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Going To Nepal................!!!
Why is Nepal such a fascinating country for many people?
The Himalayan Country of Nepal is a land of scenic mountains, time-worn temples and some of the best walking trails on Earth. It's a small country, but it's rich in scenic splendor and exotic cultures. The people of Nepal are as diverse as their country and represent distinct cultures and races. Though they speak a variety of tongues and practice different religions, they are the friendliest people that you would ever meet. The kingdom has long exerted a pull on the Western imagination and it's a difficult place to dislodge from your memory once you return. So, wait until you're actually here in Nepal.
As a traveller, there are endless number of surprises Nepal has to offer you. Kathmandu Valley with its thousands of Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas, stunning architecture and rich pageantry can be quite beyond words. If you are careful enough not to get entangled in the superficial facade of a fatly "modernizing" capital city, Kathmandu probably offers you as exotic and urban experience as you can get.
Beyond Kathmandu, its another world altogether. Most travelers to Nepal want to check out the truly spectacular Himalayas along with the higher hills. A few go there to scale the high mountains, but many are nature lovers who trek along landscapes filled with deep valleys, lush forests, snow trails, terraced fields, and above all, the most hospitable people. See the FAQ on Trekking for more.
Travelers to Nepal also love making a safari trip to one of the National Parks in Nepal. The most popular one is the Chitwan National Park in the southern plains which hosts a diverse wildlife reserves including the rare Asian one-horn rhino.
How do I get to Nepal?
In order to fly directly to Nepal from your home country, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu is the only international airport in Nepal. TIA has direct air link with Malaysia, Singapore, Sahrjhan, Qatar, Hongkong, , Bangladesh, Bangkok, Delhi, Dubai, Vanarasi and Calcutta. Nepal Airlines (NAC), Indian Airlines, Silk Air, Qatar Air, Biman, GMG, Gulf Air, Dragon Air, Thai are the airlines that carry most of the foreign travelers into Kathmandu; and if you buy tickets from any other airlines, you will probably connect with one of these airlines for the final leg of your flight.
Alternatively, if you have time and enthusiasm, traveling overland to Nepal via India is an option. Nepal Air, Jet Air, Jet Light, Druk Air, Cosmic Air, Air India can take you directly from India to Kathmandu on a six flight a day trip for anywhere between $120 to $ 180 depending upon the Airline Company. You will travel from continental Europe and America, Canada or any Asian countries to Nepal. For specific details on traveling overland from India to Nepal, read below.
How much does airfare to Kathmandu cost?
Anyone who has done any traveling on air can tell you that one can never say for sure how much they cost. However, an economy class round trip ticket to Nepal from North America, should cost between $1400 to $1700 depending on what airline you fly and when. From western Europe, the fare should be about the same too. From most of East Asia, the cost is about $300 to $ 500 for one-way. If you are flying into Nepal from India or other South Asian cities, one-way fare would be between $150 to $200: Delhi ($150), Varanasi ($80), Calcutta ($100), Karachi ($150), Dhaka ($80). These figures are only estimates, and you should check with your travel agents for details.
Should I tag along with organized tours?
It's not a bad idea to tag along with organized tours though it can cost many times more than a self arranged trip. Nevertheless, since Kathmandu is a small city and can be explored easily without organized tour, I recommend people to do self-visit to different places in Kathmandu.
When is the best time to go to Nepal?
The weather is probably the best guide for deciding when to plan your trip to Nepal. October and November are considered the best times of the year. The monsoon will have just ended, and clear skies with optimal temperature will prevail. The main festivals of Dashain and Tihar (Hindu equivalent of Christmas in terms of festivity) fall during these months. However, this is also the busiest tourist season, and the main tourist centers and trekking trails tend to be crowded with travelers like you. The tourist flow ebbs a little, but not significantly, between the winter months of December and mid-February. It catches up once again between mid-February and mid-April. From mid-June to early October, it's the monsoon, during which time it rains almost everyday and most of the Himalayas are hidden behind the clouds. Check the weather section of this FAQ for more details on weather. In short, plan to visit Nepal between October and May, keeping in mind that October-November and February-March are the best times (but crowded with other travelers).
What are my options to come to Nepal from India?
You can fly between Delhi and Kathmandu for about $150 with NAC or India Air, Jet Air, Jet Light or Cosmic Air. The actual flight time, not counting the endless delays and cancellations, is only a little more than an hour. However, note that Delhi-Kathmandu-Delhi flight is very busy and without proper reservations (or proper strings to pull) can be booked weeks in advance. Make your reservations and buy your ticket well in advance.
Alternatively, you can travel overland to Nepal from India. Buses are usually the quickest and easiest form of transport for this. There are four main crossing points: Lacknow-Nepalgunj, Sunauli-Bhairawa, Birganj-Raxaul and Kakarbhitta-Silguri. The Sunauli border crossing is the best one from Varanasi, the Birgunj crossing is the easiest from Calcutta; and Kakarbhitta is the best crossing from Darjeeling and Nepalgunj from Delhi Locknow. These trip can be quite long and stressful, both in terms of time (it takes about two days and nights) and what you may go through during the trip (with tickets, safety, weather, border harassment etc). Not recommended for those people who want to have carefree travelling.
If you plan to enter Nepal in a car, make sure you have a carnet de passage en dourness. These are required to exempt you from customs duty for three months. You may also be required to pay a fee for each day that your car is in Nepal. As in India, in Nepal, vehicles are driven on the left side of the road.
What about getting to Nepal from Tibet?
The crossing between Nepal and Tibet via Kodari is only open to organized groups but not to individual travellers heading north. Be prepared with alternative plans if you're thinking about using this route, because landslides regularly make it impassable during the monsoon.
Traveling to Nepal - Visa and Immigration
Do I need a visa to enter Nepal?
All foreign nationals, except Indian Citizens, need visas to enter Nepal
What do I need to get my visa?
You need a valid passport, two passport size photos and money.
Where do I apply to get my visa?
• The best way to apply for visa is from the Nepalese diplomatic missions in your home country.
• The other choice is to get it from Immigration office at the entry points of Nepal.
Now, what are the entry points of Nepal?
• Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu
• Kakarvitta (Jhapa) (Eastern Part of Nepal that has border with India)
• Birgunj, (Parsa) (Central Part of Nepal that has border with India)
• Kodari (Sindhupalchok) (Northern Border with Tibet)
• Belahiya, (Bhaieahwa) (Rupandehi, Western Part that has border with India)
• Jamunaha (Nepalgunj) (Banke, Mid-western Part that has border with India)
• Mohana (Dhangadhi) (Kailali, Far Western Part that has border with India)
• GaddaChauki (Mahendranagar) (Kanchanpur, Far Western Part that has border with India)
I am in Varnasi (Indian City) these days. I would like to come to Nepal for a week. I know the entry points to come to Nepal. Can u tell me the cost of tourist visa?
The tourist visa can be obtained for the following duration and you can pay the visa fee either in Nepalese Rupees or in US dollars.
Period (Duration) Fee (US $)
60 days single entry
(For the First visit in a visa year) 30.00
30 days single entry,
(For next visit within the same visa year) 50.00
Single Re-entry 25.00
Double Re-entry 40.00
Multiple Re-entry 100.00...........See Check New visa rules of Nepal (Visa Information Page above at Nepal Page)
What if I decided to stay more than 60 days in Nepal? Where and what should I do to extend my Tourist Visa?
There's no problem in it. The Immigration Department of Kathmandu or Pokhara can extend the visa for another 30 days and the charge for this is US$ 50. Indeed the visa can be extended for a total of 120 days, an additional 30 days visa may be granted on reasonable grounds from the Immigration Office. Nevertheless, a tourist cannot stay in Nepal under tourist-visa for more than 150 cumulative days.
