Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms
of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and
altitude variation. The elevation of the country ranges from
60 meters above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt.
Everest at 8,848 meters, all within a distance of 150 kilometers
resulting in climatic conditions from Sub-tropical to Arctic.
Nepal - occupying only 0.1% of the earth - is home
- 2% of all the flowering plants in the world
- 8% of the world's population of birds (more than 848 species)
- 4% of mammals on earth
- 11 of the world's 15 families of butterflies (more than 500
- 600 indigenous plant families
- 319 species of exotic orchids
Area: 147,181 sq. kilometers
Geography: Situated between China in the north and India in
Population: 22 million
Language: Nepali is the national language. However, travel-trade
people understand and speak English as well.
Currency: Nepali Rupee (approximately US$ 1 equals Rs. 74.65
Political System: Multi-party democracy with constitutional
Religion: Nepal enjoys the distinction of being the only Hindu
Kingdom in the world. However, there is a harmonious blending
of Hinduism and Buddhism.
Climate: Nepal has four major seasons, namely,
(1) Winter: December-February
(2) Spring: March-May
(3) Summer: June-August
(4) Autumn: September-November
Nepal can be visited the whole year round.
People: Nepal has more than 61 ethnic groups and 70 spoken languages.
What to Wear: Lightweight clothing is recommended for May through
October. Warm garments are required in October through March.
An umbrella or raincoat is a must for the rainy season.
The Northern Himalayan People
In the northern region of the Himalayas are the Tibetan-speaking
groups namely Sherpas, Dolpas, Lopas, Baragaonlis, Manangis.
The Sherpas are mainly found in the east in the Solu and Khumbu
region; the Baragaonlis and Lopas live in the semi-deserted
areas of Upper and Lower Mustang in the Tibetan rain-shadow
area; the Managis live in Manang district area; while the Dolpas
live in Dolpa district of West Nepal, one of the highest settlements
on earth at 4,000 meters.
The Middle Hills and Valley People
Several ethnic groups live together in harmony in the middle
hills and valleys. Among them are the Magars, Gurungs, Tamangs,
Sunuwars, Newars, Thakalis, Chepangs and majority of Brahmans
and Chhetris. The Brahmans and Chhetris have long dominance
in all pervading social, religious and political realms. There
are also some occupational castes namely: Damai (tailor), Sarki
(cobbler), Kami (blacksmith) and Sunar (goldsmiths). Though,
there exist numerous dialects, the language of unification is
the national language, Nepali.
Ethnic Diversity in the Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu Valley represents a cultural cauldron of the country,
where, people from varied backgrounds have come together to
present a melting pot. The natives of the Kathmandu Valley are
the Newars. Newari culture is an integration of both Hinduism
and Buddhism. The Newars of Kathmandu Valley were traders or
farmers by occupation in the old days.
The Terai People
The main ethnic groups in Terai are Tharus, Darai, Kumhal, Majhi
and other groups that have roots in India. They speak north
Indian dialects like Maithili, Bhojpuri. Owing to the fertile
plains of Terai, most inhabitants live on agriculture. There
are, however, some occupational castes like Majhi (fisherman),
Kumhal (potter) and Danuwar (cart driver).
POPULATION OF MAJOR ETHNIC GROUPS
ETH. GROUP POPULATION
Nepali art has been deeply influenced by religion since very
early times. Early art of Nepal can be seen as stone sculpture
and temple architecture. Other art include Newari Paubha and
Tibetan Thanka paintings, wood and metal crafts, ceramics and
clay pots, textiles, paper, Tibetan carpet, music and literature.
Contemporary Nepali art represents two distinct segments, traditional
idealistic paintings and the contemporary western style works.
The contemporary painting is specially noted for either nature
based compositions or compositions based on Tantric elements
or social themes. Nepali painters have also earned international
reputation for abstract works based on these themes.
Kathmandu Valley houses a number of museums
and art galleries displaying art work of the past and present.
Some are: The National Museum at Chhauni, Museums at Kathmandu
Durbar Square, Museum of Natural History at Swayambhu, National
Library at Puchowk, Kaiser Library at Thamel, National Birendra
Art Gallery at Naxal, Asa Archives at Tangal, National Art Gallery
at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, National Woodworking Museum at Bhaktapur
Durbar Square, Bronze and Brass Museum at Bhaktapur, Nepal National
Ehnographic Museum at Bhrikuti Mandap. Museums outside the Kathmandu
Valley are such: Dhakuta Museum, Hattisar Museum in Bhimphedi,
Mustang Eco Museum in Jomsom, Tharu Cultural Museum in Thakurdwara
and International Mountain Museum in Pokhara.
