Nepal is, without a doubt, a beautiful country. If you have not yet visited Nepal, we bet you have at least seen video clips of this country or been familiar with the rich culture and uniqueness here through either your television or the internet. Anyone who thinks Nepal is all about temples, flags, rural beauty, and rich culture, then they are not wrong in any way, but then again, this is only knowing about the country partially. One also needs to remember, however, that with pros comes some cons, and it applies to traveling in Nepal as well! Hence, there is a lot more to learn about Nepal and all the things nobody tells you about traveling in Nepal.
So, in this article, we have come up with all the things that you need to keep in mind if you want to travel to Nepal, even as a person who has never been there. It’s not rocket science to go to a country with a different language and culture, but there are certainly some things that you need to keep in mind as a traveler, and this article just might be the perfect guidebook for you!
Nepal is not all about Mount Everest
Mount Everest, standing tall at 8848 meters, is the highest mountain in the whole world, and it is located in Nepal. But there is a lot more to explore than just the mountain when you visit Nepal. But of course, you will get a lot more options for trekking and climbing different and shorter mountains, yet Nepal is not only known for its mountains. Places like Pokhara and Kathmandu are the best to travel to when you are in Nepal if you really want to get to know more about the beauty of the urban hustling and bustling nature of the country.
Even the urban side of Nepal does not limit itself to mediocrity, though. When in Kathmandu Valley, you are likely to tour through the oldest and richest cultural heritages, temples, and palaces, including those in Patan, Kathmandu, and Bhaktapur. These places are full of tourists, as well as the locals. In fact, you will get a whole new experience in interacting with the locals who are always welcoming and excited to meet people outside their country.
Likewise, you will easily get tourist guides from a traveling agency, as well as from these locations themselves. The scriptures, the unique and old works of art, architecture, and history connected with the places will take you back for sure. More than just traveling to a different country, your experience while traveling to Kathmandu Valley will definitely be knowledgeable.
Likewise, Pokhara is another place you would want to visit when you are traveling in Nepal; the beauty of the mountains here, combined with the amazing trekking routes, paragliding, boating in Fewa Lake, or simply just taking in the beauty of the modernized city, there is so much to explore. Moreover, Pokhara is very clean, and you are likely to find the best possible accommodation here. Pokhara receives numerous tourists every year, almost all year round. Save yourself the stress of being an alien here!
Commuting in Nepal
One of the most common concerns among tourists traveling to Nepal is how they would travel around places here. Traveling in Nepal is quite inexpensive. If you are traveling by local taxi, you need to make a good bargain. But, with the evolution in technology, there is an app, Pathao(quite similar to Uber), which facilitates commuters to get the best transport experience at the most reasonable prices possible. And safety is just as guaranteed. Whatsoever, it is just as important to remember that you avoid getting scammed by people in motorbikes who pretend to be riders from Pathao.
Likewise, bus and microbus fares in Nepal are very cheap. You can travel a whole lot of distance without paying much. Around 20 to 50 US cents will be the most you will pay while traveling from one location to another. Although this is not a common occurrence, you might need to keep an eye out for pickpockets while commuting from public transportation.
And a fact that might fascinate you is the blingy decorations in all the local taxis, buses, microbuses, trucks, etc. The drivers in Nepal never hold back from decorating their rides with the fanciest stickers with cheesy quotes and song lyrics, as well as bangles and confetti curtains.
Nepal is the home to the rarest and most beautiful wildlife
In Nepal, you will see the most beautiful and rarest animals you have ever seen. There are several national parks and conservation areas that keep these animals safe and far from the brink of extinction. Snow leopards, red pandas, Bengal tigers, one-horned rhinos, sloth bears, peacocks, elephants, etc., are the most common wildlife species you will find in Nepal.
Some of the best places to visit to get an experience of Nepalese wildlife would be Chitwan National Park, Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, Bardiya National Park, etc. You can easily find comfortable hotels and lodges around these areas.
Furthermore, though not a big area, the Central Zoo in Lalitpur also makes for a great and safe educational tour if you are with a child.
Nepalese food is to die for but with some exceptions!
