Nepal has built an impressive reputation and earned its spot as a favorite tourist destination. From shimmering lakes nestled deep in mountain tops, dense humming jungles to elusive rare animal species and fluttering peaceful prayer flags atop ancient religious sites, Nepal creates an addictive mental image.
While the testing mountain trails and calming streets offer a once-in-a lifetime experience, Nepal has a lot more to offer. From the majestic streets of Kathmandu to the birthplace of Buddha, Nepal promises to intrigue and satisfy with equal measure.
The destination image of Nepal is enough to intrigue adventurers and religious people. For the average tourist, they cannot help themselves but look forward to the ancient marvels and culinary delights Nepal holds. But that’s just a piece of the pie. To enjoy Nepal, you first have to know Nepal.
From the diverse breathtaking landscapes like the Himalayan Mountains in the north to the flat expansive plains in the south, deep gorges, towering mountains, vibrant culture and charismatic people. Let’s experience Nepal from someone who’s been there.
Some things you need to know about Nepal.
Social Etiquette is paramount
You’ll want to know how to greet the locals. Master the traditional manner of greeting i.e., Placing your palms together in prayer style and saying “namaste” or “namaskar”. If you’re addressing the old folks, you use ‘dai’ for men and ‘didi’ for women.
While moving around, avoid stepping over someone’s outstretched legs or touching anyone with your feet as both of this are considered impolite. The locals take their culture very seriously, so you’ll have to get to know the basics of it.
The usual stuff of respectable clothing-even when swimming and common courtesy like removing shoes when entering a Nepali home is taken seriously. If you are having a meal with a local family, wash your hands and mouth prior to eating, and wait for the host to serve- don’t use our own spoon or fork to serve food.
Only use bottled water
While the government of Nepal works hard to make water resources in Nepal pure for consumption, you are better off using bottled water. Water from the taps isn’t safe for consumption, even if it’s from your hotel-unless you are totally sure its safe. Avoid fruit you didn’t wash yourself, soft drinks with ice in them and always wash your hands with clean water. Bottled water is available in most stores across the country.
Bring an appetite
Nepal’s culinary scene is unlike any other. You can find everything from traditional Nepal cuisines to international dishes. Dal Bhat, the traditional Nepali food is a mix of rice and lentils and depending on where you dine, the experience is splendid. Although traditionally spicy, you can choose how hot you want it when ordering. If you miss meals from home, you can find restaurants and cafes that serve western themed meals, some even have country specific menus from Italian themed restaurants to middle east cuisines. And the coffee here is just marvelous.
The internet works here
In almost every café and restaurant, you will find free Wi-Fi available. The coverage and speeds are decent considering the huge number of tourists connecting. You can be sure that you’ll comfortably upload photos, read emails, keep in touch with family and get some work done. If you’re up for it, there’s a lot of internet shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara you can use.
The only caveat here is power failures. You’ll have to plan beforehand if you are running a business and you’ll need to buy a SIM as backup. We found that local SIM cards are readily available and the data is quite affordable. The buying and usage process is fairly simple as well.
Keep your documents and visa up-to-date
When you land in Nepal, you’ll need to acquire a Visa. They usually have validity for 15,30, or 90 days and will set you back between $25 to $100. You will need a passport-sized photo when applying. Volunteering on a tourist visa is forbidden. They use the Nepalese Rupee (NPR) as their primary currency and any purchases are paid for in Rupees. The primary airport here is Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM).
You’ll need the necessary Trekking permits and TIMS card for outdoor activities. They can be obtained at the Nepal Tourism Board or the Trekking Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN) and cost about $10 to $20. Remember to include special permits for restricted areas.
You are most at risk of gastrointestinal issues if you ignore the sanitation guidelines. The sanitation standards in Nepal are fairly low and you are better off find evert your food and beverage consumption to prevent complications. Have a medical Kit close by and a decent stash of ORS in it. You are under the local laws so consult them to know your options.
Under no circumstances should you go trekking alone, the environment can be unforgiving and the medical response time is disappointing mostly. Remember to follow international best practices when participating in adventures and always use professional private travel guide services and if you can, carry a Personal Tracker Locater device.
Affordable budgets & expenditure
The financial side of Nepal is pocket-friendly. Depending on how you plan to do while in Nepal, you can hit the rock bottom budget of $15 per day if you’re moving around. Like every trip, life in Nepal is cheap and unless you have a small fortune side aside, you should cut spending-although everything is relatively cheap and irresistible. Travelers can also scale up the trip and have a much nicer vacay.
In case you are planning to have any intense activities in Nepal, the timing will determine how good your trip goes. If you want to go hiking, the trails are closed during monsoon season, that is from June through August. If you’re going trekking, best visit from September through May. For the full experience of nature, visit in autumn and spring when the plants are vibrant and green in fall. It turns to cool and flowering in the spring. It gets chilly at altitude during winter but the valley is nice.
Accommodation and transportation
There’s a lot of options for accommodation from cheap, basic rooms for backpackers to exotic lodges and nicer hotels. You can also opt for eco lodges or other interesting Nepal tourist Places like treehouses. Make use of booking sites and compare prices and value before choosing one.
Moving around the towns is easy. Buses are the main option but the infrastructure issues plaque them. Most people use buses but you can also opt for micro buses, of 10 to 12 people-they’re faster too. For groups you’ll need to choose a private driver or taxi for longer distances. Within town, bicycles and taxis are your best bet.