Travel Nepal – Everything you need to know

Maybe you are someone who loves the outdoors, or the natural beauties of the world. Or maybe you are someone that loves culture, heritage and art. No matter who you are, deciding to travel Nepal can be a rewarding experience. However, as you may be aware, Nepal is a dynamic and chaotic country at times to travel. And, for some not the easiest country to travel too. 

Therefore, In this blog I want to provide you with information about the Himalayan country, and put you at ease if you decide to travel Nepal. I will discuss various aspects of Nepal, the current and historic situation in Nepal, tourist activities and attractions, as well as provide some useful information and resources about the country.

Thinking about traveling to Nepal? Then let’s get into the guide about our favorite South Asian country!

Traveling to Nepal – General Information:

I have already written an in-depth introduction to Nepal that provides a lot of information about the landlocked country of Nepal – check it out here: Everything to Know about Nepal.

To provide a quick overview of the last Hindu Country, Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia. Sandwiched between two geopolitical powers – India to the south and China to the north – Nepal finds itself in a constant tug of war between who to align with. This is a constant battle that you will hear about with politics and in terms of foreign aid and support in Nepal.

There is significant influence of Indian culture in the plains of Nepal, known as the Terai. Which is important to keep in mind if you decide to travel Nepal and visit Lumbini – birth place of Buddha. Lumbini is one of the most visited places in Nepal. Moreover, some of the more popular areas to travel to in the country include Pokhara, Kathmandu and Chitwan. 

Chitwan, Lumbini, Pokhara and Kathmandu make up some of the most traveled locations in Nepal. Let’s take a quick look at these three travel destinations.

Lumbini:

Maya devi temple Lumbini Travel Nepal

Lumbini, is located in the southern plains of Nepal, and is the birthplace of Buddha. Now over 2,600 years after Buddha’s death, Lumbini has been turned into a sacred place to travel in Nepal. With a complex that is now 3 miles by 1 mile in size, the sacred garden of Nepal has much to offer, with monasteries, boating, museums, and much more. More information about the Lumbini can be seen in its respective section below!

Kathmandu:

Kathmandu is the largest city in Nepal, and is one of the best places to travel to if you are looking for culture and heritage. Rich with history, Kathmandu is located in the Kathmandu Valley which is home to the three districts: Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and Lalitpur. For more information about the Kathmandu Valley and things to do while visiting, check out our Kathmandu Valley blog!

Pokhara:

Pokhara, is the favorite city of many Nepalis as well as tourists that decide to travel Nepal. Located in central Nepal, it is the gateway to the Himalayas to the north, where many of the most popular trekking routes are, including the Annapurna Base Camp trek, which is visited by more than 70% of all trekkers in Nepal. For more information about Pokhara and things to do while visiting, check out our Pokhara article!

Chitwan

Elephants in Chitwan National Park

Chitwan, is known for its rich flora and fauna and is home to one of the last populations of single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros and refuges of the Bengal Tiger! Chitwan, and particularly, Sauraha is a frequently visited destination by travelers in Nepal as it offers access to safari excursions into the jungle in hopes to see the wildlife living in the 1973 established Chitwan National Park (CNP), extending over an area of 93,200 hectares. For more information about Chitwan and the safari excursions, as well as other things to do while visiting the park, check out our Chitwan run down!

Now that we have discussed some of the popular places to travel in Nepal, I want to present you with some basic information that is important to know about Nepal:

General Information about Traveling to Nepal

The following table presents some of the basic information about Nepal, as well as information that may help you decide if Nepal is a good place to travel to or not.

