achar or some other sauce. It is served alone or with curry dishes. There are different kinds of naan like butter or garlic naan, and it’s bigger in size than roti.
Apples – the town of Marpha is known for their apples, and there is even an alcoholic drink made from apples called “Marpha”.
Bananas in Nepal sometimes do not look appealing but in fact they are very sweet.
Yogurt here can be either sweet or salty. It is served either by itself or on the side of dal bhat and is good for you, too. If your body is not used to the many spices used in Nepali food, the yogurt helps sooth the digestion process and cool down the spiciness.
The ice cream here is a delicious reward. Simple (chemical-free) ingredients and all-natural flavors make it a refreshing treat anytime of day or night.
Filtered water is a must! Do not drink any water unless it is from a bottle, or has been boiled or filtered. Some trekking routes have safe drinking water stations installed to reduce plastic waste, but elsewhere be wary of where the water has come from. Ice, if made from tap water not filtered water, can also carry diseases. We recommend carrying a personal water filter bottle, such as the Grayl Geo Press Water Purifier. This ensures you stay hydrated, as you can even use a waterfall to top up your bottle and it greatly reduces plastic waste.
Tea is very popular as a morning drink or to relax after a long days’ trek. It is served either black with sugar, with milk, or with spices (masala).
Coffee here is full of flavor and Nepal is fast becoming a coffee culture and serves most of your favourite coffee recipes.
Khukri Rum is locally made in Nepal, and goes well with coca cola.
Time and business hours
Nepal is 5 hours and 45 minutes ahead of GMT.
Business hours within Kathmandu Valley: Government offices are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. from Sunday through Friday.
Banks are open Sunday through Friday from 10 am to 3.30 pm. and until 12 pm only on Friday.
Most Business offices are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday.
Embassies and international organizations are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.
Most shops open after 10 am and close at about 8 pm and are usually closed on Saturdays.
Holidays: Nepal observes numerous holidays; at least a couple a month! Government offices observe all the national holidays and banks observe most of them. Businesses observe major holidays only.
For grocery shopping there are several alternatives. In the larger cities there are department stores or malls that carry food and other goods (clothes, refrigerators, bicycles, movies, etc.). Everything here has a set price so there is no need to bargain.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are available at outdoor markets and street vendors who are commonplace. Price are by weight.
For souvenir or clothes shopping, you can either go to the department stores where everything has a set price or to the common little street shops where nothing has a price on it. When the shopkeepers tell you their prices be prepared to bargain, offering 50% of their price is a good starting point but it helps to have a price in mind before you begin. If you can’t agree on a price, try another shop or come back another day.
It is best for you and everyone else too if you pay a fair, lower price than their initial asking price which will always be higher than what they expect to get for it. If every tourist pays too much for goods it causes inflationary problems in Nepal. Sellers in Nepal are opportunists, if they can get more for their goods they will, life is hard in Nepal and Kathmandu. They are however fair and reasonable and are quite happy to negotiate in a respectful manner.
Do not feel guilty about bargaining it is part of their culture and expected. You can most likely afford their initial price, but the local Nepalese can not.
It can also be good fun to bargain and if done right, with respect, a sense of humor, and banter in a friendly way, can be quite a memorable aspect of your time in Nepal.
Please remember though, that most Nepalese people are quite poor by our standards, so there is always a lower limit to anyone’s price. When you find those limits, respect them and don’t negotiate below them, this is someone’s livelihood. Remember, in most cases in Nepal, you will easily be able to afford the price they are asking.
Have respect for people, enjoy the process but don’t be rude, this ruins the experience for everyone involved and damages the reputation of tourists.
SIM cards can be bought easily and used for international calls, sms and internet.
WiFi is prevalent in the towns and cities and many hotels, restaurants, cafes, and private houses will now have a wifi connection.
Remote lodges may charge you for WiFi usage.
For your safety it is a good idea to carry our contact details, your embassy contact details, emergency contact or next of kin.
Postal Services – The Central Post Office in Kathmandu, located near Dharahara Tower, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday. They provide stamps, postcards and aerograms as well as Poste Restante services. Express Mail Service (EMS) is available at GPO and at Thamel, Basantapur and airport postal counters.
For friends and family wanting to call or sms you from home, the country code for Nepal is 977 plus the area code 1 for Kathmandu and 61 for Pokhara.
Cities and major towns have electricity at 220-volts and 50 Hz.
There are a growing number of hydro-electric plants in the mountains so more and more rural areas are installing reliable electricity supplies.
Solar power is also beginning to take hold in more affluent areas and solar water heating is commonplace.
It is strongly advised to bring rechargeable batteries and a charger, or invest in USB rechargeable devices where possible. We also recommend bringing a solar chargeable power bank for long treks.
- Don’t bring too much stuff, in all likelihood you will not need some of the items you think you do “for emergencies”.
- Be flexible and tolerant.
- Good shoes are really important for hiking and trekking, and if you invest in new boots, it’s super important to break them in before you arrive. You want to get a month of wear in your new boots before you head into the Himalayas, painful blisters can end a trek if serious enough. Bring good socks!
- Get plenty of rest and sleep before you come.
- Don’t leave things until the last minute!
- Be prepared to have an adventure, lots of fun and SMILE!