Well, I am not surprised to know the maximum duration of time for a tourist to stay in Nepal under tourist visa. Instead I would like to know the addresses of the Department of Immigration Office of Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Okay, here are the addresses and their telephone numbers:
DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION
Maiti Ghar Mandala, Kathmandu
Monday to Friday: 9.00 am. To 5.00 pm
(9.00 am - 4.00 PM in winter)
Tel: 977-1- 494273, 977- 1- 495813
Fax: 977 -1- 494267
DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION
Monday to Friday: 9.00 am. To 5.00 pm
(9.00 am - 4.00 PM in winter)
Tel: 977-61- 21167
I am a mother of eight-year-old kid. Do I need to pay for my child's visa?
Any children below 10 years has visa fee exemption. So the visa fee for your eight-year child is free.
I am a student doing my Energy Management Course. I want to come to Nepal for my project study on Hydro Electricity Potential of Nepal. Do you know
whether I can get study-visa to come to Nepal?
The Department of Immigration on the recommendation of Ministry of Education does provide student visa for US$ 40 per month. You are welcome to Nepal for your studies!!!
I am fascinated with the handicrafts of Nepal. I want to visit Nepal under business visa. Can you tell me the fee of Business Visa?
The department of Immigration on the recommendation of Ministry of Industry issues visas to foreign investors and businessman for US$ 100 for one year and US$250 for five years.
Besides study visa and tourist visa, are there any other types of visas to enter Nepal?
There are of course many other types of visa besides the ones that you mentioned above. For example, there is Non-tourist visa, Residential Visa, Diplomatic Visa, Official Visa and Transit Visa.
Non-tourist visa sounds interesting. What are non-tourist visas?
Well, this visa is for Foreigners involved in official works, INGO, Missions and employees working in different institutions, representative of the press agencies and magazines, workers of diplomatic and official visa holders, person of Nepalese origin holding foreign passport and foreigner married to a Nepalese citizen. The department of Immigration on the recommendation of concerned agencies issues this visa and the visa fee list is as follows:
A) US$ 60 per month for the first year and US$ 100 for the next year for non-tourist.
B) US$ 10 per month for journalist press visa.
C) US$ 20per month for those working in HMG office or project.
D) US$ 20 for marriage visa.
I am gonna be in transit at the Tribhuvan International Airport of Kathmandu for sometime. Do you think I will require transit visa?
If you need to stay in a transit period of around 48 hours at the airport of Kathmandu, the airport immigration office issues a transit visa for around US$5.
Is there any other important information that I should be aware of before I come to Nepal?
Some regular routine work could involve the following:
• Foreigners are requested to get the arrival/departure stamps on their passport at the entry/exit points to avoid further legal complications.
• Living in Nepal without passport or a valid visa is a punishable offense.
• A trekking permit is essential for any purpose of visit to Nepal's protected area. Check out Trekking for more details on trekking.
• Foreigners are advised to be aware of brokers/cheaters or any counterfeit documents of visa/trekking permit to avoid legal complications. Foreigners are advised to visit/trek through recognized agency.
Please do not seek support of any unauthorized person.
• Foreigners are advised to contact the Department of Immigration for visa transfers.
• Please don't take out the visa stickers from passport and do not try to temper printed matters in the passport.
Lastly, Can you give me the address of Tourist Information Centers of Nepal?
Nepal Tourism Board
Tourist Service Center
Working days: Sunday to Friday
Office Hours: 9 am to 5 pm
9 am to 4 pm (in winter)
Phone No.: 256909, 247039, 256216
Fax: 977-1- 256910
This information center provides travel and tourism related information, free brochures and posters of Nepal.
Traveling to Nepal - Money Matters
How much should I expect to spend during my trip to Nepal?
It varies. You can always choose to make your trip expensive by staying at fancy luxury hotels and dining in their restaurants. But then you may as well be in New York. But if you are looking for a unique Nepali experience, you can do it for a lot less money. Outside the main tourist centers, $7-$10 will take you through the day even if you throw around money lavishly. In the main tourist areas, expect to spend about $20-$25 per day for everything including accommodation, food, and other travel expenses. Read the FAQ on Accommodation, the FAQ on Drinking and Dining, and the FAQ on Trekking for more details on specific cost approximations.
How should I bring money to Nepal to pay for my travel expenses?
Traveler's checks are the best and safest option. US dollars are the most widely accepted form of money, but banks also accept other major international currencies. For a listing of currencies accepted in Nepal check the daily exchange rates at http://www.nrb.org.np
Where and how do I exchange my money into Nepalese rupee?
All major banks in Nepal exchange convertible hard currencies into Nepalese rupees. There is an exchange counter in the Kathmandu airport for you to start off. The US dollar is the most widely accepted currency. Don't exchange more money than is necessary for usage in the next couple of days because exchanging Nepalese rupees back to hard currency is not easy: it can be done only at the airport before you leave, and only a certain fraction of what you originally exchanged into Nepalese rupees can be re-converted.
Besides banks, there are licensed money exchangers in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Sunauli. These money exchangers have rates marginally better than banks, but the commissions are higher. So check before you exchange your money. The advantage of having these money exchangers to banks are that they open for long hours, typically from 9am to 7pm.
Exchanging your US dollar bills in the black market may fetch a slightly higher rate than what banks would offer you, but the premium has diminished significantly over the past couple of years after the Nepalese government liberalized its foreign currency regulations.
It is important to retain your exchange receipts in order to apply for visa extension and re-conversion of left-over Nepalese rupees when you leave Nepal.
What is the exchange rate between the Nepalese Rupee and other international currencies?
The Nepalese rupee tends to devalue steadily every couple months against other hard currencies. To get the most recent rates check the exchange rate section of http://www.nrb.org.np
Can I use my credit card?
Many tourist related businesses have started accepting payments in credit cards. It is, however, a fairly recent phenomenon, and cards other than Visa and Mastercard may not be accepted in most places. Remember that usage of credit cards in Nepal can cost you an extra three to five percent in transaction costs.
Are there ATM machines where I can draw funds from my home country bank using my ATM card?
Commercial Banks such as Himalyan Bank and Nabil Bank have installed ATM machine's in some places of Kathmandu but you may or may not be able to draw money from these machines depending upon the type of machine.
If I get strapped with money, how do I get access to more funds?
You can draw funds against your American Express, Mastercard or Visa cards in Kathmandu. The service premiums for doing this, however, is pretty steep. You can also have money wired directly to Kathmandu through any major bank within two to three working days.
Traveling to Nepal - Health and Insurance
What inoculations are advised?
Though Nepal is not any more unsafe than any other developing country, update your preventive inoculations. Injections against meningitis, tetanus, hepatitis B, typhoid, perhaps cholera are recommended. Vaccination against rabies (which is quite rampant in Nepal) can be good but it is too bothersome and expensive to be worth the trouble. Just keep yourself safe from stray dogs and monkeys.
Do you think I should bring some medicines with me when I come to Nepal?
As said, prevention is better than cure, it's highly recommended that you bring medicines for common illness like nausea, vomiting,cold and flu when you come to Nepal. Though there are many pharamacy shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara, it's worth carrying some basic medicinal stuffs like insect repellent, sunscreen, lip balm, eye drops, bandages and so on.
What particular diseases do I have to watch out for?
Malaria is under control in Nepal. The risk of catching it is small and only in the southern plains. Mosquito netting and repellent are advised when there, especially during the summer and monsoon seasons. Also, as a preventive measure, take chloroquine pills starting two weeks before and six weeks after your visit to the plains.