CategorySpecificComments
Population29.14 million World Bank (2020)
National LanguageNepaliHowever most people speak English in the hospitality and tourism sector.
CurrencyNepali Rupee (NPR)As of writing (May 29, 2022)
USD $1 = 124.07
Tourists per year230,000 in 2020Due to Covid-19 Nepal’s tourism sector took a major hit. Before the pandemic, Nepal was receiving more than one-million travelers per year.
Country ClassificationUnderdeveloped CountryIs set to graduate to a middle-income country in 2026 (United Nations)
Political StatusFederal Parliamentary RepublicConstitution ratified in 2015 
Emergency NumbersDial 100 
Visa Cost15 Days – USD $30
30 Days – USD $50
90 Days – USD $125
Extension can be done for a minimum of 15 days for USD $45 and USD $3 per day for additional days.
Safety IndexNepal is ranked at 59 out of 100.Classification breakdown: 0-33 being the most dangerous, 33-66 somewhat safe/dangerous, and 66-100 the safest.
Best time to VisitOctober – December and March – MayIt is possible to visit Nepal during the other months. However, summer months are when the monsoon is, and it is difficult to travel around Nepal. And the winter is characterized by cold weather and not good for trekking.

Is Nepal a country?

Map of Nepal

Continuing with our basic rundown and information regarding Nepal, I wanted to cover one of the most frequently asked questions about Nepal (over 3,600 people search for this every month in the US alone!): Is Nepal a country? 

Yes. Nepal is a country, and it is the oldest sovereign state in South Asia, as it was never colonized. Nepal was previously known as the Kingdom of Nepal, and became an official unified country in 1768, by King Prithvi Narayan Shah. The Shah dynasty ruled over Nepal until 2008 when it became: a Federal Democratic Republic abolishing the 240-year-old monarchy.

You may be wondering how this impacts traveling to Nepal? The main reason is that Nepal, and Nepalis alike are proud of the history and heritage, and thus important to know these aspects. Moreover, I strongly recommend getting to know a little bit about the history of Nepal before you decide to travel, as a good rule of thumb is to respect the history and heritage of the country. 

Nepal’s Government and Political Situation:

Building on the previous discussion of if Nepal is a country or not, another important aspect to know before deciding to travel to Nepal is in terms of the government as well as political situation, both currently and historically.

Historically Nepal politics have been turbulent and uncertain. Going from being ruled by the Shah Kings, to becoming figure heads during the Rana dynasty that lasted one hundred years – ending in 1951, when the Royal family regained power. The years to follow were also uncertain as the country flip flopped between a democracy and a monarchy.

The complex political situation was further heightened in the 1990s when the country broke out into a civil war that lasted 10 years. Additionally, during this time, the Nepalese Royal Massacre took place resulting in 10 individuals from the royal family being killed. Soon after the massacre, King Birendra’s younger King Gyanendra took over power. King Gyanendra remained in power until 2008 when the monarchy was abolished and the Kingdom of Nepal officially became the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. The transition into democracy marked the end of the last Hindu Kingdom. Nepal’s latest constitution was ratified in 2015 and the country is now a multi-party state and a secular federal parliamentary republic. 

The reason the political history of the country is so important in terms of traveling to Nepal, is that political tensions between parties can result in nationwide, or city wide strikes. Although typically safe for travelers and tourists in Nepal, they do result in businesses being shut down and transportation being limited. Before traveling, as well as while traveling in Nepal, make sure to check the news as well as your embassy’s notices to see if there are any political issues or tension that can affect your Nepal travel plans. 

Nepal Online News:

As mentioned, staying informed while you travel in Nepal is important. A few of the trusted online news in Nepal sources in english are:

  1. Kathmandu Post
  2. The Himalayan Times
  3. Online Khabar
  4. My Republica

I strongly recommend using the first two options first. In my opinion they provide the best up-to-date information.

Embassies and Foreign Delegations in Nepal:

If you decide to travel to Nepal make sure you are familiar with your embassy and where it is located if you need assistance. I have compiled a list of embassies that can provide you help while you travel in Nepal:

EmbassyWebsitePhone NumberEmailAddress
Australian Embassywww.nepal.embassy.gov.au+977-1-4371678, 4371076, 4371466 Bansbari, P.O. Box 879, Kathmandu
Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladeshwww.bangladoot.org.np+977-1-439 0130, 439 0131mission.kathmandu@mofa.gov.bdBasundhara- 3, Chakrapath, P.O. Box-789, Kathmandu
Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil +977-1-4721462, 4721463brasemb.katmandu@itamaraty.gov.brHouse No. 155, Chundevi Marg, Maharajgunj