Commerce has been a major occupation in Nepal since early times.
Being situated at the crossroads of the ancient trans-Himalayan
trade route, trading is second nature to the Nepali people.
Foreign trade is characterized mainly by import of manufactured
products and export of agricultural raw materials. Nepal imports
manufactured goods and petroleum products worth about US$ 1
billion annually. The value of exports is about US$ 315 million.
Carpets are Nepal's largest export, earning the country over
US$ 135 million per year. Garment exports account for more than
US$ 74 million and handicraft goods bring in about US$ 1 million.
Other important exports are pulses, hides and skins, jute and
Manufacturing is still at the developmental stage and it represents
less than 10 percent of the GDP. Major industries are carpets,
garments, textiles, leather products, paper and cement. Other
products made in Nepal are steel utensils, cigarettes, beverages
and sugar. There are many modern large-scale factories but the
majority are cottage or small scale operations. Most of Nepal's
industries are based in the Kathmandu Valley and a string of
small towns in the southern Terai plains.
Eight out of 10 Nepalese are engaged in farming and it accounts
for more than 40 percent of the GDP. Rolling fields and neat
terraces can be seen all over the Terai flatlands and the hills
of Nepal. Even in the highly urbanized Kathmandu Valley, large
tracts of land outside the city areas are devoted to farming.
Rice is the staple diet in Nepal and around three million tons
are produced annually. Other major crops are maize, wheat, millet
and barley. Besides food grains, cash crops like sugarcane,
oil seeds, tobacco, jute and tea are also cultivated in large
Nepal is a developing country with an agricultural economy.
In recent years, the country's efforts to expand into manufacturing
industries and other technological sectors have achieved much
progress. Farming is the main economic activity followed by
manufacturing, trade and tourism. The chief sources of foreign
currency earnings are merchandise export, services, tourism
and Gurkha remittances. The annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
is about US$ 4.3 billion
PLANING YOUR TRIP
Access to Nepal
The Royal Nepal Airlines (RA) is the national flag carrier of
Nepal with flight connections to: Delhi, Mumbai in India; Bangkok
in Thailand; Osaka in Japan; Hong Kong, Shanghai in China; Kuala
Lumpur in Malaysia; Dubai in United Arab Emirates and Singapore.
Other international airlines connecting Kathmandu to other parts
of the world are Biman Bangladesh to Dacca in Bangladesh; China
Airlines to Lhasa in Tibetan Autonomous Region of China; Druk
Air to Paro in Bhutan and New Delhi in India; Gulf Air to Abu
Dhabi in United Arab Emirates; Indian Airlines to Delhi, Kolkata,
Varanasi in India; Qatar Airways to Doha in Qatar; Thai International
to Bangkok in Thailand.
Since Nepal has India in three sides and China
in the north, coming to Nepal by land requires one to pass through
India or China. The entry points to Nepal from India are Kakkarbhitta,
Birgunj, Belhiya, Bhairawa, Nepalgunj, Dhangadi and Mahendra
Nagar. The Kodari Pass in Nepal-China border is the entry point
to Nepal from China. Tourists entering the kingdom by land must
possess an international carnet.
Nepal has every category of accommodation facilities
that range from the international standard star hotels to budget
hotels and lodges. In order to have an assured quality service,
it is advisable to use the facilities and services of government
registered hotels, lodges, travel agencies, licensed tour guides
only and engage an authorized trekking guide or porter only
through a registered travel and trekking agency.
In the last few decades Kathmandu and Pokhara
with the rest of Nepal has seen mushrooming of world class hotels.
During spring and fall, the better hotels work at near full
capacity and are booked well in advance. There are, however,
plenty of less glamorous but decent hotels to suit everyone's
fancies and finances.
Most hotels offer choice of: bed and breakfast;
bed, breakfast and one other meal; or room and full board. Rates
listed however, are for room only, unless otherwise indicated.
Besides officially recognized hotels, there are a number of
small lodge accommodation available between US $5 and $10 a
night depending on facilities; toilets and showers are generally
communal and heating is extra. These small hostelries are located
in the old parts of Kathmandu and in the Thamel district.
Even in remote parts of Nepal, the coming of
tourists over the years has led to the local population paying
attention to tourist facilities, hence making accommodation
and meals for tourists more easily available than before.
