Nepal Travel Guide
With an area of 147,121 sq. km and a total estimated population of 31 million, Nepal is a small landlocked country that lies between India and China. The country is a host to the world’s highest mountains, including the Mt. Everest (8848m). Although Nepal is small, it is rich geographically and culturally. Despite the size of the country, the natural and cultural prosperity of the country can be challenged by a few others. Geographically, Nepal is divided into the Himalayas (to the north), Hilly (central) and the Terai region (to the south). The Terai is the most fertile and is the granary warehouse while the central part of the country is mostly covered with Mahabharata hills. But as we move up, the Himalayas are mostly filled with snowcapped mountains. Nepal is also famously known for being the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
Nepal provides 2 different categories of visas for the visitors – i.e. Gratis Visa and Tourist visa. It can be obtained from the Tribhuvan International Airport and from different entry points located at the borders with Tibet and India. The visa can also be obtained at the Nepalese Embassy and diplomatic missions outside the country. The Tourist Visa can be achieved basically for 15, 30, and 90 days which are available at US$25, US$40, and US$100 respectively.
Gratis visa is a special category of free visa and is available only to children below 10 years and individuals from SAARC nation and China. Indian nationals as per the agreement do not require any kind of visa; however, they must possess a passport and a valid election card. Further information on the Visa and the procurement procedures are available at the official website of the Department of Immigration at http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/page/tourist-visa.
Popular destinations to visit
Nepal offers you a massive number of destinations to travel according to your hobbies and interests. Varied upon your preferences, you can tour or indulge in adventure sports. Nepal is prominently known for providing exquisite opportunities for trekking and mountaineering-related activities. Different destinations that are must-visit in the country are listed below.
For Trekking: Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp, Ghorepani Poon Hill, Upper Mustang, Upper Dolpo, Langtang, Kanchenjunga Circuit, Manaslu circuit, Gokyo Lakes, etc.
For Peak Climbing: Mera Peak (6461), Island Peak (6189m), Lobuche Peak (6119m), Pisang Peak (6091m), Yala Peak (5500m), Chulu East (6429m), etc.
For Expedition: Mt. Everest (8848m), Cho Oyu (8188m), Lhotse (8516m), Annapurna I (8091m), Kanchenjunga (8586m), Ama Dablam (6856m), etc.
For Pilgrimage Tours: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Patan, Manakamana Temple, Muktinath Temple, Gosainkunda, Janakpur, etc.
For Jungle Safari: Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, Parsa Wildlife Reserve, etc.
For Leisure Tours: Kathmandu, Pokhara, Bandipur, Dhulikhel, Nagarkot, Lumbini, etc.
Things to do in Nepal
Nepal has a long list of things that travelers can do in Nepal. The most famous activities include trekking and mountaineering. Treks in Nepal vary according to the duration, location, and preferences of the travelers. From a novice climber to professionals, Nepal also has a plethora of peaks for peak climbing and expeditions. The protected national parks and wildlife reserves are home to many endangered species of wild animals and birds and allow for Jungle Safari adventures. Similarly, adventure sport is another major attraction in the country. White Water Rafting, Canyoning, Zip-lining, Sky Diving, Paragliding, and Mountain biking are the few sports available here. Similarly, Nepal is a country of diverse cultural and ethnic communities making a great destination for pilgrimage tours.
Trekking Seasons in Nepal
Trekking can be carried out throughout the year. Basically, there are 4 seasons and each season offers a completely different experience. However, the autumn season (September- November) is considered as the best time of the year for treks as the temperature is moderate and the sky clears out giving you the best possible view. Similarly, another best time to go on a trek in Nepal is during spring (March-May). With varieties of wildflowers and beautiful mid-warm temperatures, some visitors prefer this time of year to enjoy the views from higher elevations. Summer (June- August) provides the best option for botanists. With the warm and wet weather, the meadows are filled with dense vegetation and beautiful flowers. Treks are possible in winter (December – February) as well; however, the heavy snowfall at higher altitudes makes the journey difficult. Treks to the rain shadow regions like Upper Mustang and Dolpo are ideal throughout the year.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Also known as altitude sickness or high altitude pulmonary edema, acute mountain sickness is mostly faced by trekkers and travelers who travel to high altitudes. Typically, the basic symptoms start at 2400m from sea level and include dizziness, nausea, shortening of breath, and headaches. At higher altitudes, the air pressure and oxygen levels are very low which may result in AMS. Usually, the symptoms are very mild and one can recover quickly. However, in some rare cases, the situation can get severe affecting the lungs and brain. Medications for this may include lung inhaler, Diamox, blood pressure medicines, and aspirin, etc. Similarly, returning to the lower altitude and hydrating might help as well.