 

P O Box No. 19299, Kathmandu

British Embassyhttps://www.gov.uk/world/
organisations/british-embassy-kathmandu
+977-1-4237100bekathmandu@fco.gov.ukG.P.O Box 106, Lainchaur, Kathmandu
Embassy of the People’s Republic of Chinawww.chinaembassy.org.np+977-1-441174, +977-1-4413916 (Political Section), 4411958 (Military Section)

 

+977-1-4438762 (Culture Section), 4419053 (Administrative)

chinaemb_np@mfa.gov.cnBaluwatar, Kathmandu
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt +977-1-559 0166, 559 0544embassy.kathmandu@mfa.gov.eg, egyptembassy.kathmandu@gmail.comKhokana Dobato, Saibu Ward No. 18

 

Lalitpur- P. O. Box 792, Kathmandu

Embassy of Finland +977-1-4416636sanomat.kat@formin.fiBansidhar Marga, Bishalnagar Chwok

 

P.O. Box 2126, Kathmandu

Embassy of the French Republichttps://np.ambafrance.org/+977-1-4412332ambassade@ambafrance-np.org302, Narayan Gopal Road, Lazimpat, Kathmandu
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germanywww.kathmandu.diplo.de+977-1-4217200info@kathmandu.diplo.de690, Gyaneshwor Marg, Gyaneshwor, P O Box 226, Kathmandu
Embassy of the Republic of Indiawww.indianembassy.org.np+977-1-4410900, 4414990, 4411699hoc.kathmandu@mea.gov.in336 Kapurdhara Marg, Kathmandu
Embassy of the State of Israelhttp://embassies.gov.il/kathmandu+977-1-4419103, 4413419, 4411811information@kathmandu.mfa.gov.ilBishramalaya House, Lazimpat, Kathmandu
Embassy of Japanwww.np.emb-japan.go.jp+977-1-4426680inquiry-emb@km.mofa.go.jp1253, Narayan Gopal Sadak, Panipokhari, Kathmandu

 

P O Box 264, Kathmandu

Embassy of The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 977-1-5521855/5535871rimnine@wlink.com.npBakhundole, Lalitpur
Embassy of the Republic of Koreawww.npl.mofa.go.kr+977-1-4270172, 4270417, 4284972, 4277391konepemb@mofa.go.krRavi Bhawan, Kalimati, P O Box 1058, Kathmandu
Embassy of Malaysiahttp://www.kln.gov.my/web/npl_
kathmandu/home
+977-1-5445680/5445681/5445689 (Immigration Section)mwkathmandu@kln.gov.myBakhundole, Lalitpur, P.O. Box 24372, Kathmandu
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar +977-1-5592774, 5592841myanmaremb@wlink.com.npPlot No. 997, Nakkhu Height, Sainbu Bhainsepati 4/Ga, Lalitpur
Royal Norwegian Embassywww.norway.org.np+977-1-4235900emb.kathmandu@mfa.noBakhundole, Pulchowk, Lalitpur
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistanwww.pakembnepal.org.pk+977-1-4374024, 4374016parepkathmandu@mofa.gov.pk, pakembktm@gmail.comPushpanjali, Maharajgunj, Chakrapath P O Box 202, Kathmandu
Embassy of the State of Qatarhttps://kathmandu.embassy.qa/en+977-1-5173161/47/48, 5173237-39, 4721635kathmandu@mofa.gov.qaBungmati, Karyabinayak, Ward No. 13 Lalitpur, Nepal
Embassy of the Russian Federationwww.nepal.mid.ru+977-1-4412155, 4411063ruspos@info.com.np; rusposnep@mail.ruBaluwatar, P. O. Box 123, Kathmandu
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia +977-1-4720891/892/4721901/903kaemb@mofa.gov.saSumangal, Maharajgunj (Opposite to Nirmal Niwas), Kathmandu
Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lankawww.slembkathmandu.org+977-1-4720623, 4721389slemb.kathmandu@mfa.gov.lkShiva Ashish Niwas, Gairi Marg, Chundevi, Maharajgunj, P O Box 8802, Kathmandu
Embassy of Switzerlandhttps://www.eda.admin.ch
/kathmandu
+977-1-4217008, 5549225 (for Consular Affairs and Visas)kat.vertretung@eda.admin.chEkantakuna, Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, P.O. Box No. 113, Kathmandu
Royal Thai Embassyhttp://www.thaiembnepal.org.np+977-1-4371410, 4371411thaiemb@thaiembnepal.org.np, consular@thaiembnepal.org.np167/4 Ward No. 3, Sallaghari, Bansbari Road, Maharajgunj P O Box 3333, Kathmandu
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates +977-1-4217776/4006767kathmanduemb@mofaic.gov.aePaani Pokhari, Lazimpat, Kathmandu
Embassy of the United States of America +977-1-4234000https://np.usembassy.gov/ne/P O Box 295, Maharajgunj, Kathmandu
Delegation of the European Union to Nepalhttps://eeas.europa.eu/
delegations/nepal_en
+977-1-4429445, 4429446delegation-nepal@ec.europa.euUttardhoka Sadak, Lainchaur, Kathmandu
SAARC Secretariathttps://www.saarc-sec.org/+977-1-4228029,4221785 (Office) , 4373325, 4370326 (Residence)saarc@saarc-sec.orgTridevi Marg, Kathmandu
United Nations Organizationhttps://www.un.org.np/+977-1-5590497, 5523200registry.np@undp.orgUN House, Pulchowk Lalitpur