AIDS is a growing problem. Official figures of only a couple of dozen cases of HIV in Nepal is a better indicator of the government's inability to collect data (or deny them) than the actual cases of the disease. Don't be misled into believing that unsafe sex is okay. Though prostitution in Nepal is insignificant compared to other Asian countries, watch out.
Also, doctors in Kathmandu are reporting that health problems due to severe air pollution are rising astronomically in Kathmandu. Old vehicles spewing out black smoke is unfortunately a normal scene on the roads of Kathmandu. Along the main roads traveled mainly by vehicles, the air gets quite nasty especially during rush hour. Make a conscious effort to minimize your walking on these streets used mainly by vehicles during rush hour.
Many, if not most, travelers to Nepal are likely to get stomach problems at some point during their visit. It is generally caused simply because of a change in diet and climate, drinking contaminated water and eating contaminated food. See health guidelines under "Dining and Drinking" to lessen the chances of acquiring diarrhea. But if you do get it, the most effective remedy is to fast for a day and consume plenty of water or some fluid. You can find effective medicines against amoeba diarrhea in any drug store in Kathmandu. Carry some with you when you are going to be away on trekking trails. A dehydration package called "Jeevan Jal" is found everywhere in Nepal; it is quite effective.
Altitude Sickness is the effect of altitude on those who ascent too rapidly to elevations above 3,000 meters. The basic early symptoms of altitude sickness is headache, loss of appetite and sleeplessness. One shouldn't ignore these early symptoms as these symptoms may lead to more serious warnings and cause death sometimes within few hours. Medicine is no substitute for descent. If a doctor is available, he may give medicine and oxygen. However, the patient must go down to lower altitude even if treatment is given.
If I need to see a doctor, where can I do so?
Almost all good doctors and all well equipped hospitals and clinics are in Kathmandu. Visiting a doctor in a clinic is probably better than going directly to a public hospital. Hospitals in Kathmandu can be very crowded with the whole country coming there for medical treatment. Private "nursing homes" and clinics are plentiful in Kathmandu. Elsewhere in the country, there is not much of a choice: you can at best get a service that may pull you through until you reach Kathmandu.
Do I need a travel insurance?
Oh yes, some sort of travel insurance is highly recommended. Most travel insurance covers emergency flights, medical expenses, and theft or loss of possessions. The insurance premium in general is between $50 to $75 for a two week period, and progressively less for longer periods. It's a price worth paying. If you plan to go rafting or trekking, make sure your insurance covers these "dangerous activities." Remember to keep your receipts to make claims. In order to make claims on lost or stolen items, you will need a police report issued in Nepal by the Interpol Section of the Nepal Police.
Traveling to Nepal - Weather and Clothing
What is the weather in Nepal like?
The width of Nepal is only about 200 km on average, but within this short distance the altitude of the land rises from lowly 60m to all the way up to above 8000m.Hence the weather depends upon the altitude of the place in Nepal. However, in general Nepal has four climatic seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Spring starts from March to May. The temperature of this season fluctuates between 20* C to 30* C(68* F to 86* F). Summer starts from June to August. These are also the pre-monsoon months with occasional evening-thunderstorms and hot temperature. Autumn starts from September and ends by November. During this period, the climate is dry and mild with temperature fluctuating between 20* C to 30* C (68* F to 86* F). Winter starts from December to February. The morning and evening are very cold while the afternoon is pretty sunny. The temperature during these months rises from 15* C to 20* C (59* F to 68* F). For detail information on temperature and rainfall, check the Weather Chart.
What sort of clothing should I bring with me?
Clothing depends on place and time. Medium-weight and easy to wash cottons can be a good choice year-round in the Kathmandu valley. It is recommended that between October to February, woolen sweaters, jackets or similar other warm outfits are necessary. From March through May, light clothing such as short and long-sleeved shorts will do perfectly fine at Kathmandu, Pokhara and most other towns. For mornings and evenings, a jacket or heavy woolen sweater (you can find beautiful ones in reasonable price in Kathmandu) will be essential. For months from June to August, it is recommended that you bring an umbrella or raincoat and a pair of sandals with you as these months are the rainy months of Nepal. Expect lot of walking even if you don't plan to trek. So it's recommended that you bring comfortable footwear: sneakers and sandals are the best
If you intend to go for trekking, a pair of hiking boots will be great. Bring plenty of woolen socks too. Specialized trekking gear is easily available and can be rented in fairly inexpensive charge in Kathmandu and Pokhara: see FAQ on Trekking for details on proper clothing during treks.
Traveling to Nepal - Entertainment
Besides hiking and trekking in Nepal, what other things can I do and see in Nepal?
One can do lot of things besides hiking and trekking in Nepal.Nepal is a land of festivals. Almost everyday is day of festival in at least some parts of the country. Though most of them are of religious nature, they are almost always of joyous. You should not miss out on them. Kathmandu Valley, with its rich Newar heritage is the most colorful place in the country. But other parts of the country also have their own fanfare. Check out the "Nepali Calendar" for details on the major festivals that will occur during your visit.
Cultural Shows in Kathmandu and Pokhara also provide you with some entertainment, though they are far from being the real thing. Check out the posters in various restaurants and other public places in the tourist quarters of Kathmandu and Pokhara to find out what is going on.
About the existence of night life in Nepal, there are many night bars and couple of night clubs, that stay open till late night in Kathmandu. If you want to gamble a little and have some fun, then you can drop into casinos at five star hotels like Hotel Soaltee and Hotel Yak & Yeti in Kathmandu.
Tell me about the adventurous things that I could do in Nepal.
There are many adventures things that you could do in Nepal. For instance, you could go for white water rafting.The best time to go for rafting is between September to Early December and between March to Early June. The rafting trips range from US$ 40 to US$ 70. Some of the famous rafting rivers are Trisuli, Kali Gandaki, Bhote Koshi, Marshyangdi, Karnali and Sun Koshi. You require a permit to go for rafting. So, check out with rafting agencies for other necessary rafting related information.
In addition to this, you could also go for rock climbing at Nagarjun and Shivapuri in Kathmandu. You could even take Glider Flight in Pokhara and bungee jumping in Bhote Koshi (out of Kathmandu Valley).Other thing that you could do is go for mountain biking in the Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara and near the Tibetan Border.
I love wild life, what do you say?
Nepal is a paradise for wild life. And, you are at the right country to explore its diverse wild life and exotic birds. We have many National Parks and Wild life reserves. Some of the famous Wild life reserves and National Parks are Annapurna Conservation Area Project, Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, Royal Chitwan National Park and Sagarmatha National Park. Check out with the travel agent man for more information on National Parks of Nepal.
My kids are coming along with me to Nepal? Is there any interesting thing for them to do in Nepal?
There is a zoo in Patan.You can take your children to zoo. In zoo, your children can see 106 species of birds and 665 different animals; have elephant ride and boating.
You could even take them to visit Museums and Art Galleries in Kathmandu.
Besides these all, other exciting thing that you as well as your children could do is take them for Hot Air Ballooning. This is a superb way to view vast expanse of Himalaya and Kathmandu Valley. However, No more service right now in Kathmandu.
Is there anything to shop in Nepal?
Kathmandu is indeed known as the shopper's paradise for real work of art and cheap souvenirs. Some of the popular things that foreigners usually shop in Nepal are embroidered clothes, Tibetan carpets, pottery, masks and puppets, metal work, jewelries, wood carving, statues, Khukhuri (traditional Knife) and Thangka Paintings. Other than souvenir goods, imported goods, from cosmetics to electrical articles are also available in Kathmandu. The imported stuffs are of pretty nice quality and they are all in very reasonable prices.
