Greetings from the " Himalayan Kingdom" of Nepal. A country
of amazing extremes with the highest point on earth Mount Everest
8848 meter to the forested plains of the Terai. Nepal the land of
medieval cities, where time stands still. Fast flowing rivers and
rapids where white water rafting becomes a challenge so daring.
A country with exotic flora & fauna, a bird watcher's dream
and a home to the unique one horned rhino and the royal Bengal tiger.
A place where temples and cultural diversity so large. It simply
takes your breath away or to watch, explore, trek or just simply
watch the sun go down in all its grandeur on the Himalayas
One visit will surely ask for more and
FACTS & FIGURES
Location : Between India & the Tibetan autonomous Region of
the peoples Republic of China.
Area : 147,181 Sq. Kms.
Population: Approximately 21 million
Latitude: 260 12' and 300 27' North.
Longitude: 800 4' and 880 12' East.
People : Over 40 Ethnic Groups & 70 Spoken Languages.
Political System : Multiparty Democracy with Constitutional Monarchy.
Topography: From the world's deepest gorge 'Kali- Gandaki' to the
highest point on earth, Mt. Everest. At 8848 meter.
Vegetation: Nepal possesses some of the most outstanding bio-diversity
in the world, ranging from sub-tropical Rain forests to Alpine deserts.
Climate: Climate ranges from sub-tropical in the low lands to Arctic
in higher altitudes.
Seasons: Winter (December - February), Summer (March - may), Monsoon
(June - Aug), Autumn (Sept-Nov)
National Bird : Impean Pheasant (Danfe)
National Flower : Rhododendron Arboretum (Lali Gurans)
Political System: Multi-Party Democracy with Constitutional Monarchy.
Topography: From the world's deepest gorge "Kali-Gandaki"
to the highest point on earth Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) 8,848 meters
above the sea level
Nepal Standard Time is 5 hours 45 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean
Time (GMT) and 15 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time (IST).
Major towns in Nepal have electricity and the voltage available
is 220 - volts and 50 cycles. Load shedding is sometime experienced
World Heritage Sites:
Ten (of which seven World Heritage Sites are situated within 20
Kms of radius, in the Kathmandu valley)
Flora and fauna
840 different species of wetland, migratory and residential birds.
8% of the world's population of birds. 11 of the 15 butterfly families
in the world. 2% of the flowering plants. 4% of mammals on earth.
Home to Endangered Species Like Royal Bengal Tiger, one horned rhino,
snow-leopard, Red panda, Brown bear, Assamese macaque, Gangetic
dolphin, wolf, wild elephant, giant horn-bill, swamp deer, wild
yak, Tibetan antelope, Black buck, four horned antelope, Musk deer,
Pigmy hog, Haspid Hare, Pangolin, Gharial, Indian bustard, Saras
crane, Impean pheasant, Python, etc.
Nepal has a typical monsoonal two - season a year. There is a dry
season from October to May and there is the wet season, the monsoon,
from June to September. September - November, the start of the dry
season, is in many ways the best time of the year in Nepal. When
monsoon just ends, the countryside is green and lush. Nepal is at
its most beautiful and during this season there are plenty of colorful
festivals to enjoy.
People, Culture, Religion & Language
A Living Cultural Heritage Nepal's heritage is alive and dynamic.
Shamanism, Pan-animism & witchcraft are still practiced in remote
regions. Temples, shrines, monuments and monasteries are extremely
active with devotees burning butter-lamps, singing hymns, chiming
temple-bells and playing drums. The only country that has living
goddess "Kumari". Nepal's 21 milion population is comprised
of diverse ethnic groups having their own languages and cultures.
The Newars, who are acclaimed for their unique artistry and culture,
dominate the Kathmandu Valley, whereas the Sherpas, who are renowned
more for their mountaineering skill, inhabit in the northern mountains.
