Nepal is a landlocked country located in South Asia with China in the north and India in the south, east and west. Famous for its highest point Mt. Everest (8,848.86 m), the country is divided into three main geographical regions: Himalayan region, mid Hill region and the Tarai region
Nepal is an incredibly religious and diverse country. Its population is made up of more than 29 millions of people, with over 100 ethnic groups, living in different regions with costumes and languages. The geographical distribution of religious groups revealed a share of 86.5 percent of Hinduism, 7.8 percent of Buddhism, 3.5 percent of Muslim and 2.2 percent of other religion. There has also been an increase in the number of Christians in Nepal in recent years.
The politics here in Nepal functions within the framework of a parliamentary republic with a multi-party system following the abolition of the monarchy in 2008 and the passing of a new constitution in 2015. Nepal has had a federal democratic republican state since 28 May 2008. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and his/her cabinet, while legislative power is vested in the Parliament. Nepal has been divided into 7 provinces, 77 districts and 753 local levels.
Climate & Clothing: Nepal lies at roughly the same latitude as Saudi Arabia or Florida. Due to its extreme topography, however, it has a much wider range of climate zones than those places due to various altitude levels. Only warm clothing including sweater & jacket will be required in Kathmandu during the conference in December.
Temperature Chart (in Celsius)
Rainfall Chart (in mm.)
|Chance of a dry day||95%||91%||93%||85%||74%||54%||33%||37%||62%||88%||98%||99%|
|Hours of sunshine||5:54||5:39||7:37||9:30||5:43||4:54||2:37||2:23||3:18||5:12||5:12||5:06|
Time Zone: Nepal Standard Time is GMT+0545 Hours.
Visa: In accordance with the law, citizens of all countries except India require a visa to enter Nepal. All the necessary services for Visas are available at the embassies and consulates abroad. A visa for Nepal can be obtained on arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, issued by the Department of Immigration upon the recommendation of line agency (Ministry of Education). To renew a Visa a student can visit to the Department of Immigration. Usually a student can apply for tourist visa or student visa. Both are issued for maximum of one year as per the recommendation but in case of student visa, the time for visa might depend on the length of study. If one wishes to extend visa, usually tourist visa extension is done for minimum 15 days with USD 45 and USD 3 per day for additional days. In case of delay of less than 150 days, additional USD 5 per day will be charged as a late fine.
Embassies and Consulates: A student is encouraged to register their details at his/her respective embassy just in case of emergency. The embassy support staff is typically made up to assist a foreign citizen with information on Visa, health guidelines or in case of emergencies. The Consular Section at the Embassy can assist when a foreign citizen in Nepal is arrested, missing, a victim of violent crime, becomes ill or dies, or when there is otherwise a need for immediate help. All other information on services of embassies and consulate are provided on and individual country’s website.
Language: Nepali is the mostly used official language in Nepal. However travel, trade and most of the literate people understand and speak English. Maithili is the second most spoken language in Nepal. Out of the 129 languages, only 19 of them have more than 100,000 speakers. Gurung, Newari, Yadav, Rai are some of the widely spoken languages in Nepal.
Calendar: Nepal is one of the few countries in the world that uses a lunar calendar. Nepal’s official calendar is the Vikram Samvat. The Vikram Samvat is actually a lunar-solar calendar used by government and private sectors.
Electricity: All electrical outlets in the hotels and other areas are 220 to 240 volts, 50 cycles, continental plugs. For Multi-voltage appliances like laptops, plug adaptor is needed. For 110 to 120 electronics, plug adaptor plus step-down transformer is necessary.
Heads up: Nepal has frequent power outages, often multiple times per day. There’s a general lack of basic utilities like electricity, water, power, communication, etc. even in the capital city.
Internet Connection: The internet connection in Nepal can vary from high-speed and modern to completely absent, depending on the place you are in. For an 8 MB Internet Connection, you will be required to pay US$ 22 per month.
Business Hours: Business hours are from 10am to 5pm in the summer and 10am to 4pm in the winter from Sunday to Thursday and until 3 pm on Fridays. Saturday is the weekly holiday in Nepal. Malls, shops and markets are generally open from 10am to 7pm.
