Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two and three-pin plugs are used.

Language

Nepali is the official language. English is spoken in all major tourist areas.

Money

The official currency is the Nepalese rupee (NPR), which is divided into 100 paisa. Getting change can be a problem, so visitors should have a supply of small notes handy. Tourist activities are often quoted in US dollars and it is advisable to carry new dollar bills in varied denominations. There are ATMs in Kathmandu and Pokhara; Visa, MasterCard, and American Express credit cards are accepted in many tourist hotels, shops, restaurants, and travel agencies.

Banks and moneychangers are present in all tourist centres and major cities. All receipts from foreign exchange transactions should be kept so rupees can be exchanged back into foreign currencies on departure. Cash is needed when trekking.

Tipping

Restaurants and hotels may add 10 percent to bills, in which case no further tip is required. A 10 percent tip is otherwise customary in places that cater to tourists.

Health

Travellers arriving from infected areas require a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Malaria is a health risk between June and September in the low-lying areas of Nepal, including Chitwan National Park, but not in the common trekking areas. Travellers should consult their doctor about whether malaria prophylaxis is necessary. Outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis occur annually, particularly between July and December, and vaccination is advised.

Vaccinations are also recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid. Those who will be in contact with animals, especially bats, may want to consider a rabies vaccination as well. Cholera outbreaks occur and food and water precautions should be followed. All eligible travellers should be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.

Untreated water must be avoided; visitors should buy bottled water or purify their own. When trekking it is preferable to treat river water rather than leaving a trail of plastic bottles behind. Purifying water with iodine is the cheapest and easiest way to treat water.

Altitude sickness is a real risk for trekkers, as many people suffer from altitude sickness above 8,202ft (2,500m). If symptoms persist it is wise to descend as quickly as possible. The standard of care in hospitals varies, but there are traveller's clinics in Kathmandu and numerous pharmacies in the major towns.

Medical insurance is essential, and should include air evacuation. All required medications should be taken into the country in their original packaging and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what they are and why they are needed.

Safety

There's a low rate of serious crime in Nepal, though visitors should take sensible precautions. They should watch out for pick-pockets and bag-snatching, particularly in airports, on buses and in areas popular with foreign nationals such as Thamel, Sanepa and Kupondol in Kathmandu. It's best to be cautious when walking around at night; assaults and robberies are more likely to take place in the evening in poorly lit areas. Travellers should avoid walking alone and carrying large sums of cash.

Demonstrations and public gatherings should be avoided as there is a risk of violence. Due to previous bomb attacks and shootings in public places, including the main tourist areas of Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Lukla, as well as on popular trekking routes, visitors are warned to be particularly vigilant.

There have been incidences of violent robbery against trekkers and there is an armed Maoist presence on many of the major trekking routes who demand a 'tax' before allowing trekkers to pass. Trekkers are advised to stay on established routes and walk in groups or with professional guides. Foreigners have been attacked in the Nagarjun Forest Reserve just outside Kathmandu and visitors are advised to be cautious in the area and to travel in a group.

Local customs

Nepal has numerous cultural practices that may be unusual for foreigners. In the tourist areas, there is a high degree of tolerance towards visitors but, away from these places, foreigners should be sensitive to local customs. They should never accept, offer, or eat anything with the left hand.

Visitors also shouldn't eat from someone else's plate or offer food from their own. Women should dress conservatively and cover up as much as possible. Permission should be sought before taking photographs, particularly at religious sites. Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon.

Doing business

The Nepalese are warm and friendly, and business is conducted with a combination of formality and sincerity, with a lot of time is given to small talk and socialising. Handshakes are fairly common but visitors should wait to see if a hand is offered.

Alternatively, a traditional namaste greeting, which involves a small bow accompanied by hands clasped as if in prayer, will be well received. Visitors should return the greeting if it is given. Dress tends to be formal and conservative, with suits and ties the norm.

Titles and surnames are usually used. The elderly in particular are treated with great respect and the word 'gi' is added after the name as a polite form. Punctuality is important, although it may take some time to get down to business, and negotiation can be a long process.

English is widely spoken and understood, but discussions in Nepali may occur between locals within a meeting. Business hours are usually 9.30am or 10am to 5pm, Sunday to Thursday. Closing time is 4pm in winter. Saturday is a holiday.

Duty free

Travellers to Nepal do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 20g of tobacco, 1 litre of spirits or wine, or 12 cans of beer.

Communications

The country code for Nepal is +977, and the outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). Visitors can purchase local prepaid SIM cards for unlocked phones; WiFi is available in cafes as well as most hotels and guest houses.

Passport & Visa

Most foreign passengers to Nepal can obtain a tourist visa on arrival in the country. These visas are valid for a maximum of 90 days, and cost between USD 30 and USD 125 (depending on the length of intended stay). Visitors should note that extensions of touristic stays (up to 150 days) can be arranged after arrival, by applying at the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu or Pokhara (fee: USD 20, plus an additional charge of USD 2 per day extended). All tourist visas are valid for Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara Valley, and Tiger Tops (Meghauli airport) in Chitwan. However, if travellers wish to visit other places, or trek in Nepal, permits can be obtained from the Central Immigration Office. Travellers should also note that passengers who need a visa for India, and who want to visit Nepal as well, should hold a visa valid for two entries into India; and that persons wishing to re-enter Nepal, and having in their passports any previous Nepalese visas cancelled (invalidated) by the Central Immigration Office, will be refused entry and deported. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required.

It is highly recommended that travellers' passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

US citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond their date of arrival in Nepal. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum of 90 days.

British citizens must have a passport that is valid six months beyond their date of arrival in Nepal. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum of 90 days.

Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid six months beyond their date of arrival in Nepal. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum of 90 days.

Australian citizens must have a passport valid for six months beyond their date of arrival in Nepal. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum of 90 days.

South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond their date of arrival in Nepal. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum of 90 days.

Irish citizens must have a passport valid for six months beyond their date of arrival in Nepal. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum of 90 days.

New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for six months beyond their date of arrival in Nepal. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum of 90 days.

Useful contacts

Nepal Tourist Office, Kathmandu: +977 (0)1 425 6909 or ntb.gov.np

100 (Police) and 101 (Fire).

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Royal Nepalese Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 667 4550.

Royal Nepalese Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 871 200 1099

Embassy of Nepal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: +1 613-680-5513

Royal Nepalese Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6162 1554.

Royal Nepalese Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 342 7546.

Royal Nepalese Consulate-General, Auckland: +64 (07) 439 2312.

Embassies / consulates in Nepal

United States Embassy, Kathmandu: +977 1 423 4000.

British Embassy, Kathmandu: +977 (0)1 441 4588.

Canadian High Commission, New Delhi, India (also responsible for Nepal): +91 (11) 4178 2000.

Australian Embassy, Kathmandu: +977 (0)1 437 1678.

South African High Commission, Colombo, Sri Lanka (also responsible for Nepal): +94 11 246 3000.

Irish Embassy, New Delhi, India (also responsible for Nepal): +91 (0)11 4940 3200.

New Zealand Consulate, New Delhi, India (also responsible for Nepal): +91 11 4688 3170.