It's very important that you remember to bargain while shopping in Nepal.
What are Thangka Paintings?
Thangkas are the traditional Tibetan Painting of ceremonial and religious subjects such as wheel of life, known as Mandala. Traditional Thangkas are framed in silk brocade and its cost ranges from US$ 20 to US$ 3000 and beyond.
Traveling to Nepal - Accommodation
Do I need to arrange for a place to stay before I arrive in Nepal?
Not really. If you, like almost all travelers to Nepal, are flying into Kathmandu, finding a place is never really a problem even during the busiest tourist season of the year (October-December and March-April). If you are entering Nepal overland, you will probably spend your first night-stop in Nepal in either Kathmandu or Pokhara, the two main tourist centers of the country. Both these places have excellent ranges of places to stay, from expensive international style hotels to cheap and comfortable lodges.
If you plan to stay overnight elsewhere in the country, there is not much you can do in terms of pre-booking for accommodation anyway. And you will not have much of a choice in terms of comfort and sanitary requirements, but you will find a shelter for the night --just ask around.
Okay, I am in Kathmandu or Pokhara already. I haven't done anything regarding finding a place for the night. How do I go about arranging it?
It is simple. If you fly in, step outside the airport. You will probably be badgered by a crowd of agents from various hotels all trying to win you over to stay at their place. You can bargain. Read further on for a guide on price level. If you find bargaining with dozens of agents outside the airport a little unappealing (which you probably will), just take a cab and ask him to take you to Thamel if in Kathmandu, (the ride is about 8 km and should cost you about $1.50), or Lake-side if in Pokhara (the ride is very short and should cost you less than $0.75). Practically every house in these areas is a hotel or a lodge.
How much does accommodation cost?
As anywhere in the world, the cost of accommodation depends on what facilities are provided and where they are located. Yet, by international standards, accommodation in Nepal in most cases is very cheap. Kathmandu and Pokhara have their own tourist quarters (Thamel in Kathmandu, Lakeside in Pokhara) with fierce competition among budget lodges. These lodges provide a double room for $5 to $10 per night (depending upon your bargaining skills) with basic facilities like running hot shower facilities, flush toilets, foam mattresses and clean sheets. Then there are the so called "hotels". Most of these are slightly more luxurious than the "lodges" with probably attached bath, carpeting, furniture etc. These hotels quote their prices in dollars ranging on average $15-$40 per night. Finally you can also stay at "luxury hotels" which are generally over-priced, like any world-class hotel, at a range of $100-$300 per night.
Beyond Kathmandu and Pokhara, "hotels" and "luxury hotels" are practically non-existent. But finding accommodation in "teahouses" and "trekking inns" is relatively easy, especially along popular trekking routes. They may or may not have hot water or electricity (less than ten percent of Nepal has access to electricity). Read the next answer for guidance on staying at these places. Expect the cost per night in most of these trekking inns to be between $1 - $4 per night. The teahouses cost even less: at most $0.50 per night.
Is there anything else I should be aware of regarding accommodation in Nepal?
Not really if you are staying at one of the lodges, hotels and luxury hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Your lodge-keeper is going to be a very helpful person who will most likely speak fluent English and will arrange for anything you may need during your stay such as laundry, bus tickets, phone calls and so on. It's certain that your room is safe when it's locked. However, it is advisable not to leave your valuables such as jewelry, money, passport, camera in your room while you are gone --have them stored specially with the hotel or carry them in a money belt or pouch around your neck or waist.
The teahouses and trekking-inns outside Kathmandu and Pokhara are not very wholesome. They generally have smelly squat toilets (if any), and no shower facilities. Bringing your own sleeping sheet/mat, mosquito coils (especially, if in the southern plaines), toilet paper is advisable. All these are readily available in Kathmandu or Pokhara for reasonable prices. As your own little contribution to prevent rapid environmental degradation of Nepal, whenever possible choose teahouses which use kerosene rather than fire-wood as the source of energy.
Traveling to Nepal - Getting Around in Nepal
If I want to travel around Nepal, what are my choices?
Unless you are trekking or hiking, in which case you would of course be walking, the most common mode of traveling from place to place within Nepal is by bus. Traveling by bus not only gives you a chance to see the terrific views of rural landscapes and the high Himalaya of the country but also gives you an opportunity to discover the insight of Nepal . After all, isn't that why you are visiting Nepal? You may also rent a car, but it is quite expensive and generally comes with a driver. You are strictly advised against driving on your own even if you have a proper international driving license: traffic rules are seldom observed, and roads can be very chaotic and dangerous even for the most experienced drivers. Domestic flights run between some towns but may be difficult to get if the towns you want to fly to are the popular tourist spots such as Lukla, Jomsom, Pokhara, Chitwan etc. Railroads are practically non-existent for your traveling purposes. Read further on for more details.
Tell me more about travelling by bus.
Being a mountainous country, straight roads and highways are few in Nepal. Except some parts of the southern plains in the Tarai, the roads in Nepal are few, narrow and serpentine, and very poorly maintained. There are two types of bus services: "Tourist bus" and "Public bus". Tourist bus, run by private bus companies or travel agencies, are little bit expensive than the public buses. Nevertheless, they are more comfortable, faster and less crowded than public buses. You can get tickets at any travel agencies at Thamel in Kathmandu. In Pokhara and Chitwan, just ask your hotel manager. It is a good idea to buy your ticket a day in advance and reserve a seat.
Quite the opposite, public buses are chaotically organized. They are slow and make countless stops along the way. For example, a bus takes about ten hours to cover the distance between Kathmandu to Pokhara which is just 200 km. Average traveling speed of a public bus turns out to be about 30-40 km per hour. The bus fare for any route is normally fixed and in general comes to about $0.30 per hour. You can buy the bus ticket at the GONGABU BUS PARK (located on the Ring Road on the north side of Kathmandu) or get them at travel agencies or the offices of bus companies in Kathmandu. It is recommended that if you want to use the public bus, it would be nicer to ask help from someone (perhaps your hotel manager) who knows about the bus system of Nepal pretty well and then purchase the tickets in advance. You should also be aware that all public buses from Kathmandu leave from the Gongabu Bus Park.
A popular option with many travelers are the "night buses". These are public or tourist buses that leave the point of origin at dusk and reach the final destination at dawn. Though you will not get much sleep at night in the night-bus, it can save your daytime for other better pursuits.
Since most of the roads in Nepal are not plain, do you think that people, who are not used to mountainous road, get car-sickness problem?
People who are not used to taking bus or car journey in serpentine mountainous road like that of Nepal may get car-sickness problem. So it's always better to carry car-sickeness medicines with you in your bus journey in Nepal.
Traveling in bus sounds a little too exciting for me, how about flying?
That can be just as exciting too. Frequent delays and cancellation due to weather and other reasons can sometimes make a bus the classic tortoise --slow, but steady enough to win the race. With the introduction of private airlines like Buddha Air and Necon Air, domestic flights from Kathmandu to places such as Chitwan, Pokhara, Jomsom, Dolpa, Biratnagar, Bhairawa, Nepalgunj, Bharatpur, Tumlingtar and Similot have become more reliable and available.
Airlines charge tourists inflated dollar prices on all routes. A round trip ticket between Kathmandu and Pokhara costs about $80.
Traveling to Nepal - Local transportation in Kathmandu and other towns
Once I fly into Kathmandu, how can I get from the Tribhuvan International airport to downtown Kathmandu?
