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Travel Guide

Nepal at Glance

Nepal is a land-locked country bordering with the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China in the north and surrounded by India in the east, south and west.

A trekkers' paradise, Nepal combines Himalayan views, golden temples, charming hill villages and jungle wildlife watching to offer one of the world's great travel destinations. The Nepal Himalaya is the ultimate goal for mountain lovers. Some of the Himalaya’s most iconic and accessible hiking is on offer here, with rugged trails to Everest, the Annapurna’s and beyond. "Nepal is one of the least developed countries in the world according to the U.N. This means travelers will see drastic differences between life in the cities and life in the small villages. The culture and people have a resilient spirit, however, and it’s a beautiful place to visit." Nepal’s history dates back more than 2,500 years. But much of that ancient history is unknown. Many of the UNESCO sites worth visiting date back to the 1400s. It’s worth knowing a bit about Nepali politics, as it’s an unstable and ever-changing topic. A monarchy ruled Nepal until 2008, at which time a democratic republic and a constitution were established and adjusted over the next several years.

As Nepal developed, unlike many countries it remains about 80% rural. It’s also one of the least developed countries in the world according to the U.N. This means travelers will see drastic differences between life in the cities and life in the small villages. As a result of this mix, lifting the rural areas out of extreme poverty has proven difficult. The political climate is often tense, and the lack of education in these rural areas has had a direct impact on the preservation of Nepal’s natural resources. As tourists come to Nepal, the country struggled to meet tourism demand. This has resulted in poorly maintained transportation infrastructures and the use of natural resources in unsustainable ways. It’s a bit of a tough situation, as the tourists are both the core issue, and yet also the only way to bring money into these areas.

Modern Nepal is a fascinating, diverse place. Neighboring countries have had a marked influence on modern Nepali life. Travelers will see influences from India, Tibet, China, and even Mongolia. The country has 30+ ethnic groups, and with these a large variation in the number of religions and dialects. With all this diversity, the country has a mixed bag of religions as well. Predominantly Hindu, the country integrates Buddhism and animism too. All this to say, the mixing of cultures over the years have given Nepal a history as beautiful as the landscape.

Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and altitude variation. The elevation of the country ranges from 60 meters above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8,848 meters, all within a distance of 150 kilometers resulting in climatic conditions from sub-tropical to arctic. This wild variation fosters an incredible variety of ecosystems, the greatest mountain range on earth, thick tropical jungles teeming with a wealth of wildlife, thundering rivers, forested hills and frozen valleys.

Within this spectacular geography is also one of the richest cultural landscapes anywhere. The country is a potpourri of ethnic groups and sub-groups who speak over 93 languages and dialects. Nepal offers an astonishing diversity of sightseeing attractions and adventure opportunities found nowhere else on earth. And you can join in the numerous annual festivals that are celebrated throughout the year in traditional style highlighting enduring customs and beliefs.

Language: Nepali is the official language of Nepal.  However, educated people can speak English.

Seasons: Nepal has four major seasons (1) winter: December-February, (2) Spring: March-May, (3) Summer:  June-August and (4) Autumn: September-November. Nepal can be visited all the year round.

People and Religion: Hindu, Buddhist, Islam, Muslim, animism and others religion.

Area: 147,181Sq. Kms

Capital: Kathmandu

Latitude: 26* 12’ and 30* 27’ North

Longitude: 80* 4’ and 88* 12’ East

National Flower: Rhododendron-Arboreum {Lali Gurans}

National bird: Impeyan pheasant {Danphe}

Vegetation: Nepal possesses some of the most outstanding bio-diversity in the world ranging from sub tropical rain forest to Alpine deserts.

Weather: Climate rages from tropical in low land to arctic in higher altitudes.

Natural resources: Hydropower, breathtaking mountains, copper, cobalt, iron, water

Major Ethnic groups: Chhettri 15.5%,  Brahman-Hill 12.5%, Magar 7%, Tharu 6.6%, Tamang 5.5%, Newar 5.4%, Muslim 4.2%,  Kami 3.9%, Yadav 3.9%, other 32.7%, unspecified 2.8% (2001 census)

Agriculture products: Rice, Corn, Wheat, Sugarcane, Jute, Root crops, Milk, water

Industries: Tourism, carpet, textile, small rice, Jute, sugar, and oilseed miles, cigarettes, cement and brick production.

Currency code: Nepalese Rupee {NPR}

National park: Shey-Phoksundo national park, Sagarmatha national Park, Rara national park,  Chitwan National park, Makalu Barun National park, Langtang national park,  Shivapuri national park, Bardia national park, Kanchenjunga national park,

World Heritage sites (cultural): Kathmandu durbar square, Bhaktapur durbar square, Patan durbar square, Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Pashupatinath, Changunarayan, and Lumbini

Natural world heritages site (natural): Royal Chitwan National Park and Sagarmatha national park

Conservation area:  Annapurna conservation area, Manaslu conservation area.

