Touted as one of the most beautiful places on earth, a landlocked nation sandwiched between rising superpowers, Nepal is bordered by China in the north and India in the south, east, and west. A multiethnic nation with a population of 26.4 million, Nepal is also home to eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth.
The two most popular destination cities for international travelers are the capital Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Kathmandu is the nation’s capital and largest city.
City (District) Population
1 Kathmandu (Kathmandu) 975,453
2 Pokhara (Kaski) 264,991
3 Biratnagar (Morang) 201,125
4 Lalitpur (Lalitpur) 183,316
5 Bharatpur (Chitwan) 143,836
6 Birganj (Parsa) 135,904
7 Butwal (Rupandehi) 118,462
8 Dharan (Sunsari) 116,181
9 Bhim Datta (Kanchanpur) 104,599
10 Dhangadhi (Kailali) 101,970
Trekking – popular treks include Annapurna Mountain Range, Langtang Region, Helambu Trek, Everest and the Trek to Base Camp
Attractions in Kathmandu
Boudhanath (Stupa) – Boudhanath Stupa (or Bodnath Stupa) is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet.
Swayambhunath – Swayambhu is an ancient religious architecture atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. The Tibetan name for the site means ‘Sublime Trees’
Pashupatinath Temple – a famous, sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Pashupatinath located on the banks of the Bagmati River
Kopan Monastery – Kopan Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery near Boudhanath, on the outskirts of Kathmandu
Thamel – a commercial neighborhood that is the tourist epicenter of Kathmandu, featuring hotels, hostels, bars and cafes.
The Crematoria – On the banks of Bagmati river, the crematorium at Pashupatinath temple is a place where Nepalese Hindus have their last rites.
Hanuman Dhoka – Hanuman Dhoka is a complex of structures with the Royal Palace in the Durbar Square.
Durbar Square – traditional architecture abounds in the public square fronting the royal palace.
The Bagmati Ghats – The Old City
The Patan Museum – displays the traditional sacred arts of Nepal.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square (Bhaktapur) – Located about 20 km east of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur is one of the traditional royal cities and is packed with fascinating architecture, stone carvings and temples.
Poon Hill – offering scenic views it is a popular short trek in Nepal
Sarangkot – superb views of the Annapurna Himalayan mountains peaks.
Phewa Tal (Fewa Lake) – Pokharas beautiful calm lake
World Peace Pagoda – Pokhara Shanti Stupa, as it’s otherwise known, is a Buddhist pagoda-style monument on Ananda hill near Pokhara.
Kaskikot – a scenic village near Phewa Lake and Pokhara that offers stunning views of the Annapurna Himalayan mountains peaks.
Tashi Palkhel – Tibetan Settlement and temple
Mahendra Gupha – is a cave located near Pokhara, Kaski district, containing stalagmites and stalactites.
Chamere Gupha – located in Batulechaur near to Mahendra Gupha it is also known as Bat Cave.
Kahun Daada – views to rival Sarangot and temples including Manang monastery and Bardakali temple.
Bhalam Khola Valley – a rural village near Pokhara.
Bengas and Rupa Tal – near Pokhara, two impressive lakes with scenic views
Gorkha – historic town with Chait Dasain festival in late March, early April to celebrate and a must see Gorkha Durbar.
Bandipur – a sleepy bazaar and home to Newari culture and architecture.
Other destinations in Nepal
Mount Everest (Sagarmatha National Park)
Durbar Square Patan (Lalitpur)
Golden Temple – Hiranya Varna Mahavihar (Patan (Lalitpur))
Lumbini, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama (Rupandehi)
Chitwan National Park (Sauraha)
Seto Machhendranath Jaatra
Machhendranath Rath Jaatra
Ram-Sita Biwaha Paochami
The official currency is the Nepalese rupee.
Notes come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 10.
ATMs are plentiful in most cities and most will accept cards issued by any of the major international banking networks. In major hotels and more expensive restaurants, credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, JCB and American Express, are readily accepted.
Example conversion rates 2017
$1 AUD = 81.71 NPR
$1 USD = 108.95 NPR
The citizens of Nepal are known as Nepali or Nepalese. The country is home to people of many different national origins including India, Kashmir, Tibet, and parts of Burma and Yunnan, China.
- total: 23.6 years
- male: 22.4 years
- female: 24.8 years
0-14 years: 30.93% (male 4,646,048/female 4,333,105)
15-24 years: 21.86% (male 3,176,158/female 3,169,721)
25-54 years: 35.99% (male 4,707,264/female 5,740,985)
55-64 years: 6.22% (male 877,288/female 927,202)
65 years and over: 5.02% (male 723,523/female 732,620)
The minimum monthly wage is between NPR6,375 – 9000 (about US$60-$84) per month.