Healthcare: Despite having both public and private healthcare services, the standard of medical care in Nepal falls well below the international standards. Facilities are limited and disease and illnesses are rife in many parts of the country. Kathmandu possesses the most modern hospitals and clinics compared to other cities. Cholera, Meningitis, Tetanus & Diphtheria, Typhoid and Gamma Globulin are some of the vaccinations that should be considered for your trip. Please consult your physician and get a complete check-up before your departure.
Health Insurance: Students are highly recommended to take out private health insurance to gain access to higher standard of care in the case of a medical emergency. Make sure the insurance covers the activities that you will be undertaking during your stay in Nepal such as trekking or river-rafting. But then if you feel health insurance would be too much for your short stay, it’s always a good idea to look out for yourself.
Prevention the Best Medicine: Care in what you eat and drink is the most important health rule. The number one rule is ‘don’t consume the water including ice’. Reputable brands of bottled water or soft drinks are generally fine. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if water may have been added.
Milk should be treated with suspicion as it is often unpasteurized. Boiled milk is fine if it is kept hygienically, and yogurt is usually good. Tea or coffee should also be OK since the water would have been boiled. Salads and fruit should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Ice cream is usually OK if it is a reputable brand name, but beware of ice cream that has melted and been refrozen. Thoroughly cooked food is the safest but not if it has been left to cool. Stomach upsets are the most likely travel health problem but the majority of these upsets will be relatively minor. Wash your hands frequently, as it’s quite easy to contaminate your own food. You should clean your teeth with purified water rather than straight from the tap. Avoid climatic extremes: keep out of the sun when it is hot, dress warmly when it is cold. Avoid potential diseases by dressing sensibly. You can get worm infections through bare feet. Try to avoid insect bites by covering bare skin when insects are around, by screening windows or by using insect repellents.
Food & Beverage: Rice is the staple food is usually eaten two time during the day in Nepal served with curries, lentils and pickles. However, most international cuisines are available in hotels and restaurants in Kathmandu and Pokhara at reasonable prices. Mineral water is available everywhere you go, from street vendors to shopping centers.
Eat Outs: The cost of a meal in Nepal depends on where you want to eat and if you want to be thrifty, but generally speaking, a meal in an inexpensive restaurant in Nepal costs around 2$ which is rather cheap. But if you go to a tourist restaurant, expect the prices to go from around 5$ and up. Note that few restaurants include government taxes (13 percent) and service charges (10 percent) in their menu prices. So, tipping is not actually required.
Some of the local food and drinks of Nepal includes momo, chowmein, pani-puri, chatpatey, lassi, chyaang or tongba (alcoholic beverage). You can also indulge yourself in variety of food that Newari culture has to provide.
Heads up- Beef is strictly banned from the menu of most of the restaurants since cow is a holy animal. But few of the restaurants still serve them. But you cannot expect the same quality you get in your home country.
Rented Accommodations: If a student decides to take one of the internship programs of Rajkarnicar Institute, the accommodation cost will be included in the fees itself. If one decides to extend their stay in Nepal, there are options of renting an apartment as well. When it comes to renting an apartment, it is noticeably cheaper than in most countries of the world. Of course, it does depend on the neighborhood where you want to rent, but regardless of the area, it is noticeably cheap to rent an apartment anywhere in Nepal. An apartment in the center of one of the cities may cost around $150 a month.
Heating and Cooling: Most of the houses and rented apartment do not have the central heating and cooling system. Few multinational companies and banks only have the central heating and cooling system installed in their premises.
Utilities Bills: All basic utilities charges such as electricity, heating, cooling and water are included in the fees of Rajkarnicar Institute’s fee itself. Usually, for a larger apartment of about 85 sq. m, utility amount to a little bit over $30 which is very cheap compared to other countries.
Money: The Nepalese rupee (Rs.) is subdivided into 100 paisa (p). Many international currencies including the US dollar and pound sterling are readily accepted, and in Nepal the Indian rupee is also like a hard currency, but only accepted in few places. There are banknotes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 rupees and similarly coins are of 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupee but 5 and 10 are rarely used.
When you first arrive in Nepal, you will find exchange counters at the international terminal at Kathmandu Airport. You can find those government-certified money changers in Thamel, Chaksibari and Durbar Square in Kathmandu. Most banks accept all major currencies and serve customers 6 days a week. The exchange rates fluctuate on a daily basis so it is highly suggested to keep yourself updated on the rates.
