Nepal, one of the must visit places in the world is a land locked country blessed with enormous and diverse natural resources. The geographic diversity here ranges from as low as 59 meters above sea level to Earth's highest point at 8,848 meters, the mighty Mount Everest. As a result, the country has been one of the most preferred tourism destinations over the years, catering to every type of travel enthusiast including those looking for luxurious trips to adventurous excursions and much more. One of the prime factors contributing towards making the country, ‘the most preferred destination’ is of course, the people! Despite the tiny portion of the geographical area the nation occupies, Nepal is a home to diverse groups of ethnic people with a very rich history of arts & architecture, culture, traditional beliefs, religion, occupational practices and their ways of living. Moreover, the ever cheerful Nepalese people are well known throughout the world for their amazing hospitality which compels the travelers to revisit Nepal.
Nepal is one of the safest places on the planet to travel to. The people are warm and welcoming. Although from 1996 to 2006 Nepal did go through a period of upheaval due to the Maoist Insurgency, peace returned to the kingdom and Nepal is thriving as one of the Top tourist destinations to visit.
When venturing out of city areas and sparsely populated areas it is advised you travel with a local guide, who knows the area and can safely guide you through villages and towns on your travels.
Immunization is not required while travelling to Nepal. But please consult your doctor as it is always worth checking recommended vaccinations. Recommended vaccinations for Nepal are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Meningitis. Boosters are also recommended for Tetanus, Polio, Mumps, and Measles.
It is recommended you acquire travel insurance from your home country. Although insurance is available here in Nepal, the protections covered all not all inclusive.
Acquiring Nepali visa is quite easy. People from any part of the world can get a visa upon arrival at Kathmandu based Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). Those who have obtained a visa from Nepalese Diplomatic Missions must enter Nepal within six months from the visa issued date. The total stay period is counted starting from the day you enter into Nepal. Visa can be obtained only through payment on cash in the following currency: Euro, Swiss Franc, Pound Sterling, US dollar, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, Chinese RMB, Hong-Kong dollar, Singapore dollar and Japanese Yen.
Credit Card, Indian currency or Nepalese currency are not accepted for payment of Visa fee.
However, nationalities of the following countries given below cannot get visa on arrival at Immigration entry points of Nepal:
12. Syria (Effective from Jan 1, 2016)
Also refugees with travel documentation.
They need to obtain a visa from Nepalese Embassies or Diplomatic Missions in their respective countries prior to their visit to Nepal.
International cuisine is readily available. But you must try out the local delectable fare as Nepal is exceptionally diverse and there is a rich variety of multi-ethnic dishes you would absolutely enjoy.
Climate & Regions
The regions of Nepal are extremely diverse. From Mt. Everest at 4848m and the plains in the Terrai at 70m, the geophysical and climatic differences are extreme.
The climate varies depending on the regions and seasons. In the North summers are relatively cool and winters are quite severe. Whereas in the south the summers are hot and the winters are cool.
Spring- March to Mid - April
Summer- Mid April to August
Monsoon- June to August
Winter- Mid October to February.
Climatic conditions of Nepal vary from one place to another in accordance with the geographical features. In the northern summers are cool and winters severe, while in south, summers are tropical and winters are mild. Nepal has namely four major seasons: spring, monsoon, autumn and winter. An average temperature drop of 6°C occurs for every 1,000 m gain in altitude. In the Terai, summer temperatures exceed 37° C and higher in some areas, winter temperatures range from 7°C to 23°C in the Terai. In mountainous regions, hills and valleys summers are temperate while winter temperatures can plummet under subzero. The valley of Kathmandu has a pleasant climate with average summer and winter temperatures of 19°C – 35°C and 2°C – 12°C respectively.
Trekking in Nepal is probably the best way to know the locals, their traditional culture and the beauty of Himalayan country. The best seasons for trekking are autumn and spring of the year with the day time warm enough and nights fairly cold. There are numerous ways to arrange a trek in Nepal because of two major factors. Firstly, inexpensive (by Western standards) professional and non professional labor is available to carry loads and to work as guides and camp staff. Secondly, you can almost always find supplies and accommodation locally, because there are people living even in the most remote trekking areas.
