Nepal Travel Guide
Nepal has a skyline dominated by some of the world’s highest mountain peaks. There is something magical and surreal about this country that has to be seen to be understood. At times both modern and ancient and filled with Himalayan allure and traditions, there is also a lush spread of jungles and forested plains, which are home to majestic tigers and one-horned rhinoceros. Draped majestically along the greatest heights of the Himalayas, Nepal is where the ice-cold of the mountains meets the steamy heat of the Indian plains. It’s a land of yaks and yetis, stupas and Sherpas and some of the best trekking on earth. BBC Travel lists Nepal as one of the 50 places to visit before you die.
Before your Nepal vacation, it’s important to learn some travel information to ensure that your trip is seamless. From visas to health, find all the answers in our Nepal travel guide.
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Visa and entry
Nepal extends trouble-free issuance of visa to all the citizens worldwide at Royal Nepalese Embassies or Consulates abroad and at entry-point Immigration Offices. Presentation of a valid passport, one passport size photo and fees mentioned below are required. Multiple entry tourist visas can be obtained from the immigration counter upon arrival at Kathmandu airport by paying US $ 30 for a 15 day period or US $ 50 for 30 days. Note: Trekking permits are not required for Everest, Annapurna and Langtang areas.
Information on your local consulate can be found here.
Nepal does not require any immunizations for entry into the country, but the further off the beaten path one goes the more necessary it becomes to take required precautions. Travelers who come from yellow fever infected areas should be vaccinated and carry a certificate of vaccination. Vaccinations against Japanese B encephalitis, meningococcal meningitis, tuberculosis and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended as well.
The best, well equipped and most convenient hospital for tourist care is Patan Hospital in Lagankhel. Other hospitals include the Western Regional Hospital, Manipal Hospital in Pokhara and the Mission Hospital in Tansen. Pharmacies in Kathmandu offer a wide range of Western drugs at low prices. In Kathmandu, you can get certain vaccinations free at the Infectious Diseases Clinic. Full medical insurance is essential for this.
Altitude sickness is a hazard for trekkers – it is important to gain altitude gradually, come down to a lower altitude immediately if experiencing headaches, nausea or dizziness. Obtain further advice from the Himalayan Rescue Association.
Language and communication
The official language in the country is Nepali, also called Nepalese. English is confined to a small population of elite or educated and in the urban areas only. Most people in the tourist places speak and understand English however, they further you travel to the interiors the lesser your chances of encountering English-speaking locals.
Nearly all top hotels provide an Internet facility to their guests. Few hotels offer complimentary WiFi Most provide internet on a chargeable basis. You will find government as well as private owned internet cafes in nearly every Nepalese town.
There are phone kiosks in Nepal with both STD and ISD facilities. Local calls are cheap but international and national calls can be costly compared to the rates prevailing in other South Asian countries.
Nepal is not yet modernized and not as per international standards but is good enough in comparison to most of the countries in Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile connectivity is good and generally congestion-free. It is recommended to make use of landlines or even better and economical internet phones when trying to make calls.
Currency and cards
American Express is widely accepted along with MasterCard and Visa in tourist shops, hotels, restaurants and agencies. ATMs are widely available however, it is not wise to depend on the usage of Credit cards because of the difficulty in withdrawing cash in the mountains. Those embarking on treks should take enough cash for the duration of their trek. Nepalese Commercial Banks such as Himalayan Bank and Nabil Bank have installed ATM machines in some within Kathmandu but you may or may not be able to draw money from these machines depending upon the banks supported.
International transfers can be received via moneychangers affiliated with Money Transfer or Western Union. Travelers’ checks are easily exchangeable in Kathmandu and Pokhara. You might be able to exchange them in other large towns that usually fall on trekking trails. Eg: Namche Bazaar, Manang and Jomsom. Although it is best advised to exchange bulk money in Kathmandu as the rate of exchange here is a lot better.
Tribhuvan International Airport is the only international airport in Nepal. Royal Nepal Airlines- the national flag carrier of Nepal and other International Airlines also operate flights to Kathmandu. The Royal Nepal Airlines operates an extensive network of air service in the interior parts of Nepal. It has scheduled connection flights from Kathmandu to other major cities. Beside Royal Nepal Airlines the other domestic airlines such as Nepal Airways, Everest Air, Asian Helicopters, Necon Air, Lumbini Airways and Cosmic Airways also provide regular and charter services to different popular destinations.
Nepalese roads in general are well maintained and connected to most of destinations in the country. There are taxi and auto rickshaws (three wheelers) with fare meters in Kathmandu. Motorcycles, bicycles and rickshaws are also available. However the mountainous terrain and winding roads restrict the average driving speed of vehicle to about 35 km / hour. Railways also operate in the Eastern areas. Nepal is also connected to India by road.
Religion and everyday etiquette
Although Nepal is famous as the world’s only Hindu Kingdom, it is an intricate mix of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and other beliefs. Taking photographs inside most temples is considered illegal. The Nepalese tend to be devout in their choice of worship. It’s best to use the right or both hands when passing something to a local, and ensure that you don’t point at people.
Politically, Nepal is marked by two conflicts, the Maoist insurgency and the decline of the democratic system that was introduced in 1990. Nepal has experienced significant political violence in the past and, although there have been fewer major disturbances in recent months, political tensions remain. Protests, demonstrations, and disruptions continue to occur, often without notice.
Shopping in Nepal
You can buy nearly everything in Nepal – from locally made handicrafts to cheap Chinese and Japanese electronic items. Among the handicraft items you can buy are clothing such as Kashmiri Shawls and Wrap-around, as well as Tibetan Robes and Kurtas. Women can go for beautifully embroidered and comfortable to wear Kaftans. These items are quite inexpensive but you have to learn the art of bargaining before you venture to Nepal. Kathmandu also offers you handicraft items such as miniature paintings, stone idols, bronze busts and junk jewelry.
If you are buying antiques in Nepal, you need to get special permission from the Department of Archaeology to take the antiques out of the country. Customs in Nepal are extremely thorough when it comes to inspecting the baggage of those leaving the country. For this reason, it is essential that you get receipts for any items when shopping which appear to be antique. Ensure not to buy anything when you are shopping which looks as though it is a black market antiquity as this could put you in a very difficult position if you are caught with the item in your baggage.
The export of antiques, religious objects, manuscripts, images and anthropological materials is strictly prohibited (regarded as those 100 years or older) and closely monitored by the authorities. Restricted goods (goods whose imports and exports are restricted by law and require a permit from the related government agencies).
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Enchanting Travels made planning this vacation a breeze. I didn’t stress at all during the trip, especially since there was also someone there to help with international transfers. All of our guides spoke English well and were quite accommodating.
Enchanting Travels employs people who really know how to listen to their clients and provide an exciting itinerary that is also safe and flexible. Everyone we worked with, from Brenda and Lavina to our guides Mr. Pongthep and Sangay, and our chauffeur Kengua, were professionals who seemed to really enjoy showing us their beautiful and exciting countries.
Go to Bhutan now! We don’t believe it is really going to stay this way for long. And it really is unique right now. Building laws require that dwellings be built in the traditional fashion and this makes for the most beautiful and original vistas. No one goes to Bhutan for the cuisine.
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