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Tips For Travel In Nepal


– One old Nepali peeve is to not share plates of food with your friends/family. It used to be thought of as rude to give food or take food from your friends’ plate. In other parts of the world this is very normal, and is mostly accepted now in Nepal, but some places still find it offensive.

– Do not take a bite of some food item or touch your lips to a bottle and then offer some to your Nepali or home-country friend. Actually for those that will travel around Nepal, you will see a local taking a drink from a water bottle by tilting their heads back and drinking it without it touching their mouths. This way more people can share the bottle because it is not contaminated.

– If you want to take a photo of someone, ask them first. How would you feel if someone came up to you and started taking your photo as if you were an animal without respectfully asking you? Even if your travel buddy asked it is polite that you also ask.

– This might sound like common sense but do not take photos of people bathing or going to the bathroom. A large number of Nepali people do in fact bathe on the side of the road (not usually in the large cities). Even though they are bathing in front of complete strangers, does not mean that they are doing it for you to watch.

– Spitting is quite normal here. You will see men, women, and children spitting on the sidewalks here. The same goes for littering. You might see a local throwing something on the ground, but to help keep Nepal beautiful it is best to dispose of trash in designated trash bins or the community trash piles.

– Never show affection in public. Although some of the younger generations of couples hold hands in public, it is still frowned upon. It is more common to see friends- girl and another girl, and a boy and another boy holding hands.

– Just for an extra fact, a Nepali person will never tell you if they think you are being rude. If they told you that you were being offensive, it would make them rude.

– Do not step over a person. That said, do not make other people step over you. For example if you have your legs stretched out and someone wishes to pass, move them out of their way.

– Do not use your left hand as it is known as your bathroom hand.

– Give items and receive with two hands (like giving or receiving a cup of tea).

– Do not point your feet, especially if they are dirty, at people it is considered to be the lowest and dirtiest part of a person. Also do not point your finger at anything, rather use your whole hand.

– Do not ask for or give gifts (even as small and seemingly insignificant as a pen or candy) to the local children.

– If your vacation involves travel through the older (could be more remote areas) do not buy antiques or anything made by/of an animal product, flora or fauna, most of these are protected and there could also be a government punishment.

– Unless it is an older person or has some sort of disability that makes them unable to get a job, do not give to beggars, it only promotes this behavior. Do not give food to children, they do have a home.

– When shopping do not overpay- pay fair prices. (see shopping tips below for more info.)

Visiting religious sites

– Do not eat, smoke or be loud at religious sites.

– If you travel to one of Nepal’s popular stupas or temples, there may be an entrance fee for foreigners. It is usually small. There are a few rules written on walls for you in specific temples.

– Pay attention to signs.

– Some temples only allow Hindus to enter inside.

– Walk clockwise around stupas or places of worship.

– Never touch or step over offerings like red powder or rice/flowers.

– When you travel to certain places of worship you may or may not be permitted to take photos or film these sacred places.

– Make sure to take note if you are supposed to take your shoes off before you enter.

– For the most part, just be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to what the locals are doing and any writing on the wall.

– Men and women should not wear shorts in any temple. More conservative clothing is respectful.


Women that travel to Nepal can wear short sleeve, long sleeve, sleeveless tee-shirts or dress shirts.

– Skirts should be about knee length or longer and if worn is very much appreciated by the locals.

– Women do not usually wear shorts here but if you choose to, make sure they are longer shorts but definitely do not wear shorts in a temple or religious site.

– It is not necessarily not-allowed to wear a spaghetti-strap tank, tube-top-like shirt, shorts, or revealing clothes but you will probably be very well noticed – and possibly talked about in a negative way.

– It is recommended for women traveling through Nepal to wear slightly more conservative clothing.

Men that travel to Nepal can wear almost anything. Short sleeve, long sleeve, sleeveless tee-shirts or dress shirts.

– Shorts or long pants it does not matter.

– You should always have a shirt on and if it buttons up, it should have all the buttons fastened.

– Wearing shorts in a temple may be disrespectful.

– Just dress appropriately for your activity and if you are not sure if what you are wearing is “right” just observe local traditions.

Money Exchange

The Nepali money is the Rupee (this is different from the Indian rupee). They use mostly paper money, although they have coins most people just stick with whole rupee denominations.

There are many designated money exchange businesses. The first place in Nepal that you will find to exchange your money into Nepali Rupees is at the Kathmandu or Pokhara airport. There is a counter that is safe and has a fair rate for exchanging your home currency. You may need to have some cash on you for cab fare.

