Travelling in Nepal is an advetenture lover’s dream come true, but there’s lots of stuff you’ll need to know before you go like whether you need a visa, what kind of currency they use and the kind of amenities you can expect to find for your hiking needs. Travel admin as I like to call it.
After 6 weeks in Nepal, I’ve just got back to India to continue my backpacking adventure with my boyfriend. And I know that I certainly had a few questions about Nepal before we boarded the short flight from Delhi to Kathmandu.
Let’s see if I can help you answer your pre-travel questions (and more) from my Nepal adventure…
In this post I will cover:
- Diamox (altitude sickness tablets): Should you take them? Side effects? Tips?
- My top tips and things to remember when travelling through Nepal!
- Top tips for heading out on your Himalayan hiking adventure…
- Do you need a visa for Nepal?
As a British citizen, you are required to have a visa to enter Nepal. You can either process this beforehand or you can do it upon arrival at the airport. I find the FCO website here really helpful before I travel to a new country.
If you are a citizen elsewhere I recommend checking the visa advice on the IATA website.
We got the visa upon arrival in Kathmandu. The most important thing to know is that you have two options for the visa you’ll need depending how long you plan to visit the country. For 15, 30 and 90 days.
- A 15 day visa will cost you $25 USD
- A 30 day visa will cost you $40 USD
- A 90 day visa will cost you $100 USD
- Get the exact money exchanged into USD to help speed up the whole process (we paid by card which took a very long time!).
- Allow for an additional 1.5 hours for your travel time. The hall was busy when we got there but I’ve heard reports of the visa hall being empty from other travellers…
The Nepalese Rupee (NPR) is a closed currency, meaning you can’t get hold of it outside Nepal. Because it is a closed currency, be sure to change any left over Nepalese Rupees you have before you leave Kathmandu as it is impossible to change it outside of Nepal. Tribhuvan International Airport has nearly nothing inside it apart from one shop to get water and a sandwich so you don’t need to save much more that 500 NPR per person for your flight out! Change your money back in the city before you arrive at the airport.
ATMs are easy to use and available in Kathmandu so there’s no need to bring heaps of USD to change (I like to bring USD on my trips because you can always change USD). Before I travel to a new country I like to check the exchange rate on the XE Currency Converter site, you can check out the Nepalese Rupee conversion here.
Other top tips and travel hacks when travelling Nepal…
- UK and European plug sockets
Everywhere I went in Nepal (various different destinations) they used UK plugs so if you’re from the UK you won’t need your adaptor. Equally if you’re from Europe the 2 prong European plug also works in these 3 prong sockets!
- Stay in Thamel in Kathmandu
With options galore of hotels, hostels, bars, coffee shops and restaurants, Thamel is the tourist HUB of Kathmandu. Plus it’s full of shops selling hiking gear and even a few small supermarkets for you to get your essenntial snacks!
- Taxis from the airport
Are likely to cost you between 700 – 800 NPR to the Thamel district. Make sure you go to the pre-paid taxi counter, tell them your destination and hand over the cash! It’s as easy as that.
- The roads…
…Are bumpy. Expect nothing less than a bumpy ride wherever you are going. Try to get tourist buses where possible as they are cheap and more comfortable than the cramped and overcrowded local buses.
…Is the main language spoken in Nepal but most people speak good english.
- Water purification tablets
You can drink the tap water but only after you have purified it. Do not drink the tap water unless you have purified it.
- Keep to the right
When going round religious stupas and prayer wheels, make sure you have the religious relics to your right at all times.
- Take a refillable water bottle
Nepal is hot on environmental issues and attempting to keep their country pristine. Most places have access to safe drinking water, you just need a refillable bottle. Either that or the use of water purification tablets while you’re hiking. You can see more about your options for water in my post A Guide to the Everest Base Camp Hike.
- Take paper tissues and hand sanitiser
Keep on top of bacteria and just always good to have handy!
- Take precautions against the sun
Not only is the sun strong in Nepal, but thinner air at altitude means when you’re hiking it’s even stronger. Bring a high factor sunscreen and apply it every morning. Consider goggles instead of sunglasses, you are highly likely to experience dust and sandstorms.
- Namaste (hello)
- Dhanyabad (thank you)
- Jam jam (let’s go!)
- Bistarly Bistarly (slowly slowly)
Some common phrases for you which will come in handy!