The easiest and best option, especially if this is your first time in Nepal, would be to take a taxi run by the Airport Queue Taxi Service Management Committee (AQTSMC). The Airport Queue Taxi Service is on the ground floor foyer immediately after one leaves the arrivals baggage collection and custom section. These taxis have fixed rates.The other option is to take meter taxi, which charges you little bit more than the taxis operated by AQTSMC. These taxis may sometimes tend to cheat you by charging you more money. So you will have to decide on the price before you get in. Other thing that you could do is to ask the taxi driver to put on the meter while you take a ride to your destination. A ride from Tribhuvan International Airport to Thamel,the main tourist area, is about 8km and will cost you approximately $1.60.
What transportation options do I have to get around Kathmandu?
The choice for intra-city transportation of many visitors to Kathmandu is the taxi, if they want to travel point to point. There is also a fairly comprehensive local bus routes system. Many also choose to hire a bike or a three-wheeler tricycle called rickshaw. Yet if you just want to see around town, walking is still the best way, especially in the old part of Kathmandu. Read further for details on these options.
I want to go to Patan Museum from Thamel. How difficult is it to get a cab in Kathmandu?
There are numerous taxi companies. All kinds of cars/cabs are available in Kathmandu. All cabs have black license plates with white numbers. Most cabs also have a sign on them that says "taxi". Though quite expensive by local standards, many visitors to Nepal may find a taxi ride in Kathmandu fairly manageable at about $0.20 per km. Though tipping is not necessary while riding taxis, a tip of about 10 percent of the total fare will be greatly appreciated.
For a slightly lower cost, you can also hire metered three-wheeler scooter cabs called tempos. They are black in color. These are not as comfortable as proper taxis and are notorious as one of the main sources of sound and air-pollution in Kathmandu.
I want to use the local bus system.
Local buses in general are too crowded and slow. However, compared to taxis, they are very cheap. Even the longest bus ride within the three valley cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan will not cost you more than Rs5 (approx. $0.10). You normally pay your fare to the bus conductor when you get off at the end of the ride. Though buses are fairly frequent in the main routes, most bus routes do not have set schedules and stop their service by six or seven in the evening. If you are using a local bus for the first time, you may find it very helpful to ask someone (perhaps at your hotel) who knows the system for help.
Complementing the local buses in many of the routes are the environmentally friendly green and white three-wheeler tempos. They cost about one third more than the bus; carry six to eight passengers, and are more convenient than buses. Besides the local buses and tempoes, you can also find trolley buses. Trolley buses operate only from Tripureswor (near the football stadium) to Bhaktapur.
What if I like cycling/ motorbyke?
Riding a bike or a cycle is one of the best ways to tour around Kathmandu. In the old part of Kathmandu and Thamel areas, you can find shops that rent good bikes and cyles ranging from Indian to American in a very reasonable cost. Your name of the hotel will be sufficient to hire the bike or cycle from the bike-owner shop and thus, you will not require to make any deposits. Before you hire the bike/cycle, make sure that the cycle/bike has a bell/horn as it will really help to weave your way through town. If you want get down from your bike/cycle and want to take a walk or visit various spots of interest, you can lock your bike/cycle and park it around well trafficked parks of Kathmandu. If you have to ride your bike/cycle along the main streets of Kathmandu where there are lots of cars and other traffic, be very careful because breaking of traffic laws in Nepal is not uncommon at all.
How about rickshaws, the pedal-powered tricycles?
Riding a rickshaw to tour around the old part of Kathmandu is very popular among tourists. Before you get on a rickshaw, make sure the driver understands where you want to go. It's because its movement within the city is restricted. Also agree upon the fare before you get on. Though tipping is not necessary while riding rickshaws, a tip of about 10 percent of the total fare will be greatly appreciated.
How can I get around Pokhara and other towns in Nepal?
Most of your tours in Pokhara can be made on foot or on a hired bicycle or motorbike. A good bike costs about $1-2 per day and are available easily along the Lakeside drive. You can also get local buses and taxis. The taxis do not have meters and they ply on fixed routes. The fare is charged on a per-person basis but many of them may not have meters. So you will have to decide on the price before you get in. Under no circumstances, you should pay more than what you would in Kathmandu ($0.20 per km). You can also reserve a taxi to go to destinations that are not on their schedules.
For getting around within other towns elsewhere in the country, walking would be the best option. In most southern towns, the pedal-powered three wheeler tricycles called rickshaws are popular and are very cheap --Rs 2-5 (less than $.10) per km.
Traveling to Nepal - Drinking and Dining
What dietary expectations should I have during my trip to Nepal?
The staple food of Nepalese people is "daal, bhaat,tarkari" (lentil soup, curried vegetables with rice). Tarkari or curried vegetables can be bit spicy, hot and oily to people who are not used to eating spicy, hot and oily food. To avoid any stomach problems or diarrhoea in Nepal, I would suggest any foreigners to stick with their normal spiceless food. Daal and Bhaat are not spicy, so go ahead and taste them. For tarkari, I feel you should gradually try it in very less amount. Another thing that one should be aware of while arriving in Nepal is Drinking Water. Drink only bottled mineral water unless you are sure that the water is boiled and filtered.
In Kathmandu and Pokhara, you can also find plenty of restaurants that offer International Cuisine such as Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Indian and so on. In Kathmandu, you should try Newari cuisine: the Newars (original inhabitantsof Kathmandu Valley) have a very rich history of culinary art. Another food that you shouldn't miss to eat in Nepal is "MOMO". Momo can be both vegetarian and non-vegetarian types. Unless you are a veg person, I would recommend you to taste Non-veg Momos. You can find this food in any Nepalese restaurants and I would like you to discover this new food by your own during your visit to Nepal. However, besides these primary tourist hubs, you may not have much in terms of dietary choice. Trekkers will probably end up eating "daal, bhaat, tarkaari" (lentil soup, curried vegetables with rice) for every major meal.
Since Nepal is a Hindu Kingdom, beef is strictly prohibited among both the Hindus and Buddhist. Hence it is little bit difficult to find restaurants that offer beef.
For drinking, Nepal produces over half a dozen of larger and light beers. Dark beer is available. An amazing variety of other hard liquor such as rum, whiskey, gin, vodka etc. is also produced in Nepal. Imported liquors are available at exorbitant prices. You will also come across a few types of Nepalese home brewed alcohol called "Raksi" or "Ayla" along your trekking routes. Bottled water is available everywhere, and should be the only water you drink. Coke, Pepsi and other major international brand name sodas are also available.
How much do you think I should expect to spend on drinking and dining?
Eating out in Nepal is generally very reasonable. For about $3, you can buy a good dinner (excluding drinks) in a restaurant of the main tourist centers. A 750ml bottle of beer costs you about $1.75 in a restaurant, and $1.50 if you just buy it off a store. Other Nepalese made hard liquors are quite cheap. If you want an imported alcohol, however, expect to pay an exorbitant price. Sodas such as Coca-Cola, 7UP, Pepsi cost about $0.20 in shops. All these prices are for most of the road-accessible areas of the country. But as you move further into remote areas, the prices rise. For example if you are in Naamche Bazaar in the Everest region, the price can be as much as seven or eight times higher. For an average budget traveler, $10 will be enough for all your daily expenses on drinking and dining.
I am a vegetarian.
There is no problem in this. There are many vegetarian restaurants. And even if you drop into normal restaurants, you can easily get vegetarian food. Just for your information, Vegetarian in Nepal means non-consumption of both meat and egg. Milk and other animal product is allowed.
Do you think it is safe to eat freely in Nepal?
