Banks/ Money / ATM
In the cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan normally banks are open between 09:00 A.M. to 3:00 p.m, Sunday to Friday. On Saturdays and other public holidays, they are open for shorter hours and for cash withdrawals and deposits only (not other services). Some banks operate evening counters (till 6 or 7 Pm) in Kathmandu and Pokhara. So, in general you can assume that banks are open 365 days, in Kathmandu and pokhara (but not in other cities or small towns).
You are supposed to pay in local currency, called Rupees, in the local market for any shopping and payments. However you must pay in foreign currency for air tickets and for visa charges. Airport departure taxes can be paid in Nepali Rupees.
You can exchange your foreign currency at hotels, at banks or your travel agent can do this for you. Foreign currencies like US Dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen, and British Pound are accepted in hotel, travel agencies, restaurants and other establishments easily. However, other currencies are accepted only at banks and we recommend you not to carry these currencies to avoid inconvenience.
Visa and Master cards are widely accepted in the cities, mostly Kathmandu and Pokhara. Bigger hotels and restaurants accept them but smaller hotels and restaurants will not accept them.
There are ATM machines at several places in Kathmandu, Pokhara and some other cities including some at Kathmandu airport. The credit card service charge is normally 4% in Nepal. You can also get Nepali Rupees against travelers cheques at banks.
If you are heading for a trek to the mountains, make sure you have enough Nepali cash for your personal expenses. Some lodges in the mountains may accept US dollars but the exchange rate offered is very low.
If you are traveling via India, you can use your remaining Indian rupees in Nepal. However Indian Rupees of 500 denominations are illegal to carry in Nepal and the authorities may confiscate it at the airport.
Foods and restaurants
Travelers often say that Kathmandu and Pokhara have best choice of restaurants in whole of south Asia. You can find restaurants serving Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Continental, French, Mexican, Italian, Korean, Thai etc foods. There are restaurants serving typical Nepali dishes in Kathmandu and Pokhara. A typical Nepali meal includes some rice, mixed seasonal vegetable curry, chicken or mutton curry, bean soups, papad, pickels and traditional deserts. Nepal has many ethnic groups; they not only have different culture and dresses but also have different foods of their own.
Liquors of most international brands are available in Nepal. There are a great of number of bars to enjoy a drink. The traditional Nepali whisky is made of rice, similar to Japanese Sake. A warm millet beer (homemade) is also very popular, especially in winter. Nepal produces very fine quality tea too.
Weather and temperature
Nepal has four seasons, spring, monsoon, autumn, and winter. Spring is warm to hot depending on the places you visit (see the temperature chart below). There are occasional rains but generally the weather is fine in spring. Monsoon brings heavy rains. Autumn has very pleasant weather with clear blue sky and clear mountains. Winter gets chilly and needs really warm clothes if you are going to the mountains. Kathmandu has an elevation of 1350m (4500 ft approx) and Pokhara 850 m( approx), for temperature in Kathmandu and Pokhara in different months , refer the table below.
Nepal can be visited throughout the year for sightseeing tours .For trekking tours the best time is from last week of September to first week of June. However shorter treks like Ghorepani poon hill trek or Jomsom trek can be done even in summer. Summer is an ideal season for trans Himalayan treks like Upper Mustang, Dolpo , Nar Phu valley or for alpine flower treks as these places lie in rain shadow zone of the Himalayas. These areas experience only minimum of rain even in summer, it is warmer and vegetations grow and alpine valley floors bloom with flowers.
Temperature in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan
Nepal Travel Information - Source: Ministry of Science
Shopping a souvenir
There are a great number of souvenirs to choose in Nepal. Most of them are handicrafts usually not found in other parts of the world. Most popular items include the traditional Thangka paintings (Buddhist paintings), Buddhist prayer wheels, Buddhist singing bowls and traditional silver jewelleries of the mountains people. A great verity of silver jewelleries and semiprecious stones are available in Kathmandu on good prices. Cashmere / Pashmina shawls (high quality handmade shawls made of the Himalayan goats' wool) and the famous Khukuri knives of the Gurkha soldiers are other popular souvenirs. You can buy great collection of Rudrakshya Malas and Shaligrams in Kathmandu.