Traveler Host Country to Nepal Time Difference

The time difference between your home country as well as your travel destination, Nepal. I have compiled a list of the most popular cities that people travel to Nepal from. Please be aware that these times do not take into account daylight savings, or other time changes that countries may have.

CountryCity Time Difference
AustraliaSydney+4:15 hours
BangladeshDhaka+0:15 hours
CanadaToronto-9:45 hours
ChinaBeijing+2:15 hours
FranceParis-3:45 hours
GermanyBerlin-3:45 hours
IndiaNew Delhi-0:15 hours
JapanTokyo+3:15 hours
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur+2:15 hours
Myanmar Naypyidaw+0:45 hours
NetherlandsAmsterdam-3:45 hours
South KoreaSeoul+3:15 hours
SpainMadrid-3:45 hours
Sri LankaColombo-0:15 hours
ThailandBangkok+1:15 hours
UKLondon-4:45 hours
USALos Angeles-12:45 hours
USANew York-9:45 hours

Travel Nepal – Important Things to Know:

Prayer wheels Religion and Culture

Now that I have covered the background information, as well as provided some of the important reference points in terms of contact information and news, I want to discuss some specific aspects of the country. 

Duration of Stay – Travel Nepal:

Figuring out how long to stay after deciding to travel to Nepal can be difficult. Even though the country is relatively small, it packs a punch in terms of things to do! So if you find yourself asking – how long to stay in Nepal, we have the answer for you!

Recommended duration: Three to four weeks!

The reason I recommend three to four weeks is because it will provide you with ample time to go on an extended trek such as Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna Base Camp trek; visit the beautiful city of Pokhara, take in the culture and heritage of Kathmandu, and even take a trip to see Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini, or partake in a jungle safari in Chitwan.

Second suggested duration: One week

In my opinion one week is a little short and you will have to hurry from destination to destination if you want to see more of the country than just the Kathmandu Valley. One week however, if planned right, will give you enough time to experience the villages and sites around Kathmandu, or even take a short trek, like Tsho Rolpa Lake Trek to the east. If you would rather see Pokhara and have a relaxing vacation around the beautiful Phewa Lake, you can also catch a thirty minute plane ride to travel west to Pokhara!

