Things to know before traveling to Nepal: Dos & Donts

Things to know before traveling to Nepal: Dos & Donts
Photo by Precondo CA / Unsplash


Traveling to a new country can be daunting, especially without knowledge of the local language. Nepal is renowned for its breathtaking and diverse landscapes, including the Terai Plains, Hills, and Himalayas, making it an ideal destination for hiking and adventure seekers. For first-time visitors, Nepal offers a rich cultural and religious experience, friendly locals, stunning scenery, and the world's tallest mountains. Nepal's deep-rooted customs and traditions require visitors to show respect and understanding, making cultural etiquette an essential aspect of a meaningful and respectful travel experience.

Things to consider while traveling to Nepal

  1. How to get a visa

For most nationalities, obtaining a tourist visa for Nepal is possible online or upon arrival. However, Indian citizens enjoy freedom of movement in Nepal. Visitors must have a passport valid for at least six months and can stay for a maximum of 150 days per year. The on-arrival visa fees are $30 for 15 days, $50 for 30 days, and $125 for 90 days. Visa extensions are possible for a minimum of 15 days at $45, with an additional $3 per day for extra days. Late fines of $5 per day apply for delays under 150 days. For more details, refer to the Nepal Immigration Website.

a pile of indian currency sitting on top of each other
Photo by Shreyashka Maharjan / Unsplash
  1. Getting local Currency 

The official currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee, which is not widely accepted outside the country. Visitors are advised to exchange their currency upon arrival in Nepal and to exchange any remaining money before leaving the country. It is important to carry cash as many rural areas do not accept cards and ATMs may be scarce. Travelers should exchange only the necessary amount of money for their trip before departing Nepal. Currency exchange can be done at banks, money exchangers, or the airport. 

  1. Getting a local Sim Card

Nepal has made significant strides in improving internet connectivity, particularly in urban areas like Kathmandu and Pokhara, where Wi-Fi is widely available in hotels, restaurants, and cafes, often at no cost. However, internet access in rural areas and during treks in the Himalayas can be sporadic, with satellite connections in tea houses being a common option, usually for a fee. To ensure constant connectivity, it is recommended to purchase a local SIM card. Major providers like NTC (Nepal Telecom) and Ncell offer prepaid SIM cards that are easy to obtain with a passport copy and photo. They cost roughly $0.85. These SIM cards offer calling and data services at reasonable rates. Data packages can be tailored for short-term stays, with daily, weekly, or monthly options available at various data limits. While mobile coverage is generally good in urban areas and main trekking routes, it can be patchy in remote regions. Visitors are advised to inform their contacts about potential periods of unavailability. Additionally, if using a drone, permission from the government is required.

  1. Get a multi plug adapter and power bank

In Nepal, you may encounter various types of plug points, with the most common being two or three round prongs (not the flat prongs used in the USA). The country's electrical system operates at 220V and 50Hz, so if your devices are designed for 110V and 60Hz, you'll need a voltage converter as well. To avoid the inconvenience of not being able to use your electronic devices, it's advisable to carry a universal adapter. These can be easily purchased at electronic stores in cities or at duty-free shops in airports. Due to occasional power shortages, it's also recommended to bring power banks or solar chargers to keep your devices charged while traveling.

  1. Traveling around Nepal

Despite the presence of over 25 ride-sharing apps in Nepal, Pathao and Indrive are the most popular. Pathao operates exclusively in Kathmandu and Chitwan, while Indrive is available in numerous major cities throughout the country. These apps provide a convenient alternative to waiting for taxis, allowing riders to negotiate fares, particularly in the case of Indrive. They also offer riders a rough estimate of the cost, enabling them to negotiate with taxi drivers more effectively.

  1. Transportation delays

In Nepal, transportation delays are frequent, primarily caused by factors like road conditions, weather, and traffic congestion. Rural areas, with less developed infrastructure, often experience more delays. Additionally, domestic flights can be delayed for hours due to weather conditions. To manage these delays, it's recommended to plan your itinerary with extra time, especially for important appointments or connections.

  1. Knowing basic Nepali words

Language can sometimes pose a challenge for travelers in Nepal. However, learning a few basic Nepali words and phrases can greatly enhance your experience. This effort can facilitate interactions with locals and aid in navigation, especially in remote areas where English may not be as widely spoken. While "Namaste" is a common greeting meaning "Hello," expressed by pressing the palms together and bowing slightly, "Dhanyabad" is used to say "Thank you." Another useful phrase is "Kati ho?" which means "How much is it?”

  1. Wearing Face Masks

Travelers are advised to carry a face mask while visiting Nepal, especially in cities with high pollution levels. Wearing a mask can help protect against health risks posed by pollution. In places like Kathmandu and other major cities, it is common to see locals wearing face masks for this reason.

