Nepal travel FAQs
If you are preparing to visit Nepal, the following questions with their corresponding answers could be helpful especially for those who are traveling to Nepal for the first time. The queries listed below are a collection of inquiries from our past clients. We have compiled these questions along with their precise answers which may serve as a basic guideline helping travelers to plan and organize their holidays in Nepal accordingly. The information provided in the answers relates to general issues of Nepal, holiday activities, government norms, and several other useful concerns. Although it is not detailed information, it will be accommodating enough to draw a picture of how traveling in Nepal would be like. For detailed information, one can look for travel books which have been published for many years and are easily available at major bookstores worldwide.
Where is Nepal located?
Nepal lies between India and China as a landlocked territory, located mainly in the Himalayas. It borders China in the north and India in the south, east, and west. Kathmandu is the country’s capital and the largest city. Nepal is roughly trapezoidal in shape, 800 km long and 200 km wide divided into three physiographic areas: Himal, Pahad, and Terai. It is a land of yaks and yetis, stupas and the world-famous Sherpas, along with some of the best-known trekking trails in the world.
What is Nepal famous for?
Nepal is famous for having the possession of Mt. Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world. Amongst the 14 high mountains above 8000 meters, eight of them are found to be located in this naturally marvelous nation. Besides, it possesses more than one thousand peaks that are more than 6000 meters tall. Nepal is also popular as the holy land where Lord Buddha was born thereby providing opportunities to explore some of the oldest as well as the highest Buddhist monasteries in the world. Nepal is known for its hospitality and the simplicity and friendliness of the local people who believe that guests are God.
When is the best time to travel to Nepal?
Spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are considered the best times of the year and tourist’s season in Nepal. The weather in these seasons is highly pleasant where clear skies with optimal temperature will prevail along with splendid backdrops of mountain views. During the fall, the main Nepali festivals like Dashain and Tihar are celebrated – it is also the busiest tourist season and the chief tourist centers and trekking trails tend to be crowded like never-before. Winter (December to February) is appropriate for tours, safari and low-altitude treks especially for Chitwan safari tours in Nepal’s southern jungle region. During winter, the temperatures are pleasant and the shrubbery less dense allowing better wildlife glimpses. Monsoon (June to September) has rainfall almost every day and most of the Himalayas are not visible.
How can a visitor enter Nepal?
Nepal can be entered by direct flights or connecting flights from your native country. For those who travel to India first and wish to enter Nepal can either fly or take a road trip. The major airlines operating in Nepal are Nepal Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Oman Air, FlyDubai, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, Cathay Dragon, Air China, Biman Bangladesh, Druk Air, IndiGo, US-Bangla-Airlines, Air India, Thai Airways, Silk Air, and several others. All international flights will land at the sole Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu.
For those who wish to travel to Nepal by land route, there are various entry points such as: Kakarvitta (Jhapa – eastern Nepal bordering India), Birgunj (Parsa – central Nepal bordering India), Belahiya (Bhairahawa, Rupandehi – western Nepal bordering India), Jamunaha (Nepalgunj, Banke – mid-western Nepal bordering India), Mohana (Dhangadi, Kailali – far-western Nepal bordering India), Gadda Chauki (Mahendranagar, Kanchanpur – far-western Nepal bordering India), Kodari (Sindhupalchowk – northern border with Tibet), Gyirong (Rasuwagadhi – northern border with Tibet), and several other entry points bordering Indian territory. Scheduled public buses and private vehicles ply to and from the capital city of Kathmandu. Most of the traveling involves at least 10 to 12 hours of a long drive, so travelers who can cope with stretched hours of the drive along with fascinating mountainous views and meandering roads may hop in for a road trip to Nepal.
How can I apply for my visa for Nepal travel?
