Draped along the greatest heights of the Himalayas, Nepal is
a land of sublime scenery, time-worn temples, and some of the
best walking trails on earth. It's a poor country, but it is rich
in scenic splendors and cultural treasures. The kingdom has long
exerted a pull on the Western imagination. It's the kind of country
that lingers in your dreams long after you leave it. This is why
so many travelers are drawn back to Nepal, armed the second time
round with a greater appreciation of its natural and cultural
complexity, a stout pair of walking boots and a desire for sculpted
Surrounded by the greatest heights of the Himalayas, the kingdom
of Nepal is a land of eternal attraction, a place where one visit
is hardly ever enough. It's a land of colorful cultures, ancient
history and people, superb scenery and some of the best walking
Behind the old temples and places of the Kathmandu Valley, above
and beyond the hills that surrounding the valley, another kingdom'
rises skyward. The abode of snows' which is what Himalaya means
in Sanskrit, is a natural kingdom' and a magnet to mountaineers
from all above the world. You don't have to be a Sherpa or Hillary
in order for you to get in amongst these great mountains. With
a touch of enterprises and a modicum of fitness most travelers
can walk the trails that lead into the road less heights of the
Himalayas. In Nepal one trek is rarely enough, and many visitors
soon find themselves planning to return. Fascinating old town,
magnificent temples and great walking are not all Nepal has to
offer. Many visitors come to Nepal expecting to find these things
but also discover how outstanding friendly the Nepalese are.
Trekking is not the only activity which draws visitors, it also
has some superb white-water rafting opportunities, mountain biking,
which is become more and more popular, and down in the jungle,
safaris on elephant-back into the Royal Chitwan National Park
are another not-to-be-missed part of the Nepal experience.
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Time Zone: GMT +5.75, IST +.15
Dialing Code: 977 Kathmandu: 9771
Currency: Nepalese Rupee ( 1 US dollar = 74 nepalese rupees appx)
Electricity: 230V ,50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
Internet and Telecom Facilities: Easily available in all urban
Credit Cards: Visa, Master Card and American Express accepted
Lodging: Five star to budget hotels available
Dining: Kathmandu has cuisine restaurants from all over over the
world. Other places mostly nepali food.
Nightlife: Kathmandu has excellent bars, nightspots and casinos.
Not much nightlife outside Kathmandu
All foreigners (except Indian nationals) require visas, which
can be obtained in advance or on arrival.
Visa fees: If you are applying for the first time in the current
year, the following fee will be charged:
(a) Free Visa for 3 (or less than) days single entry;
(b) US $ 30.00 for 60 days single entry;
(c) US $ 80.00 for 60 days multiple entries
If you are re-applying within 150 days of your last visit to Nepal,
within the same year, the following visa fee will be charged
(i) US $ 30.00 for 30 days single entry
(ii) US $ 30.00 for 30 days multiple entries
There will be no charge for children under 10 years. However,
visa is required.
Visa once issued cannot be withdrawn, visa fee cannot be refunded
after visa is issued, and it must be used within six months from
the date of issue.
It takes 7 business days to issue visa after the application
is received at the Embassy.
Consulates: The Royal Nepalese Consulate General in New York
issues tourist visas, whose address is:
820 Second Avenue, Suite 17 B, New York, NY 10017. Tel. (212)
370 3988/89 Fax (212) 953 2038
Canadian and/or non Canadian nationals currently residing in
Canada may also apply for visa to the Honorary Royal Nepalese
Consulate General at,
Royal Bank Plaza, South Tower, 32nd Floor, P. O. Box 33, Toronto,
Ontario M5J 2J9, Tel: (416) 865 0200, Fax: (416) 865 0904.
Visa on Arrival: Tourist visa may also be obtained at any of
the following entry points:
Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu; Biratnagar (Jogbani),
Birgunj (Raxaul), Bhairahawa (Sunauli) and Kakarbhitta (Panitanki)
on Nepal-India border and Kodari on Nepal China border.
Visa Extension: Tourist traveling on a short duration visas can
get them extended if they so desire. The Department of Immigration,
Kathmandu and Pokhara Immigration Office extend visas and charge
US $ 30.00 for 30 days for a total period of 120 days. Tourist
visa for further period of 30-days can be granted if the Department
of Immigration is satisfied with the reason furnished by the applicant
without exceeding altogether 150 days between January and December
of the current year.
