Best time to go: October to December and February to April
Best for: Trekking, Religious Buildings, UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Travellers still visit Kathmandu in search of enlightenment, but these days, the hippies are joined by hordes of trekkers, clad in the latest mountaineering gear, and well-to-do tour groups, marvelling at the medieval temples and palaces of old Kathmandu.
The capital is fairly small when compared to other cities in South Asia. It is a fascinating old city where pagodas, narrow cobbled lanes, old carved windows and stone shrines abound.
Things to do in Nepal include mountaineering, trekking, rafting, shopping and visiting museums and galleries.
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Official Name: Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Local Official Name: Sanghiya Loktāntrik Ganatantra Nepāl
Capital: Kathmandu (KTM)
Currency: Nepalese Rupee (NPR). Tourist activities are often quoted and payable in USD.
Language: Nepali. English may be spoken.
Dialling code from SA: +977
Time Zone: UTC / GMT +5.45 (3.45 hours ahead of South Africa)
Side of the Road: Left
Plugs: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. There are frequent power cuts. Plugs usually have two or three round pins.
Drinking Water: All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Milk is unpasteurised. When trekking, it is recommend to purify water rather than take bottled water.
Health: The standard of medical facilities varies. It is advisable to carry basic medical supplies. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended and it should include emergency air evacuation coverage. If you require any medication on your travels it is best to bring it with you, in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it.
Customs: Respect should be shown to religious and traditional customs. Inside tourist areas, the locals are more tolerant of visitors, but outside of these areas, visitors should be sensitive to local cultural practices. The form of greeting in Nepal is “Namaste” performing by joining both palms together. Nepalese do not eat beef. Nepal is a patriarchal society and uses a caste system. Shoes should be removed when entering religious buildings or homes. Do not use your feet to point to something. The right hand should be used for eating, greeting and exchanging items. Some Hindu temples do not allow non-Hindus to enter, and leather articles are not allowed in some temples. Public displays of affection should be avoided. In general, photography inside temples is not allowed.
Local Offences / Laws: It is prohibited to take local currency outside of Nepal.
Travel Tips / Warnings: Check the local political situation before travelling. ATM’s are not available in the mountains. Avoid demonstrations and political gatherings.
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Nepal by foreign visitors without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars and 50g of tobacco
• 1.15L of spirits or wine and 12 cans of beer
• Medicine not exceeding Rs1,000
• Fruits or canned food not exceeding Rs1,000 each
All baggage must be declared on arrival and departure. Certain goods including cameras, videos and electronic goods may only be imported duty-free if they are exported on departure. They may not be left in Nepal.
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited items include narcotics, beef and plastic bags less than 20 microns thick. Restricted items include firearms and ammunition, radio equipment and poppy seeds.
Prohibited Exports: Goods of historical, archaeological or religious importance, wild fauna, narcotics, firearms and ammunition, and certain herbs and woods.