A small country with mesmerizing natural beauty and a deeply rooted culture, Nepal is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. The Himalayas to the north of the country are the pride of the nation and are some of the highest mountains in the world. Owing to its natural diversity, Nepal is famous for trips like treks, hikes, tours, peak climbing, and expeditions along with adventure sports like paragliding, zip-lining, rafting, bungee jumping and so on.
The diverse cultures with each their traditions and culture are also a special feature of Nepal. Ancient cultural monuments and artefacts make travellers stare in awe as they relive the history of Nepal. No matter what cultural background though; the people of Nepal are always ready to welcome guests with open hands and warm smiles.
Location: Wedged between India and China, the small country lies in Southeast Asia.
Geography: Nepal is rich with diverse geography which includes fertile Gangetic plains, subalpine forested hills, and the Great Himalayan Range. As such, these geographical landscapes divide the country into three different regions, namely, the Himalayas, the Hills, and the Terai.
Capital: The beautiful city of Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal.
Area: Nepal covers a total area of 147,181 square Kilometers.
Population: The estimated population of Nepal as of 2019 is 29.3 million.
Political System: Nepal follows a Federal Democratic Republic System with a multiparty system.
Major Religion: Most of the population in Nepal follows Hinduism. Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity are some of the other major religions in the country.
Time Zone: The time zone of Nepal is GMT+5:45.
Official Language: The official language of Nepal is Nepali.
Working Hours: The working hours for private firms are mostly from 9 AM to 5 PM. Government working hours, however, start from 10 AM and ends at 4 PM.
Electricity: The standard voltage in Nepal is 230 V and electricity is available almost everywhere throughout the country except in some exceptionally rural areas.
There are two ways that a traveller can procure a Nepalese Visa. You can either fill out the application for the On-arrival visa at the entry/exit points or issue the visa from Nepalese Diplomatic Missions stationed in your country. The visa applied through Nepalese Diplomatic Missions needs to be used within 6 months of issue.
The price for the ‘On Arrival Visa’ depends on the number of days.
There is also the provision of Gratis Visa i.e. free visa for children under the age of 10 years, SAARC nationals except for nationals of Afghanistan, NRN and Chinese Nationals. For SAARC countries the Visa is free only for 30 days and only if it is the first time they are travelling in the given Visa year.
The extension costs 45 USD for 15 days and additional days from that cost 3 USD per day. A delay of fewer than 150 days will cost you 5 USD per day.
International flights are only available through the only International airport i.e. the Tribhuvan International Airport. If you are planning on travelling to Nepal by air then TIA is your only option. Flights can be boarded from India, Dubai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur among many other destinations.
Travelling by land you have two options, via India and China. There is also a direct railway line connecting India and Nepal along with several bus facilities for travelling across the border from India.
Travelling by road through India is the most easily accessible. You can travel to Nepal through Sunauli- Bhairahawa, Raxaul – Birgunj, Siliguri- Kakarbhitta, Banbasa – Mahendranagar, or Bahraich- Nepalgunj. Kodari and Kerung are two entry/exit points stationed at the Nepal-Tibet border.
Popular Destinations to Visit
The tallest mountains in the world are one of the very first destinations that come to mind when you think of Nepal. As such expeditions to mountains like Mt. Everest (8848m), Cho Oyu (8188m), Annapurna I (8091m), and Ama Dablam (6856m) among others. Peak climbing trips to mountains below the height of 6500m are also popular in Nepal. However, the treks to view the highest mountains are a rave and the most popular adventure sports in Nepal. Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp treks are the most popular among the many mountain viewing treks.
You can also visit Pokhara, the tourist capital of the country and one of the most popular destinations with places to enjoy trekking, hiking, adventure sports, and cultural tours as well. You can also plan your destination around the places famous for adventure sports like Zip lining in Pokhara and Dhulikhel. Likewise, Lumbini- the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Dharan, Bandipur, and Palpa are some of the popular destinations for tours as well. Speaking of tours, the UNESCO world heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley can’t be left out of the equation while searching for places to enjoy in Nepal. The valley alone boasts 7 of the 10 world heritage sites in the world.
The national parks, conservation areas, and wildlife reserves have a charm of their own with thousands of species of wild animals and birds along with a variety of flora that decorates the lands. These natural reserves are not only famous as trekking destinations but also as destinations to enjoy activities like yoga and meditation. Chitwan National Park and Bardia National Park are two of the most popular destinations to enjoy the biodiversity and jungle safari in the country.
Internet and Communication in the Country
Internet and communication in popular tourist destinations are well managed in Nepal. Major cities are well facilitated when it comes to connectivity. Most of the hotels in these cities also provide internet facilities as a service. However, connectivity in higher altitudes and rural areas is not that good.
In such situations, cellular data is the most beneficial and reliable way to access the Internet. Ncell and NTC are the biggest telecommunication providers in the country. You can easily use 3G and 4G services across the country.
Local Currency and Foreign Exchange
The official currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NRs). The banknotes in Nepal are available in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000. Similarly, coins of NRs 1 and 2 are also used in the country. Using local currency is the best way to go when travelling in Nepal. It is beneficial to have cash while you are especially when travelling to rural areas. While Banks and ATMs are easily available in the major cities, the rural areas do not see similar availability. So, it is best to withdraw and exchange enough cash when you have easy access.
You can find exchange booths inside the international airport where you can exchange your currency or you can get them exchanged in one of the many banks in Kathmandu. All you will need is a photocopy of your passport and you are set to exchange your currency. Banks have more forms to fill than exchange booths but they work on the published exchange rate which is more accurate. Feel free to be informed about the currency exchange rates which are available at the official website of Nepal Rastra Bank at http://nrb.org.np/fxmexchangerate.php/.
Weather and Climate
Nepal experiences diverse weather courtesy to the major seasons. Autumn, spring, summer/monsoon, and winter all present their own set of weather conditions in Nepal. Autumn and spring are the best seasons for indulging in trekking activities as the weather is clearer and the temperature is also moderate. Autumn in Nepal lasts from September to November and spring starts in March and ends in April.
Summer/monsoon starts in June and lasts till the start of August. It is greeted by the scorching sun with heavy rain and longer days and is best for small cultures. However, most trekkers avoid the monsoon rain as the roads are slippery and dangerous and the sun is mostly hidden under a thick layer of clouds making it harder for flights to navigate. Winter (December to February) is a different experience altogether with the cold temperature showing you a side of Nepal not seen in any other seasons.
People Culture and Festivals
One thing in common with Nepalese no matter what culture they are following is their hospitality. Nepalese abide by their ethos that “Guests are our gods” so, be ready to be greeted with shy but warm smiles and helpful hands in your journey.
Owing to the diverse cultural following, Nepal, people in Nepal follow different cultures, traditions, and religions and still live with a sense of togetherness. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity are widely followed in the country, with Hindus and Buddhists having the highest numbers.
Different ethnic groups living in different regions follow their own set of traditions and enjoy their festivals. Dashain and Tihar are the main festivals celebrated in Nepal along with Chhat, Eid, Buddha Jayanti, Holi, Christmas, Jatra, and many more.