Important: Tourists carrying more than 2,000.00 US dollar or
equivalent foreign currency are requested to declare in the Custom
Declaration Form at the time of arrival in Nepal. Those returning
from Nepal with undeclared money exceeding US $ 2,000.00 or equivalent
foreign currency may be interrogated for further legal actions
in accordance with Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of Nepal.
Tourists traveling by car should possess a valid Passage de Carnet
Visas permit travel around the Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara and
Chitwan National Park in the Terai. Trekking permits are required
if you intend striking out from the main areas; they can be obtained
from immigration offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
There are few direct flights to Nepal, which means most travelers
from Europe, North America and Australia have to change aircraft
and/or airline en route. Nepal's only international airport is
Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport. If you want to see the mountains
as you fly into Kathmandu, make sure you sit on the right-hand
side of the plane. The departure tax for international flights
is US$15, or US$10 to destinations on the Indian subcontinent.
The classic overland routes between Nepal and India are still
popular. Buses are usually the quickest and easiest form of transport
between Nepal and India. The main crossing points are Sunauli-Bhairawa,
Birganj-Raxaul Bazaar and Kakarbhitta-Siliguri. The Sunauli border
crossing is the best one from Varanasi, the Birganj crossing is
the easiest from Kolkata, and Kakarbhitta is the obvious choice
The crossing between Nepal and Tibet via Kodari is open to organized
groups but not to individual travelers heading north. Be prepared
with alternative plans if you're thinking about using this route,
because landslides regularly make it impassable during the monsoon
When to Go
Climatic factors are very important in deciding when to visit
Nepal. October-November, the start of the dry season, is in many
ways the best time of year: the weather is balmy, the air is clean,
visibility is perfect and the country is lush following the monsoon.
February-April, the tail end of the dry season, is the second-best
period: visibility is not so good because of dust, but the weather
is warm and many of Nepal's wonderful wild flowers are in bloom.
In December and January the climate and visibility are good but
it can be chilly: trekkers need to be well prepared for snow,
and for cheaper hotels in Kathmandu - nonexistent heating makes
for rather gloomy evenings. The rest of the year is fairly unpleasant
for travelling: May and early June are generally too hot and dusty
for comfort, and the monsoon from mid-June to September obscures
the mountains in cloud and turns trails and roads to mud.
Currency: Nepali Rupee
If you stay in rock-bottom accommodation and survive on a predominantly
Nepalese diet, you could live in Nepal on US$5 a day. If you prefer
to stay in comfortable lodgings, eat in tourist-oriented restaurants
and take the occasional taxi, your living costs are likely to
be between US$15 and US$40 a day. The high-life, including an
organized trek thrown in will sting you US$40-US$50 a day. An
independent trek between village inns, should cost between US$10
and US$15 a day, as long as you don't indulge in too many 'luxury'
items, like beer and chocolate.
There are effectively three exchange rates in Nepal: the rate
set by the government's Nepal Rastra Bank, the slightly more generous
(but still legal) rate set by the private banks, and the even
more generous black-market rate set by carpet shops and travel
agents. The daily newspapers list the Nepal Rastra Bank's rate,
which is a useful reference point. Exchange rates and commissions
can vary quite significantly, so shop around.
When you change money legally, you are issued with a Foreign
Exchange Encashment Receipt showing the amount of hard currency
you have exchanged. If you leave Nepal via Kathmandu airport and
haven't spent all your rupees, you can exchange up to 15% of the
amount shown on these unused receipts back into hard currency.
Major international currencies such as the US dollar and pounds
sterling are readily accepted, and the Indian rupee is also considered
a 'hard' currency. Outside the Kathmandu Valley, it may be difficult
to use large-denomination Nepalese notes, so keep a decent portion
of your money in small-denomination notes. If you're trekking,
take enough small-denomination cash with you to last the whole
Tipping is becoming fairly common in upmarket restaurants in
Kathmandu, so leave around 10-15% of the bill if service was good.
There's no need to tip in cheaper establishments or to tip taxi
drivers. Porters on treks, however, should be tipped around Rs
100 per day. Bargaining is commonplace in markets and tourist
shops, but treat it as a form of polite social discourse rather
than a matter of life and death.