In general, yes. But, it's always good to take sensible precautions in order to avoid any health problems. No matter how tempting --and it can get very tempting after a long trek-- avoid drinking any other water than bottled water. If you have to drink non-bottled water, purify it with iodine or chlorine tablets (available readily in most drug stores in Kathmandu). Asking for bottled water in restaurants is always a best idea.
Do not eat roadside food that is exposed in the open air. Avoid buying and eating raw and unpeeled fruit and vegetables. Other than that, it is fine to have boiled, fried or properly packaged food items. Read the FAQ on Health and Insurance for details on what to do in case of health problems
Traveling to Nepal - Communication with the rest of the world
I want to send some postcards to my friends. Where is the General Post Office (GPO)?
The General Post Office is located near the Dharahara Tower or New Road in Kathmandu. The counters at the GPO are open from 9 am to 4pm (Monday through Friday) and provide stamps, postcards and aerograms.
How reliable is the mail system?
Okay for outbound mail from Nepal. Three to four weeks is standard delivery time for international letters mailed from Kathmandu and Pokhara. From elsewhere in the country, it is not worthwhile, just wait until you reach one of these two places. However, if you want to mail a letter to Nepal, the chances of timely delivery (if any delivery) is slim to none, especially if the address on the mail is a street address instead of a PO box.
Kathmandu has the only Poste Restante of the country and is reasonably efficient. Mail should be addressed to: Name, Poste Restante, General Post Office, Kathmandu, Nepal. US citizens may receive mail in c/o the Consular Section of the US Embassy in Kathmandu.
If you have American Express card or traveler's checks, you can also receive mail through the American Express agent in Kathmandu. Send mail to: Name, American Express, c/o Yeti Travels Pvt Ltd, Durbar Marg, Kathmandu, Nepal.
If letter mail is so unreliable, I take it that parcels and packages are worse?
You're right. If you can avoid parcels and packages, by all means do so. But if you buy stuff in Nepal and would like to have it mailed home, the Foreign Post Section of the main post office in Kathmandu is where you have to go. Airmail of parcels upto 10kg and surface mail upto 20 kg can be booked at the foreign parcel counter from 9am to 2pm, Monday through Friday. Plan to spend a good couple of hours at the post office going through an inefficient bureaucracy. You can bypass this inconvenience through shipping agents in Thamel area for an extra couple of bucks. International courier services such as UPS, DHL, Skypak have their agents in Kathmandu, but the price they charge can be very expensive.
Is there any Express Mail Service (EMS)?
EMS is available at the General Post Office,Thamel, Basantapur and airport postal counters in Kathmandu.
I want to call my boy-friend. How can I make International call?
Making international call is easy from major towns like Kathmandu and Pokhara."Communication shops" catering to phone and fax needs of travelers are ubiquitous in the main tourist areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara. They let you receive and send fax and phone messages for a fee. Nepal Telecommunication Corporation (NTC), the government phone monopoly charges very high prices for international phone calls ($2-3 per minute depending on the country you want to call) and expect to pay 10-20 percent more at the "communication shops". It may be less convenient, but you can avoid paying this extra amount by making your phone calls through the Central Telegraph Office in Kathmandu. Most hotels and lodges also have phone facilities.
Can I use my AT&T, MCI or other international calling cards?
Can I call collect?
No, unless you want to call Canada or the United Kingdom. But many "communication shops" in Kathmandu and Pokhara give you a "call-back" option: you call your home, give them the phone number of the "communication shop", and ask your folks to call you back. The cost to you would be the cost of one minute of international call plus about $0.30 for every minute of phone usage.
How about Internet access?
Cyber cafes are among some of the hottest trends in Kathmandu these days. In the main tourist centers of Kathmandu and Pokhara you will find cyber cafes in every corner. These cafes provide full internet services including ftp services, internet phones, etc. The internet service people charge you roughly NRS 20 to NRS 25 per hour. And these days there are also some cyber cafes that helps you to call in United States through internet in a very reasonable cost.
I am a news freak. How can I keep in touch with the happenings of the world?
In Kathmandu and Pokhara, major international newspapers and newsmagazines (International Herald Tribune, USA Today, Newsweek, Economist, Time etc) are available in the newsstands. Cable television is a booming business in Nepal. If you have access to cable TV at your hotel in Kathmandu, you can probably get BBC World and CNN International twenty-four hours a day. You may find it amusing, but popular American TV shows like X Files, NYPD Blue, Oprah, Baywatch, 90210, they are all there!
Besides this, you can also listen news in English from Radio Nepal, FM Kathmandu, K.A.T.H 97.9, Kantipur FM, and Nepal Television in Kathmandu. If you have a short-wave radio, you can also catch BBC World Service.
Traveling to Nepal - Local Customs and Culture
Is there anything that I need to be aware of about local customs and culture?
Culture and customs in Nepal run deep. Some of them you will find interesting, some strange and others beyond logic. But as long as you show respect and sensitivity to local traditions, willingness to learn and adapt to Nepalese ways and values, you will be fine. For a people so deeply rooted in traditions and culture, Nepalese are remarkably open-minded and easy-going. If at any time, you have doubts, ask or simply do what other Nepalese do.
Refer to Pilgrims Book House on Nepal for details on day to day street-level guide on cultural issues. The list here is just a simple, brief introduction and in no way exhaustive:
a. "Namaste" is a common act done by putting the palms together in a prayer like gesture to greet anyone in Nepal. Do not take it seriously if any Nepalese hesitates to shake hands because it really hasn't been very long since western traditions crept into the Nepalese way of life.
b. Use your right hand to eat and deal with food. Nepalese use their left-hand to wash themselves after defecating. Also remember that most Nepalese use their fingers to eat and using spoons and forks is not common, specially when you are having "Daal Bhat" the staple Nepalese diet.
c. Once your lips have touched a food item or its container, it is considered Jutho (polluted) for others. Don't eat off someone else's plate or offer anyone food you have taken a bite out of.
d. Major Hindu temples are usually off-limits to foreigners. Don't enter them or take pictures unless given permission to. Do not take leather articles inside the temple precint as they are prohibited. Also there will be small circular or rectangular stones or metal mandala on the ground in front of most shrines. Do not step on them.
e. Men should not walk/trek around bare-chested. Shorts are acceptable, but long pants are better. Women are recommended to wear long skirts. Exposure of women's legs can bring unnecessary, so avoid wearing shorts and short skirts. See FAQ on Trekking for more detail on appropriate clothing during treks.
f. Public display of affection between man and woman is frowned upon. Kissing, cuddling, hugging in public is absolutely discouraged.
g. Time in Nepal moves very slowly. Everything is approximate. Nothing happens on time. Be patient. Anger and impatience will rarely make things better, if not worse. Also, double and triple confirm important arrangements, Nepalese have a way of taking everything very cool.
h. Bargaining is very common in Nepal. You would often need to bargain while shopping and riding cabs in Nepal.
i. Finally, be aware that the tradition of "bakshish" --a word that literally means "gift" but is euphemistically used to refer to a bribe given in order to receive special consideration-- thrives very well in Nepal. Especially when dealing with poorly compensated public officials, a couple of rupees in bakshish, offered in a quiet and discreet manner can lubricate things up surprisingly.
Traveling to Nepal - Law, Order and Safety
How safe is Nepal?
Nepal is one of the safest places in the world. Violent crimes are very rare, and the only real concern to a traveller is petty theft. However, if you take basic common sense precaution, there is nothing to fear. Don't bring valuable things with you unless necessary for your trip. Keep your money and other valuables in a money belt or pouch strapped around your waist. Lock your bags and luggage.
I am going to be traveling alone? Is there any reason to be concerned?