Brahmins and Chhetris, two of the nation's most dominant communities,
are almost everywhere, and the Tamangs, Rais, Limbus, Magars and
Gurungs - the ethnic groups known more as brave Gurkha soldiers
- dwell mostly in mid-hills. Maithili, Tharu, Bhojpuri and other
ethnic communities have their dwellings in the Terai plains.
Nepal has always been a dividing line between civilization and
cultures, and a cross roads for the flow of commerce and culture
between them, where the plains of the subcontinent climb up to the
high plateau of Tibet, the languages and people of India give way
to those of China and the Hindu religion blends into Buddhism. Nepal,
the land at the margin, is often a complex blend of the two influences
and this variation is further complicated by the diversity of ethnic
groups within the country.
Religious practice is an important part of the Nepalese way of
life. Two main religions are dominant in Nepal: Hinduism and Buddhism.
Hinduism is made up of thousand of gods and goddesses. Brahma, Vishnu
and Shiva are three major Gods, but each has a complex tapestry
of manifestations and incarnations. Each deity also has a vehicle,
which is often seen kneeling faithfully outside the shrine. Buddhism
is the second major religion in Nepal. Shakyamuni Buddha, who was
born in Nepal around 6th century BC, is the founder of Buddhism.
The great Buddhist Stupas of Swayambhunath and Boudhnath in the
Kathmandu Valley are among the oldest and most beautiful worship
sites in Nepal. Nepali, like Hindi, is written in the Dev-nagari
script. It is Nepal's national language, apart from being the lingua
franca of the country's divergent communities that speak mutually
unintelligible language and dialects. English is also widely spoken
and understood in urban areas. In Tourism sector people speaks English,
Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and other foreign languages.
SOME DOS & DON'TS
With its diverse ethnic groups and traditional beliefs, Nepal has
numerous cultural practices that may appear unusual to a person
on his/her first visit to the country. However, to enjoy your stay
in this remarkable country of white Himalayas and sparkling rivers
it is important to take into consideration the different cultural
aspects of the country. Here is a list of things, which may be helpful
The form of the greeting in Nepal is " Namaste " and
is performed by joining the palms together. Before entering a Nepalese
home, Temple, and Stupa remember to remove your shoes. Be careful
not to use your spoon, fork or a hand being used for your eating
to touch other's food, plate, cooking utensil or the serving disk.
Do not eat from other people's plate and do not drink from other
people's bottle or glass. It is considered impure by the Nepalese.
Never touch anything with your feet. This is considered an offence
among Nepalese. While traveling dress appropriately. Women should
especially avoid dressing in skimpy, outfits. Seek permission first
before entering a Hindu temple many Hindu Temple do not allow westerners
or non -Hindus to enter. Leather articles are prohibited to be taken
inside the temple precinct. Walking around temples or Stupas is
traditionally done clockwise. Take photographs only after receiving
permission for the object or person being photographed. Public display
of affection between man and woman are frowned upon. Do not do something
that is totally alien to our environment.
Remember, many times, when a person shakes his head from left to
right, he may mean, " yes".
Develop a genuine to meet and talk to Nepalese people and respect
their local customs.
Please do not touch offerings or persons when they are on the way
to shrines or are in the process of worshipping. Keep a respectful
Please do not accept as gifts or buy objects of art, manuscripts,
images etc. Which have antique value. These need to stay here not
only for ourselves but for future visitors like yourself who would
like to share the experience. Whether something is antique or not
can be established by the Department of Archaeology. Please be informed
that Nepalese men often walk around hand in hand, but this does
not have the same implication as it does in Europe, America or other
developed country. Please do not inquire about a person's caste.
For centuries, Nepal was made up of many small kingdoms. Kirats
ruled in the east, the Newars in Kathmandu valley, while Gurungs
and Magars occupied the west. The Kirats ruled from 300 BC and during
their reign, Emperor Ashoka arrived from India to build a pillar
in Lumbini to commemorate Lord Buddha. The Kirats were followed
by the Lichhavis and then came the Mallas. During the Malla period,
art thrived in the Valley, and most of the monuments are from this
time, In the 18th century, Prithvi Narayan Shah, king of Gorkha
conquered the Kathmandu valley and until 1951, the country remain
closed for outside world.