Customs and Culture
The overwhelming majority of the Nepalese population follows Hinduism. Shiva is regarded as the guardian deity of the country. From the 2011 census: Hindu 81.34%, Buddhist 9.04%, Muslim 4.38%, Kirant 3.04%, other 2.2%
The left hand is used for cleaning after going to the loo, for this reason, Nepalis don’t use their left hand for eating or wiping their mouth. Also for this same reason, don’t offer things or touch anyone with the left hand.
Don’t point, use your chin or upturned hand. To point has the meaning of having something against the other person/thing to which you are pointing.
Take off shoes before entering homes or temples. Also, don’t touch anyone with your shoes or face your feet at them.
Don’t step over people, go around, and if you are sitting, give people room so they can get around.
Don’t pat or touch the head, as it is considered sacred.
At sacred sites, such as temples or prayer walls, always go in a clockwise direction.
Climate and Seasons
Nepal experiences five seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring, and has five climatic zones. The tropical and subtropical zones lie below 1,200 metres (3,937 ft), the temperate zone 1,200 to 2,400 metres (3,937 to 7,874 ft), the cold zone 2,400 to 3,600 metres (7,874 to 11,811 ft), the subarctic zone 3,600 to 4,400 metres (11,811 to 14,436 ft), and the Arctic zone above 4,400 metres (14,436 ft).
Both Kathmandu and Pokhara are classed as temperate.
Express buses run between popular tourist destinations, as an example, Kathmandu to Pokhara with a ticket costing $20 – 8 HRS.
Regular and local buses are older buses, with frequent stops and may load up with passengers and no aircon.
Tickets can be bought from hotels and travel agencies. Also see http://www.nepaltouristbusservice.com
It’s all tuk-tuk’s and taxis. As an example, a taxi ride from one side of Kathmandu to the other shouldn’t cost more than $6.
Tribhuvan International Airport (VNKT|KTM) – Kathmandu – The major international airport – http://www.tiairport.com.np/
For a list of airports that service domestic flights and provide access to trek camps and routes see http://www.nepalhomepage.com/airports-in-nepal
Domestic Route Map
International Airlines that fly to Kathmandu
China Eastern flights
Top Places to Stay
These are hand-picked for their central location, overall value, and past guest rating.
The Top Ten Hotels in Kathmandu
Hyatt Regency Kathmandu – 5-star hotel – Taragaon, Boudha, Boudhha, 00977 Kathmandu, Nepal – $190 and up
Royal Penguin Boutique Hotel & Spa – 4-star hotel – Thamel, 11856 Kathmandu, Nepal – $80 and up
Kathmandu Grand Hotel – 3-star hotel – Chaksibari Marg, Thamel, Kathmandu, Thamel, 00977 Kathmandu, Nepal – $70 and up
Hotel Friends Home – 3-star hotel – Thamel, 44600 Kathmandu, Nepal – $35 and up
Kathmandu Mantra Home – Z-street, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal – $18 and up
Hotel Bright Star – 1 star – Gahiti Marg, Thamel, 44600 Kathmandu, Nepal – $13 and up
Hotel Devachan – 1-star hotel – 202, Phurkesalla Marg, Swayambhu, 44620 Kathmandu, Nepal – $12 and up
Hostel ONE96 – Paknajol Marg Thamel, 44600 Kathmandu, Nepal – $13 and up
Pariwar B&B – 2 star – Ganesh Man Street, Thamel, 20062 Kathmandu, Nepal – $10 and up
Festoon Hotel Pvt. Ltd. – Z-Street, Thamel, 44600 Kathmandu, Nepal – $10 and up
The Top Ten Hotels in Pokhara
Rupakot Resort – 5-star hotel – Rupakot – 6, Maidan Kaski, 33700 Pokhara, Nepal – $160 and up
Dahlia Boutique Hotel – 3-star hotel – Baidam – 6, Lakeside, 33700 Pokhara, Nepal – $45 and up
Hotel Grand Holiday – 3-star hotel – Peaceful Road, Lakeside, 33411 Pokhara, Nepal – $18 and up
Hotel Pokhara International – 2-star hotel – Durbar Marg, 33700 Pokhara, Nepal – $15 and up
Hotel Nirvana – Durbar Marg, Lakeside, 33700 Pokhara, Nepal – $13 and up
Hotel Harmony – 3-star hotel – Lakeside Khahare North, 33700 Pokhara, Nepal – $10 and up
New United Hotel – Gaurighat, Royal Place Gate, Lakeside, 33700 Pokhara, Nepal – $10 and up
Hotel Mountain View – Lakeside, 33411 Pokhara, Nepal – $9 and up
Namaste Apartments – Durbar Marg, Baidam, ODA Nr. 6, Lakeside, 33700 Pokhara, Nepal – $9 and up
New Future Way Guest House – 6 Middle Path Street, 33700 Pokhara, Nepal – $6 and up
Long Term Rentals
Realty site: http://www.housingnepal.com
Apartments in Pokhara: http://pokharastudioinn.com
North Star Guest House http://www.pokharaguesthouse.com
Pokhara Visspana Centre – http://www.pokhara.dhamma.org
Kopan Monastery – http://kopanmonastery.com
Food and Cuisine
Much of the cuisine is a variation on Asian themes. Other foods have hybrid Tibetan, Indian and Thai origins. Common ingredients used in Nepalese cuisine include lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, chilies, peppers, garlic and mustard oil.