To get a Nepali visa, you may either visit the Royal Nepalese diplomatic missions in your home country or you can get your visa on arrival at the airport in Kathmandu. For most nationalities, there is a provision for visa on arrival, so kindly check before flying to Nepal whether you are eligible to get your visa on arrival. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the visa processing and requires two recent passport photos and a copy of your valid passport along with the visa fee. If you are traveling by road from India, you can get your visa from the immigration office at any of the entry points of Nepal. The visa fees for 15 days (multiple entry) is US$ 25, for 30 days (multiple entry), it is US$ 40, and for 90 days (multiple entry), it is US$ 100 or equivalent Nepali currency.
I need to extend my tourist visa. What should I do?
The Immigration Department of Kathmandu or Pokhara can extend your visa by another 30 days by charging you US$ 50. Normally, you can extend your visa for a total of 120 days and an additional 30 days visa may be granted by the Immigration Office on reasonable and/or humanitarian grounds. In no case will a tourist be allowed to stay in Nepal under a tourist visa for more than a period of 150 cumulative days.
Are there any other types of visas to enter Nepal other than tourist visa?
Yes. The other types of visas by which you can enter Nepal are Student Visa, Non-Tourist Visa, Residential Visa, Diplomatic Visa, Official Visa, and Transit Visa.
My children are five and seven years old. Do I need to pay for their visa?
For children below 10 years old, there is a total exemption of the visa fee. So, as long as your children are not 10 years or older, you need not pay any visa fee.
Do Nepalese speak the English language?
Nepali is the official language of Nepal. Though English may not be understood or spoken at extreme corners of the rural localities, it is not hard to communicate with people in the urban areas and metropolitan suburbs. Most people living in cities do understand and communicate very well in English. It is in the villages where different ethnic group of people speaks their own languages.
It is my first time in Nepal. I am clueless about my trip. What do you suggest for me?
There are so many things to do while you are here in Nepal. Depending on the type of vacation you want to spend in Nepal, our travel consultants will suggest the perfect trip for you with complete details starting from easy cultural tours, moderate trekking activities, adventurous sports, wildlife safaris, luxury tours/treks or extreme activities. Apart from these adventurous activities, we also organize nature tours, meditation tours, yoga tours and a wide variety of spiritual tours.
What type of food can I get to eat during my trip to Nepal?
There is nothing to panic regarding the food to eat while you will be traveling to Nepal. Most of the restaurants in the city serve you all major cuisines including Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Continental, Indian, Thai, and various other dishes. If you are already used to eating a bit of spicy food, then staple Nepali food is sure to tickle your taste buds. The popular Dal-Bhaat-Tarkari, comprised of lentil soup, rice, and curried seasonal vegetable is the everyday meal for an average Nepali household. Travelers who are not into eating spicy food are advised to stick to their normal food without spices. It is a known fact that if you are out in the mountains for a long trekking trip, choices for food availability is limited as compared to the urban city restaurants.
What are the weather conditions of Nepal?
Weather and climatic conditions in Nepal vary depending upon the altitude and geographical features of a place. In the northern regions, summers are cool and winters are harsh, whereas in the southern zone summers are hot and humid, and winters are gentler. Generally, Nepal has five seasons: spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, and winter. In the southern parts, summer temperature soars up to 37ºC and sometimes higher at some places while the winter temperature ranges from 7 – 23ºC. In the northern mountainous areas, mid-hills and valleys, summers are moderate while winter can be extremely cold with sub-zero temperatures. Kathmandu valley has a pleasant climate with middling summer and winter temperatures of 19 – 35ºC and 2 – 12ºC respectively. Spring normally begins from March and goes till May where the temperature fluctuates between 20 – 30ºC. Summer begins from June and goes up to August, which is also the pre-monsoon season. Autumn begins in September and ends by November where the temperature ranges between 20 – 30ºC. Winter starts from December and ends in February where mornings and evenings are very cold and the afternoon is warm and sunny.
How safe is Nepal for travelers?
Nepal is absolutely a safe country for travelers. It is considered as one of the most peaceful countries in the world. It has a low crime rate and violent crimes are very rare; the only concern to a traveler is petty theft. There is nothing to fear as long as you take basic precautions like not carrying valuables with you on the tour/trek, keeping cash or other valuables in a money belt or pouch strapped around your waist, locking bags and your luggage, and so on.