Different ways of trekking can be categorized into four approaches: backpacking, camping, tea house trek with guide and porter and trekking with a trekking company.
There is no specific physical fitness or prior experience required to go on a trek. In fact, anybody with a sense of adventure, who is moderately fit and has passion for mountain is able to trek and may easily enjoy the holiday. At the same time while trekking in the Himalayan regions, some parts are moderate to fairly challenging above 3000m.
Meanwhile, trekkers can carry some amounts of money to buy some necessary personal items or buy some extra table drinks, chocolate bars, hot shower, mineral water or souvenirs. You shall be brief about the tentative amount of money you need to carry according to the treks you choose.
At the same time, personal trekking equipment each individual trekker should carry with them include-personal rucksack or duffel bag, small day pack, good quality trekking boot, stick, water bottle, personal sleeping bag, sunglass, sun cap, sun cream, rain coat, down/Gore-Tex Jacket, thermal trousers, gloves, warm socks, shorts, sandals, T-shirts, pullover, flash light, personal toiletries, camera, binocular, reading and writing materials, medicine recommended by your doctor.
Trekkers in Nepal can either travel as FIT (Free Individual Trekker) or in a group. Certain trekking regions are classified as 'Restricted Areas' by the Government of Nepal where FITs are strictly forbidden. Trekkers can only pass through areas as such only upon acquiring a permit from the Department of Immigration fulfilling all the necessary formalities. Interested trekkers have to contact the authorized trekking agencies beforehand.
Also different rates (trekking Permit fees) are applicable for different routes to acquire the Permits. Trekkers must have a valid visa for a sufficient number of days covering their trekking schedule as the trekking permit is not issued beyond visa expiration date.
Different types of permits and/or fees payable (in Nepali Rupees only) are:
- Special Trekking Permit for restricted/controlled areas
- Trekkers’ Information Management System/TIMS Card
- Conservation Area entrance fee
- National Park entrance fee
- Trekking peak climbing and mountaineering permit
- Filming and documentary shooting permit
The population of Nepal in 2019 is reportedly 29.7 million with 101 ethnic groups speaking over 92 languages. The distinction in caste and ethnicity is understood better with a view of customary layout of the population. The official language of Nepal is Nepali which is spoken and understood by a majority of the population. However, the ethnic groups have their own mother tongues. Nepalese population in general may be classified as: -
Northern Himalayan People: Those living in high mountainous regions include Sherpas from east Solu and Khumbu region; Dolpa-pas from Dolpa district of west Nepal; Lopas, Baragaonlis from the semi-desert areas of Upper and Lower Mustang in the rain-shadow area; Manangays from Manang district.
Middle Hills and Valley People: Ethnic groups from middle hills include Newars, Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs, Rais, Limbus, Thamis, Sunuwars, Thakalis, Chepangs, Brahmins, Chhetris, Thakuris, Damai, Sarki, Kami and Sunar.
Tarai People: Ethnic groups like Tharus, Darai, Kumhal, Rajbangsi, Bote, Majhi etc. speaking their native dialects like Maithili and Bhojpuri; Occupational castes like Majhi (fisherman), Kumhal (potter) and Danuwar (cart driver).
Even though physical fitness is an integral part of any outdoor activity, you don’t need to be an athlete or a sport person to enjoy trekking or any other adventurous recreational activities in Nepal. Most people of good fitness for their age can enjoy and actively participate in fun & adventurous opportunities. Trekking in particular that we offer is all about taking your time, setting your own pace and enjoying the experience to the fullest. In addition, an enthusiastic attitude is far more important for you to enjoy the experience a whole lot more.
However, if you are planning to join a commercial trekking or mountaineering expedition you will need to develop a high level of fitness along with a guided training beforehand so that you may comfortably and safely endure several weeks on the trail.
Nepal at present offers a wide range of tourist friendly accommodation facilities throughout the country from high-end five-star hotels to mid-range family friendly hotels to backpacker friendly guest houses. Most hotels offer a choice: bed and breakfast; bed, breakfast and one other meal; or room and full board.
Moderate as well as high-end accommodations are available all over Kathmandu and other major cities like Pokhara, Chitwan, Biratnagar, Nepalgunj etc. Meanwhile cheaper lodges for budget travelers throughout the country may not facilitate attached bathrooms with showers, unless otherwise indicated. Toilets and showers in such cases are generally communal and heating may require additional charges.
