Travel guide to Nepal

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Everest is a dream ... of natural indulgent grandiosity. Mountaineers from all over the world gather in Nepal to climb the highest mountain in the world (over 5 miles high) - others simply trek to Base Camp and try and see just what it is all about. This place has a compulsion - to many it is a kind of pilgrimage, a true meeting place with the immensity of nature.

Facts

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Capital
Kathmandu (700,000)
Size
147,181 sq km
Principal Languages
Nepali
Principal Religion
The Nepalese are flexible with regard to their religious position. The main religion is Hinduism combined with Buddhist philosophy to varying degrees.
Inhabitants
23,000,000
Government
Constitutional monarchy.
Geography
Nepal borders up to India in the south and China in the north. It's a small country situated on the edge of the Tibetan plateau in the Himalayas, so it's a mountainous country with some of the world's highest mountains.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

Nepal can be visited at all times of the year, but because of the rainy season (mid-June to September) it makes a difference when you go there. From October to November the weather is perfect, with a clear blue sky, clear air and a pleasant temperature. The period between February and April is the second-best time to go there, as it is dry, bright and the flowers are blossoming. The winter is cool and the summer with the monsoon is warm and everything is shrouded in rainy clouds.

Literature

Lonely Planet Nepal

Local conditions

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Currency

Nepalese Rupees (NRs)

Net cafes

The tourist area of Thamel in Kathmandu is filled with internet cafés where you can surf the net inexpensively. The connections are fast and the places well maintained. Youll find internet connections in all larger town where there are tourists.

In case of emergency

To call for help in Nepal, dial the following numbers: In Kathmandu: Police 226998 el. 226999 Ambulance 211959 Red Cross 228094 Rest of Nepal: Emergency 100

Tipping

Although tips are becoming more common as the tourist industry grows, it is only expected in the more expensive restaurants. Never tip taxi drivers or rickshaw drivers, but agree on the price in advance. Remember to tip the carriers about 100 NRs a day when going trekking. Most goods are up for haggling.

Timezone

When it is 12.00 in the UK, it is 17.45 in Nepal.

Weight and Measures

The following units of measurement are used in Nepal: Length: metre.

Photography

Everything in Nepal makes good photographic material. Beautiful nature, impressive buildings, flora and fauna, but some of the most photogenic and interesting are the inhabitants. Pretty children, women in colourful saris, older people with weather-beaten faces. Just remember that you are not in a zoo. Many tourists do not respect the local inhabitants because "they're poor anyway", but do ask if you can take a photo, and remember that no means no. If they ask for a copy, of course you will have to send them one when the photos are developed. Respect people who are in the middle of religious devotion - this moment is important to them and should never be taken as trivial.

Drinking water

You cannot drink the tap water in Nepal, but buy bottled water instead. If you want to be on the safe side, avoid ice cubes and don't brush your teeth with the water either.

Electricity

The following current is used in Nepal: 220 volt, 50 Hz.

Behaviour

Nepal is a safe country, even for single women, but avoid dressing provocatively anyway. You should of course respect the country's culture and traditions. Never eat with your left hand, as the locals use their left hand when going to the bathroom. Show respect at places of worship, and never give beggars any money, especially children. Instead allow people to work change, as in polishing shoes, selling gum and cigarettes. It is a poor country and giving money to a child only encourages them to beg as a way of life instead of working for themselves.

Business Hours

The shops opening hours differ a lot, but most are open between 9.00 and 18.00. Banks are open 10.00-17.00. Exchange offices in Thamel (tourist area in Kathmandu) are open most of the evening. Public offices close early on Fridays. Saturday is the weekly holyday.

Food and drink

Dal Bath is the most popular dish in Nepal and consists of lentil soup, rice and curried vegetables. In Kathmandu you can get all types of food, from Italian to Indian and Japanese. Generally speaking Nepalese food is simple but nutritious and tasty. Tea (chai) with milk and lots of sugar is the national drink.

Disabled travellers

Nepal is not an easy country to go as a disabled person. Bad roads, lots of steps and stairs and kerbstones make it difficult, but where there is a will there will be a way..

Holidays

The Birthday of Prithivi Narayan Shahs, 10 or 11 January Basanta Panchami, late January or early February Shiva Raatri, late February or early march Democracy Day, 18 or 19 February Nawa Barsa (Nepalese New Year), 13 or 14 April Guru Purnima, late June or early July Janai Purnima, late July or early August Dasain, October Tihaar, Three days in late October or early November The Queen's Birthday, 7 and 8 November Constitution Day, 15 or 16 December The King's Birthday, 28 or 29 DecemberNepal has its own calendar, which begins in the middle of April, has 12 months in it and is out of step with the western calendar.

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

Only Kathmandu and Pokhara has actual camping sites, but when going rafting or trekking you often have to camp by the river.

Hotels

Hotels are not necessarily better than the good guesthouses, so don't feel intimidated. The government has introduced a five-star system, which often says more about the price than the quality.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

Guesthouses in Nepal offer cheap and simple accommodation, with toilet and shower in the room or in the hall.

Local transport

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Planes

Because of the country's rough and at some points impassable nature, domestic flights are an obvious possibility if the weather allows it.

Bus

As the most common means of transport, there are several departures between the larger cities. The buses are a demanding but fantastic experience. Try sitting on the top.

Taxi

Normal taxis, bicycle rickshaws and moped taxis can be hailed in the streets. You should bargain the price and agree on it before the ride. Some taxis have taxi-meters, and shared taxis also function as mini buses between the towns.

Car rental

Cars can be rented in several places, but it is safest to use the internationally known companies. It is also possible to rent a car with a driver, which in some cases can be a good idea.

Special conditions

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Even though Nepal is a safe country to travel in, theft also occurs here as it does anywhere else in the world. Watch your belongings and avoid tempting any poor souls. Maoist revolutionary guerrillas in the mid-western part of Nepal have caused disturbances from time to time. You should check out the latest advice on the situation here through the Foreign Office.

Find your travel arrangement to Nepal here

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