Traveling is simply exploring and discovering new places. When traveling to a new place, Pre-arrival research on any of your travel destinations is a very important task. It helps oneself gain prior knowledge on various aspects of your chosen destination and hence, even though you are visiting the place for the first time it would not be as overwhelming.
Being a small landlocked and developing country situated in between China and India, Nepal often goes unnoticed despite having a lot to offer to the world. Traveling to Nepal is therefore considered as “the road less traveled”. Tourists planning to visit Nepal need to make a lot of preparations before arriving here. Travelers themselves would also definitely have a lot of queries about traveling to a country like Nepal and they mostly rely on their tour operators to help answer these queries.
Listed below are 6 frequently asked questions before travelling to Nepal:
1. What is the best time to visit Nepal?
The spring and the autumn season are considered to be the best time for visiting Nepal as the weather tends to be relatively moderate and stable. However, Nepal has to offer great diversity and complexity in terms of geography and climate due to which a large number of tourists seem to travel here even during the summers and winters. Being around the country during this time gives you quite a unique experience. Nepal can hence, be a great year-round destination if you have the right information, travel plans, and preparation.
- Winters(Dec to Feb) are perfect for treks in the lower Himalayan foothills and the jungles of Chitwan and Bardia in the south of Nepal. However, the higher elevated regions can get extremely cold.
- Springs(Mar to May) are suitable for trekking as the weather is quite stable during this time. Also, different festivals such as Holi(festival of colors) in March and Nepalese New Year in April fall around this time of the year.
- Summer(Jun to Aug) marks the beginning of the monsoon season and brings along with it hot and humid weather. Heavy rainfall is experienced frequently. If you are looking for trekking during this time it is most preferred to select a region lying in the “rain shadow” of the Himalayas like the Upper Mustang or Nar Phu. The Yarthung Horse Festival takes place in June in Manang.
- Autumn(Sep to Nov) is the most popular trekking season among all as the weather is at its best during this time of the year. Two of the biggest festivals of the nation; Dashain(October) and Tihar(November) also fall in this season.
2. How to get my Visa for Nepal?
For most nationalities, you get your visa on arrival in Kathmandu. It is the easiest way to get your tourist visa. However, you can also apply in advance.
The three available ways to obtain Nepal visa is as follows:
a. Apply on your arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport(TIA), Kathmandu.
b. Apply on any of the land border crossings open to tourists. Each has an immigration office.
c. Apply at one of Nepal’s foreign consulates from your country in advance.
Procedure of visa On Arrival:
Visa Application forms are available in the arrivals hall as well as electronic registration machines that read your passport, take your photo and print out a completed form to submit to immigration. To escape long queues and unnecessary problems, you can submit a complete Online Visa Application form to the Immigration Authority of Nepal. Make sure you have the following items:
- A passport-size photo in a light background.
- Cash to pay the visa fee(USD is most suitable.However, payment in EUR, CHF, GBP, AUD, CAD, HKD, SGD, and JPY is also fine)
- A valid passport for at least six months.
3. How much does it cost to travel to Nepal?
Nepal is an extremely affordable destination that serves tourists of all kinds. From cheap backpackers right to luxury stays Nepal can cater budgets of all sizes. Although being a tourist in Nepal is quite cheap, if you are willing to go for hiking, mountaineering and other adventure sports the cost might get sufficiently high depending upon the type of hike and the level of comfort you choose. These things should be kept in mind while budgeting for the trip.