Accommodation facilities are also widely available in the mountainous regions where tourism flourishes. Most trekking routes have lodges, community home stays or tea houses to accommodate tourists while camping in tents may be the only alternative where the route is long way off trekking routes.
If you are a foreigner you may very easily exchange almost every type of currency in Nepal. And if you are traveling with USD or Euros you shall have very quick access to numerous travel agencies, hotels and airlines who accept these currencies directly in cash payments. These days you can also land in Kathmandu only with your debit or credit card, supposing you don’t want to carry a lot of cash. Cards such as Visa, Master Card, American Express, Diners Club, and are readily accepted in Nepal. You need to pay a 3.5% service charge for each ATM (Cash Point) withdrawal or payment transaction.
Nepal like many countries around the world has its fair share of beggars. To many westerners arriving in the streets of Nepal it can be a bit of a culture shock seeing such obvious begging and the desire to help can be overwhelming. However, begging is slowly becoming a major problem in Nepal as it sparks off a chain of events that ultimately destroys self-worth and devalues Nepali culture.
Although it may not seem much to casually hand over a dollar or two to the dejected looking boy in rags standing in front of you, you are wittingly or unwittingly encouraging them towards a life of begging.
Indeed there are many other places in the world where fixed pricing is not common. Indeed the art of bargaining is a way of life and in Nepal it’s expected. Although many travelers don’t have a habit of bargaining back home, it is a part of the culture throughout much of Asia – especially in Nepal.
So, don’t hesitate to bargain and negotiate prices down in markets, but never where there is a set menu or recommended price in store.
Nepal has a great mix of indigenous ethic cultures while their customs and traditions differ from one part to another. Kathmandu, the capital city enjoys a rich tapestry of cultures blending to form a national identity and has served as the country’s cultural metropolis since the unification of Nepal in the 18th Century. Religion is a prominent factor in every Nepali’s everyday life. Adding color to their lives are the year round festivals celebrated with the utmost pomp. Lavish cuisines play an important role in the celebration of these festivals.
Over 80% of the population is Hindu. While Buddhism only makes up 10% of the religion, its influences however, can be felt nationwide. Islam is the third largest religious group followed by Christianity and others.
Customs in general, again revolves around the base of Hinduism, Buddhism and other religious traditions. Among them, the rules of marriage are particularly interesting. Traditional marriages call for deals arranged by parents after the boy or girl come of age.
The slaughter of cows is illegal in Nepal as cows are considered as Universal Mother, symbolizing motherhood, charity, and pity. To respectfully put act as such into practice is the concept of ‘Ahimsa’ literally meaning "non-violence" in Sanskrit which indeed, is an important aspect of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Before entering a temple or a house, you will often be asked to take your shoes off so as not to pollute the pure interiors with your stained soles. Some temples are forbidden to non-Hindus. The right hand, considered pure, is used to eat, pay, give and receive. Meanwhile we join the both hands frontwards and chant ‘Namaste’ so as to greet an elderly, respectful person or a guest arriving at the doorstep.
Nepal has four seasons i.e. autumn, winter, spring and monsoon. During the autumn season (Sept. to Nov.) the nights are cold in the mountains, but the bright sun makes for pleasant daytime temperatures. At a higher altitude, temperatures range from about 20°C down to perhaps -10°C at night. Morning is usually clear but clouds build up towards the afternoon disappearing at night to reveal spectacular starry skies.
During the winter the temperature outside is freezing with heavy snow falls in mountain areas especially from December to February. Thus, trekking to popular high passes like the Thorong-la pass on the Annapurna circuit trekking and the others are usually closed. On the other hand, spring season (March to May) brings warmer weather, but more frequent storms and considerable snowfall at higher altitude. Birds and flowers, especially rhododendrons, are seen at the lower altitudes.
Trekking in Monsoon (June to Aug.) can be undertaken by the keen or experienced. Rain, mist and fog can be expected almost daily, but clouds part occasionally to give spectacular views of the mountains. The floors are usually at their most colorful with leeches abound in middle elevation forests.