1. Kathmandu and Vicinity
Kathmandu is really two cities: a fabled capital of convivial
pilgrims and carved rose-brick temples, and a splenetic sprawl
smothered in dirt, monkeys, beggars and the pollution of diesel
fumes. It simultaneously reeks of history and the wear and tear
of increasing modernity.
Bhaktapur: Bhaktapur is in many ways the most medieval of the
three major cities in the Kathmandu Valley. Despite recent development,
the city still retains a distinctly timeless air, with much of
its glorious architecture dating from the end of the 17th century.
Most sights can be easily traversed by foot and include yet another
Durbar Square, which is infinitely larger than Kathmandu's and
has its fair share of temples, statues and columns, many with
grisly histories behind them. For instance, the sculptor of the
Ugrachandi & Bhairab Statues had his hands chopped off to
prevent him from duplicating his masterpieces.
Bhakatapur's second main square is Taumadhi Tole, which features
Nyatapola, the highest temple in the valley, and Til Mahadev Narayan,
an important place of pilgrimage. Nearby is Potters' Square, where
thousands of clay pots are made and sold. East from here, through
the sinuous streets of the old city centre, is Tachupal Tole,
another square containing temples and monasteries plus craft museums.
Sometimes it's best to take a break from temples and sit back
and watch the unchanging rituals of daily life: the laying out
of grain to dry in the sun, families collecting water or washing
under communal taps, children playing simple games, dyed yarns
flapping in the breeze or potters at work throwing clay.
Bhaktapur is about 35km (22mi) south east of Kathmandu's city
centre and is easily reached by bus, minibus or trolley bus. You
may have second thoughts about the minibuses, though, as they
are overcrowded and can turn a 35 minute trip into an hour long
torture; the Chinese trolley-buses are a better option.
Must See Places:
Kathmandu Valley: Apart from Kathmandu, Patan
and Bhaktapur, there are a number of other fascinating villages,
temples and stupas scattered around the valley. One of these is
probably the best known site in Nepal - the Buddhist temple of
Swayambhunath. The temple is colloquially known as the 'monkey
temple', after the large tribe of garrulous monkeys which guard
the hill, amusing visitors and devotees with their tricks, including
sliding gracefully down the long double bannisters of the main
stairway. The soaring central stupa is topped by an aureate block
featuring the watchful eyes of Buddha. Set around the base is
a continuous series of prayer wheels which pilgrims, circumambulating
the stupa, spin as they pass by.
Beyond Swayambhunath, on the banks of the Bagmati River, is Pashupatinath,
the country's pre-eminent Hindu temple and one of the most significant
Shiva temples on the subcontinent. As the Bagmati is a holy river,
Pashupatinath has become a popular place to be cremated - the
ghats (river steps) immediately in front of the temple are reserved
for the cremation of royalty, while those a little further south
are for the riffraff.
Another site with a religious bent is the huge stupa of Bodhnath,
which is the largest in the country and among the largest in the
world. It's also the centre for Nepal's considerable population
of Tibetans. Late afternoon is a good time to visit. This is when
prayer services are held and the locals turn out to walk around
the stupa (if you want to join in, remember to walk in a clockwise
direction). Surrounding Bodhnath are a number of monasteries,
but be discreet and respectful if you intend visiting them.
The valley also offers plenty of opportunities to get off the
beaten track, with treks to and from the resort villages of Nagarkot
and Dhulikhel, wallowing in Tatopani's hot springs, exploring
cloud forests in Pulchowki, and mountain biking in the regions
of Chapagaon and Bungamati.
Most of the valley attractions around Kathmandu can be reached
on foot but the easiest way to get around is by bicyle. If that
sounds a bit too energetic, consider hiring a taxi for the day.
Must See Places:
Patan: Patan, the second-largest city in the
valley, lies just across the Bagmati River from Kathmandu, but
it's a much quieter and less frenetic place to visit. The city
is justly proud of its temples and artisans and it is their handiwork
that provides the focus of the stunning Durbar Square - choc-a-block
with the largest display of Newari architecture in Nepal. It includes
the Royal Palace, which contains a richly decorated bathtub, and
the two-tiered brick Jagannarayan Temple. Look up to the roof
struts to see carvings of figures engaged in quite athletic acts
A few minutes' walk north of the square is the Golden Temple,
a Buddhist monastery guarded by sacred tortoises that potter around
the courtyard; and the Kumbeshawar, reputedly the oldest (1392)
temple in Patan. South of the square is an area of charming streets
lined with metalsmiths and brassware shops.