Hand made, traditional rice paper items are other choice. Kathmandu is a great place to buy both Tibetan and Kashmiri (Persian type) carpets. For tea lovers we produce great verities of Himalayan teas to enjoy back in home.
Spices (for cooking) and Nepalese and Tibetan incense could be other souvenirs you may love to buy. Is your suitcase full now?
Most of the airlines allow only 20 kg weight limit and 7 kg as a hand bag. Some airlines, especially those flying from North America allow more weight. There are a number of courier and cargo companies in Kathmandu which can deliver the goods to your destination for a reasonable cost. We can assist our clients with this.
Official Weekly Holiday
Saturday is the official weekly holiday in Nepal, not Sunday. Most of the shops remain open from Sunday through to Friday, while museums throughout Kathmandu valley remain closed on Tuesday and other government holidays. Alpine Eco Trek opens every day.
All cities and towns in Nepal have electricity and rural electrification in selected areas are currently underway. Some villages on the popular trekking trails of Annapurna, Everest, Mustang and Langtang have electricity. You can charge your camera batteries at some of these places. Voltage available is 240-220 volts AC & 50 cycles throughout the country. Load shedding is frequently experienced in Nepal but mostly during dry months only. In Nepal we use round pins instead of flat pins to insert in the plugs.
Your Health in Nepal
Alpine Eco Trek recommends you to immunize against certain illness that are not prevalent in your home country such as Cholera, Typhoid, Malaria, Meningitis, Hepatitis etc. Your physician would be best able to advise them on the availability and administration of these inoculations.
Please ensure that all water is boiled & filtered before consumption. Normally all hotels and reputed restaurants in Kathmandu serve safe water but while eating in an ordinary establishments do not eat green salads and when you need to drink stick to soft drinks or bottled mineral water. Iodine tablets are easily available for treating water while in the trek.
A travel insurance policy that covers theft, loss & medical treatment is recommended. You should make sure that your insurance policies also cover soft adventure activities during your stay in Nepal /Tibet/Bhutan such as rafting, trekking etc; for high altitude trekkers and climbers, policies should also cover helicopter evacuation expenses in case of serious illness or accident or if clients are stranded in remote areas due to the unexpected.
It is always wise to bring a simple medical kit of your own (though we provide a medical kit ourselves too).
The followings are recommended:
1. Aspirin for pain or fever
2. Antihistamine - useful as a decongestant for colds, allergies, to ease the itch from insect bites
3. Antibiotic - useful if the clients are traveling well off the beaten track
4. Kaolin preparation (Pepto-Bismol), Imodium or Lomita, for treatment of severe diarrhea.
5. Antiseptic, Mercurochrome & antibiotic powder or similar “dry spray” - for cuts & stings
6. Bandages & band-aids – for minor injuries.
7. Scissors & a thermometer.
8. Insect repellent sun block, sustain lotion, water purification tablets.
10. Antacid tablets
11. Diamox for altitude sickness if you are going for high altitude trekking.
12. Your regular medicine, vitamins if your are taking any.
In case of illness there are a number of hospitals with good facilities for treatment in major cities with English speaking medical staffs.
The large-scale migrations of Mongoloid groups from Tibet and Indo-Aryan people from northern India, along with aboriginal people, have produced a diverse linguistic, ethnic, and religious pattern in Nepal.. Most of the Tibeto-Nepalese groups, the Tamang, Rai, Limbu, Bhutia (including the Sherpa), and Sunwar, live in the north and east, while the Magar and Gurung inhabit west-central Nepal.The mid hills are inhabited by Bramhins and Chhertries.
Almost all Nepalese live in villages or in small market centres.
Nepali is the official language. English is understood by majority of people in the cities. The country is a home of more than 60 ethnic groups & sup-groups and has over 70 different languages & dialects.