Not suggested but possible duration: Three days

Three days will provide travelers in Nepal the opportunity to take in the temples, vibrant markets, and day hikes around the Kathmandu valley. Three days will give you enough time to take in Kathmandu but it will be difficult to see anything else outside the valley. But, if you are looking for a short stay or are in transit, three days is ample enough time to experience the rich heritage and fall in love with Nepal!

Transportation while you travel Nepal

There are multiple types of transportation and some are safer than others. Depending on how comfortable you are with public transportation, and being crammed into small vehicles with other people, you may choose a different type of transportation over another. The main types of transportation in Nepal for travelers are as follows:

Public transportation:

This type of transportation includes buses and micros (large vans). This is extremely cheap to travel by and can be used for local transport, or for longer travel – from city to city. It is important to be prepared for a longer ride, frequent stops to onboard and off-board people traveling, as well as the occasional goat or chicken that may accompany you along the ride. Additionally, be aware this type of transportation can get extremely crowded, thus it is not recommended for people that don’t like to be in close proximity with other people.

Motorcycles and Scooters:

This is by far the quickest and most fun way to travel around Nepal. For short journeys in Kathmandu you can use a ride sharing app like Pathao or Tootle. The easiest way to think of these apps is to compare them to Uber, but for motorcycles or scooters! Prices are fixed on these apps and are based on distance traveled!

You can also rent scooters and motorcycles if you feel comfortable driving them on the busy streets of Kathmandu and Nepal in general. Renting is a great way to travel around Nepal and take in the beauty of the country! They are cheap to rent and you can get the best rates by renting for an extended period of time. You can find bikes for hire in Thamel, Kathmandu and all over Lakeside, Pokhara.

Rickshaws:

Rickshaw Travel Nepal

Rickshaws will provide you with that authentic feeling of traveling in the streets of Kathmandu. Designed for shorter trips, you can catch one of these rides in Thamel, and travel through all the small back alleys to your destination!

Taxis:

Taxis are a good private way to travel around Kathmandu as well as the other major cities in Nepal. You can find them driving around the cities or at designated taxi stands. By law, taxi drivers are supposed to use their meter, however, many of them will try to negotiate a different rate, by claiming the meter is broken. If you are familiar with the prices, then you can negotiate with the taxi drivers. However, if you are not sure about the rates, ask the hotel where you are staying to help you get a taxi at the proper price.

Pathao also allows you to book cars from their app. Once again they fix the price by destination. This may be an easier way to get transportation, however it may take more time depending on their availability and location.

Plane:

The fastest way to travel in Nepal is by taking domestic flights. There are 43 domestic airports in Nepal, and currently two international airports (Kathmandu and Bhairahawa – a third international airport is being built in Pokhara currently). These airports allow you to quickly move around the country and get to your destination. For example, if you wanted to travel to Pokhara from Kathmandu by bus, it would take you, on average eight hours! However, by flight, it takes only 30 minutes! 

I recommend one of the following two airlines for domestic travel:

  1. Buddha Air
  2. Yeti Airlines

Both of these airlines are safe and provide multiple flights per day to various travel destinations around the country!

Safety information

Continuing on with the conversation of safety and transportation, in this section I will highlight the various safety risks associated with traveling in Nepal. Each of the risks have been broken up into their respective categories and can be seen in the table below:

RiskRatingComments
Overall RiskMediumI consider Nepal a safe country and have been living here for five years. I, as well as my friends, have not experienced any major safety concerns. The reason for the higher rating here is due to transportation, natural disasters and nature related risks. 
TransportationHighAs mentioned, travel can be a safety concern while traveling in Nepal. First, the roads are not very good and they have been built along hills and mountains with steep drop offs. Additionally, due to weather conditions and the hillsides being unstable, landslides may occur.

 

The two other issues I would note are how people drive (overtaking and speeding), as well as drinking and driving. That being said, these are two things that you will notice when interacting with a driver, or after a short period of time. If you experience one of these issues, you can exit the vehicle and get on another bus.