Patan's other attractions are flung further afield. Among them
is a collection of four stupas, thought to have been built over
2500 years ago, and Nepal's only zoo, which features a reasonable
assortment of rhinos, tigers, leopards and bird life. Palm readers
gather in the park outside - they may be able to point out which
animal you'll be reincarnated as. Tibetan carpets can be bought
in Jawalakhel, east of the city.
It's an easy 5km (3mi) from Thamel in Kathmandu to Patan and
you can get there by bicyle, taxi, bus, or tempo.
The city of Pokara is renowned for its setting rather than its
historical or cultural endowments. Its quiet lakeside location
and proximity to the mountains mean it is an ideal place for recovering
from (or gearing up for) a trek, taking leisurely strolls or simply
putting your nose in a good book. And wouldn't you know it, Pokhara
has some of the country's best accommodation and restaurants as
well. There's a batch of Tibetan settlements, a hilltop monastery
and the pretty Devi Falls nearby. Day walks can be taken to Sarangkot
(1592m), the limestone caves at Mahendra Gufa or Rupa and Begnas
Tals lakes. More exertion (but not much more) is required to tackle
the three to four-day Annapurna Skyline Trek.
There are daily flights between Pokhara and Kathmandu. For Himalayan
views sit on the right-hand side if you're heading to Pokhara
and the left if heading to Kathmandu. The bus trip between the
two towns takes about eight hours.
Must See Places:
3. The Terai ( the plains)
If you come to the Terai expecting snow-clad mountains and jaw-dropping
vistas, you'll soon be disappointed. What you get instead is hot
subtropical plains and some of the most fascinating attractions
in Nepal. Foremost among them is the magnificent Royal Chitwan
National Park, once the hunting ground of British and Nepalese
aristocrats. Today, the animals - elephant, rhinoceros, tiger,
leopard and deer - are protected, not shot. Probably the greatest
thrill here is to scout for wildlife on the back of an elephant.
If that's too uncomfortable, you can do the same thing in a jeep
or canoe, or go jungle walking with experienced guides. Watch
out for leeches, which operate with stealth-like efficiency during
Janakpur is an attractive city, bustling with tourists - Indian
pilgrims that is, not Western backpackers. The city's religious
significance is due to its role as the birthplace of Sita (Rama's
wife in the Hindu epic Ramayana). During festivals, when vignettes
from the Ramayana are re-enacted, it almost feels as if the ancient
myth has come to life. If you can overcome its bewildering tangle
of streets, Janakpur is packed with worthwhile sights including
temples, pilgrim hostels and tiny sacred ponds. On the city's
outskirts is the Janakpur Women's Development Centre, a must-see
if you're interested in traditional painting and ceramics or the
role of women in local society. Beautiful Devghat and Lumbini,
now confirmed as the birthplace of Buddha, are also important
devotional sites in the Terai.
Janakpur is over 135km (84mi) from Kathmandu, and a little less
than that to the Chitwan National Park. A number of airlines fly
to destinations within the Terai, but the most popular mode of
transport is bus, more through economic necessity than choice.
Usually they are overcrowded, stopping-all-stations affairs that
leave you battered and bruised. If you've got a bit of extra cash,
hiring a car is a comfortable way to see the region or, alternatively,
a good mountain bike will get you there, back and around.
Must See Places:
Lumbini, the place where Lord Buddha was born, it has been a
popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims along side visitors
from many parts of the world, which has become a symbol of peace
and understanding for the world community. Lumbini like Buddha
stands peacefully and calm, away from the crowds of the cities,
on the southern plains of the country, surrounded by forests.
Buddha was believed to be born in Lumbini as Prince Sidhartha,
when his mother Queen Mahamaya of Kapilbastu stopped to rest on
her way to her parent's palace in a neighboring country some 2,600
years ago. People here also believe that she chose the place because
of its peaceful setting. Although there are no cities or heavy
population nearby, there are plans to develop the area, with gardens,
trees, canal, accommodation facilities and even a library. Adequate
lodging is available to the visitor and pilgrims, including a
luxury hotel made by the Japanese.