Hindus and Buddhists coexisted in Nepal for centuries in total harmony. There are about 2 % Muslims, 20 – 25% Buddhists and rests are Hindus. Unlike in India the Hindus in Nepal are open and receptive to new ideas. Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha and a country greatly influenced by Buddhism. In Upper Dolpo, Mustang and other regions you find few people still practicing ancient Bonpo religion. Shamanism is also popular in certain areas.
Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha is a world famous pilgrimages site and attracts thousands of Buddhist pilgrims each year from China, Korea, Japan, Srilanka, Myanmar and Thailand. Similarly Pashupatinath is a great Hindu temple attracting a great no of pilgrims from India and abroad each year.
Landlocked and without enough internal resources to develop infrastructure, Nepal is a poor and developing country. Majority of the people depend on the agriculture, tourism, in government jobs and employment abroad.
Industries are few and road networks and electricity are not adequate. The major sources of government revenue are the tax, the remittance from abroad workers and foreign assistance.
However the future of Nepal is not that bleak because Nepal is full of diverse potentials to support her 26 million populations. Nepal's underdevelopment is mostly because of lack of education, remote land and feudal political system under the Kingship. Nepal is still trying to settle her politics.
If properly managed Nepal can very easily be self sufficient in food. Nepal's alpine slopes are a home to a number of medicinal herbes of great value. Nepal has immense potential for tourism with her unique products. Lying between two giant economies of China and India Nepal has a great number of opportunities to benefit from. Nepal's rivers are sources of 45000 MW (mega watt) of commercially produce able hydroelectricity.
Why Nepal for Travel?
What is so special about Nepal?
If you are visiting Nepal for the first time you may be wondering what to see and expect in your trip. So many things of interest for a visitor, such a spectacular topography, such a richness of culture and wealth of flora and fauna all packed in this small country, a very rare combination anywhere.
The capital Kathmandu together with towns of Bhaktapur and Patan are medieval cities packed with hundreds of masterpiece temples and stupas, some dating back even second and fifth centuries. It is only in Kathmandu that seven UNESCO declared world heritage sites lie in a periphery of just thirty kilometers. The medieval sights and sounds so different but so friendly will take you in its spell.
This country has such a topographical contrast that elevation ranges from 70 meters above sea level in Jhapa to world's highest mountain, Everest 8848m above the sea level. This unique variation has given Nepal a varied eco system, both thick tropical and alpine forest swarmed with diverse wildlife, great peaks of the world, frozen valleys, deep gorges, mysterious caves, furious Himalayan rivers running down the hills and cool and calm lakes. In such a small country you can see tropical animals like wild elephants, tigers, rhinoceros and also alpine animals like snow leopards, etc...
Nepal is the home to 2% of all flowering plants in the world, 8% (848 species) of the total birds of the world (more birds than in USA and Canada combined), 11 of 15 butterflies' families found in the world (500 species), 600 indigenous plant families and more than 300 species of orchid species. And a population of 26 million people with about 60 ethnic groups speaking 70 different languages is a place with vibrant cultures, exotic traditions and festivals, unique art and architectures and above all very friendly people, all very alluring to the visitors.
Being birthplace of Lord Buddha, founder of Buddhism, Lumbini in southern Nepal is visited by Buddhists from all over the world. The great number of Tibetan refugees with their lamas, rinpochhe and stupas make Nepal a place ideal for those interested in Tibetan Buddhism. Few people know that original Tibetan culture survives in remote and exotic Nepali villages bordering with Tibet, rather than in Tibet itself. Most of these villages can be visited in one or the other treks to the Himalayas.
And not the least, Nepal is the home to the world's highest mountain, Mt. Everest; eight out of 10 highest mountains of the world lie in Nepal There are hundreds of other peaks that offer great treks and challenging climbing opportunities, making Nepal a great place for mountaineering adventure. The Himalayan glaciers are the source of many thundering rivers which offer excellent white water rafting opportunities in Nepal. You might come to see the Himalayas and trek among the world's highest mountains but once you are here you will discover so much more.
Just because Nepal is poor and not adequately publicized in world forums, otherwise Nepal has the potential to be one of the most popular holiday destinations among the seekers of culture and mountain adventure.