Mentioned below are some of the essential things and their approximate cost in Nepal:
Food and Drinks in Nepal:
Snacks: 50-200 Rs
Inexpensive meals: 180-300 Rs
Three-course meals: 800 Rs
Beer :250-500 Rs
Water: 20 Rs
Soft Drinks: 50 Rs
Tea house/Trekking lodge: 500-2500 Rs
Guest House: 400-2500 Rs
3 star double room: 2000-8000 Rs
Luxury accommodation: 15000-25000 Rs
Local bus: 20-50 Rs
Taxi: 45 Rs(per km)
Tourist buses: 800-2000 Rs(Kathmandu -Pokhara/Chitwan)
4. Who will be our guides?
Most travel operators appoint valid license holder Nepalese people who are fluent in English as tourist guides. There can be a provision of providing guides who speak French, Japanese, Spanish, German or Italian as well according to the convenience of the travelers. Travel guides are selected on the basis of appropriate experiences, leadership skills, and personal aptitude. Travel guides hold adequate knowledge about the culture, ecosystem, flora, fauna, geography, and history of Nepal. Most travel agencies provide guides who have gone through special training package programs like Intensive Wilderness First Aid, Trekking Guide Training, Eco Trekking Workshop & Adventure Meet, Rock climbing, Ice Climbing and Mountaineering (for expedition leaders), etc. all of which are certified and approved by the government of Nepal.
Travelers should be careful of over-friendly locals at popular tourist spots around the cities, who approach you and begin sharing the history of the site. These people aren’t official guides and once they’ve finished they tend to demand a lot of money for their time. Hence, if someone approaches you and begins to lecture you about the place it is best to politely cut them off.
5. How to stay in good health when travelling to Nepal?
Before visiting the country, you are advised to take one or two vaccines of common diseases like Japanese encephalitis. When in Nepal, one should eat thoroughly cooked food and drink bottled water from a reputed brand. You should avoid eating too much fast food and salads.Most common illness that travelers suffer from is acute diarrhea with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, and lethargy. Such diseases cannot usually be treated with antibiotics. Hence, the most suitable way of recovery in such a scenario is to stay hydrated. Oral rehydration salts, anti-diarrheal medications, and hand sanitizers are mandatory while traveling here.
Mosquitoes are commonly found everywhere in Nepal, so there is a risk of diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Cholera, etc. Hence, you might want to consult your doctor for appropriate medicines.
Also carrying mosquito repellent sprays with DEET and a mosquito net can be quite useful.
Wearing a mask (if possible) is highly recommended when walking in the dusty and polluted streets especially during the summers. Several private clinics and hospitals around the country are open 24 hours and drug stores near hospital regions are also available if you require.
Travelers are also suggested to carry their medications along with their prescriptions if they take any. The medications are advised to be carried in their original containers to avoid custom inspection hassle.
6. What is the Nepalese currency?
The Nepalese currency is called the Nepalese Rupee(NPR). There are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50,100, 500 and 1000 rupee note, and 1 and 2 rupee coins available. Coins may be hard to read but paper currency is easily recognizable as numbers are written in English on both sides.
ATM facilities are available widely in Kathmandu valley, Pokhara and other major cities of the country. However, in the rural, this facility is lacking.
If you plan to go on a hike for a couple of weeks in the Annapurna circuit for instance, you must plan and take all the cash you’ll need ahead of time to avoid crises.
Note: Most ATMs have a maximum withdrawal limit of 10000 NPRs.
Social etiquettes(What can I do and not do when in Nepal)
- When in Nepal, kissing, hugging and displaying affection in public is not entertained.
- Smoking is not allowed in temples and religious sites.
- You must take your shoes off before entering a temple, religious site or when you are invited into a Nepali home.
- Dress code: Travellers are advised not to wear sleeveless tops, skimpy t-shirts and shorts. Nudity of any kind is not tolerated. Your body must be covered at all times.
- You greet the local people with the word: Namaste and at the same time, you lift your hand in front of your chest like in a prayer position. Nepalese people normally don’t shake hands.
Common Nepali words and phrases:
Dhanyabad – Thank You!
Dal Bhat – Rice, Vegetables, and lentils
Kasto chha?- How’s it?/ How are you?
Mitho chha – It’s tasty!
Ramailo bhayo – It was fun
Maaf pau – Sorry!
Feri Bhetaula – See you again!