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
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.
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.
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