General Travel Tips
Nepal explodes with diversity, from the treacherous Himalayas in the north down to the agricultural flat lands in the south. It is a place where numerous ethnicities, religions, languages, and cultures come together to create one of the most magical wonders of the world. Buddhism from Tibet, Hinduism from India, and various local customs culminate in a beautiful mixing of mysticism and tradition made manifest in the giant Himalayas that exemplify the power of the gods for their people.
The inhabitants of Nepal are kind and subtle in their communications. They use careful diction so as not to be interpreted as harsh or upsetting, and take care to remain calm and dignified in all possible situations. Although Kathmandu is beginning to see the sprigs of modernism take root, the humble farm-based culture persists. While visiting this enchanting country, the Nepalese will do their best to make you feel at home; however, it is always best to rely on your own proper assimilation so that you can experience a deeper understanding of the foreign land. After all, is that not why we travel in the first place? Educate yourself with the following guidelines, and we wish you the time of your life in enchanting Nepal.
Head: Refrain from patting children on the head.
Hands: Be conscious of the distinction between right and left: in Nepal, the left hand is used to perform functions associated with using the bathroom, and is considered unclean; the right hand is reserved for all other actions as it is the clean hand. Since the Nepalese traditionally eat directly with their fingers, this is especially important. When handling or eating food only use the right hand, and when you give something to someone use the right or both hands but never the left alone.
Fingers: Avoid pointing at people and statues.
Feet: A good rule of thumb is not to use your feet for anything except walking. Refrain from touching anyone or anything with your feet as well as pointing your feet at anyone, especially a monk or a lama. It also is advised not to step over anyone so that you may keep your feet out of their personal space.
Everyday: The Nepalese are shy and traditional at heart, so when in doubt, go conservative. Women should refrain from wearing anything tight, short skirts or shorts, and bikini, sleeveless, or backless tops. The best female attire is a half- to long-sleeved shirt or blouse with a sarong or long skirt at least down to the mid-calf (you may wear pants under this if you choose); pants with no skirt is also acceptable. Men should always keep their shirt on, and although shorts are not frowned upon, pants are better.
Temples: To be as polite and reverent as possible in sacred spaces, take great care to dress conservatively; again, when in doubt, cover up. Also, be sure that you do not bring anything made of leather into a Hindu temple as cows are sacred. This includes clothing, purses, jewelry, and any other articles.
Shoes: Leave your shoes outside before entering a house, an office, and especially before entering a temple or stupa.
Affection: Any public display of affection between two people of the opposite sex is considered uncivilized; refrain from any form of cuddling, kissing, or hugging in public.
Communication: Losing your temper in Nepal (or anywhere for that matter) will often make things worse, so it is advised to remain calm all throughout your journey. Also, understand that Nepalese often mean yes when they shake their head side to side and no when they nod up and down.
Food: Remember your hand distinctions: eat and handle food only with your right hand, and do not use your left hand for anything but your own personal purposes. Also, refrain from touching others’ food and plates with your own hands or utensils, offering food that you have already tasted to others, and sharing drink containers with others. In other words: always keep your food, utensils, and dishes to yourself. Purity is a common theme of Nepalese culture, and it is believed that any and everything brought to your lips is instantly Jutho, or unclean, for everyone else. Also, avoid standing in front of a person who is eating.
Gifts: Please refrain from giving candy or even small coins to children and beggars. It is not a permanent solution to their situation and will only fuel the problem.
Greeting: The proper greeting in Nepal is Namaste. Instead of shaking hands, place the palms of the hands together and nod the head down slightly with this word on your lips. This is also the way that Nepalese say good-bye.
Temples: Sacred spaces, objects, and people are honored in Nepal to a profound degree. Always request permission before entering a Hindu temple as some prohibit non-Hindus or foreigners from entering, and always obtain permission before photographing anyone or anything. Also recall that anything made of leather (completely or partially, large or small) should never be taken into a Hindu temple. When walking around temples or stupas, stay to the left with the wall to your right so as to round the structure clockwise, and be careful not to step on the small stone or metal Mandala that rest on the ground in front of shrines. Be reverent, polite, and reserved, and you should not encounter any problems.
The Nepali Rupee (NPR) is the currency used in Nepal. One Rupee may be divided into 100 Paisa. The available divisions of Nepali Rupees are as follows:
10, 25, and 50 Paisa coin pieces; 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, and 1000 Rupee banknotes.
Major credit cards are usually accepted, although there is often a service fee of 3-4% for this option.
It is advised to only exchange money through authorized banks and be sure to receive a receipt for all transactions.
Do not purchase objects over one hundred years old or unauthorized wildlife products as they require special permission.
You may want to keep a small reserve of money on your person separate from your main wallet for everyday purchases. This will help you avoid the extra attention of flashing large amounts of money at bystanders.
Keep your distance from any illegal substances as drug laws are harsh in Nepal.