ATM Machines: ATM machines are widely available in and outside Kathmandu for drawing cash from credit cards and debit cards. All major international credit cards such as VISA Card, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted and bank that accepts these cards includes Standard Chartered, Everest Bank, Nabil Bank and Himalayan Bank.
Communication Facilities: International calling centers and cyber cafes are widely available in Kathmandu. Internet access and international calls should also be available in all hotels and offices.
Postal Service: National postal service is available but since it is in dire need of re-organization so it is not reliable. However, various international courier services for international shipping and courier delivery services such as Federal Express, TNT, DHL, City Express, or even Namaste Cargo Nepal are available.
Public Toilets: Answering nature’s call can be quite tricky. There is a significant dearth of public latrines in Nepal and among which available, most of them are in miserable sanitary condition. Squatty toilets are most common in Nepal, but Western toilets are relatively easy to find. Squatty toilet is pretty much just a hole in the ground with space for your feet on either side. You squat and use it to do your business, and then you clean up with the provided bucket of water and perfectly clean cup.
News: Most national and international news are right on the palm of our hands, all thanks to the ever developing technology. But news channels such as BCC or CNN are also broadcasted in the Nepali television network for latest international news.
Transportation: If you really want to get a feel of the pulse of the city, try local transportation like public buses, battery run EV Tempos which helps you get around easier and are quite cheap as well. However, not all points in the cities are served by public transportation and fixed timings are practically non-existent. Taxi starting tariff costs less than 2$. Another easy option is “Pathoa” or “Tootle” service which is very much similar to “Uber”. They are quite in the affordable side too.
Mountain bikes and ordinary bicycles are cheap and the best form of transportation for economy tourists. One can hire them at Thamel and Jhochhen (Freak Street), all in Kathmandu. Mountain bikes can also be hired around Pokhara.
There is no drive-yourself rental cars available in Nepal but one can easily hire cars with drivers. Cars being expensive in Nepal compared to other countries, the “no-so-good” road condition and the driving side being on the right hand compared to American left-handed are some of the reason why self drive car rental is not available in Nepal.
Sports and leisure: You won’t need to cash out huge amounts of money to spend quality leisure time in Nepal. You can go to a movie for a fairly low price, and if you’re into sports – pay a monthly fee for a fitness club, which is just a bit more than 20$.
If one wants to travel around, you can visit most beautiful places in just an hour drive from the city areas. You will get to do a lot of sightseeing on your day offs as well. A planning of day trip to explore nature, art, culture, food, architecture and adventure activities is very easy and much more affordable too.
Crime: If one encounters with a crime scene, then you can dial 100 for the emergency police service. If you get caught up in any emergency, the consulate will also be able to help you through the situation.
Emergencies: If you’re unlucky enough to be involved in an accident or suffer a sudden serious illness, here are some necessary emergency help numbers.
|Bir Hospital, Kathmandu||4223807, 4221988|
|Ambulance Bishal Bazar, Kathmandu||4244121|
Besides this, you can always dial 197 for any necessary contact details if you are a NTC (Nepal Telecom Corporation, state owned telecommunication service provider in Nepal) sim holder.
It’s advisable to keep a record of the telephone numbers of doctors, ambulance, fire control, police and other emergencies service saved on your cell phone.
Dos and Don’ts in Nepal
- People usually eat with their hands, scooping and serving themselves with the right hand.
- “Jutho” termed “unclean” or “not kosher” when something or some food and beverage is touched by a person’s mouth or saliva. Nepalese will not drink or eat from the same plate or glasses that you are using. They will not bite off the same apple or sip off the same beer bottle of yours. Nothing racial, just traditional hygiene ethics – works well in containing the spread of diseases such as cold flu, TB, HIV, coronavirus.
- On entering a Nepalese home, it is polite to remove your shoes. Some westernized Nepalese might not do it, but it is much appreciated.
- Public displays of affection are not considered polite.
- Nepalese are not comfortable with nudity, many still take bath or shower with underwear on even inside the privacy of bathrooms. It is not recommended swimming naked in the rivers and lakes here.
- It is not customary to go Dutch when friends go out for meals or drinks. Those considered guest such as you will not be allowed to pay the bill. Even among the Nepalese themselves, they take turns paying for the whole group or simply someone is feeling rich enough to pay for all.