Nepal's acronym of Never Ending Peace And Love, does well to characterize this nation of good natured and accommodating people; a land of majestic Himalayan scenery comprising eight of the world's ten highest mountains, including Mt Everest: the uppermost place on earth at 29,029ft (8,848m).
Situated between India and Tibet, the Kingdom of Nepal is filled with as many different ethnic groups, customs and traditions as it is diverse in geography. From the hot Indian plains and steamy southern Tarai lowlands, the terrain crosses the Kathmandu Valley and rises to the frozen heights of the Himalayan peaks towards the Tibetan plateau known as the 'roof of the world'. Spread across these varied altitudes are communities of colorful cultures and people (many untouched by modern development), animated cities and towns, and far-flung mountain villages. Life here revolves around an intricate intermingling of ancient Hindu and Buddhist religious rituals. Numerous festivals are celebrated throughout the year colored by a diversity of religious and tribal traditions. The capital of Kathmandu brings an assortment of these different societies together into a vibrant collection of brilliant sights and exotic smells, with modern shops co-existing with street sellers, while pyramidal Buddhist temples, holy Sadhus of the Hindu faith and medieval palace squares fill the urban landscape.
Nepal is well endowed with glorious scenery - verdant terraced valleys, rushing rivers and ice-blue lakes that originate in the 'abode of snows', or Himalayas. The uplifting sight of soaring mountains is a magnet for mountaineers and trekkers, offering some of the greatest challenges and most scenic walking opportunities on earth. Its diverse terrain offers tremendous opportunities for adventurous activities, and although mountain climbing and trekking are the most popular, there is also superb white-water rafting on steep mountain rivers, as well as elephant-back safaris or tiger tracking in the Royal Chitwan and Royal Bardia National Parks situated within the jungles of the southern Tarai belt.
Nepal has many attractions, but the essence of the country is its smiling, friendly people with their heartfelt palm-pressed greetings, and together with its inspiring scenery, this beguiling kingdom is a place where one visit is usually not enough to satisfy the captivated traveler.
Nepali is the official language. English is spoken in all major tourist areas.
Nepal has numerous cultural practices that are unusual to 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. Never accept or offer anything, or eat with the left hand. Do not eat from someone else's plate or offer food from one's own. Women should dress conservatively and cover 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.
Restaurants and hotels may add 10% to bills in which case no further tip is required; otherwise a 10% tip is customary in places that cater to tourists. It is customary to tip guides and porters on treks. Elsewhere it is not customary to tip, but gratuities are always appreciated.
The Nepalese are warm and friendly, and business tends to be conducted with a combination of formality and sincerity. Much time is given to small talk and socializing. Handshakes are fairly common, though one should wait to see if greeted with a hand, or a namaste - a traditional greeting of a small bow accompanied by hands clasped as if in prayer. Visitors should return the greeting. 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, though discussions in Nepali may occur between Nepalese themselves within a meeting. Business hours are usually 9.30am or 10am to 5pm Sunday to Thursday (closing at 4pm in winter). Saturday is a holiday.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two- and three-pin plugs are used.
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). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)1 for Kathmandu and (0)41 for Pokhara. Two mobile phone operators provide GSM 900 network coverage in the main cities and towns, but this does not extend to the summit of Mount Everest! In the main tourist centers of Kathmandu and Pokhara there are Internet cafes on every corner.
The Kathmandu Valley has a mild climate most of the year, situated at an altitude of 4,297ft (1,310m). Summer temperatures range from 67-81°F (19-27°C), and in winter temperatures are between 36 and 68°F (2-20°C). During the rainy monsoon season between June and August, there is an average rainfall of between 7.8-14.7 inches (200-375mm) in Kathmandu. May and June can be very hot and humid until the monsoon rains bring relief. In spring (March to April) and autumn (October to November) the temperatures are pleasant with occasional short bursts of rain, while November to February are dry, but can be very cold, especially at night.
Royal Nepalese Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Canada): +1 202 667 4550.
Royal Nepalese Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (0)20 7229 1594/6231.
Royal Nepalese Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6162 1554.
Foreign Embassies in Nepal:
United States Embassy, Kathmandu: +977 (0)1 400 7200.
British Embassy, Kathmandu: +977 (0)1 441 0583.
Nepal Emergency Numbers:
Emergencies:100 (Police); 228094 (Ambulance)
Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM)
Location: The airport is situated four miles (6km) east of Kathmandu.
Passport & Visa Requirements:
Avoid the stress and queues, get a visa agency to arrange your visa.
Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens must have a passport and visa.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport and visa.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians must have a passport and visa.
Entry requirements for Australians: Australians must have a passport and visa.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans must have a passport and visa.
Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a passport and visa.
Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport and visa.
Passport/Visa Note: Tourist visas can be issued on arrival to most nationalities. A 60-day visa costs US$30 and a 150-day/multiple-entry visa costs US$80. Tourist visas are valid for Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara Valley and Tiger Tops in Chitwan. Visitors intending to trek or visit other areas should obtain a permit from the Central Immigration Office.
Travel Visa Pro, San Francisco, USA. 1-888-470-8472 or www.TravelVisaPro.com
Nepal Tourist Office, Kathmandu: +977 (0)1 4256909 or www.welcomenepal.com
Travelers to Nepal do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or the equivalent in other tobacco products; 1 litre of alcohol and perfume for personal use. It is illegal to export goods that are over 100 years old.
Note: Please verify the above information from relevant government and authorized websites. - Nepal Ireland Society