Is Nepal politically safe and stable now as compared to the past?
Nepal has now gained a democratic status that has several active political parties, opposition parties, leaders and their ideologies. Based on their differences, there might be some political turmoil elsewhere in the country which hardly affects other parts of the country. Political unrest, strikes, rallies, national agitations, and shutdowns no longer prevail in the country, as in the past. Comparably, the country has gained political stability and wiped out all the factors disrupting peace thereby assuring safety.
How many days should I spend in Nepal?
The number of days to spend in Nepal is totally based on the activities that you have on your bucket list. If you travel to Nepal to see the natural and cultural delights, at least 5 to 7 days of time is an ideal holiday. During this period, you will be able to witness the cultural richness and the natural splendors of Pokhara and Kathmandu. If you wish to do an easy trek and get into the Himalayan arena, then you should plan for at least 10 days. Similarly, if you wish to embark upon longer trekking, climbing or multi-activities in Nepal, then it is wise to keep aside at least 16 to 20 days for your vacation break.
What should I pack when I travel to Nepal?
What to pack while traveling to Nepal depends on the season of travel and the activities that you will be participating in. If you are traveling to Nepal during the months between October and February, it is recommended to pack some woolen sweaters, warm jackets or some similar warm clothes. During warmer months, casual T-shirts, shorts, shirts, skirts, comfortable pants, and medium-weight & easy-to-wash cotton wears would do well. We also suggest packing comfy walking shoes, slippers, sandals or sport shoes, hats or head covers and sunglasses. For trekking or other similar adventurous activities, we will provide a detailed list of clothing items and other gears and equipment when you book your trip with us. You need to remember that Nepal is quite a conservative country so you are advised to avoid as much as possible wearing very short, too tight or revealing clothing, especially in public places.
How much money should I expect to spend during my trip to Nepal?
Nepal is a very cheap country. How much money you will spend during your trip varies from one person to another. If you choose to stay at a 5-star hotel and dine at their restaurant, your trip will obviously be an expensive one. But, if you make up to totally immerse in a unique Nepali experience, including food, accommodation, and transportation, your trip can be completed for a lot less money. Outside the main tourist areas like Thamel, Durbar Marg or Pokhara, US$ 10-15 will take you through the day comfortably. While in the more touristic areas, you can expect to spend about US$ 25-30 per day including food, accommodation and travel expenses. What you spend on, and how much you want to spend is solely under your freedom of choice.
How should I bring money to Nepal for my expenses?
We recommend you to bring traveler’s check (cheque) if you plan to be in Nepal for a longer duration or if you haven’t booked any holiday tours with some agency in Kathmandu and traveling independently. In case you have booked your holiday with some agency and already paid for the trip, there won’t be a need for you to spend anything extra. For personal expenses, you could carry your Credit/Debit Card and withdraw your required amount as and when needed. There are lots of ATM booths in all the major cities of Nepal. Although US dollars are the most widely accepted form of money, most of the banks do accept other major international currencies as well. However, we recommend you to carry just a few hundred dollars when you first fly to Nepal.
I plan to travel to Nepal alone. Is there anything to be concerned? How safe is it to travel as a solo woman with your company?
There is nothing to be concerned about when you are traveling to Nepal even if you are a solo woman. Most parts of the touring areas always teem with regular visitors with very less or unreported harassment cases in the past. However, if you wish to trek especially in the remote areas during off-peak seasons when there are fewer travelers, we highly recommend you to team up with other solo travelers or join a group so that you are on the safer side for any emergencies or troubles on the way. If you wish to choose our company to travel with, we take personal responsibility for your well-being throughout the entire trip.
As a woman solo traveler, am I likely to face harassment while traveling in Nepal?
