Himalayas Travel Information
Local time is GMT +5.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two and three-pin plugs are used.
Nepali is the official language. English is spoken in all major tourist areas.
Restaurants and hotels may add 10 percent to bills, in which case no further tip is required. Otherwise, a 10 percent tip is customary in places that cater to tourists. It is customary to tip guides and porters on treks. Elsewhere, gratuities are not expected but always appreciated.
There are safety concerns in Nepal. Demonstrations and public gatherings should be avoided as there is a risk of violence. Due to previous bomb attacks and shootings in public places, including the main tourist areas of Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Lukla, as well as on popular trekking routes, visitors are warned to be particularly vigilant.
Tourists have been involved in several violent incidents, with foreigners targeted in recent attacks in the Thamel district of Kathmandu. All visitors are advised to be cautious after dark and to stay in a group at night.
There have been incidences of violent robbery against trekkers and there is an armed Maoist presence on many of the major trekking routes who demand a 'tax' before allowing trekkers to pass.
Trekkers are advised to stay on established routes and walk in groups or with professional guides. Foreigners have been attacked in the Nagarjun Forest Reserve just outside Kathmandu and visitors are advised to be cautious in the area and to travel in a group.
Nepal has numerous cultural practices that may be unusual for foreigners. In the tourist areas, there is a high degree of tolerance towards visitors. But away from these places, foreigners should be sensitive to local customs. Never accept, offer, or eat anything with the left hand.
Do not eat from someone else's plate or offer food from one's own. Women should dress conservatively and cover up as much as possible. Permission should be sought before taking photographs, particularly at religious sites. Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon.
The Nepalese are warm and friendly, with business conducted with a combination of formality and sincerity. Much time is given to small talk and socialising. Handshakes are fairly common but one should wait to see if offered a hand.
Alternatively, a traditional namaste greeting involves a small bow accompanied by hands clasped as if in prayer. Visitors should return the greeting as it is given. Dress tends to be formal and conservative, with suits and ties the norm.
Titles and surnames are usually used. The elderly in particular are treated with great respect and the word 'gi' is added after the name as a polite form. Punctuality is important, although it may take some time to get down to business, and negotiation can be a long process.
English is widely spoken and understood. But discussions in Nepali may occur between locals within a meeting. Business hours are usually 9.30am or 10am to 5pm, Sunday to Thursday. Closing time is 4pm in winter. Saturday is a holiday.
The country code for Nepal is +977, and the outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)1 for Kathmandu and (0)41 for Pokhara. Two mobile phone operators provide GSM 900 network coverage in the main cities and towns. In the main tourist centres of Kathmandu and Pokhara, there are internet cafes on every corner.
Travellers to Nepal do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 20g of tobacco. 1.15 litre of spirits or wine, and perfume for personal use. It is illegal to export goods that are over 100 years old.