The Kingdom of Nepal covers an area of 147,181 square kilometers,
and stretches 145 to 241 kilometers north to south and 850 kilometers
west to east. The country is located between India in the south
and China in the north. At latitudes 26 and 30 degrees north and
longitudes 80 and 88 degree east, Nepal is topographically divided
into three regions.
The Himalaya: The Himalayan range makes up the northern border of
the country and represents 16% of the total area of Nepal. Peaks
like Mt. Everest (8848 m.) Kanchen Junga (8598 m.), and Dhaulagiri
(8167 m.) are found here and sparse vegetation is found up to 4,500
m. Some of the Nepal's most beautiful animal and plant-life are
also found here. Although rare, the snow leopard and Danphe bird
are much talked-about sights among visitors. The people in this
region produce and sell cheese besides working as mountain-guides
and porters. Many also trade Tibet and across the boarder to sell
The Hills: This region covers 65% of the total land area of the
country. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal is located here., Elevation
range from 500 to 3,000 m. above sea level. During summer the temperature
reaches an average of 32 degree Celsius. Winter are cold, temperature
sometimes reaches minus 1 degree Celsius. Areas in the eastern hills
receive more rainfall because of the monsoon clouds, which come
from the southeast. The rivers in the west, which do not receive
much rainfall, are dependent upon the melted snow that flows down
the Himalayas. Wild animals to be found here are the spotted leopard,
barking deer, and Himalayan black bear. The hilly region is also
popular for different kinds of birds. Over four hundred species
of birds are found here.
The Terai: The Terai - Low Land covers 17% of the total land area
of Nepal. It provides excellent farming land and the average elevation
of flatlands is 100 to 300 m. above sea level. In the sub-tropical
forest areas of Terai are found, marshes and wildlife, which include
the Royal Bengal tiger, one horned rhino, and the Gharial crocodile
etc. About 48% of the country's population occupies this region.
Flat farmlands and the region's flexible topography have given rise
to many industries.
TRAVELING BY ROAD: All visitors entering Nepal by land must use
no other entry points other than (1) Kakarbhitta (2) Birgunj (3)
Belhiya, Bhairahawa (4) Nepalgunj (5) Dhangadi (6) Mahendra Nagar
in the Nepal - India border and (7) Kodari in the Nepal - China
border. The overland tourists entering the Kingdom with their vehicles
must possess an international carnet.
TRAVELING BY AIR: You can fly directly to Kathmandu from London,
Paris, Frankfurt, Vienna, Amsterdam, Moscow, Osaka, Shanghai, Bangkok,
Hongkong, Sharjah, Dubai, Dhaka, Karachi, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha,
Paro, Lhasa, Singapore, Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Calcutta, and Varanasi.
Charter flights can also be arranged for large movements. All flights
feature business class and amenities of international standards.
Many a time, the Capital offers a guided sightseeing of the Himalaya
for no extra charge.
Airfares fluctuate with the changes in exchange rates and are to
be paid in foreign currency by foreign nationals. Only Nepalese
and Indian nationals are permitted to pay in Rupees for air passage
between Nepal and India. Departure flight tickets should be reconfirmed
three days in advance to avoid inconveniences by possible flight
cancellation or changes in the flight schedule. Overweight luggage
charges are levied in foreign exchange.
CUSTOMS / AIRPORT
CUSTOM: All baggage must be declared and cleared through the customs
on arrival at the port of entry. Passengers arriving at Tribhuvan
International Airport, Kathmandu (TIA) without any dutiable goods
can proceed through the Green Channel for quick clearance without
a baggage check. If you 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: binoculars, movie or video
camera, still camera, laptop computer, and portable music system.
EXPORT: It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old (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. The Department
of Archaeology has to certify all metal statues, sacred paintings
and similar objects before they are allowed to be sent or carried
out of the country.
AIRPORT TAX: Passengers departing from the Tribhuvan International
Airport Kathmandu (TIA) are required to pay an airport tax of Rs.
770.00 if going to SAARC countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan. India, Maldives,
Pakistan and Sri Lanka) and Rs.1100.00 to all other international
destinations. Domestic airport tax is Rs. 165.00.
The single entry tourist visa can be obtained from the entry points
of Nepal or from the Royal Nepalese diplomatic mission abroad by
paying US$ 30 for single entry for 60 days. If visitors who wish
to obtain the facility of multiple re-entry, they can get it by
paying additional US$ 50.00 .
If the visitor, who has already visited Nepal under tourist visa,
intends to come again within 150 days of the same visa year he/she
can obtain entry visa by paying US$ 50 for 30days at the entry point
or at the Royal Nepalese diplomatic missions abroad.
The visitors who wish to stay from more then 60 days in the Nepal
can extend their tourist visa by paying the equivalent of US$ 50
in Nepalese currency for 30 days from the Department of Immigration.
Business visa with multiple entry facility for the period of one
year and five years can be obtained from the Department of Immigration
on the recommendation of Ministry of Industry by paying the equivalent
of US$ 100 and US$ 250 respectively in the Nepalese currency for
the foreign investors.
Visitors from six SAARC countries ( India, Bangladesh, Pakistan,
Srilanka, Maldives, Bhutan) will not require visas to travel Nepal.
Chinese tourists also will not need visas to travel Nepal. Tourists
from rest of the country visiting Nepal for three or less days will
not need visas( Need confirmed Return ticket). Visa fee has been
waived to those tourists re-entering the country within one year
of 15 day long stay in Nepal.
Royal Nepal Airlines (RA) has an extensive network of air services
in the interior of Nepal. Besides RA, other domestic airlines (there
are more than a dozen operation these days provide regular and charter
services to popular domestic destination. Private companies also
operate helicopter services for rescue, sling operations, transporting
heavy cargo and food grains, serial photography, sight seeing, heli-trekking
and heli-skiing. Nepal's domestic air service is known to be punctual
and reliable. Domestic airport tax is Rs. 165.00.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS
Payment in hotels, travel agencies, and airlines are made in foreign
exchange. Credit cards like American Express, Master and Visa are
widely accepted at major hotels, shops, and restaurants. Remember
to keep your Foreign Exchange Encashment Receipt while making Foreign
exchange payments or transferring foreign currency into Nepalese
Rupees. The Receipts may be needed to change leftover Nepalese Rupees
into hard currency before leaving the country, however, the bank
may convert only 10 percent of the total amount.
Major banks, hotels, and the exchange counters at Tribhuvan airport
provide services for exchanging foreign currency. US dollar or travelers'
checks can be purchased from American Express at Durbar Marg and
other Major banks in Kathmandu. Banks in Kathmandu are open 10 AM
to 3 PM Monday through Friday except public holidays.
Exchange rates are published in English dailies such as The Rising
Nepal and The Kathmandu post. Nepalese Rupees are found in denominations
of RS 1000, 500, 100, 50, 25, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are found
in denominations of 10, 25 and 50 Paisa. One rupee equals 100 Paisa.
Approximate exchange rate as of May 2003 US$ 1 = Rs. 77.00
INSURANCE: Travel insurance policies that cover theft, loss and
medical treatment are recommended. Make sure the insurance also
cover the activities that you will be undertaking during your stay
in Nepal such as trekking, river rafting, wildlife safaris, climbing
and such other activities.
Vaccines & IMMUNIZATION:
Nepal dose not require any particular Immunization for your visit.
Vaccinations for Cholera, Meningitis, Tetanus & Diphtheria,
Typhoid and Gamma Globulin should be considered for your Trip. Please
consult your physician and get a complete check - up before your
A simple but adequate Medical Kit can be most useful without taking
much space in your baggage. The following is recommended as tried
and true list of items.