Payment in hotels, travel agencies, and airlines can be made in foreign currency. Credit cards like American Express, Master and Visa are widely accepted at major hotels, shops, and restaurants. Remember to keep your “Foreign Exchange of cash Receipt” while making foreign exchange payments or transferring foreign currency into Nepalese rupees. The receipts may be needed to change left-over Nepalese Rupees into hard currency before leaving the country. However, only 10 percent of the total amount may be converted back to your home currency by the bank, so don’t take out more than you need. ATMs are widely used in Kathmandu and in Pokhara so there is no need to take out all you plan to spend at one time.

Make sure you check and are familiar with the exchange rate as it can change daily. If you are unsure of the current exchange rate offered upon your arrival in Kathmandu, you can always check the rates published in English in regularly circulating newspapers such as The Rising Nepal, The Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan Times. Nepali Rupees are found in denominations of 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are found in denominations of 10, 25 and 50 paisa. One rupee equals 100 paisa.

You can also go into a bank. To exchange money, you need a debit/credit card or cash (no coin) and your passport. The bank will take a copy of your passport and they should give you a receipt. You will need to keep this receipt until your travels in Nepal are over and you go to leave the country, which as stated above, can be used to exchange the unused portion of Nepali currency back into your home currency.

Most of the time banks will not want to take any torn or ripped money, so make sure all your bills (from your home country and Nepal) are kept in good conditions while you travel through Nepal and when exchanging.

Along trekking routes, it is less common to have a bank. There are some in the mountains, but if you are not in a town with one and need cash for some unexpected expense (like a pony ride) then some lodges might offer the exchange service for a slightly elevated rate. (The price difference would be for their hassle of needing to travel to a bank to exchange your currency later).

If You Get Sick

When traveling to a new country it is inevitable that you and/or someone you are traveling with will get travelers diarrhea. You can not prevent this. But you can get some relief. There are little medicine markets everywhere. You do not need insurance or a doctor note to get most of this medication. Just go up to the shop and tell them what you need and they give it to you for a few measly dollars. They even sell antibiotics, allergy pills, and ibuprofen straight to you. This makes travel through Nepal even more convenient if you happen to get a cold.

If You Get Hurt

Now no one ever plans to get hurt (or sick for that matter), but it happens. Where to go when you get hurt? There are doctor offices in all the major cities as well as hospitals. Your stay and check-up should not be too, expensive depending on your injury.

If you are trekking with a travel agency and become seriously injured, they should be able to arrange a rescue evacuation quickly or get to where you need to be in a safe and timely manner.

If your travel in Nepal is not through an agency, there are emergency helicopters available. For faster evacuation you should carry with you a credit card, have travel insurance (and have the policy # with you), never travel alone, and register with police and your embassy before heading into the mountains.

Tibetan Medicine

When traveling to Nepal (so close to Tibet) you might have curiosity about these famous Tibetan medications that have been around for thousands of years. There are in fact a few different locations to see a doctor and to buy these medicines.

They are not as popular in amount of locations as the other medicine shops, but they are available in the major cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara and medication is referred to you by a Tibetan medicine doctor.

Learn more about Tibetan Medicine as a Nepal travel attraction.

Modes of Transportation

If you are not traveling Nepal with help from a travel agency, there are a few different modes of transportation available to you.

Taxis– are available in all the major cities, although it is not usually cost-efficient if you are only using cabs to get around. Taxi drivers take great pride in their vehicles and clean them daily. Even if the seat covers look old, they still have them to help “beautify” their vehicle for the tourist.

Tuk-tuk– are also available in the larger towns like Kathmandu, you can see the number of passengers allowed is fluid to how many passengers need to get in the three-wheeled vehicles. They do have numbers on them, but if you do not know where their destination ends, you might not want to get on one.

Buses or vans– run through the major cities and they can be quite crowded. A “ten passenger van” could fit as many as 17 people with the windows open (or not), so if personal space is important to you, this mode of transportation might not be for you.

Learn more on bus transportation in Nepal click here.

You can take a Bicycle Trolley also known as a rickshaw, which is a three wheeled bike with a carriage like seat on the back. These fit 2-3 people.

If you are feeling adventurous, you could rent a motorcycle. This is not always recommended since Nepal’s driving style is a lot different from most of the world but they are available for the fearless traveler. Many times you just rent it from an average local. They have a bike, they do not need it for a few days or weeks, and then you can rent it from them for the agreed price.