Harassment cases in Nepal are considerably low compared to other Asian countries. The only harassment you may face, if you observe, is in the form of constant staring or at times catcalling on the streets, nothing more than that. If you seem to mind your own business rather than playing back, the harassers will no longer bother you. However, we do recommend you not to walk alone during the night time especially at deserted areas or lonely alleyways of the streets.
What are my choices if I want to travel around Nepal?
If hiking or trekking is not your cup of tea, the most common means of traveling from one place to another inside Nepal is by bus, that is, if you are a budget traveler. Bus journeys provide remarkable views of the rural landscape, high Himalayan backdrops with a chance to discover the insight of Nepal. If bus journey sounds hectic, you may rent a car or hire a private vehicle with a driver, which is slightly a costly affair. We advise you not to drive on your own although you possess an international driving license – traffic rules in Nepal are frenzied and disorganized, and the roads are chaotic and treacherous even for experienced drivers. The last option to travel around Nepal is by domestic flights. The only drawback to travel by airplane is that most of the flights depart from Kathmandu to a city and back; there are rarely inter-city connecting flights in Nepal.
What are the transportation options to get around Kathmandu?
The relevant choice for traveling within Kathmandu for most of the visitors is the taxi, which is available ubiquitously from dawn till late night, or even early mornings at tourist hubs like Thamel. There is also a reasonably comprehensive local bus transportation system comprising of several buses operating under the government of Nepal which can be used to commute within the valley. However, we do not recommend traveling on public buses which are always overcrowded and there is always a risk of being pick-pocketed. Hiring a bike or a scooter is another quick way to travel around inside the traffic-jammed valley. If you just wish to see around town, the best option could be nothing better than walking, especially in the old areas of Kathmandu.
Do I need to purchase insurance for traveling to Nepal? Can I buy it in Nepal?
It is not mandatory to purchase insurance for traveling to Nepal. But, we recommend you to purchase your insurance in case you wish to spend some time trekking or indulge in some adventurous activities in the wilderness. If you wish to book any of your trips with us, it is a condition to purchase your insurance so that you are protected against any comprehensive expenses that may arise due to medical injuries, sickness or unforeseen accidental issues. Please stay informed that in the event of medical breakdown or injuries during your trip, the cost of emergency treatment and/or evacuation is an overwhelmingly expensive matter. Therefore we advise purchasing travel insurance covering emergency air ambulance or helicopter rescue and medical expenses especially if you are trekking in the rural areas of Nepal. You cannot purchase your insurance here in Nepal – neither do we arrange or sell them. So, it is highly recommended to arrange your insurance from your native country before traveling to Nepal.
Do I need vaccinations while traveling to Nepal?
Immunizations are not required when you plan to visit Nepal. However, as a preventative measure, we advise certain vaccinations and medications for certain seasons and parts of the country that you will be visiting. Additionally, we try as much to encourage our guests to take preventive steps against Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Japanese encephalitis before entering Nepal. Though malaria is quite not widespread in Kathmandu valley owing to its elevation, you might encounter mosquito bites when traveling to lowland areas during the course of your tour. In such cases, preventive treatment and insect repellent are highly advised.
How can I maintain good health when I am traveling in Nepal?
To maintain good health while you are traveling within Nepal, it is recommended to eat thoroughly cooked food and drink only reputed brand of bottled water. It is best for you to avoid eating fast food and green salads. Traveling during the monsoon months from June to September is a time period that is more susceptible to being infected with cholera unless you avoid drinking contaminated water and uncooked food. Wearing a mask while walking through the dusty and smoke-filled streets will definitely keep you away from any respiratory diseases. Visit clinics or hospitals if you feel uncomfortable to breathe or have a tummy disorder. Pharmacies near the hospital area remain open 24 hours for any emergency medications.
Do you recommend me bringing my own medicines when I come to Nepal?
Although most of the medicines are easily available in Nepal, it is always wise to carry medicines for some common illness such as diarrhea, fever, cold, flu, nausea or vomiting while traveling to Nepal. In case of emergency, there are lots of pharmacies from where you could easily purchase over-the-counter pills or even consult with a general physician. Apart from these medicines, you may also bring along other basic medications such as insect repellents, antiseptic creams or liquids, balms, sunscreen creams, lip balms, eye and nasal drops, tapes, and bandages, etc. Just make sure to bring your doctor’s prescription and the medications in its original containers to avert hassles of custom inspection.
