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Travel Information Nepal

Visas and Permits

All foreigners (except Indian nationals) require visas, which can be obtained in advance from Royal Nepalese Embassies & Royal Nepalese Consulates abroad or upon arrival at the airport or any entry ports. A single-entry tourist visa costs US$30/50/125 valid for 15/30/90 days. A multiple entry visa costs US$ 20 extra if you are planning for a side trip to India, Bhutan, and Tibet. Visa extension is also available at the immigration office in Kathmandu and Pokhara at the cost of US$45 for a minimum of 15 days extension and US$ 3 per day after that.

Many rural and remote restricted areas especially bordering Tibet require a restricted area permit to trek. The most popular trekking routes like Annapurna, Langtang, and Everest do no require trekking permits but National Park Entry Permits are still applicable. Trekking to Upper Mustang, Manaslu, Kanchenjunga, Tsum valley,  Humla, Narphu valley, and Dolpo region requires restricted area permits. These permits are quite expensive and range from US$10-500 per week. Besides restricted area permit is issued only to a group at least consisting of two members. The permit is valid for the specific person and route and no other than the indicated shall be permitted to be visited.

Medical advice

Travelers should bring prescribed medicine. Common medicine for stomach problems, headaches, and malaria is not available in Kathmandu but may still bring them. Medicine is usually not available in remote areas. So necessary medicine is advisable to carry with you. Before going to Nepal, it is advised to get an injection against typhoid, meningitis, and hepatitis. Malaria is not a problem in the higher area of Nepal but can be found at the lower. Please consult your doctor for more information.

Altitude problem: Often known as acute mountain sickness, is particularly a matter of important medical consideration while trekking the Himalayas. Altitude sickness means the effect of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevations above 3000 meters. Symptoms like headache, nausea, shortness of breath; fatigue, etc can be encountered as initials of the sickness. The major information source on prevention and treatment of the sickness can be obtained from the following links or consult your doctor.
Visit this site for helpful Medical advice in visiting Nepal http://www.ciwec-clinic.com/

When to Go?

It is difficult to generalize the climate and best time to visit Nepal due to altitude variation. October-November is the start of the dry season and is in many ways the best time of year: the weather is balmy, the air is clean, visibility is perfect and the country is lush following the monsoon. February-April, the tail end of the dry season, is the second-best period: visibility is not so good because of dust, but the weather is warm and many of Nepal’s wonderful wildflowers are in bloom. In December and January, the climate and visibility are good but it can be chilly and discouraged from trekking. The rest of the year is fairly unpleasant for traveling: May and early June are generally too hot and dusty for comfort, and the monsoon from mid-June to September obscures the mountains in clouds and turns the trails and roads to mud.

Getting there, Around & Away

Flights: There are few direct flights to Nepal, which means most travelers from Europe, North America, and Australia have to change aircraft and/or airlines en route. Nepal’s only international airport is Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport. If you want to see the mountains as you fly into Kathmandu, make sure you sit on the right-hand side of the plane. The departure tax plus tourism service fee for international flights is US$25, or US$20 to destinations on the Indian subcontinent.

Overland: The classic overland routes between Nepal and India are still popular. There are three main crossing points: Sunauli-Bhairawa, Birganj-Raxaul Bazaar, and Kakarbhitta-Siliguri. The Sunauli border crossing is the best one from Varanasi, the Birgunj crossing is the easiest from Kolkata, and Kakarbhitta is the obvious choice from Darjeeling. A trickle of travelers enters Nepal at the Mahendrenagar-Banbassa border crossing in the extreme west of Nepal, which is handy for travelers coming overland from Delhi who does not want to visit Varanasi. The crossing between Nepal and Tibet via Kodari is open to organized groups but not to individual travelers heading north. Be prepared with alternative plans if you’re thinking about using this route, because landslides regularly make it impassable during the monsoon.

