Nepal, Asia - Stein Travel
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Nepal's acronym of Never Ending Peace And Love, does well to characterise this nation of good natured and accommodating people; a land of majestic Himalayan scenery comprising eight of the world's ten highest mountains, including Mt Everest: the uppermost place on earth at 29,029 feet (8,848m).

Situated between India and Tibet, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is filled with many different ethnic groups, customs and traditions reflected in a wonderfully diverse geography. From the hot Indian plains and steamy southern Tarai lowlands, the terrain crosses the Kathmandu Valley and rises to the frozen heights of the Himalayan peaks towards the Tibetan plateau known as the 'roof of the world'.

Spread across these varied altitudes are communities of colourful cultures and people (many untouched by modern development), animated cities and towns, and far-flung mountain villages. Life here revolves around an intricate intermingling of ancient Hindu and Buddhist religious rituals. Numerous festivals are celebrated throughout the year coloured by a diversity of religious and tribal traditions. The capital of Kathmandu brings an assortment of these different societies together into a vibrant collection of brilliant sights and exotic smells, with modern shops co-existing with street sellers, while pyramidal Buddhist temples, holy Sadhus of the Hindu faith and medieval palace squares fill the urban landscape.

Nepal is well endowed with glorious scenery - verdant terraced valleys, rushing rivers and ice-blue lakes that originate in the 'abode of snows', or Himalayas. The uplifting sight of soaring mountains is a magnet for mountaineers and trekkers, offering some of the greatest challenges and most scenic walking opportunities on earth. Its diverse terrain offers tremendous opportunities for adventurous activities, and although mountain climbing and trekking are the most popular, there is also superb white-water rafting on steep mountain rivers, as well as elephant-back safaris or tiger tracking in the Royal Chitwan and Royal Bardia National Parks situated within the jungles of the southern Tarai belt.

Nepal has many attractions, but the essence of the country is its smiling, friendly people with their heartfelt palm-pressed greetings, and together with its inspiring scenery, this beguiling kingdom is a place where one visit is usually not enough to satisfy the captivated traveller.

Information & Facts


The Nepalese are warm and friendly, and business tends to be conducted with a combination of formality and sincerity. Much time is given to small talk and socialising. Handshakes are fairly common, though one should wait to see if greeted with a hand, or a namaste -a traditional greeting of a small bow accompanied by hands clasped as if in prayer. Visitors should return the greeting. Dress tends to be formal and conservative, with suits and ties the norm. Titles and surnames are usually used; the elderly in particular are treated with great respect and the word 'gi' is added after the name as a polite form. Punctuality is important, although it may take some time to get down to business, and negotiation can be a long process. English is widely spoken and understood, though discussions in Nepali may occur between Nepalese themselves within a meeting. Business hours are usually 9.30am or 10am to 5pm Sunday to Thursday (closing at 4pm in winter). Saturday is a holiday.


Nepal has two seasons: the dry season from October to May, and the rainy monsoon season from June to September. Early spring (March to April) and late autumn (October and November) are the best times to visit Nepal, and also offer the clearest mountain views and good weather for trekking. From December to February there is snow on the mountains with freezing temperatures at high altitudes, while the summer months of June to August can be very hot for general travel.


The country code for Nepal is +977, and the outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)1 for Kathmandu and (0)41 for Pokhara. Two mobile phone operators provide GSM 900 network coverage in the main cities and towns, but this does not extend to the summit of Mount Everest! In the main tourist centres of Kathmandu and Pokhara there are Internet cafes on every corner.


Nepal has numerous cultural practices that are unusual to foreigners. In the tourist areas there is a high degree of tolerance towards visitors, but away from these places foreigners should be sensitive to local customs. Never accept or offer anything, or eat with the left hand. Do not eat from someone else's plate or offer food from one's own. Women should dress conservatively and cover as much as possible. Permission should be sought before taking photographs, particularly at religious sites. Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon.

Duty Free

Travellers to Nepal do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or the equivalent in other tobacco products; 1 litre of alcohol and perfume for personal use. It is illegal to export goods that are over 100 years old.


Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two- and three-pin plugs are used.

