Wedged between the high Himalaya and the steamy Indian plains, Nepal is a land of snow peaks and Sherpas, yaks and yetis, monasteries and mantras.
VISAS & PASSPORTS
Almost all foreign nationals including U.S., U.K., Australian and Canadian citizens wishing to enter Nepal must have a passport valid for six months beyond the date of entry, and also a visa. 30-day visitor visas are issued at the airport on arrival. A tourist visa can be extended from the Department of Immigration for a total of 120 days.
The national currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (Rs.), which divided into 100 paisa, although you are not likely to encounter the latter. Bills come in 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 rupee denominations. Coins come in 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 paisa, and 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupee denominations. At this writing, the exchange rate was Rs.87 to $1.
Tipping is not compulsory in Nepal but is expected by pretty much everyone who might provide you with a service. Tip waiters in restaurants and taxi drivers (unless their meter has been rigged) 10-15% of the bill. Tip hotel porters Rs.20-50 depending on the class of hotel.
Our suggestions for daily tipping are the following:
Drivers: $ 2.00 to $ 5.00
Tour Guide: $ 10.00 to $ 20.00
House Keepers: $ 2.00
Porters: $ 2.00
There’s a low rate of serious crime in Nepal.
Watch out for pick-pockets and bag-snatching, particularly in airports, on buses and in areas popular with foreign nationals like Thamel, Sanepa, and Kupondol in Kathmandu. Take care when walking around at night. Assaults and robberies are more likely to occur in the evening in poorly lit areas. Avoid walking on your own and don’t carry large sums of cash. Keep valuables in a hotel safe if possible.
Bars and restaurants close at midnight. Foreigners remaining in bars and clubs after hours have been detained by the police. Take care when entering ‘dance bars’ as some foreigners have been swindled or harassed.
Be wary of accepting drinks from strangers, and don’t leave drinks unattended.
Electrical sockets (outlets) in Nepal usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC.
The standard of public healthcare in Nepal is mediocre at best. Avoid government hospitals if possible. Makes sure your insurance covers the costs of private clinics, as these have relatively high standards and English-speaking doctors. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends vaccinations against adult diphtheria and tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and also typhoid. Malaria is not usually an issue in Kathmandu, but you may wish to consider taking precautions anyway. Definitely, take precautions if visiting any rural areas. Do not drink water that has not been boiled or purified in some other way. Be wary about how salads are washed and avoid ice unless you are certain the water is safe. Use boiled and filtered water for brushing teeth, this is not as essential in the city’s better hotels. Some animals, including the monkeys at Swayambhunath Temple may be carriers of rabies. Visit a clinic immediately if bitten, even if you have been vaccinated beforehand.
Baggy pants or calf-length skirts with a loose top are appropriate trekking and touring wear for women. Men should wear a shirt at all times. Men’s knee-length hiking shorts are fine for trekking but not when visiting temples, monasteries or homes.
Nudity is particularly offensive. Whether bathing in a stream or at a village tap, men should wear shorts or underwear, women can wrap in a loongi (sarong) and douse themselves as the village women do. Only sport a swimsuit if well secluded from village eyes. Public affection is likewise frowned upon.