Travel and treks in Nepal can be risky and, if not insured properly, may cost you your time, health, and money. There are large varieties of policies available in Nepal for covering these issues. Choosing a policy that covers medical treatments, emergency evacuation, and helicopter rescues during the trips are vital to ensure that you do not face unnecessary hassle on the trips. However, some policies might exclude dangerous activities like trekking, bungee jumping, rafting, and motorbiking. Such travel insurances are not ideal but depends upon the type of travel. We recommend you to carefully study the insurance policies and opt for the one that is best suited for the mode of your travel.
Meal and Accommodations
Nepal offers varieties of accommodation facilities. From guesthouses and hostels to teahouse and homestays, the country offers different ranges of accommodation as per the requirement. Hotels are common in cities and are easily available according to the requests of travelers. In rural areas, small tea houses and lodges are the popular accommodation choices. These tea houses offer you the bed, shower facilities, and good meals. Such a location basically offers Tibetan and Nepali meals. Another option available for the visitors is camping. Here the camps and tents are set at various areas of trek routes. Meals of different variations are readily and easily available across Nepal. The eateries and diners in cities offer international cuisines and a lot of choices and, in a rural area, the choices may be limited. You can be assured of the availability and quality of the foods on the trips.
Banking ATM’s and Money
The national currency of Nepal is Nepali rupee. 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 rupee notes and 1 and 2 rupee coins are available in Nepal. Credit Cards and other major cards like MasterCard, Visa, and American Express are also accepted in major malls and high-end hotels. In rural areas, these services might not be available in all cases. So, carrying local currency cash is the best option for payment purposes.
Most banks are open during the weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm through which visitors may carry out their transactions. ATMs are available in most parts of the country but a certain percentage is charged while using the credit cards. Similarly, banks and numerous authorized dealers are available in Nepal which provides currency exchange services. Since the availability of such service providers is relatively sparse in remote regions, we recommend exchanging the necessary amount in major cities before you head out on the trips. Being cautious about the authenticity of the service providers is also equally important to receive a fair and legit rate while exchanging your currency. For such information, you can refer to the information available on the official website of Nepal Rastra Bank at https://www.nrb.org.np/fxmexchangerate.php.
Internet and Communication
Internet and Wi-Fi services are easily available in most of the big cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Chitwan. Many cafes, restaurants, and hotels provide their customers with free Wi-Fi to access the internet. On top of that, free Wi-Fi is available in many public places around the country. Sim cards and cellular data are the other mediums of accessing the internet. Ncell and NTC are the major telecom organizations that offer Sim cards and cellular data services at reasonable prices. Other sources of communication include telephone services, TV, Radio, and Newspaper. Telephone services are of the best quality and many phone booths provide STD and ISD services. Local Newspapers are issued in 2 different languages (Nepali and English) on a daily and weekly basis through which you get information about national and international news.
Internal flight delays
Due to geographical conditions and climatic variation, the domestic flights in Nepal are, sometimes, prone to flight delays and cancellation as well. Weather conditions like heavy rain and thick fog and heavy rain account for most of the flight delays and cancellations. These issues are more frequent during monsoon and winter seasons. Road travel and alternate flights are the alternatives during flight-related issues. In such situations, your travel partner in Nepal will assist you to obtain other means of travel.
Health and Safety Including Travelling alone in Nepal
Nepal is an extremely safe country to travel in. Even the lone travelers are treated in a similar way as the groups. Nepalese community welcomes everyone with a warm heart and loving hospitality. Nepalese society is open to foreigners and their culture. If a traveler respects the norms and cultural beliefs of the country, he/she will have no reason to complete their trip successfully.
Nepal Police has a separate department called Tourist Police to monitor and check the safety and security of the travelers in Nepal. They also help travelers and address their queries and relevant requests. There are numerous information centers throughout the country to help and guide the visitors. Any individual with average physical fitness can travel to Nepal. However, for challenging activities like trekking, peak climbing, expedition, and other adventure sports, a certain level of physical fitness is required. Visitors are recommended to consult their doctor regarding the vaccines necessary to travel to Nepal.