What if I need to see a doctor while I am in Nepal?
There are many public hospitals as well as modern private hospitals and clinics in Nepal, especially inside the Kathmandu valley. It is advisable to visit a physician in his private clinic rather than visiting him in a public health center, which is very crowded every day with the whole country coming for medical treatment. It is still a sad sight to see not many private clinics elsewhere in the whole country; most people come to Kathmandu to receive medical treatment.
Are there ATM facilities in Nepal where I can withdraw cash from my card?
A few years back, there weren’t enough ATM machines in Nepal except in bigger cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Biratnagar and few more. In recent years, several commercial banks of Nepal have set up their ATM booths throughout the country. Most of these ATM machines accept national and international debit as well as credit cards. The most popular cards accepted by ATM machines in Nepal are VISA, MASTERCARD, and American Express.
Where and how can I change my US dollars into Nepali currency?
Exchanging US dollars or any other major currencies in Nepal is not a very difficult process as most of the commercial banks readily change your dollars into Nepali currency in the prevailing rates. We advise you to change a small amount of your money at the airport when you first arrive in Nepal. It is better not to exchange more money than what is necessary for your expenses for the next few days. Whenever you require more money, you can always change them at one of the numerous licensed money exchanges located at every nook and corner of the major tourist spots in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Dharan, Biratnagar, Sunauli, and other major cities and towns. Exchanging your US dollar notes in the black market may fetch a slightly higher rate than the commercial banks. An advantage to exchange your dollar bills in licensed money exchangers is that they remain in operation for longer hours than the banks. It is very important for you to retain your currency exchange receipts if you need to apply for visa extension or in order to exchange the remaining Nepali currency into dollars before leaving Nepal.
Will I be able to use my credit card for purchases in Nepal?
Not all credit cards are accepted for purchases or business transactions in Nepal as yet. However, many tourist-related businesses have begun accepting payments by swiping credit cards. It is just a recent accomplishment and only a few selected cards such as VISA, MASTERCARD or American Express are accepted in most places. You must be well informed that using credit cards for any purchase or other business transactions could cost you an additional bank surcharge amount from 3 to 5 percent.
Is it true that drugs are freely available in Nepal?
Marijuana plants are grown rampantly in the hilly suburbs of Nepal despite its farming is illegal. Somehow, they are brought into the valley and delivered to regular hideaways. As you walk on the streets of Thamel, you may get your share of an offer to purchase hashish, opium, heroin or other drugs from street peddlers. If you aren’t interested, just turn a deaf ear or refuse politely – you won’t be bothered again. If you wish to give it a try, be aware of the fact that drugs are illegal and could land you into deep waters – getting locked up in Nepal can be quite an experience.
What happens in case of an emergency? Is there tourist police to assist me?
The Nepal Police has a unit of policemen located near the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Office, who are trained especially to assist foreigners in issues regarding security and several travel-related matters. This unit known as the Tourist Police has complaint counters at the airport and Kathmandu Durbar Square too. In cases of emergencies, travelers can reach any of the officers by calling 4247041 or 4268969 between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm. These policemen are specially trained in English and have detailed local knowledge to assist travelers who are facing some sort of problem. Besides tourist police, there are other emergency numbers which can be helpful: 100 for police, 101 for fire brigade, 102 for an ambulance, 103 for traffic police, 104 for children search coordination center, 105 for Nepal Army, and 106 for military police.
I want to do trekking in Nepal. When and where do you suggest me to go?