Must See Places:
Trekking in Nepal will take you through a country that has captured
the imagination of mountaineers and explorers for more than 100
years. You will meet people in remote mountain villages whose
lifestyle has not changed in generations. Most people trust foreigners.
Nepal is one of only a handful of countries that has never been
ruled by a foreign power.
Many of the values associated with a hiking trip at home do not
have the same importance during a trek in Nepal. Isolation is
traditionally a crucial element of any wilderness experience but
in Nepal it is impossible to get completely away from people,
except for short times or at extremely high elevations. Environmental
concerns must include the effects of conservation measures on
rural people and the economic effects of tourism on indigenous
populations. Even traditional national park management must be
adapted because there are significant population centres within
Sagarmatha (Mt Everest) and Langtang national parks.
Trekking does not mean mountain climbing. While the ascent of
a Himalayan peak may be an attraction for some, you need not have
such a goal to enjoy a trek. As far as most people are concerned,
trekking always refers to walking on trails.
While trekking you will see the great diversity of Nepal. Villages
embrace many ethnic groups and cultures. The terrain changes from
tropical jungle to high glaciated peaks in only 150 km. From the
start, the towering peaks of the Himalayas provide one of the
highlights of a trek. As your plane approaches Kathmandu these
peaks appear to be small clouds on the horizon. The mountains
become more definable and seem to reach impossible heights as
you get closer and finally land at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport.
During a trek, the Himalayas disappears behind Nepal's continual
hills, but dominates the northern skyline at each pass. Annapurna,
Manaslu, Langtang, Gauri Shankar and Everest will become familiar
names. Finally, after weeks of walking, you will arrive at the
foot of the mountains themselves - astonishing heights from which
gigantic avalanches tumble earthwards in apparent slow motion,
dwarfed by their surroundings. Your conception of the Himalayas
alters as you turn from peaks famed only for their height to gaze
on far more picturesque summits that you may never have heard
of - Kantega, Ama Dablam, Machhapuchhare and Kumbhakarna.
Whether you begin your trek at a roadhead or fly into a remote
mountain airstrip, a large part of it will be in the Middle Hills
region at elevations between 500 and 3000 metres. In this region,
there are always well-developed trails through villages and across
mountain passes. Even at high altitudes there are intermittent
settlements used during summer by shepherds, so the trails, though
often indistinct, are always there. You can easily travel on any
trail without the aid of ropes or mountaineering skills. There
are rare occasions when there is snow on the trail, and on some
high passes it might be necessary to place a safety line for your
companions or porters if there is deep snow. Still, alpine techniques
are almost never used on a traditional trek. Anyone who has walked
extensively in the mountains has all the skills necessary for
an extended trek in Nepal.
Though some treks venture near glaciers, and even cross the foot
of them, most treks do not allow the fulfilment of any Himalayan
mountaineering ambitions. Nepal's mountaineering regulations allow
trekkers to climb 18 specified peaks with a minimum of formality,
but you must still make a few advance arrangements for such climbs.
Many agents offer so-called climbing treks which include the ascent
of one of these peaks as a feature of the trek. There are a few
peaks that, under ideal conditions, are within the resources of
individual trekkers. A climb can be arranged in Kathmandu if conditions
are right, but a climb of one of the more difficult peaks should
be planned well in advance.
Common Areas for Trekking
- The Everest Region
- Everest Expedition Route
- Instant Everest
- The Khumbu Traverse
- Annapurna Region
- Jomsom Trek
- Annapurna Sanctuary
- Around Annapurna
- The Royal Trek
- Trek to the Kingdom of Mustang
- Central Nepal
- Langtang and Gosainkund Trek
- Jugal Himal
- Around Manaslu
- Eastern Nepal
- East of Everest
- Kanchenjunga South Base Camp
- Makalu Base Camp
- Western Nepal
- Jumla to Rara Lake
- Jumla to Dolpo
- Humla to Mt Kailas
Altitude Sickness, Hepatitis, Malaria (This occurs in low-lying
areas only), Meningococcal Meningitis (This occurs in the Kathmandu
Valley region), Typhoid