Of course, each destination is distinct in its own right. They have their own dialect, customs, culture, and regulations. Visitors may experience cultural shock as a result of these drastic shifts in culture.
To avoid a major cultural shock, you should at least have a basic understanding of the destination to which you are traveling. Nepal is just not an exception in this case. If you are planning a trip to Nepal, you should be aware of the following information. Even if you are not traveling with a guide, it will make your trip much smoother.
Nepal’s currency is the Nepalese rupee (NPR). Notes come in denominations of Rs1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1. However, the notes of Rupee 1 and 2 are rarely used.
Money can be exchanged at Kathmandu International Airport and at any of the myriad banks and money exchange kiosks in the capital. Although it is illegal to exchange foreign money with unauthorized individuals, there is a thriving black market for currency exchange, especially in the Thamel district of Kathmandu.
Often these street-side traders offer the best rates but can be an annoyance after you have completed the transaction. Hotels can exchange currency as well, although at a cheaper cost than banks. Because converting rupees to foreign currencies is difficult, just change as much as you need.
ATMs are accessible in the larger cities in Nepal. Kathmandu and Pokhara have the highest number of them in the tourist areas. Standard Chartered Bank has a 24-hour ATM in Thamel Chouk which accepts Cirrus, Visa, and Mastercard. Keep in mind that the farther from civilization you go, the less likely you’ll be able to exchange or withdraw money from an ATM, so carry plenty of cash when you go trekking.
No one accepts credit cards in the Annapurna villages. However, credit cards are widely accepted in Kathmandu Valley, though most shops tack on a five percent service charge for each transaction.
Each visitor to Nepal can bring in 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or a similar amount of tobacco products; 1 liter of alcohol; and a personal amount of perfume without any customs duty. Visitors should declare electronic goods such as cameras, video recorders, and the like upon arrival in Nepal.
It is illegal to export any item older than 100 years old, and all sacred paintings, metal statues, or other antiquities need a certificate from the Department of Archaeology before they can be exported. The customs officers in Nepal are thorough, so don’t assume you can sneak anything past them.
Nepal’s official language is Nepali, spoken by approximately 50 percent of the population. There are dozens of other languages spoken in smaller circles such as Bhojpuri and Maithili, but English is widely understood in the tourism industry.
The Nepalese people don’t shake hands when greeting, but rather say ‘Namaste’ and fold their hands in front of their chest.
The dress code in Nepal is conservative, so try not to wear anything too revealing.
Always take your shoes off before entering houses, temples, or shrines, and be sure not to point your feet at someone or step over the feet of another person as this is considered rude.
Pointing at a person or statue with your finger is also considered impolite. If you see anyone wearing all white, they are in mourning and should not be touched for any reason.
Overt public displays of affection are frowned upon, especially near a temple or shrine.
Always ask permission if you can enter a religious site, as sometimes foreigners are not allowed entry. Leather goods should never be taken inside a Hindu temple.
Photography is another sensitive issue in Nepal. This is one country where it’s a good idea to ask permission before snapping a photo. It is generally okay outside of temples and during festivals, but never inside temples or at religious ceremonies. There is no single set of rules, so is always best to ask first.
The kitchen of a home is considered a sacred place, so you have to treat this room and the cooking with the utmost respect.
Shoes should be taken off before entering your host’s home, and don’t throw rubbish in an open fire if there is one.
The Nepalese use their left hand for personal hygiene, so never accept or offer any food or drink with their left hand. Using both hands to pass or receive items is a sign of respect.
Any food that has already been tasted, sipped, or bitten into is considered polluted, even if you have only touched it with your fork or spoon. This is a good indication of how sacred the ritual of eating is in Nepali culture.
Nepalese usually squat or sit on the floor to eat. It is considered rude to stand in front of someone who is eating, where your feet will be close to the food.
It is normal to socialize for a while before actually dining, with the meal being the final event. Always heartily praise the meal and the chef before you leave, as this will really thrill your host. Tipping is only expected in tourist restaurants and hotels, and ten percent is sufficient.
Nepal is relatively safe for tourists, though the political situation is always in flux.
Take good care of your expensive things like the camera and other valuable items.
Nepal gets occasional earthquakes in the central regions and even in Kathmandu Valley.
Extreme weather also creates hazardous conditions in the mountains, with landslides and floods a common occurrence during the rainy season and the spring runoff. Trekkers should exercise caution when traveling through the mountains during these times.