The different modes of transportation do not always have a set destination – or price for visitors – and can often be crowded and confusing. It is a lot less of a headache for you to have a travel agency help you plan and book your transportation for you. This way you have less time spent stressing and more time enjoying this new and exciting country.

Visiting or Staying in the Jungle

– Make sure to drink a lot of (bottled) water, you may be unaware of the dehydrating climate.

– A few things to be aware of are leeches. This is the jungle so they do live here, during the day, watch where you step or bring some salt along with you.

– You will want to invest in a mosquito cream or a plug-in if you are staying in the jungle, for your room (if there is power), mosquito candles and incense are also helpful when there is no power.

– Make sure to bring the right clothes. Pack some shoes to do light walking through the jungle and some that will stay on your feet (not flip flops) like if you are on the back of an elephant.

– You will want to have a change of clothes if there is a change in weather or if your itinerary involves elephant bathing. (If you have the option, you will want to do this! When else in your life will you have the opportunity to be this intimate with such a huge and graceful animal?)

– If staying at a resort, they will often provide you with food, but drinks outside of breakfast/lunch/dinner are for you to pay for. By drinks I mean any bottled water, sodas, or alcoholic beverages.

– Make sure to be flexible if staying in the jungle. There is not power 24hours a day because most of the lodges or resorts run on solar power and have no internet access.

– If a lizard shows up in your room, do not be scared, you are in fact in the jungle.

– Take time to sit and relax, there is not always provided entertainment so entertain yourself with listening to real nature (no automobiles/traffic) write about your stay, or read a book.


Nepal has a wide variety of food available- from traditional Nepali foods to international cuisine. Below, are just a few items you are certain to run into while in Nepal. If you are interested, the articles section has an article titles ‘Food For Thought’ by Demitry Majors, on Nepali food.

– Dhal Bhat Takari is the Nepali staple food. Bhat is rice and dal is the lentil soup/gravy to pour over the rice and is easily interchanged from place to place with a side of vegetables (takari) and possibly meat and maybe yogurt. Nepali’s are proud of their dal bhat and it is always different from one restraunt to the next. To get to know this country even better, give it a try at different eating spots as you travel through Nepal.

Achar is a traditional Nepali flavorful, pickled, (sometimes very spicy) sauce/paste that is served as a garnish with almost every Nepali dish. There are countless ways of making this special treat (endless possibilities of ingredients) so you should try every different one offered to you.

Mo-mo is a tasty popular Newari dumpling with meat (usually lamb, chicken, buffalo,or pork not beef) or vegetables and cheese, which you can find at almost any place that serves food and is served with achar.

Noodle soup is now very common especially on a trekking route. Although it is not a traditional Nepali dish, it is mostly there for foreign travelers as a comfort item or an added option for Nepalese travelers. It is pretty much the Nepali version of fast food. Actually many Nepali’s do not even cook it but eat it as a crunchy snack food.

– Naan/Roti – roti means bread in Nepal and is usually a round piece of bread that is usually deep fried in oil and is served with some achar or some other side. Naan is also a bread product. It is served alone or with curry dishes. There are different kinds of naan like butter or garlic naan and is bigger in size than roti.

Apples – the town of Marpha is known for their apples. In fact there is an alcoholic drink made out of apples called “Marpha.” If you do not try any apples while you are in Nepal, even if they are not from Marpha, you would be missing out on some of the best fruit.

Bananas in Nepal do not look appealing but in fact they are small yet very sweet.

Yogurt here can be either sweet or salty. It is served by itself or can come on the side of dhal bat and is surprisingly tasty and it is good for you, too. If your body is not used to the many spices used in Nepali food, the yogurt here helps soothe the digestion process.

– The ice cream here is some of the best in the world. Simple (chemical-free) ingredients and all-natural flavors make it a refreshing treat anytime of day or night.

Bottled water is a must! Do not drink any water unless it is from a bottle. [There are safe drinking water stations that were put in some of the trekking routes to help reduce the use of plastic waste- in this case it is safe to not drink only water from a bottle.] But just as a pre-caution you may not even want to have ice in your drinks.

Tea is very popular and helps to relax your body after a long days trek or an alternative option for morning drink. It is sometimes served black with the option for sugar or can be served with milk.

Coffee here is not as strong as Starbucks (which is actually a good thing!). The coffee here is full of flavor and is even appealing to the non-coffee drinker.