Not really. You will be fine in most well trafficked area. But if you will be trekking particularly in remote areas and during times of the year when there are fewer travelers (June-September), it is generally advisable to team up even though cases of trouble are few. Teaming up not only deters potential trouble-makers, of which there are not many, but also will be of help in case of any other emergency. You can easily find welcoming fellow tourists along popular trekking routes or in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
I hate to ask this, but what if I am robbed?
Report it immediately to the police. They are normally at least comforting if not helpful. If you need a police report for insurance purposes, you have to go to the Interpol Section of Nepal Police located at Naxal. Dress smartly and be very polite, you will come out much ahead than otherwise.
Is there any law(s) I should particularly be aware of?
Yes, two. First, smuggling --particularly of drugs and gold-- into Nepal can run you into serious legal trouble. Second, proselytizing is against the law and is punishable by years in prison. Preaching of Christian religion by organized missionary groups has become quite widespread recently, but it is safest to keep your religion to yourself. There have been cases of unsuspecting tourists being jailed for distributing religious materials to locals.
I am a woman and I have heard horrible tales about harassment in South Asia. Am I likely to face harassment in Nepal?
Yes, especially in the form of staring and catcalling on the streets. But the problem does not even come close to what you will face in India and other parts of Asia. Just mind your own business, the harassers rarely do anything more. If you are not interested, a firm but gentle disapproval will solve the problem.
How about street beggars and touts?
As in any poor country with enough "rich" foreigners, Nepal has its share of street beggars and middle-men touts trying to sell you everything from information to drugs. There is no need to be intimidated by them. If you are not interested, mind your own business or tell them to leave you alone. They will.
Traveling to Nepal - Trekking
I want to go on a trek. When and where can I do so?
There are numerous treks you can try when you are in Nepal depending on the time of the year, amount of time and money you have to spend, and the amount of experience you've had. For limited time and money, the best trekking routes would be the Langtang-Helambu trek just north of Kathmandu, and parts of the Annapurna region trek north of Pokhara. If you have more time, a trek in the Everest region or the full Annapurna circuit can be rewarding. A more difficult trek is the Kanchanjunga area trek in the far-eastern Nepal. A good trekking book is recommended if you want more details on treks. Check out Pilgrims Book House for more details. Visit more details about Nepal Trekking Area. - Click here
Where Can I get more information and maps?
A travel/trek guide book is best for more information. Maps are available in bookstores around Pokhara and Kathmandu.
Is it okay to trek alone?
While trekking alone can be a great way to get to know the country, deciding to trek alone deserves a second thought. Safety-wise, it is generally okay to trek alone on popular trekking route. Incidents involving trekkers do occur occasionally (and probably is on the rise). But as a general advice, you should team-up. Teaming-up can also be of great help if you ever need some medical help. During the main tourist season, you will run across other trekkers who will not mind you joining them. Also, you can find posters in the main tourist areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara looking for trekking partners. An option is also to hire a trek guide or a porter to go along with you.
Should I trek with an agency?
Trekking with an agency can be worthwhile for those who are very tight on schedule but not on money. A trekking agency can organize a trek for you for anywhere in the upwards of $40 a day depending upon the nature of your trek. The deal normally comes with food, shelter, porters and guides. You will be traveling with other similar trekkers. If you hire an agency in Kathmandu or Pokhara, you get a much better bargain than hiring one in your home country. While traveling with an agency offers you a degree of luxury that may not be available if you go independently, it also has its own limitations. You have to stick to the group schedule; you will not be able to design your own plans; the trip is fairly expensive and your interaction with the local culture will be limited.
Should I hire a porter and/or a guide?
Hiring a porter and/or a guide can add greatly to your trek experience in Nepal, especially if this is your first time, and if you are traveling on less frequented trails, thus having to carry a heavy load (tents, food etc). An independent porter costs about $10-$15 a day, and a guide costs about $4-$6. Make sure you agree upon the wage before hiring one. You can ask your hotelier or a local trekking agency in Kathmandu or Pokhara to find one for you. You can also find them in bigger settlements along your trekking route.
If you decide to hire a porter and/or a guide, remember that you are their employer and thus should take full responsibility. You must make sure they have adequate clothes and other gear necessary for the trek. It is your responsibility to rent the gear for them. It is also your responsibility to take care of their medical requirements if they fall sick during the trek. Remember that many porters hired in the lower lands of Kathmandu and Pokhara may not be aware of the problems of trekking in high altitudes.
Do I need a trekking permit?
Except the trekking areas such as the Everest, the Annapurna and the Langtang, one requires trekking permit to visit other trekking areas. Your visa is not good enough. Trekking permits are issued very easily by the Department of Immigration Office in Kathmandu and Pokhara.You need your visa, trekking fee and two colored passport-sized pictures to get your trekking permit. Remember that you require different trekking permits to different trekking areas. Note, however, that a trekking permit does not allow you to go anywhere in the country either. If mountain-peak climbing is your desire, it falls under a whole different category, and will require a different permit.
How Should I dress during a trek?
Nepal is conservative with clothes, and your reception by locals can vary greatly on the way you dress. Men should always wear a shirt (don't go around bare chested) and long pants. In view of local customs, men should try not to wear shorts, and women should avoid them altogether. For women, a skirt of mid-calf length is preferable to slacks or pants. Slacks with sarong or skirt over them, and a (at least half-sleeved) blouse or shirt are probably most appropriate.
Besides the issue of culturally sensitive dressing, it is also important for you to make sure you have appropriate clothing to meet your needs during a trek. Good shoes are of great importance. You will be walking for up to eight hours a day. They must be sturdy and comfortable. Bring along sneakers --or if you have one, a well-broken-in pair of hiking boots-- they are sufficient for most treks. For higher altitude treks where you may have to tread snow for long hours, good boots are available for rent in Kathmandu.
Also bring along a couple of pairs of warm wool, corduroy or jeans pants (for men), a warm sweater (you can also buy beautiful ones in Nepal for a bargain) and a padded jacket, a couple of T-shirts and/or shirts. Thermal underwear can be great especially between November and February. Bring plenty of woolen and cotton socks.
Anything more specialized than all this can be easily rented or bought in Nepal for a good price.
What else should I bring along in a trek?
Most of what you need during a trek is available in Kathmandu, and you can buy them or rent them once you are there. Most books on trekking will list them, check one out before you embark on your trek. If you do not have a book yet and plan to get one only once you are in Nepal, there are some things you may want to bring from home. Bring ear-plugs to help you sleep in spite of barking dogs. A battery operated short-wave radio can be helpful to listen to weather reports or the news. Also bring along a pocket knife, sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, photographic equipment, binoculars, a compass, a good watch with possibly an altimeter, and a day pack. Others, you can buy or rent in Kathmandu for reasonable price.
When I go for treks, can I store my luggage somewhere?
Generally your hotel or lodge will let you store your luggage with them for some nominal or no fee. As long as you lock up your bags, they are normally safe.
Any health precautions that I need to consider during my trek?
Get a good travel book to guide you on health matters. There are plenty available in Kathmandu, if you can't find one in a bookstore near you. Stephen Bezruchka's book called Trekking in Nepal addresses health issues in excellent detail. Don't forget to take a first-aid kit: the details of which are also mentioned in most trek books. All of what you will need to take along can be purchased in Kathmandu, so don't bother carrying stuff from home. Read the health guidance in Health and Insurance section and Dining and Drinking section for more details.