Getting Around

Royal Nepal Airlines and several private companies offer domestic air services, but flights are relatively expensive. Public buses ply almost every paved road and some unpaved ones too but they are incredibly uncomfortable, tediously slow, and sometimes among others chicken and goats may be your co-passenger. There are, however, luxury tourist coach services from Kathmandu to Chitwan and Pokhara and vice versa, These are aimed specifically at tourists, which has acceptable comfort & timely. There are no trains and no drive-yourself rental cars in Nepal. Cars with drivers can be hired. Local transport in the Kathmandu Valley and around Pokhara includes metered and un metered taxis, buses, tempos (three-wheelers), auto-rickshaws, bicycle rickshaws and bicycles.

Money Currency & Exchange

The Currency is called Nepalese Rupee made up of 100 Paisa. Nepal’s foreign currency exchange rate is very much influenced by the fluctuation of that of Indian Rupees as these two countries maintain a fixed rate for years. There are effectively three exchange rates in Nepal: the rate set by the government’s Nepal Rastra Bank, the slightly more generous (but still legal) rate set by the private banks, and the even more generous used to be the black-market rate set by carpet shops and travel agents but currently, there is an insignificant difference only. The daily Nepal newspaper lists the Nepal Rastra Bank’s rate, which is a useful reference point. Exchange rates and commissions no longer vary much, so it is always better to change at legally authorized centers and obtain receipts for it. If you leave Nepal via Kathmandu airport and haven’t spent all your rupees, you can exchange up to 15% of the amount shown on these unused receipts back into hard currency.

Major International currencies such as the US dollar and pounds sterling are readily accepted, and the Indian rupee is also considered a ‘hard currency. If you’re trekking, take enough small-denomination cash with you to last the whole trek.
Exchange Rate by Yahoo: http://finance.yahoo.com/m5?a=1&s=USD&t=NPR&c=0

Book & Readings:

There are plenty of books to read for Nepal..for the recommended list click here.
Tipping is becoming fairly common in upmarket restaurants in Kathmandu, so leave around 10% of the bill if service was good. There’s no need to tip in cheaper establishments or to tip taxi drivers. Guides and Porters on treks, however, should be tipped around Rs 100 per day. Bargaining is commonplace in markets and tourist shops, but treat it as a form of polite social discourse rather than a matter of life and death.

Visiting a Temple

Always walk clockwise around Buddhist stupas, chortens or mani walls. Always remove your shoes before entering a Buddhist or Hindu temple or sanctuary. You may also have to remove any items made from leather, such as belts and bags. Many Hindu temples do not permit westerners to enter.

It’s the custom to give a white scarf or Khata to a Buddhist abbot when you are introduced. The honorific title Rimpoche is usually bestowed on abbots. The scarves can easily be found at Tibetan shops.

Visiting a Nepali Home

In a Nepali home, the kitchen is off-limits to guests. Avoid polluting food by inadvertently touching it or bringing it into contact with a used plate or utensil. Using your own fork or spoon to serve out more food will do this. Putting your used plate on a buffet table risks making the food still on the table jutho or polluted. Notice how Nepalese drink from a cup or water vessel without letting it touch their lips.

Photography

Do not intrude with a camera, unless it is clearly OK with the people you are photographing. Ask before a temple compound whether it is permissible to enter and take photographs.

Language

It’s quite easy to get by with English in Nepal; with those, you have to deal with in Katmandu & Pokhara valley. Along the main trekking trails, particularly the Annapurna Circuit, English is widely understood. However, Nepali on the other hand is a fairly easy language and useful to come in contact with the locals. Nepali is closely related to Hindi and, like Hindi, is a member of the Indo-European group of languages.

Although Nepali is the national language of Nepal and is the linking language between all the country’s ethnic groups there are many other languages spoken. The Newars of the Kathmandu Valley, for example, speak Newari and there are other languages spoken by the Tamangs, Sherpas, Rais, Limbus, Magars, Gurungs, and other groups. In the Terai, bordering India, Hindi and Maithali, another Indian language of their region, are often spoken. The magic word Namaste -translated it means I salute the god in you, but it is used as an everyday greeting encompassing everything from Hello to How are you? and even ‘see you again soon’. Properly used it should be accompanied with the hands held in a prayer-like position, the Nepali gesture which is the equivalent of westerners shaking hands.