Postal Services: The Central Post Office located
near Dharahara Tower, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through
Friday. The counters are open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and provide
stamps, postcards and aerograms. Post Restante is available
Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Express Mail Service
(EMS) is available at GPO and at Thamel, Basantapur and airport
Telephone Services: Telephone,
fax, telex and telegraph services are available at the Nepal
Telecommunications Corporation at Tripureshwar. Hotels and private
communications centers provide long distance telephone. For
calling from outside, country code for Nepal is 977 and the
area code for Kathmandu is 1.
Internet Services: Several
Internet cafes and communication centers have opened up in the
Valley and around the country in the past few years. Visitors
only have to find a place they are most comfortable in to use
the facilities to keep in touch with home. E-mail and Internet
services are also offered by hotels.
Media: Nepali media has sped
light years ahead in just a few years time and what used to
be a controlled and tight knit community, is so no more. The
government audio and television news networks are Radio Nepal
and Nepal Television respectively. However, numerous FM radio
stations and upcoming regional television stations are dominating
the market. Major Nepali daily newspapers are Gorkhapatra and
Kantipur, while the English dailies are The Rising Nepal, The
Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan. A number of other newspapers
and magazines are also available.
Electricity: Major towns have
electricity and the voltage available is 220-volts and 50 cycles.
Load shedding is sometimes experienced. However, most major
hotels have installed their own generators.
Customs: All baggage must be declared and cleared
through the customs on arrival at the entry. Personal effects
are permitted free entry.Passengers arriving at Tribhuvan International
Airport (TIA) without any dutiable goods can proceed through
the Green Channel for quick clearance without a baggage check.
If you are carrying dutiable articles, you have to pass through
the Red Channel for detailed customs clearance.
Import: Apart from used personal
belongings, visitors are allowed to bring to Nepal free of duty
cigarette (200) or cigars (50), distilled liquor (one 1.15 liter
bottle), and film (15 rolls). You can also bring in the following
articles free of duty on condition that you take them out with
you when you leave: binocular, movie or video camera, still
camera, laptop computer, and portable music system.
Export: The exports of antiques
require special certification from the Department of Archeology,
National Archive Building, Ram Shah Path, Kathmandu. It is illegal
to export objects over 100 years old like sacred images, paintings,
manuscripts that are valued for culture and religious reasons.
Visitors are advised not to purchase such items as they are
Nepal's cultural heritage and belong here.
For more information on customs matters, contact
the Chief Customs Administrator, TIA Customs Office.
Entry Procedure and Visa Rules
Gratis visa for all tourists who visit Nepal for 3 days or less.
Gratis visa for tourists of SAARC countries and People's Republic
Single entry- US$ 30 days for 60 days
Multiple entry- US$ 50 + US$ 30.
Visa will be extended subsequently for 30 days
each upon payment of US$ 30 for a maximum period of 150 days
in a visa year (Jan-Dec).
Visa can be obtained either on arrival in Nepal
or from Royal Nepalese Embassy or Consulate or other Mission
offices abroad. Two passport size photographs required.
Indians do not require visa to visit Nepal.
However, they require to be in possession of any one of the
following documents while travelling between the two countries.
- Valid national passport
- Photo identity card issued by the government of India/any
State Government or Union Territory/Administration in India/Identity
Cards issued by the Election Commission of India. (Except
Tatkal Identity Cards issued by the Ministry of Railways).
- Children between 10-18 years age group are allowed to travel
by air on the strength of a passport or photo identity card
issued by the Principal of their school or college.
- Emergency Certificate issued by Embassy of India, Kathmandu
to Indian nationals in case of emergent conditions.
Children up to the age of 10 years will not
require the above-mentioned documents for travelling between
India and Nepal, by air.
Ethics and Etiquette
Nepalis practice cultural etiquettes that may sometimes appear
unusual to visitors. However, a handful of tips could acquaint
visitors with these otherwise strange practices.
1. The form of greeting in Nepal is 'namaste' performed by
joining palms together.
2. As a mark of respect Nepalis usually take off their shoes
before entering someone's home, temple or stupa.
3. Food or material that contains another's saliva is considered
'jutho' or impure.
4. Touching something with feet or using left hand to give or
take is considered offense among Nepalis.
5. Women wearing skimpy outfits are frowned upon especially
in the rural parts of the country.
6. As a part of the tradition some Hindu temples do not allow
westerners to enter.
7. Leather articles are prohibited inside temple precinct.
8. Walking around temples or stupas is traditionally done clockwise.
9. To avoid conflict photography is carried out after receiving
permission from the object or person.
10. Public displays of affection between man and woman are scandalous.
11. Nodding head and a slight dangling of head from left to
right means 'Yes' while shaking head means a 'No.'