Besides minor ailments stomach problems, blisters, cold and headaches, the most important health problem you may run into is altitude sickness. You will not have to worry about it in Kathmandu, Pokhara or other lower places. But once you are on the trekking trails and above 3000m in altitude, watch out for its symptoms. Refer to a good travel book for details on how to recognize altitude sickness and what to do about it. As a suggestion for travel planning, you may want to plan for "rest days" at about 3,700m - 4,300m altitude levels. This means sleeping at the similar altitude for two nights. Also remember that you should not try to climb too high too soon: about 450m per day is the recommended amount.
What do I do in case of emergency?
Though in general, you are not likely to face any emergency, you can never tell. Once again, a good book on trekking will give you details on what to do in case of emergency. In cases of non-urgent situation, you may have to be carried to the nearest health-post or airfield. If the situation is more serious, send word to the nearest village with radio service for a helicopter evacuation. It costs in the neighborhood of $1200 - $2000 for a helicopter evacuation, and generally a guarantee for payment is required before the helicopter actually takes off. Registering with your embassy can greatly speed the process
Traveling to Nepal - Other Odd FAQ
I don't have much time to trek around all over the country. But I would still like to see as many mountains as I can. What can I do?
An excellent way to see the breath-taking mountains of Nepal is to take the "mountain flight". Royal Nepal Airlines and other private airlines such as Buddha Air, Cosmic Air, Gorkha Airlines and Necon Air offer these spectacular mountain flights several times a day in Nepal. You can check for the mountain flight schedule at the websites of Necon Air and Gorkha Airlines.
I am an avid reader. Do I need to take my own books?
Don't bother. Kathmandu and Pokhara have dozens of book stores to satisfy all sorts of readers. New and used English and other European language books are available in these stores. Most will buy or trade your used books. Check out Pilgrims Book House for more information on Books of Nepal.
Condoms are cheaply available in every drug store and so are Pills.
Can I take my children with me?
Yes, but poor sanitation, long arduous treks, different food tastes are some of the things parents need to watch out for. However, there are many shopping stores that provide lot of children's goods.
Except in tourist lodges and restaurants in Kathmandu and Pokhara, the general norm is that toilets are smelly squat if at all available. In most cases, the open field is all yours! Nepalese use water and their left hand to clean themselves afterwards. So, you may want to carry your own toilet paper (easily available in Nepal).
Bury your produce and burn the used toilet paper for environmental and health reasons during a trek.
Should I bring my electronic/electric gadgets along?
In most cases it is not worth the trouble. Only 10 percent of Nepal has electricity. Moreover, it is very unreliable both due to frequent black-outs and occasional surge voltage. Where and when available, the electricity is 220 volts AC. However, a battery-run short-wave radio may be helpful during treks to listen to weather forecasts and news.
What sort of bag is best to carry my personal belongings to and within Nepal?
An internal frame backpack or rucksack is ideal. Suitcases can be very inconvenient while traveling and trekking within Nepal. Also bring along a small day-time backpack to carry around things needed while touring around during the day. A money-belt or pouch to strap around your waist for your money, passport and other valuables is recommended. Specialized gear for trekking need are available for rent in Kathmandu.
I am disabled.
Treks may be hard for you, depending on the nature and severity of your disability. Steps, stairs and steep slopes are everywhere. A quiet holiday in Kathmandu or one of the wildlife parks in the Tarai can be great though. However, note that except in the more expensive hotels, handicap facilities are non-existent.
I am gay.
Nepal, like many countries around the world, denies its naturalness. In a country where love of sexual nature is a very personal business and even heterosexual display of affection in public is absolutely frowned upon, you will be fine as long as you keep your homosexuality a private affair.
I have heard a lot about drugs being freely available in Nepal. Is it true?
Cannabis does grow wild in the hills of Nepal, though its farming is illegal. You will get your share of offers for hash, opium, heroin and other drugs. If you are not interested, just offer back a deaf ear, or politely but firmly say no: peddlers will not hassle you. If you are interested, be aware that it is illegal and can land you into a lot of trouble. Jails in Nepal can be quite an experience. That said, however, discreet possession of dope is almost riskless; just don't flash it around.
What do I do in case of emergency?
The Nepal Police has a unit known as the Tourist Police, trained specially to assist vistors regarding security and other travel related problems. Telephone 247041 and an English speaking officer will take your call from 11am to 5pm. Other than this, you can also dial 100 for the police and if there is fire, dial 102. Emergency in Nepal is one thing where prevention is certainly better than cure. Also, registering with your embassy or consulate in Kathmandu can help. See For-mission.html to see if your country has a diplomatic mission in Nepal. For trekking related emergencies see FAQ on Trekking.
Washing machines and dryers are not anymore rare in Nepal. You can get one day laundary service at Thamel in Kathmandu and Lakeside in Pokhara.
However, if you do not want to spend money on laundary shops, you can buy washing soaps and detergents like "Arial" or "Surf" in any retail shops in Nepal.
I have heard that Nepal has recently been facing severe environmental problems, is there anything I can do about it?
Yes, a lot. Because a foreign visitor to Nepal consumes far more resources in a day than an average Nepali would in a week, even minor environmental deliberateness on your part can add up to a lot.
When in Kathmandu, use water sparingly. For example, make your showers brief. Water shortages in Kathmandu is very acute (especially during the dry seasons between May and October, which unfortunately also coincides with the main tourist season). Households can go without any water supply for days! On better days, direct water supply is available in neighborhood water-supply taps for about two hours in the morning and two in the evening. People carrying their day's water supply in various containers from these taps is a normal scene of early morning and early evening in Kathmandu. Remember that every time you flush your toilet, you use about a family's water supply for a day. While your hotel will have a storage tank from which running water will be supplied to you through out the day, the water in the storage tank comes from the same supply network that serves the rest of the city.
While trekking, try to patronize teahouses and lodges which use kerosene, electricity or solar energy instead of wood where possible. Rely more on warm clothes than wood-stoves to keep yourself warm. Supplying for energy requirement for travelers make up a significant part of deforestation that goes on in the hills of Nepal: it has been estimated that a trekker consumes, directly or indirectly, up to ten times more firewood in a day than a Nepali. Bring back with you all unburnable litter such as plastic packaging and cans from treks. Also, if there is no latrines out in the trails, keep away from water sources. Burn used toilet paper.
Traveling to Nepal - Beyond Nepal
I've heard a lot about Tibet, and I've made my mind to go there after I finish touring Nepal.
An excellent idea. Kathmandu was once the center of the ancient trade route connecting Tibet to India. Thus Kathmandu is the natural gateway to Tibet and is the perfect place to start your journey to the ancient land.
Almost all the good travel agencies have some sort of package tour that would take you there. You can either fly to Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, or take the memorable road that takes you along the magnificent Nepalese countryside.
What about India? I've heard its a great land.
Again, because of "very friendly" relationship between Nepal and India, going to India from Nepal involves almost no hassle. Of course there are the usual travel precautions to be taken, but it is really very easy. Various airlines fly almost everyday from Kathmandu to various Indian cities like Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta, and Patna. If you are taking a flight to visit India from Nepal, it's best to book your ticket well in advance as some of these flights can already be booked.
And if you're more an adventurous type, you could try going by road. Nepal is bordered by India in the east, west as well as the south but we have only six entry points along the border. Before you take the overland journey, be well prepared to face the long and time consuming stress-full journey as sometimes these journeys can be a bit too much for those not used to travelling by buses and trains in South Asian Countries.
I want to travel to other countries of South Asia.
South Asia offers a very different experience from that of the rest of the world. Majority of South Asian Countries still have their ancient culture, tradition and religion left in them. Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan are beautiful exotic destinations that you could choose to visit. Check out with your travel agent for more details on this.