Getting Around

There are a number of options for getting around in Nepal. The local micro buses are fast and reliable, serving most city destinations, and Super Express buses are also a good bet as they don't stop at unscheduled locations. The larger local buses are a cheap option, but somewhat less comfortable and dependable. There are also tourist buses, including Greenline, that can be booked through local travel agencies and hotels. A rickshaw can be used for shorter journeys but fares must be negotiated in advance. Crowded Tempos and Toyota vans also ferry passengers around Nepal's cities. There are private and share taxis available, as well as motorcycles and cars to rent.


Malaria is a health risk between June and September in the low-lying areas of Nepal, including Chitwan National Park, but not in the common trekking areas. Outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis occur annually, particularly between July and December; vaccination is advised. Cholera outbreaks occur and food and water precautions should be followed. Untreated water should be avoided; visitors can buy bottled water or purify their own. When trekking it is preferable to treat river water rather than leaving a trail of plastic bottles behind. Purifying water with iodine is the cheapest and easiest way to treat water. Altitude sickness is a real risk for trekkers. Many trekkers may suffer from altitude sickness above 8, 202ft (2, 500m); if symptoms persist it is wise to descend as quickly as possible. Standard of care in hospitals varies, but there are traveller's clinics in Kathmandu and numerous pharmacies in the major towns. Medical insurance is essential, which should include air evacuation. Travellers arriving from infected areas require a yellow fever vaccination certificate.


Nepali is the official language. English is spoken in all major tourist areas.


The official currency is the Nepali Rupee (NPR), which is divided into 100 paisa. As change can be a problem it is recommended that visitors have a supply of small notes handy. Tourist activities are often quoted in US Dollars and it is advisable to carry new dollar bills in varied denominations. Both Euro and US dollar travellers cheques are widely accepted in tourist areas and can be cashed easily in most banks and major hotels throughout the country. There are ATMs in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards are accepted in many tourist hotels, shops, restaurants and travel agencies. Banks and moneychangers are present in all tourist places and in the major cities; all receipts from foreign exchange transactions should be kept so rupees can be exchanged back into foreign currencies on departure. Cash is needed when trekking.

Passport Visa

All foreign passengers to Nepal can obtain a tourist visa on arrival in the country. These visas are valid for a maximum of 90 days, and cost between USD 25 and USD 100 (depending on the length of intended stay). Note that extensions of touristic stays (up to 150 days) can be arranged after arrival, by applying at the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu or Pokhara (fee: USD 20, plus an additional charge of USD 2 per day extended). All tourist visas are valid for Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara Valley and Tiger Tops (Meghauli airport) in Chitwan. However, if travellers wish to visit other places, or trek in Nepal, permits can be obtained from the Central Immigration Office. Note also that passengers who need a visa for India, and who also want to visit Nepal, should hold a visa valid for two entries into India; and that persons wishing to re-enter into Nepal, and having in their passports any previous Nepalese visas cancelled (invalidated) by the Central Immigration Office, will be refused entry and deported. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required, if arriving in Nepal within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.


There are safety concerns in Nepal following the 2008 elections, when it became a secular republic. Demonstrations and public gatherings should be avoided, as there is still a high risk of violence. Due to previous bomb attacks and shootings in public places, including the main tourist areas of Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lukla, as well as on popular trekking routes, visitors are warned to be particularly vigilant; foreign tourists have been involved in several incidents. Foreigners have been the target of recent attacks in the Thamel district of Kathmandu, and are advised to be cautious after dark and to stay in a group if in the area at night. There have been incidences of violent robbery against trekkers and there is an armed Maoist presence on many of the major trekking routes who demand a 'tax' before allowing trekkers to pass. Trekkers are advised to stay on established routes and walk in a group or with professional guides. Foreigners have been attacked in the Nagarjun Forest Reserve just outside Kathmandu and visitors are advised to be cautious in the area and to travel in a group.


Restaurants and hotels may add 10% to bills in which case no further tip is required; otherwise a 10% tip is customary in places that cater to tourists. It is customary to tip guides and porters on treks. Elsewhere it is not customary to tip, but gratuities are always appreciated.

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