Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country in South Asia located mainly in the Himalayas but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. With an estimated population of 26.4 million, it is 48th largest country by population and 93rd largest country by area. It borders China in the north and India in the south, east, and west while Bangladesh is located within only 27 km (17 mi) of its southeastern tip and Bhutan is separated from it by the Indian state of Sikkim. A Himalayan state, Nepal has a diverse geography, including fertile plains, subalpine forested hills, and eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Kathmandu is the nation’s capital and largest city. Nepal is a multiethnic nation with Nepali as the official language.
10 Fun Facts about Nepal
- Nepal is home to the world’s highest mountain, Everest at 8848m
- Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal.
- Yeti, the elusive snowman is believed to roam the mountains of Nepal
- Nepal has the thickest concentration of World Heritage Sites
- Momo: A type of dumpling which is a very popular dish here
- 54.6 cm: The height of the world’s shortest man who is Nepalese
- Nepal is the only country that does not have a rectangular flag
- Nepal is a secular country with 80.62 % of the population being Hindus followed by Buddhists (10.74%)
There are twelve major international airlines linking to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The Royal Nepal Airlines (RA) is the national flag carrier of Nepal with flight connections to: Delhi, Mumbai in India; Bangkok in Thailand; Osaka in Japan; Hong Kong, Shanghai in China; Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia; Dubai in United Arab Emirates and Singapore. Other international airlines connecting Kathmandu to other parts of the world are Biman Bangladesh to Dhaka in Bangladesh; China Airlines to Lhasa in Tibetan Autonomous Region of China; Druk Air to Paro in Bhutan and New Delhi in India; Gulf Air to Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates; Indian Airlines to Delhi, Kolkata, and Varanasi in India; Qatar Airways to Doha in Qatar; Thai International to Bangkok in Thailand.
Nepal shares borders with India on three sides and China on the north. Therefore, if you want to enter Nepal via road you will have to come through either India or Tibet (China). The entry points to Nepal from India are Kakarbhitta, Birgunj, Belhiya, Bhairawa, Nepalgunj, Dhangadi and Mahendra Nagar. The Kodari Pass in Nepal-China border is the entry point to Nepal from China. Tourists entering Nepal by land must also carry their passports.
For getting around the country, there is an excellent domestic air network and helicopter charter services as well as deluxe tourist coaches. Travel Pinto will assist you in making your travel arrangements within Nepal as per your trip itinerary.
Passport and Visa Information
Visas are available on arrival at the international airport in Kathmandu and at all land border crossings that are open to foreigners, as long as you have passport photos to hand and can pay the visa fee in foreign currency (some crossings insist on payment in US dollars). Your passport must be valid for at least six months and you will need a whole free page for your visa.
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A travel-insurance policy that covers theft, loss and medical problems is best for travelling in Nepal. There are a wide variety of policies available, so check the small print carefully. Make sure are covered for adventure activities and high altitude. Since you reach above 4000 meters on quite a few treks in Nepal, it is best to choose a policy that covers medical and emergency repatriation, including helicopter evacuation for trekkers and general medical evacuation. Also understand that most medical treatment and facilities/hospitals must be paid for at the point of delivery of the patient. So it’s wise to choose a policy that pays doctors or hospitals directly rather than you having to pay on the spot and claim later.
The Nepalese Rupee is the currency of Nepal. Our currency rankings show that the most popular Nepal Rupee exchange rate is the NPR to GBP rate. The currency code for Nepalese Rupees is NPR.
Banking and Foreign Exchange
Payment in hotels, travel agencies, and airlines are made in foreign exchange. There are plenty of cash machines or ATMs in cities and most will accept cards issued by any of the major international banking networks (Plus, Cirrus, etc.). The majority of ATM’s currently have a maximum withdrawal amount of 10,000Rs (although you can make repeated withdrawals).
Major Credit Cards such as Visa, MasterCard, JCB and AmericanExpress, are readily accepted at most tourist class hotels, restaurants, airlines, and major tourist merchants. Again there is always a transaction fee for processing the cards (this charge is enforced by the banks and not the merchants so please don’t ask for a discount to remove this) and this is usually around 4% (although American Express Fees are considerably higher at around 7%)
In Nepal 220-240 volts/50 HZ power is used. Sockets usually take plugs with three round pins. The plugs can be both small and large in size. Some sockets take plugs with two round pins as well.
It is important that you have both a voltage converter and a plug adapter in order to use your electrical appliances in Nepal. You may even need many different plug adapters if you are planning to travel to more than one country. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit if you are planning to bring many different electrical items. All laptops and some electric razors take universal voltages. Check your equipment to be sure. If the only electric device that you are binging with you is an electric shaver, you may consider buying a model that is not too heavy. Alternately, you can purchase them in Kathmandu and other cities but not in remote locations.
Voltage fluctuation is very common in Nepal and it is advised that you use an adapter with quality power surge protector for your electronics. Also, in dry seasons there is power outage (load shedding) that goes on for long hours. However, hotels and businesses cover their electrical needs via fuel cells and generators.
The Climate in Nepal
The seasons in Nepal are pretty much the same as Europe, opposite of the Australian seasons. In January it’s cold, while in July you could make do with shorts and t-shirt. The climate of Nepal is moderate which means the winters are dry and the summers are hot. But because of the huge range in altitude and landscape, climate of Nepal differs significantly throughout the country.
Generally, monsoon season lasts from around the end of June to the end of August. About 80 per cent of the rainfall occurs during this period throughout the country but the remainder of the year is dry. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are the most pleasant seasons. Winter (December, January, and February) temperatures drop down with a high level of snowfall in the high mountain areas.
Summer, monsoon and late spring temperatures range from 28ºC (83ºF) in the hills to more than 40ºC (104ºF) in the Terai (southern plains). In winter, average maximum and minimum temperatures in the Terai range from a brisk 7ºC (45ºF) to a mild 23ºC (74ºF). The central valleys experience a minimum temperature but not often falling below freezing point and a chilly 12ºC (54ºF) maximum during the winter.
Kathmandu Valley has a mild climate most of the year. Summer temperatures range from 67-81°F (19-27°C), and in winter temperatures are between 36 and 68°F (2-20°C). During the monsoon season in August, the average rainfall is between 7.8-14.7 inches (200-375mm) in Kathmandu. May and June can be very hot and humid until the monsoon rains. In spring (March to April) and autumn (October to November) the temperatures are pleasant with occasional short bursts of rain, while November to February are dry, but can be very cold, especially at night.
Best time to visit Nepal
Spring (March, April, May) and autumn (Sept, Oct, Nov) are the best time of the year to visit Nepal. During this time, the weather is pleasant with efficient sunlight and warmth. The sky is clear which means that you can truly enjoy the remarkable Nepalese landscape complete with the Himalayan vista.
During the monsoon (June, July, Aug) although there will be no problem for trekking, the issue could be of less visibility and rain. But, for a keen botanist, monsoon is a blessing as the higher valleys, mountains and meadows blossom with flowers and abundant vegetation. You can trek in winter (Dec, Jan, Feb) as well especially in the hilly regions but as you reach higher elevations it is much more colder with snow-fall. If you don’t necessary enjoy crowds, trekking during the monsoon or winter or choosing more solitary trekking destinations could be your options. Note that due to global warming there has been a change in the regular climate worldwide and Nepal is no exception. Please be open to unpredictable weather conditions as well.