Pickpocketers HighThis may happen in places with large crowds, on buses and public transportation, or in bars and nightclubs. If you are vigilant, you should not have any issue with pickpockets. Keep track of your belongings and don’t leave bags unattended in crowded areas, in clubs, or on buses.
Natural DisastersMediumNepal is susceptible to landslides, floods and earthquakes. These are things that are unpredictable and you will have no control of. Be conscious of the season you travel to Nepal in (don’t come during monsoon season) and make sure to check the news for weather alerts. 
Mugging MediumThere have been reports of muggings in some of the bigger areas. However, foreigners are rarely targeted. In the time I have been in the country, I have not known – foreigner or Nepali – that has been mugged. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Be smart, and travel with others if you are planning on being out late.
ScamsMediumSadly scams are a part of traveling and they can happen anywhere. The major issue with scams in Nepal is that you may find yourself getting overcharged for services and goods.
Women TravelersMediumNepal is a safe destination for women travelers and many women travel solo in the country. There are issues with sexual harassment as some people have contorted ideas about women and especially western women due to movies and tv.

Note: Rankings have been provided by Travel Safe.

In my personal opinion, I believe Nepal to be a safe place to travel and have never experienced any major safety issues. That being said, I have experienced issues with being scammed (for money while purchasing  various services and goods), times where I have worried about my safety during transportation, and harassment from people that are drunk. During these issues and with being harassed I have found that other Nepalis will help you and take care of the issue before you even need to ask!

The last thing I would like to mention regarding safety is that I have had friends that are women, that have experienced sexual harassment on public transportation or at night time in tourist destinations, clubs as well as night clubs. However, the restaurant owners, bus drivers and police will deal with the issue for you if you bring it to their attention. 

I have also written an article about traveling with a family, kids and babies to help you further understand the safety and ease of traveling in Nepal.

Travel Nepal – Food

Food Travel Nepal

While traveling to Nepal, make sure to take advantage of the wide selections of food. Nepal, a diverse country with over 100 different ethnic groups and castes, has much to offer with food. Depending on where you are traveling to in Nepal, and the places and people you are visiting you will find yourself introduced to a variety of different local cuisines.

The food has a lot of different spices and can be spicy at times. With influences from India, Tibet and China you can find an array of dishes available, both in restaurants, small food stands, or even street food. Depending on how adventurous of an eater you are, you will be able to experiment with various types of foods as well as flavors. For a list of some of the great dishes to try while traveling in Nepal, you can check out our blog covering the must try dishes!

In general, common dishes involve soups, curries, vegetables, salads, meat, pickles, and rice and flat bread. If you are not looking for traditional food like Dal Bhat, don’t worry as you will be able to find some sort of western food throughout Nepal.

Travel Nepal – Weather and Climate

There are four distinct seasons in Nepal, with three of them being travel worthy. As mentioned above the best times to travel to Nepal are: October to December and March to May. The table below breaks down seasons, their characteristics and if they are a good time to travel to Nepal.

Travel SeasonsMin/Max TemperatureSeasonGood time to Travel Nepal?
March-May8-28°CWarm and cloudy, with occasional storms and rainSecond best time to travel. Good for trekking
June-September19-27 °CMonsoon Season, heavy rains and humidNot a good time to travel to Nepal. Frequent heavy rain storms, with flooding and landslides.
October-November18-22°C Clear skies, cooler daysThe best! Good for trekking and cultural experiences.
December-February3 to 19CWinter season, cold mornings and evenings. Snow in the high hills and mountainsThird best time to travel Nepal. Not good for trekking, as there will be heavy snowfall in the mountains.

Travel Nepal – The Ultimate Guide Takeaways

Deciding to Travel to Nepal, may not be an easy decision. However, if you decide to make the trip to the landlocked country, you won’t regret it! With Nepal being a relatively cheap country to travel to, is safe for family and solo travelers, and one of the most friendly and helpful countries to travel too, I (as well as over one-million other tourists every year) consider it a must see destination!

No matter if you are looking to relax around Lakeside, Pokhara, go on a safari jungle ride in Sauraha, Chitwan, experience the rich culture and heritage of the Kathmandu Valley, or go trekking in the Himalayas, Nepal has something for everyone! 

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: