Officially the highest country in the world, small and beautiful Nepal is frequently referred to as the top of the world. That seems like a fitting moniker for this Himalayan country, where alluring, snow-capped mountains disappear into the clouds like stairways to heaven.
Mount Everest is the star attraction. Tourists come in their droves to climb, hike and admire the world’s tallest peak, which flirts with the stratosphere at 8,848m (29,029ft. But this charming country is much more than just mountains. The birthplace of Gautama Buddha, Nepal is a significant pilgrimage site for millions of Buddhists, who come from far and wide to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lumbini, a temple complex where Buddha was born and lived.
Holy places abound in Nepal, but not just of the Buddhist variety; Hinduism has a strong foothold in the country and there are many Hindu temples scattered across the country.
Also hit hard was the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, which is encircled by soaring mountain ranges. A beautiful, bustling city it stands at a cultural crossroads between India and China, whose influences can be seen in the architecture and tasted in the cuisine. Meanwhile, a Western vibe prevails in the lively Thamel district, which is lined with bars. Kathmandu is a good starting point for travelers venturing into the jungle at Chitwan National Park, which is home to Bengali tigers, crocodiles, and one-horned rhinos, plus myriad bird species. Phewa Lake is another draw for tourists, as are the hiking trails in the Himalayas. Wherever you go though, wide smiles will be there to greet you; Nepalese people are amongst the friendliest in the world and its not uncommon to be invited into a stranger home for tea. Sitting atop the world, Nepal is just one step away from heaven and for those who have discovered the country’s many charms, it feels like it too.
Food and Drinks in Nepal
The food of Nepal varies with the cultural and geographical diversity of Nepal which is also based on ethnicity, soil, and climate. However, Dal-Bhat-Tarkari is eaten throughout the country. Dal is made of lentils and spices and served over boiled Rice –Bhat with vegetable curry –Tarkari and typical condiments -Achaar. Dal Bhat Tarkari may be served with other accompaniments like sliced lemon (Kagati) or lime (Nibua) and fresh chili peppers, khursani. People in hilly villages on subsisting on either Dal Bhat or a thick paste called Dhindo. A similar dish is called Tsampa in the northern regions which are made from roasted and ground barley. The high-altitude people like Sherpa and others often mix Tsampa with buttered and salted Tibetan tea. Another high-altitude specialty is Shakpa, a stew of vegetables, bits of meat and dumplings.
Roti or Chappati (unleavened bread) is another common addition to a meal and is often substituted for rice. Of other items that may supplement a meal, the most usual is a curry made from potatoes or whatever vegetables are in season. Restaurants of main tourist hubs and major cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara can provide almost all kinds of international food you like, and also on the main treks you often can get Italian or Mexican dishes.
Other popular foods of Nepal are hybrid of Chinese/Tibetan and Nepali foods like MoMo, Chowmin. Some foods like Sellroti, Patre, Dahi-chiura (mixed curd and beaten rice) with pickles and vegetables, Yumori, sweets, Tas and Sekuwa like varieties from meat are prepared during special occasions and festivals.
List of food items in Nepal
- Dal (lentil), Bhat (steamed rice) and Tarkari (vegetable curry) is typical and famous food in Nepal and every family eats this dish twice a day. Along with these there items, we can include meat and yogurt along with pickles. It says that dal bhat power is 24 hour-Pizza power 4 hours in Nepal.
- Mo Mo actually a Chinese food but very popular Newari food here in Kathmandu Nepal. Mo Mo is a dumpling of meat or vegetables and cheese served with pickle and sauce.
- Noodle soup: It is famous in remote areas and trekking routes of Nepal. Many Nepali eat it without cooking crunchy as snacks.
- Nan roti: Roti is Nepali bread cooked round as bracelet in hot oil. Naan is also a kind of wheat bread cooked in a clay pot oven. This bread taste good with curry.
- Apple, Banana, Papaya, Mango, Litchi, etc
- Yogurt served as dessert can be sweet or sour.
- Drink bottled or boiled water or treated water.
- Tea and Coffee
- Drinks, Local drinks, sodas
List of alcoholic and non-alcoholic Nepalese drinks
- Nepali Tea: You can get two types of Nepali tea; orthodox and CTC (crush, tear, curl) tea.
- Butter Tea: A Himalayan drink made with tealeaves, yak butter, water, and salt.
- Chhyaang: Brewed drink, usually made from semi-fermented rice, barley and millet grains.
- Aila: A traditional and homemade Newari drink prepared by the distillation of fermented rice or millet grains.
- Raksi: Another traditional distilled drink made from millet or rice, mostly by the people of the hilly region.
- Tongba: A traditional and indigenous drink of Kiranti people in the eastern region. Fermented millet grains are placed in a container and hot water is poured. It is left undisturbed for a few minutes and then it is ready to drink. It is sipped with a straw and is popular mostly in the winter season.
- Khukuri Rum: Commercially manufactured, khukuri rum is considered as one of the best rums. Coronation Khukuri XXX Rum comes in a bottle shaped as a Nepali blade, Khukuri and is taken mostly as a souvenir from Nepal.
- Local beers: Nepal-Ice, Everest beer, and Gorkha Beer are popular beers in Nepal.
Shopping in Nepal
Shopping in Nepal is one of the best and cheap ways to save your time and money. Nepal has many and varied markets. Kathmandu, especially, Thamel is the best market to shop; these lively bazaars are packed with vibrant wares and hard-haggling hawkers. Popular buys include locally made garments such as pashmina scarves, sweaters, topis (lopsided caps), mittens, socks, Tibetan dresses, woven shawls, and multicolored jackets.
Other common items include the Khukri (the national knife), Sarangi (a small, four-stringed viola played with a horse-hair bow), dance masks, Buddhist statuettes, and bamboo flutes. Teas and spices are also popular items for shopping in Nepal.
With its burgeoning arts scene, Kathmandu and Patan are exciting places to shop for traditional and modern paintings and sculptures. More practically speaking, Thamel and Lukla are packed with outlets selling outdoor wear for those thinking of heading into the mountains.
Nightlife in Nepal
Kathmandu's nightlife may not be considered wild, but there are plenty of late bars, live music spots, and nightclubs in which to have a good knees-up. Most are located around Thamel and near the city's 5-star hotels. Many restaurants put on traditional Newari dance shows for tourists – particularly in Pokara – and there are a couple of casinos for those who fancy trying their luck. In Thamel Hollywood blockbusters are shown in bars and restaurants, while local cinemas play a range of Bollywood films. In Pokhara, the nightlife centers around snooker halls and dance bars, which play Bollywood pop music until the early hours. Live music is ubiquitous in Lakeside, and drinks can be found on the cheap throughout the day. Nepalese do like to drink, so if that's your thing you will make friends easily. In mountain towns near Lukla, if you stay up late enough, you can toast with porters and guides who will muster the strength to wake up early and lug large loads up the mountain despite putting back glass after glass of Kuhkari rum late into the evening.
Things to Do in Kathmandu
There are so many things to do and explore in Kathmandu. The ancient sites, Buddhist stupas, pagoda-style temples, and durbar squares are major attractions in Kathmandu.
Visit Swayambhunath Stupa - The Monkey Temple in Kathmandu
Dating from centuries back, Swayambhu is an ancient temple that is often called the Monkey Temple. Once here, you’ll see the three hundred plus rock-hewn steps that lead to the temple, but once you get up there you’ll get the very best panorama of Kathmandu Valley. It’s totally incredible. Take a stroll around the temple and stupa, see the monkeys and learn more about this sacred spot. Read more...
Explore Bhaktapur - The Amazing UNESCO World Heritage City of Bhaktapur
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bhaktapur is one of the incredible things to do in Kathmandu (though, it’s technically outside the city). Now, the drive itself shouldn’t take long at all, but if you hit that notorious Kathmandu traffic, you could be stuck for hours.
Once here, make sure to stop off at the Nyatapola Temple, see Durbar Square and explore Taumadhi Square. After a little lunch of momos (like dumplings), pop into 55 Window Palace, the Dattatreya Temple and see Pujari Math. Now, it may seem like a lot of places but it’s easy to explore them all on foot. Spend a few hours strolling Bhaktapur and taking in this incredible and ancient city. Read more...
Visit the Pashupatinath Temple - Nepal’s Most Sacred Temple
Located in the city itself, Pashupatinath Temple is a Hindu temple that’s one of the best things to do in Kathmandu. This sacred place is known the world over by Hindus, with millions visiting here during Maha Shivaratri. The whole temple complex is huge and sprawling and a beautiful place to see whilst in the city. Now, as a visitor to the complex, you will need to pay a considerably higher price than locals (but still affordable) to enter the complex. Once inside, wander around, explore the religious sites and experience this sacred place.
One thing to bear in mind is that this is a place of worship and you should always be respectful whilst here (for obvious reasons). One other thing to point out is that public cremations happen on the riverfront within the temple and it’s likely you will come across these. Read more...
Explore the Boudhanath Stupa - The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Boudhanath Stupa
Being one of the largest stupas in all of Nepal, the Boudhanath Stupa, is certainly one of the best things to do in Kathmandu (especially if you’re interested in religious history). Once here, make sure to wander around the complex, and explore this point that was on the old trade route with Tibet. All around the Stupa, you’ll find lots of little shops and cafes, too. It’s a beautiful and imposing stupa that you will have to see whilst in Kathmandu. Read more...
Shop at the Ason and Mangal Bazaars
This thriving area of Kathmandu is a place that’ll tickle each of your senses. A local and visitor haunt, it’s an area that sells everything from street food, spices, gifts, and everyday goodies. Just make sure to brush up your bargaining skills, though, prices often get inflated for visitors.
Visit the Thamel District
One of the best ways to experience Thamel is by foot, it is a vehicle-free zone, and the streets are so clean and hassle-free. The Thamel District is probably one of the most popular places and things to do in Kathmandu for visitors. Here, you will find lots of eateries, little shops and places like the Garden of Dreams, a tranquil little nook off the main thoroughfare inside a pretty park.
Hike Shivapuri National Park
Shivapuri National Park is an incredible area to visit, especially if you’re wanting a break from everyday city life. Head on one of the hikes to the top of Shivapuri Hill Station (it’s almost 9,000ft) and explore the totally gorgeous trails that cross through forests, vistas, and summits.
Everest Mountain Flight
From Kathmandu, even if you are not planning to go hiking, or are not hiking Everest itself, you can still charter planes for reasonably low rates that will fly you out to have incredible vistas of the snowcapped highest mountains in the world. The two main companies that offer this area Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines that fly from Kathmandu Airport itself. On a clear day, you will see Everest without having to take that incredibly long adventure.
Visa for Nepal
A visa for Nepal can be obtained on arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu and at the border entry points in Kakadvitta, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Gaddachowki on the Nepal-India border and Kodari on the Nepal-China border. Outside of Nepal, A visa can also be obtained at the nearest Nepal Embassy or Diplomatic Mission. To renew a Visa you can go to the Department of Immigration, Kalikasthan, Kathmandu.
- A valid passport and one passport -size photo with a light background.
- Visa can be obtained only through payment of cash in the following currency: Euro, Swiss Franc, Pound Sterling, US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Singapore Dollar, and Japanese Yen.
- Credit card, Indian currency, and Nepali currency are not accepted as payment of visa fees.
Fill out your disembarkation card on the plane so you can quickly move through the queue in the arrivals’ lounge. Also, completing the visa form online prior to arrival should also save some time as there's a limited number of electronic kiosks. Finally, ask your hotel or Alpine Eco Trek specialist for the best address details as this information is often not easy to find.
The following visa fees have come into effect from 17 July 2019 (as per the Nepal Government’s decision made on 26 May 2019.
Visa Fee Details:
- 15 Days (Multiple Entry) - USD 30
- 30 Days (Multiple Entry) - USD 50
- 90 Days (Multiple Entry) - USD 125
Extending Your Visa
You can extend your Nepal visa for up to 150 days at the Immigration Department in Kathmandu or Pokhara. It costs $30 for 15 days and $2 per day after that. Usually, the turn-around is the same day, and you’ll need to submit your passport, extension fee, one photo, and the application extension form to complete the process.
Gratis (Free) Visa
For the first visit in one visa year (January to December), a gratis visa for 30 days is available only for nationals of South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. However, the visa can be extended from the Immigration Department on payment of visa fee as specified above. Indian nationals do not require a visa to enter Nepal.
Nepal Visa for Chinese Nationals
As per the official circular of the Embassy of Nepal in Beijing, China, Chinese nationals applying for a tourist visa to Nepal are being provided gratis (free) tourist visa from 5th Jan 2016, from following Nepali missions in the People’s Republic of China:
- Embassy of Nepal, Beijing
- Consulate General of Nepal, Lhasa
- Consulate General of Nepal, Hong Kong
- Honorary Consulate of Nepal, Shanghai
Other Visa Information
Nationals from Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Cameroon, Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan will need to obtain a visa from Nepal Embassies or Diplomatic Missions in their respective countries, as they do not get visa on arrival at the immigration entry points of Nepal.
Additional Expert Tips
- It’s a good idea to bring 4-5 passport photos from home as they come in handy for official documents or purchasing sim cards.
- Kathmandu's airport has bank counters where you can exchange currencies.
- Having a couple of photocopies of your passport is always handy while traveling.
- While there are various payment methods now available in the airport along with the visa application kiosks, malfunctions can occur and we strongly recommend that you carry the correct money (US$ is recommended) and a passport photo with you just in case.
Booking and Payment Process
Registered as per the rules and regulations of the Government of Nepal, Alpine Eco Trek is a small eco-friendly travel company operating trekking, tours and adventure travel packages in Nepal for two decades. The Company registered number is 132938/071/072, the license number is 1907/072 and the vat/tax number is 602480116. We are associated with Trekking Agency Association of Nepal, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). Therefore, book Alpine Eco Trek trip with confidence as we are a fully authorized and reliable company in Nepal.
To book the trip, we would request you to send us 10 to 20 percent of payment (depending on price and duration of the trip) in advance along with at least six months valid passport copy (photo page only), scanned copy of 2 passport size pictures and copy of travel insurance policy (optional) at least 2 weeks prior to the trip departure. Payment is to be made by bank transfer (PayPal) and Western Union Money Transfer using your credit card. The outstanding balance of the trip cost can be made whether in cash or by bank transfer once you arrive in Nepal. Furthermore, we put forward the necessary modes of payment details as per your convenience by email.
Last Minute Booking
We would recommend you book your trip in advance but for those who are not able to for whatever reason, Alpine Eco Trek is offering an exclusive last minute booking. In the case of last-minute booking, with 100 percent trip payment within 24 hours is accepted. We try and give our 100 percent to operate your trip at any time but in case of last-minute booking, we shall not be held responsible for delay due to changes beyond our control such as the weather, availability of accommodation and etc. Contact us for more information at 977- 98510 36844 (Ram Kumar) or send us an email.
If the above itinerary could not meet your needs and requirements, we can design a tailor-made itinerary to suit your needs. It is also possible to combine with some other activities such as white water rafting, hiking tours, and wildlife safari or Bhutan tours and Mount Kailash tours.