Aspirin or Panadol - for pain or fever, Antihistamine - useful
as a decongestant for colds, allergies, to ease the itch from insect
bites and stings or to help prevent motion sickness, Antibiotics
- useful if you are traveling off the beaten track but they must
be prescribed, Kaolin preparation (Pepto-Bismol), Imodium or Lomotil
- for stomach upsets, Dehydration mixture - for treatment of severe
diarrhea, Antiseptic, Mercurochrome and antibiotic powder or similar
'dry ' spray for cuts and grazes, Calamine lotion - to ease irritation
from bites or stings, Bandages and Band-Aids - for minor injuries,
Scissors, tweezers and thermometers, Insect repellent, sun block,
suntan lotion, chopsticks and water - purification tables, Throat
lozenges (Strepsils), Moleskin, Eye, nose and ear drops, Acetaminophen
(Paracetamol), Antacid tablets.
PREVENTION, THE BEST MEDICINE:
Care in what you eat and drink is the most important health rule.
The number one rule is don't consume the water including ice. Reputable
brands of bottled Water or soft drinks are generally fine. Take
care with fruit juice, particularly if water may have been added.
Milk should be treated with care, as it is often un-pasteurized.
Boiled milk is fine if it is kept hygienically and yoghurt (Milk
curd) is usually good. Tea or coffee should also be Ok since the
water would have been boiled. Salads and fruit should be washed
with purified water or peeled where possible. Ice cream is usually
OK if it is a reputable brand name. But beware of ice cream that
has melted and been refrozen. Thoroughly cooked food is the safest
but not if it has been left to cool. Stomach upsets are the most
likely travel health problem but the majority of these upsets will
be relatively minor. Wash your hands frequently, as it's 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. You can 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,
TIME, WORKING HOURS & HOLIDAYS
Nepal is 5 hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT and 15 minutes ahead of
Indian Standard Time.
Government offices are open from 9 am to 5 pm from Monday through
Friday. Banks are open from Monday through Friday from 9.30 am to
3.00 pm( * Outside Kathmandu valley Sunday through Friday). Please
be informed that most Business offices are open from 10 am to 5
pm. Embassies and international organizations are open from 9 am
to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Most shops open after 10 am and close
at about 8 pm and are usually closed on Saturdays.
SATURDAY IS PUBLIC HOLIDAY IN ALL OVER NEPAL.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY IS PUBLIC HOLIDAY IN KATHMANDU.
Nepal observes numerous holidays, at the least a couple in a month.
So please check the holiday calendar. Government offices observe
all the national holidays and banks observe most of them. Businesses
observe major holidays only.
All the travel agencies have licensed English speaking guides. However,
many agencies also have guides who can speak other international
languages for the convenience of tourists. As unlicensed guides
are not allowed to serve clients, it is advisable to confirm that
your guide has a valid license. To have quality service it is recommended
to arrange the sight-seeing programs or trekking-tours only with
licensed guides or government registered travel agencies.
Nepal has every category of accommodation facilities. These 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, and travel agencies and always engage with a licensed tour
guides for your tours, trekking and other holiday activities.
Kathmandu is also known as Shopper's paradise. Your shopping experience
can be very rewarding and exciting in Kathmandu. There are numerous
tourist shops on the main streets and in the Hotel arcades, packed
with tempting jewelry, statues and other typical Nepalese handicraft.
Thangka - a traditional painting on cotton, based in Buddhist philosophy,
Nepalese Pashmina, Wood Carving, Metal Statues, Stone Statues and
the items on Nepalese hand made papers are the best buy in Nepal.
One can also enjoy the City's numerous traditional markets that
overflow with vegetables, fruits and other items.
A NOTE OF CAUTION: There is an export ban on certain items. Antiques
can be taken out of the country only with special permission granted
by the department of Archaeology.