Information & Facts
The Kathmandu Valley has a mild climate most of the year,
situated at an altitude of 4,297 feet (1,310m). Summer temperatures
range from 67-81°F (19-27°C), and in winter temperatures are
between 36 and 68°F (2-20°C). During the rainy monsoon season
between June and August, there is an average rainfall of between
7.8-14.7 inches (20-37cm) in Kathmandu. May and June can be very
hot and humid until the monsoon rains bring relief. In spring
(March to April) and autumn (October to November) the temperatures
are pleasant with occasional short bursts of rain, while November
to February are dry, but can be very cold, especially at night.
The public bus system in Kathmandu is perhaps best not
attempted, unless by the seasoned traveller, as buses tend to be
crowded and unreliable, leaving only when buses are full to
bursting. Taxis are available and are usually found outside hotels
and shopping centres. Passengers should ensure the meter is
switched on, although fixed prices can be negotiated for
sightseeing. Auto rickshaws (
tempos) are a good option and usually operate on fixed
routes, while pedal rickshaws are best used only for short trips.
Bicycles and motorcycles can be hired, but pollution and heavy
traffic make this a less preferential option. Bicycle theft is also
common. Self-drive car hire is not available and cars come with a
driver, but this is usually an expensive option and traffic is
invariably heavy, making it slow going. It is perhaps best to
negotiate the city on foot.
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.
Most of the nightlife in Kathmandu is based in Thamel and on
Freak Street, and there are also quite a few bars to be found near
Pulchowk in Patan. Music is not allowed to be played after 10pm but
many bars and clubs stay open till later than this. There is
nightlife information in the Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan
Times. Popular bars in Kathmandu include Tom & Jerry's Bar and
the Tamas Spa Lounge in Thamel, and the Absolute Bar in Patan.
Tongue and Tales as well as Celtic Menang also have glowing
reputations. Underground Bar in Thamel, and the Galaxy Discotheque
in Hotel Everest, are Kathmandu's most trendy club venues.
Nightclubs in Kathmandu generally have a cover charge. Live music
can be heard at the Reggae Bar and G's Terrace, while New Orleans
Café is good for jazz. Popular casinos include Casino Nepal at the
Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel, as well as casinos at Yak & Yeti,
Hotel de l'Annapurna and Everest Hotel. For movies, try the
Kathmandu Mini Vision in the Kathmandu Plaza.
Shopping in Kathmandu offers a variety of goods ranging from
authentic local handicrafts to religious souvenirs. In Kathmandu,
there are shops in the Patan and Bhaktapur areas that trade in
bronze and copper goods such as Buddha idols, while Pokhara is good
for Gorkha insignia banners, flags and medals, as well as Newari
artefacts such as wooden statues and figurines. There are also many
shops in Kathmandu selling hand-woven cotton fabric and clothing.
Nepalese souvenirs include Tibetan carpets, thangkas and paubhas
(scroll paintings), Terai baskets and traditional rice paper.
Kashmiri shawls, Tibetan robes and embroidered kaftans are also
very popular, and there is a lot of religious paraphernalia for
sale at Buddhist sites in Kathmandu. However, the most sought-after
treasures are the rare lime-green tourmaline gems.