Wildlife reserve:  Shuklaphant wildlife reserve, Dhorpatan hunting reserve, Koshi tappu wildlife reserve, Parsa wildlife reserve

Highest mountains: Mt. Everest {8,848m}, Kanchenjunga  {8597m}, Lhotse {8511m}, Makalu {8481m}, Dhaulagiri {8167m}, Manaslu {8156m}, Cho-Oyu {8125m} & Annapurna I {8091m}

Electricity: 220V/60Hz (multiple plugs as they have retrofitted many to fit American and European plugs. Be careful of plugging in some electrical devices as the U.S. runs at 120V).

Primary Airports: Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM)

Water: Not safe. Drink bottled, or consider the merits of a Steri Pen or Life Straw for your trip.

When to Go: You’ll need to plan your visit around your planned activities. If you’re hiking, the trails are closed during monsoon season, which runs from June through August. Trekking season is September through May. Autumn and spring are beautiful; lush and green in the fall and flowering and cool in the spring. Winter can be chilly at altitude, but is pleasant in the Kathmandu Valley.

Food Considerations: Vegetarians will love traveling through Nepal because the national dish, dal Bhat, is lentil soup and traditionally served with rice and veggies. Warning though, don’t be fooled into thinking that the food is similar to India — there is much less variety and the Nepalese do eat meat (unlike most of India). The Tibetan momos (dumplings) are fantastic and a staple of any vegetarian diet in Nepal. Also, many travelers get gastrointestinal issues as there is very poor sanitation. Avoid unpeeled fruits and salads. Please always sterilize your water, and follow these food safety principles.

Customs Formalities: All baggage must clear through the customs on arrival at the entry point. Personal effects are permitted free entry. A tourist may bring in dutiable goods, such as tobacco and liquor, within the prescribed quantity free of duty. Carrying narcotics, weapons and ammunition are strictly prohibited. Visitors can export souvenirs to their respective countries. The export of antiques requires special certificate from the Department of Archaeology:

Entry Procedures & Visa Rules

Tourists who visit Nepal must hold valid passport and visa.

Entry: Tourist entry visa can be obtained for the following duration from Nepal Embassy/ Consulate or Mission offices abroad, or at the following immigration offices in Nepal:

  • Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu
  • Kakarvitta, Jhapa (Eastern Nepal)
  • Birganj, Parsa (Central Nepal)
  • Kodari, Sindhupalchowk (Northern Border)
  • Belhiya, Bhairahawa (Rupandehi, Western Nepal)
  • Jamuna, Nepalgunj (Banke, Mid Western Nepal)
  • Mohana, Dhangadhi (Kailali, Far Western Nepal)
  • Gaddachauki, Mahendranagar (Kanchanpur, Far Western Nepal)

Visas: Nepal issues visas on arrival for citizens of most countries. These can be purchased for 15, 30, or 90 days and range from $25 to $100. Check your visa requirements here. You must bring a passport-sized photo, or stand in line and pay for one when you arrive. Volunteers technically require a visa arranged by the place they are working with as volunteering on a tourist visa is expressly forbidden, though harder for them to enforce.

Gratis (Free) Visa:                 

  • Gratis visa for 30 days available only for tourists of SAARC countries.
  • Indian nationals do not require visa to enter into Nepal.

Transit Visa:

Transit visa for one day can be obtained from Nepal's immigration offices at the entry points upon the production of departure flight ticket via Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal, by paying US $ 5 or equivalent convertible currency.

For further information, please visit: www.immi.gov.np

Some Important information to tourist: Don't or Do's:

  • A tourist may stay in Nepal up to 150 days in a visa year (Jan-Dec).
  •  A tourist must extend his/her visa before expiry of the visa validity period. A tourist who does not comply with these regulations may be liable of fine and other prosecution as provided in Immigration Act and Rules.
  • A Foreigner having obtained tourist visa shall not be allowed to work with or without receiving remuneration.
  • A foreigner shall not be allowed to carry out any work other than that for which purpose he/she has obtained the visa

Transportation: Transportation between cities is easy to organize and takes the form of buses. If you’re faint of heart, don’t watch as the buses careen around curves and the rusting carcasses of other buses dot the bottom of the hillsides. The buses are the main form of transportation, but Nepal has serious infrastructure issues so be careful. But, the buses are effective and they’re virtually the only budget option. In more recent years, there has been a rise in micro-buses of 10-12 people — a bit more but likely a bit safer. If you’re in a group, it’s fairly affordable to hire a private driver or taxi for longer distances. Bicycle and taxis are great for navigating around Kathmandu.

Festivals of Note: Phalgun Festivals, Kathmandu (Feb/March). Dashain, country-wide September/October). Indra Jatra, Kathmandu (September).

Safety: One of the most common issues facing travelers is gastrointestinal issues. There is very poor sanitation in Nepal so you will need to be careful with your food and water consumption. You must carry a medical kit; make sure you have several courses of antibiotics as well as a decent supply of oral rehydration salts. These ORS can save your life in the case of diarrheal illness. Anything can happen on the road. 

Possible Issues: Women should not trek alone in Nepal, not under any circumstances. Go with a guide, or use a one of the buddy trek sites to find a trekking partner. Be particularly cautious as a woman hiking in the Langtang area. Transportation issues are a serious safety threat. Landslides and road accidents are high all year round, but particularly during the summer monsoon rains. I highly recommend travel insurance as health care quality is low and you’ll likely need to be airlifted out of Nepal if something serious happens.