– Kukuri Rum is one of the liquors locally made in Nepal. If you are eating dinner with some Nepali’s they will most likely be pleased if you ordered a bottle with coke-a-cola.

Time and Business Hours

Nepal is five hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT.

Business hours within the Valley: Government offices are open from 9 am to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday in the Kathmandu Valley. Outside the Kathmandu Valley offices are also open on Sunday.

Banks are open Sunday through Friday from 10 am to 3.30 pm. and until 12 pm only on Friday.

Most Business offices are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday.

Embassies and international organizations are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.

Most shops open after 10 am and close at about 8 pm and are usually closed on Saturdays with many open all week.

Business hours outside the Kathmandu Valley: Government offices outside Kathmandu valley open from 10 am to 5 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday. On Fridays they remain open until 3 pm. Banks are open from Sunday through Thursday from 10 am to 3 pm. On Fridays, banks remain open until 12 pm only. Business offices are open from 10 am to 5 pm Sunday through Friday. Embassies and international organizations are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Most shops open after 10 am and close at about 8 pm and are usually closed on Saturdays.

Holidays: Nepal observes numerous holidays, (see the festivals page) at the least a couple in a month. So please check the holiday calendar. Government offices observe all the national holidays and banks observe most of them. Businesses observe major holidays only.


– If you are shopping for food, there are a few places to go. In the larger cities they have “department” stores which carry food and anything else you might want (clothes, refrigerators, bicycles, movies, etc.). Everything here has a set price so no need to bargain, everyone spends the same amount.

– You can also buy fresh fruits and vegetables at an outdoor market. You are usually given a plastic bag which you can fill with however much of that item you want and then they weigh it and tell you the price.

– If you are souvenir or clothing shopping, then you can either go to the department stores with everything at a set price, or you can go to the very common little street shops. Usually, nothing will have a price on it. The people running these shops will tell you a price (and although this may sound like a deal to you compared to where you come from) you should always offer them 50% of the price they told you. Of course they will never agree to that, so you better be smart and quick and bargain with them until you find a price you will agree on. They expect all who travel here to bargain with them. It is best to have a price in mind before asking for the price because most people will ask you what you think is a fair price and this gives you a better chance at the price you said. Also if you do not like the price just leave and head on to the next shop. You can always come back another day to this one.

– It is good for you and for the general Nepali people if you pay the lowest price. If every tourist started buying items at a high rate, this might cause the shop owners to not sell the items at a fair rate for the Nepali mass causing inflation in the country.

– Do not feel guilty about bargaining. You can most likely afford their initial price, but the Nepalis cannot.

Contacting Home & Other Communication

When traveling you might not want to completely forget about everyone you left at home, this said, there are many different locations that provide phone or internet services for a fee.

Around most of the larger cities as well as a few in the more rural areas of Nepal, they also provide phone cards or calls for local or international numbers and occasionally they have internet spots you can use. In Pokhara and Kathmandu there are internet cafes that seem to pop up all the time for the increasing number of people that travel to Nepal.

It is best to approach the task of calling home with a patient head as sometimes there can be a power-outage (especially during the Monsoon season) or in the mountains. If you are on a trekking route, there could be as little as 1 phone line for the whole town.

If you plan to stay for an extended period of time, you can use your home cellular phone and purchase a temporary SIM card so that you have a way of dialing local or international, or to have international or local in-coming calls.

For your safety it is always a good idea to carry the phone number to your home, travel agency, embassy and any other important contact you might have.

Postal Services – The Central Post Office located near Dharahara Tower, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The counters are open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and provide stamps, postcards and aerograms. Post Restante is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Express Mail Service (EMS) is available at GPO and at Thamel, Basantapur and airport postal counters.

Telephone Service – fax, telex and telegraph services are available at the Nepal Hotels and private communications centers provide long distance telephone services.

As for friends and family contacting you from home while you are out traveling the world, the country code for Nepal is 977 and the area code for Kathmandu is 1.

Internet – Hundreds of Internet cafes and communication centers have opened up in Nepal in the past few years.


Major towns have electricity and the voltage available is 220-volts to 230 volts and 50 cycles. Round two-pin plugs are the most common type, although round three-pin plugs are also found. Load shedding is sometimes experienced. However, most major hotels have installed their own generators. It is helpful to carry a small flashlight for the unexpected power outages, rechargeable batteries and a charger for the batteries.

To view pre-designed Nepal travel packages, see our programs page or the encyclopedia for more Nepal Travel items.