  1. Bargain! 

When traveling in Nepal, it's important to insist that taxi drivers use the meter for fare calculation at the beginning of your journey. Some drivers may overcharge tourists, so it's wise to be vigilant. After 10 PM, taxis might charge double the metered fare, which is generally accepted practice, even among local passengers. Similarly, when shopping at local stores, expect vendors to initially quote higher prices for tourists, so bargaining is recommended.

  1. Drinking Tap Water

In Nepal, it's strongly advised to avoid drinking tap water as it is not safe for consumption. Bottled water is readily available and inexpensive, typically costing around Rs. 15 to 20 (approximately 25 cents). Hotels usually provide complimentary bottled water in guest rooms to ensure safe drinking water for guests.

  1. Dress Codes

In Nepal, it is customary to dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites or rural areas where conservative clothing is preferred. It is best to avoid wearing revealing attire or clothing that exposes too much skin. Carrying a scarf or shawl is advisable for situations requiring additional modesty. While tourist hubs like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan, and Dharan are relatively more accepting of revealing clothes, other cities tend to be more conservative.

  1. Giving Tips 

Tipping is not mandatory in Nepal and is at the discretion of the individual. If you are satisfied with the service provided by workers such as Sherpas or guides, you may choose to give them a small tip. While they will appreciate it, they will not expect or demand it.

  1. High Altitude Sickness 

Altitude sickness can impact anyone, regardless of their health, so it's wise to be prepared. It typically occurs above 2500 meters, so places like Kathmandu (1400m) and much of Nepal are unlikely to cause significant issues. It's advised to stay below 7000 feet on the first day and allow your body time to acclimatize. Avoid strenuous activities, limit alcohol and caffeine intake, drink plenty of water, eat more calories, use sun protection, and bring layers of clothing and medications for altitude sickness. 

  1. Restrooms

While many Western-style hotels, restaurants, and tourist spots in Nepal offer western toilets, most local establishments and public restrooms feature squat toilets. Adjusting to squatting over a hole in the ground may take some getting used to if you're accustomed to sitting on a regular toilet. However, squat toilets are prevalent in this region, so it's advisable to adapt quickly. It's recommended to carry tissue and hand sanitizer for use in public restrooms.

  1. Trekking Permits

To visit Nepal's national parks, you must obtain a TIMS card (Trekkers Information Management Systems) and, depending on the region you plan to explore, an additional permit. Different permits are required for Everest Base Camp, Annapurna, Manaslu, Mustang, and other regions. However, if you opt for a group tour, your tour operator will handle the permit arrangements, alleviating this concern for you.

Do’s and Don'ts

  1. In Nepal, it's important to remove your shoes before entering temples, monasteries, and others' homes, as wearing shoes indoors is considered impolite in many Asian countries.
  2. When giving or receiving something, it's customary to use both hands, which is seen as a sign of respect in Nepalese culture.
  3. When visiting temples, always walk around them in a clockwise direction, and when using prayer wheels in monasteries, rotate them in the same direction.
  4. Solo trekking is discouraged in Nepal due to safety concerns, especially in remote areas. While Nepal offers stunning landscapes and a rich cultural experience, it also poses potential risks such as unpredictable weather, rugged terrain, and limited medical facilities in remote regions. It is advisable to travel in a group or hire a licensed guide from a local travel agency. This ensures added safety and security, allowing travelers to enjoy their journey without worrying about potential hazards.
  5. At Swayambhunath and Pashupatinath Temple, there are many monkeys. It is advised not to provoke them, as they can be aggressive. Avoid taking food in plastic bags or eating in their presence. 
  6. In Nepal, food prices vary depending on the location. Dining at upscale restaurants in tourist areas is more expensive than eating in local areas. On average, a meal can cost anywhere from $1.50 to $50. Restaurants in popular tourist spots like Thamel or Lakeside tend to be pricier compared to those in places like Chitwan or Swayambhu. In mountainous regions, prices are higher due to transportation and labor costs. It's advisable not to bargain for food in these areas as the suppliers work hard to transport food from the cities to these remote locations.
  7. Consider hiring a taxi for convenience, but for a more authentic experience, buses or tuk-tuks are cheaper options. Tourist buses provide comfortable intrastate travel. Domestic flights are available daily for those who prefer faster travel, despite being more costly.
  8. While cities have numerous hospitals, rural areas have limited medical facilities, so it's wise to bring necessary medications. Basic medicines are available at pharmacies without a doctor's prescription for easy access.


Every country has its own unique culture and customs, and Nepal is no exception. With its diverse ethnic groups and traditional beliefs, Nepal has many cultural practices that may seem unfamiliar to first-time visitors. To fully enjoy your stay in this beautiful country of the Himalayas and stunning rivers, it's important to respect and understand its cultural aspects. Nepali culture is distinct from Western culture, so it's essential to be respectful of local customs and norms. When traveling to a new country, we are exposed to many new things that can be overwhelming, so it's helpful to research the place, religion, and culture beforehand to avoid feeling out of place.