Foreign Currency Exchange
Nepal Rastra Bank have listed the following currency for official
transaction for the purpose of buying and selling: US Dollar,
Euro, Pound Sterling, Swiss Franc, Australian Dollar, Canadian
Dollar, Singapore Dollar, Japanese Yen and Chinese Yuan* . However
the Nepal Rastra Bank has listed another five currencies for
the purpose of buying only: Swedish Kroner, Danish Kroner, Hong
Kong Dollar, Saudi Arab Riyal and Katari Riyal.
Please note that Chinese Yuan can be transacted
only with Chinese tourists and Nepali exporters and importers.
Indian currency is accepted in Nepal except the 500 and 1000
denomination notes. It is illegal and punishable offence to
carry these notes within Nepal.
Credit Card like American Express, Visa and
Mastercard are widely accepted in tourist areas like Kathmandu,
Pokhara, Chitwan and in the Everest region.
Visitors can go to different parts of Nepal either by road or
by air. Among domestic airlines of Nepal the Royal Nepal Airlines
provides extensive network. Other domestic airlines more than
18 in operation provide regular and charter services to popular
domestic destinations. Excepting weather conditions Nepal's
domestic air service is known to be punctual and reliable.
Buses are available to different parts of the
capital and the kingdom from the new bus park in Gongabu and
the old bus park in Sundhara. Regular bus services operate within
the three cities in Kathmandu Valley. Scheduled bus services
for outside the Valley operate from the Gongabu Bus Terminal.
There are tourist bus services to selected places offered by
a few travel agencies. In addition, one can also hire private
vehicles at nominal rates.
Airport bus carries passengers from the airport
into the city. Getting around Kathmandu Valley is made easier
by metered taxis that can be hailed off the streets and are
easily recognizable by the taxi sign and their black number
plates. No tip is expected. Night taxis are available for higher
prices. Three wheeler scooters that are cheaper than taxis are
also available. For cheaper rides buses and teeny vans called
micro buses are available to different parts of the Valley.
Battery run scooters also serve the same purpose.
Airport tax is applicable to Nepali and non-Nepali
citizens who use airport facilities. The airport tax specified
for different flights from Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA)
and other domestic airports are as follows:
1. International Sector TIA and Other
a) SAARC Regions Rs. 700/- Rs. 500/- b) Other Countries Rs.
1000/- Rs. 750/-
2. Domestic Sector
a) Rs 150/- at TIA, Pokhara, Bhadrapur, Biratnagar, Simara,
Bhairawa, Lukla, Neplagunj, Jomsom and Meghauli Airports.
b) Rs 125/- at Rajbiraj, Janakpur, Bharatpur, Tikapur, Dang,
Surkeht, Dhangadi and Mahendranagar.
c) Other airports which does not fall under the category of
(a) and (b) will be charged Rs.50/-
Note: In addition, VAT (value
added tax) will be imposed on the above mentioned rates.
Trekking Permit: While permission
is not required to trek to most areas, trekking permit is required
for restricted areas. To get a group trekking permit an application
form should be submitted through any registered trekking agency
of Nepal. Some restricted areas are open only for group trekkers
and trekking permit to these areas will not be issued to individual
trekkers. For detail information about the permit please contact
Department of Immigration of Nepal.
a. Travel document is issued for US $ 20 in case of
loss, damage, theft, expiry of the passport.
b. Entry visa is issued from the Department of Immigration at
25 percent additional fee along with regular entry visa fee.
c. Certification of arrival or departure stamps or replacement
of trekking permit US $
Medical Services: Medical facilities in Kathmandu Valley are
sound. All kinds of medicines, including those imported from
overseas are available in Kathmandu. Kathmandu Valley also offers
the services of major general hospitals and private clinics.
Health posts have been set up by the government in different
parts of rural Nepal. However, facilities are not on par with
those found in Kathmandu Valley.
A travel insurance policy that covers theft, loss and medical
treatment is recommended. Make sure the insurance also covers
the activities that you will be undertaking during your stay
in Nepal such as trekking, rafting.
Visitors do not need any particular immunization for visit.
Vaccinations for cholera, meningitis, tetanus and diphtheria,
typhoid and gamma globulin should, however, be considered. It
may be a good idea to get a complete check-up before departure.
A simple but adequate medical kit can be very useful while traveling.
The following items are recommended: Aspirin or Panadol - for
pain or fever; Antihistamine - as a decongestant for colds,
allergies and to help prevent motion sickness; Antibiotics -
useful if traveling off beaten track but they must be prescribed;
Kaolin preparation (Pepto-Bismol), Imodium or Lomotil - for
stomach upsets; Rehydration mixture - for treatment of severe
diarrhoea; Antiseptic, mercurochrome and antibiotic powder or
similar 'dry' spray - for cuts and grazes.