There are plenty of treks including some of the best trekking trails in the world here in Nepal. The trekking you want to do depends on your personal preference with respect to the season of travel, amount of time and money, personal health condition, and previous hiking experience. For beginners or those who have limited time and money, we would recommend trekking in the Langtang region or some parts of the Annapurna region. Those who are able to invest a bit longer time can trek in the Everest region or do the full Annapurna Circuit trekking. For those who have previous experience and wish to do a more challenging trek and spend a long time in the mountains, the Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek in far-eastern Nepal is highly suitable. The best seasons for trekking in Nepal is either during spring (March to May) or during autumn (September to November).
I have never trekked before. Can I trek in the Himalayas?
Yes, absolutely you can trek in the Himalayas, which is a great place for you to begin. We assist you to choose the perfect trek based on your health conditions and walking abilities. Even if you have never trekked before, we will organize a pre-trip discussion where we will train you and explain all the significant possibilities during your trek.
What is the difference between a private tour and a group tour?
Private tours are normally customized itineraries developed in accordance with your preferred date of travel, your personal interest and everything else that you wish to include during your tour. Group tours, on the other hand, are pre-packaged tours fixed for specific dates with predetermined tour itineraries. Private tours are designed just for you whereas group tours are also open for other people to join.
What other things besides trekking, can I do and see in Nepal?
Nepal is known to be a land of temples and festivals. One or two festivals are celebrated every month in one or many parts of the country. We recommend you to kindly check for the local festivals that coincide with your holiday trip so that you can participate in the festival to witness the cultural show biz. There are numerous other activities including jungle safari in Chitwan National Park, white-water rafting in Marshyangdi River, Paragliding from Sarangkot hilltop, Bungee jumping at the Last Resort, and religious tours to Lumbini or Janakpur. While you are in Kathmandu or Pokhara, you may see and experience the nightlife of Nepal; there are many nightclubs and bars that remain open till late night and entertain customers with live musical performances. Those who wish to try a hand in gambling can visit the casinos at extravagant hotels like Soaltee and Yak & Yeti.
Before arriving in Nepal, is it important for me to book for a place to stay?
Normally, finding a place to stay in Nepal is not a problem at all even during the busiest seasons. However, rooms at the best hotels may already be taken away and you will be compelled to seek your shelter at other inferior hotels. If you have booked an all-inclusive tour program with us or some other travel agencies, then you don’t have to worry about anything else except your well-being. Some tourists tend to book only the tour with an agency and manage to reserve their hotel rooms by themselves. Gone are the days when it was a bit difficult to manage everything on your own; the era of the internet and digital technologies have made it all easier.
How much does the accommodation cost in Kathmandu and Pokhara?
Kathmandu and Pokhara are both major cities of Nepal where tourists flock during their trip to Nepal. The cost of accommodation in both these cities depends on the facilities provided by the hotel. With fierce competition prevailing in recent times, it is high time for the hoteliers and lodge owners selling their services at low costs and maximum facilities. An average lodge with basic facilities like running hot shower, flush toilets, foam mattress, clean sheets, television, and wifi service will cost from US$ 8 to US$ 12 per night for a double room. Then comes hotels which are slightly more comfortable than the lodges. They have similar facilities, probably with an attached bath, furniture, floor carpeting, and nice terrace or window views ranging from US$ 15 to US$ 50. Then, there are luxury hotels which are normally overpriced like elsewhere in other countries with top-notch services ranging from US$ 100 to US$ 300. Beyond Kathmandu and Pokhara, luxury hotels are just about non-existent and average hotels are found in limited numbers although they may be comparatively cheaper than in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
What can I buy in Nepal and carry back home?
There are hundreds of items you can buy in Nepal and take it to your friends, relatives or loved ones as a gift or token of love. Well, what you want to buy and take back home really depends on your personal choice. Nepal is quite popular for pashmina – you could buy pashmina shawls or other dress items as gifts for cloth lovers. Nepalese art and craft, as well as handicraft items, are the most common things that you will find being sold in the shops as well as in the streets especially in Thamel and Durbar Square area. They could be perfect gifts to your friends who are art lovers. Then, you will find the indigenous Nepali musical instruments and the Nepali carpets with traditional designs to carry back home.