Momo, Tibetan style dumplings with Nepalese spices, are one of the most popular foods in Nepal.
Yoghurt, or dahi can be used as a side dish or as an ingredient in drinks (Lassi) and desserts (Sikarni).
Dal Bhat consists of a rice (or substitute) centre, alongside lentils which are surrounded by various different dishes. Sides can include pickles, curried dishes, meat or fish, yoghurt, and chutney.
Sel roti is a very special fried doughnut made from rice flour.
Typical Living Expenses
Budget hotel room in Kathmandu: US$5–25
Dinner and breakfast in a trekking lodge: US$10–12
Trekking porter/guide: US$15/25 per day
Organised camping trek: US$60–80 per person per day
Midrange meal in Kathmandu: US$7–10
Midrange hotel: US$25–80
Many countries are eligible for Visa on Arrival.
Official Site: http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/?page_id=80
Forums and useful websites
WikiTravel Nepal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepal
Official Tourism site: http://www.welcomenepal.com
Nepal Guides: http://www.thelongestwayhome.com/Countries/nepal.html
Travel updates/journey planning: http://www.nepalnow.org
Nepal’s diverse linguistic heritage stems from three major language groups: Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, and various indigenous language isolates. The major languages of Nepal (percent spoken as native language) according to the 2011 census are Nepali (44.6%), Maithili (11.7%), Bhojpuri (Awadhi Language) (6.0%), Tharu (5.8%), Tamang (5.1%), Nepal Bhasa (3.2%), Bajjika (3%) and Magar (3.0%), Doteli (3.0%), Urdu (2.6%) and Sunwar. Nepal is home to at least four indigenous sign languages.
Learn to speak Nepalese
Example Basic Phrases
Hello – Namaste. (Nah-MAH-stay)
Hello (formal) – Namaskar. (Nah-MAH-skar)
Thank you – dhanyabaad (DHAN-naii-bat)
Yes – Hajur – (HA-jur) or Ho. (HO)
No – Chaina – (Chai-NA) or Haina. (Hai-Na)
Excuse me – (getting attention) – sabai le sunnus ta.
I’m sorry – ma maafi chahanchu.
Goodbye – Namaskaar
Goodbye (informal) – Namaste
Bye Bye – Ta-ta
Do you speak English? – Tapaai Angreji bolnuhunchha? (Ta-Pai- Ang-gri-jee bolnu-hun-cha?)
I don’t understand – Maile buhjina. (Mai-le Bu-jhi-na)
Where is the toilet? – Shauchalaya kata cha? (Sa-u-chha-la-ya ka-ta cha?)
A language course for learning Nepali http://lrc.cornell.edu/nepali/online
Making Friends in Nepal
Apps that are popular in Nepal include Facebook, Viber, Skype, Migme and Whatsapp.
Mobile, Wi-Fi and Internet
Most hotels in major cities offer free wi-fi.
There are two main mobile/cell phone providers, which also offer 3G and 4G data plans.
Nepal Telecom https://www.ntc.net.np
Example monthly package rates: 50 MB = 35 rupees / 200MB = 130 rupees / 500 MB – 300 rupees / 1GB = 500 rupees / 3 GB = 1290 rupees / 5 GB = 1800 rupees / 10 GB = 2800 rupees
220V/50Hz. There are three sockets in play, two three pin styles and one two pin style.
What to Pack
Sleeping sheet for lice, bed bugs etc
Face mask for Kathmandu (pollution)
Footwear to protect against scabies and hookworm eg thongs/flip flops for the shower (can buy in Nepal)
Suncream & Hat
Rehydration tablets (for after experiencing food poising, diarrhea)
Insect repellent, long sleeves, garters to protect against leeches. Salt may be helpful for removing leeches.
Water purification tablets
Manipal Hospital in Fulbari, Pokhara – https://www.manipal.edu.np
CIWEC Clinic – Lazimpat (near British Embassy) Kathmandu Phone: +977 1 442 4111 http://ciwec-clinic.com
Nepal International Clinic – Lal Durbar – Kathmandu Phone: +977 1 443 4642 – 443 5357 http://www.nepalinternationalclinic.com
Norvic International Hospital and Medical College Pvt. Ltd – Thapathali – Kathmandu – Phone: +977 1 425 8554 http://www.norvichospital.com
Patan Hospital – Patan – Kathmandu – Phone: +977 1 555 2266, 552 2278 http://www.patanhospital.org.np
Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital – Maharajganj – Kathmandu – Phone: +977 1 441 2303-5 http://www.teachinghospital.org.np
Nobel Medical College – Kanchabari – Biratnagar – Phone: +977 21 460 736 – http://www.nobelmedicalcollege.com.np
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