Nepal, a landlocked country in South Asia is surrounded by China in the north and India in the south, east and west with 147,181 sq. km of total land area and lies between coordinates approximately 28°N and 84°E. The country falls in the temperate zone north of the Tropic of Cancer. The entire distance from east to west is about 800 km while from north to south is only 150 to 250 km. Nepal has vast water systems which drain south into India. The country can be divided into three main geographical regions: Himalayan region, mid hill region and the Tarai region. The highest point in the country is Mt. Everest (8,848 m) while the lowest point is in the Tarai plains of Kechana Kalan in Jhapa (60 m).
Before unification, Nepal was ruled by various rulers- The Kirats, Lichchhavis, Thakuris and Mallas respectively. Documented history states that Kirats ruled Nepal during the 7th century BC. There’s not much mentioned about Kirats. The Lichchhavis followed the Kirats which lasted from the 2nd to 9th century AD and then by the Thakuris who were followed by the Mallas for the next two centuries. Nepal was divided into many principalities and small kingdoms until the fifth centuries of Malla rule. King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha in1786 had invaded the Kathmandu Valley and unified Nepal.
King Birendra ruled Nepal from 31st January 1972 to 1st of June2001 until his entire family was massacred, popularly known as Royal Massacre 2001. Crown Prince Dipendra was declared as King while on coma stage, later died on a hospital bed. Then, Gyanendra Shah late King Birendra’s brother succeeded as the King of Nepal who was dethroned in 2006 by a decade long People’s revolution led by communist party of Nepal (Maoist) and several weeks of protest by major political parties and established the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
Religion is a prominent factor in every Nepali’s everyday life. Adding color to their lives are the year round festivals celebrated with the utmost pomp. Lavish cuisines play an important role in the celebration of these festivals.
Over 80% of the population is Hindus. While Buddhism only makes up 10% of the religion, its influences however, can be felt nationwide. Meanwhile Buddha is widely worshipped by both Buddhists and Hindus. Islam is the third largest religious group followed by Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Bon, ancestor worship and animism.
Nepal has a multi-cultural diversity passed down from generation to generation. It is a precious treasure that the Nepalese showcase with a feeling of immense pride. It is quite old but one of the most intriguing ones that you will ever find! Nepal has a dash of diversity in all parts, geography, ethnicity, tradition, religion; making the culture of Nepal diverse too. The culture and tradition of Nepal is a culmination of its ethnicity, religions, values, and beliefs, tribal and social groups. Nepal's rich and diverse culture is reflected in its music, dance, art, literature, folklore and its language. It is a showcase of what the Nepalese lifestyle has to show and offer. Culture in Nepal is a symbol of the nation's wealthy, harmonized and diversified society.
The most common traditional Nepali attire is Daura Suruwal for men and Gunyo cholo for women. With respect to multi-cultural diversity and ethnic backgrounds, the sense of dressing is well influenced by a mix of Tamang, Gurung, Magar, Newar, Kirat & Rai cultures. Other than that, the dresses of Nepal have also been influenced by nearby countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to some extent. These days, especially young ones are fond of western style of clothing. And if you troll around the shops or shopping in any of the major cities, you may very easily acquire clothing or gears for adventurous and daring outdoor activities. Some of the famous Nepali gears are Sonam Gear, Sherpa Adventure Gear etc.
Tipping in Nepal is quite common these days even among the locals. Here, tipping is expected by most people involved in the country's tourism industry. While tipping is not mandatory, it is a very important source of income to those working in the industry.
In Nepal, most of the hotels and restaurants already include service charges in the final bill. Therefore, it is not necessary to tip. If a service charge is not included in the total, 10% of the bill is perfectly acceptable for a tip or as per your own will. If a tipping box is available, it is better to deposit some there as it shall later be divided among all the staff.
Nepali is the official language of Nepal and a mother tongue of the majority of the population. Everyone speaks and communicates well in Nepali At the same time, Nepal is also a multiethnic and multilingual country with 123 different Nepalese languages spoken as a mother tongue (first language) based on their ethnic and cultural background.
Apart from that English is also spoken and more or less understood by the majority of the population these days whether or not working in the line of hospitality and tourism. Meanwhile, few of the people in this line of trade can speak and communicate in other languages such as French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, etc.