Other things to be include are
Calamine lotion to ease irritation from bites or stings, bandages
and band aids for minor injuries, scissors, tweezers, thermometer,
insect repellent, sun block lotion, chopsticks, water-purification
tablets, throat lozenges (Strepsils), moleskin, Sulamyd 10%
eye drops, Acetaminophen (Paracetamol, Antacid tablets).
It would be hard to know all aspects of Nepal's health problems.
However, it would be useful to gather information on altitude
sickness (AMS), diarrhoea, giardia, dysentery, cholera, hepatitis
rabies, typhoid, tetanus, meningitis diphtheria, malaria and
HIV/AIDS Common sense can often save lives.
Prevention, the Best Medicine
Stomach upsets are the most likely travel health problem but
the majority of these cases are minor problems. Thoroughly cooked
food is the safest but not if it has been left to cool. One
should be careful about what one eats and drinks. The number
one rule is not to drink tap water or other water from open
sources. Reputable brands of bottled water or soft drinks are
available. While drinking and eating it is important to make
sure that water which may be unsafe has not been added.
Do not drink unpasteurized milk. Boiled milk
is fine if it is kept hygienically and yoghurt is usually good.
Tea or coffee should also be all right since the water would
have been boiled. Salads and fruit should be washed with purified
water or peeled where possible. Food, drink and snack from reputable
sources are usually safe. However beware of food that has been
kept out in the open for long.
Wash your hands frequently, as it is quite
easy to contaminate your own food. You should clean your teeth
with purified water rather than straight from the tap. Avoid
climatic extremes: keep out of the sun when it is hot, dress
warmly when it is cold. Avoid potential diseases by dressing
sensibly. Do not walk bare feet as it is easy to get worm infections
through bare feet. Try to avoid insect bites by covering bare
skin when insects are around, by screening windows or by using,
Climate: The seasons in Nepal can broadly be
categorised into two- dry and wet with monsoon. There is dry
season from October to May while wet season of the monsoons
last from June to September. The coming up of dry season - from
September till November - is the Autumn and is the best time
of the year in Nepal. With the end of monsoon and the advent
of Autumn, different kinds of celebrations start in Nepal. The
countryside is green and lush during this period. Nepal celebrate
their two popular festivals, Dashain and Tihar during this time.
Summer months in Nepal are from April to September while winter
months are from November to March. In the north summers are
mild and winters harsh while in south summers are extreme and
Clothing: Lightweight cotton
clothing is recommended from May through October. Warm clothes
are needed for winter. An umbrella or a raincoat is a necessary
for the monsoons. For those planning to take trips around the
nation, appropriate clothing is required depending on location
and weather conditions of the area at the time.
Time and business hours: Nepal
is five hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT. Government offices within
Kathmandu Valley open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in summer and from
9 a.m. till 4 p.m. in the winter. Outside the Valley, government
offices open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in summer and from 10 a.m.
till 4 p.m. in winter.
Holidays: Except public holidays,
Saturdays and Sundays are the weekend holidays in the Kathmandu
Valley when most government offices are closed. Outside the
Valley government offices are closed only on Saturdays. Most
businesses are closed only on Saturdays.
Security for Visitors: Tourist
Police was established in 1979 under the Ministry of Culture,
Tourism and Civil Aviation. The special unit has been designated
the task of providing security to visitors. The team of Tourist
Police consists of officers who can speak and understand English
and Hindi. They register complaints, investigate matters, provide
protection and safety to tourists. They also try to ensure hassle-free
trip for visitors and assist tourists when necessary. There
are three units of Tourist Police forces in Kathmandu. While
the main office is at the Tourist Service Center in Bhrikuti
Here are some tips on how visitors
can remain safe:
1. Inform your whereabouts immediately upon arrival
to the local police or concerned embassy or consulate.
2. Use the services of government registered travel and trekking
3. Stay only at government registered hotels, resorts, guest
houses and lodges.
4. Use only those porters who are authorized by your travel
agency or hotel.
5. Exchange foreign currency only at authorized places.
6. Carry certified copies of documents and leave the originals
and other valuables in the safe deposit box of your hotel.
7. Never leave these items unattended in your room.
8. Do not carry large sums of cash.
9. Carry travelers' cheques and limited amount of cash while
10. Never leave your luggage and other valuables unattended
at any time, any place.
11. In case of theft or loss contact the nearest police station