If you have ever been to India, you are likely to find the cuisine in these two countries similar to one another. But not everything is the same as the food in these countries. The most common food in Nepal is daal bhaat, dhindo, etc. But one with a cult following is Momo! You will find momo in every alley of the urban parts of Nepal. Likewise, if you want to get the authentic taste of Nepalese cuisine, you should go to a highly-rated Thakali restaurant. From the ambiance to the food, everything in this Nepali-themed restaurant will give you a top-tier essence of Nepal. Daal bhaat and dhindo are the most common food that you will find in these restaurants. However, these are not the only things you will be having on the platter. There is a wide range of vegetables, achaar(Nepali pickle), meat, or fish, as per your preference. And you can get add-ons per your taste when you are in one of these kitchens. The prices of food vary from one restaurant to another.
Likewise, Newari cuisine is another most preferred and loved one when you are here. If you are a non-vegetarian, you will relish the food you will get in this cuisine. A wide variety of spicy and the most exotic food is what Newari cuisine is all about. Moreover, the food is quite cheap.
Not to forget, the best of all, momo! Momo can be found in India as well as Nepal. But, in Nepal, you might as well get the most authentic taste out of all the other countries where you can find the food. It is the cheapest, yet the best lunch option for Nepalese people, and some even have it on a daily basis. If you are looking for a vegetarian option, you can ask for momo with vegetarian fillings instead of meat.
For dessert, you might want to go to the local sweet shops, where you will find rather some of the milkiest, sweetest, and most unique treats. While some of these sweets must not be eaten heavily as they are extremely sweet, you are in for a joyful ride if you have a sweet tooth!
The hassle of Nepali food
While you can still enjoy the most delicious and unique food in Nepal, you might be in for a bit of a surprise regarding hygiene and the hassle of eating from the vendors on the street or roadside restaurants. There is too much pollution, and road dust is likely to affect your food. Hence, this might hold you back from eating just anywhere!
Likewise, meat in Nepal is not as boneless as you might like! Picking bones from the meat every time you bite from a curry is not as convenient for all. And, you might want to opt towards something vegetarian and with less hassle when you’re at it. This, again, might be an exception, and anyone who does not mind picking out the bones from most Nepali non-vegetarian food can still enjoy their meat!
Pollution and roads in Kathmandu
There are a few drawbacks of traveling to Kathmandu, one of them being pollution. The roads in the heart of Nepal are not as good as one might expect them to be. Several unpaved roads in Nepal might cause a sense of (temporary) terror inside the hearts of people. Likewise, the pollution in Kathmandu is quite bad compared to many other places in Nepal. When in Kathmandu, you will be walking through dusty roads with greasy smells in the air. Make sure to wear a mask when you are here.
The streets are not clean, and the conditions, when it comes to the air in Kathmandu, are just as bad. The busy nature of the streets might only make your experience of traveling here bad or even worse.
Nepali Currency can be confusing
When you travel to Nepal, you might have to convert the currency of your country to that of Nepal every time you make a purchase. This is necessary. While there are several mediums from which you can save yourself from the confusion, the inconvenience of having to do this every now and then remains.
Nepali currency is not as difficult to know if you learn about it before your visit. But if you don’t, you have to make sure to do your calculations before you make your payments. One of the best ways you can get less confused about the money in Nepal is by sorting the sizes. Money is as big in size as the amount it holds. The smallest paper currency is two and 5 rupees which are around 2-5 cents USD. Likewise, your money will get as much as Rs. 1000, the biggest physical currency.
If you have several shelters in your pocket, you can use smaller and outer shelters for smaller amounts and larger shelters for larger amounts.
How hard is it to find toilets in Nepal?
Toilets in Nepal are not the easiest to find or the cleanest either. The ones you find in public areas are squatty ones which are likely to cause some difficulty for you. If you are from the western part of the world, you will not be used to sitting in one of these toilets. However, practice makes perfect, while convenience in everything is not what you are in for in Nepal.
If you habituate yourself to finding few yet squatty toilets, then you’re all good. Otherwise, you might have to rush to your hotel as soon as you get the nature calls.
Nepali youths and their slang
Another uncommon thing that you will come through when in Nepal is the slang that you hear from the youths in Nepal. There may be a misuse of the typical English words, but they know how to ace it! If you really wish to blend in, catch a friendly young Nepali local, and learn some slang so you know what they are talking about.
An example of this would be they usually use the word “danger” to refer to what you might normally refer to as “cool.” Though not common, these words are likely to amuse you and, in many ways, help you learn about the Nepalese and their word plays.
Nepal is still healing from the Civil War
Nepal had to face a civil war between two faces of the country, the monarchs and the communists. The country, sadly, is still healing from the effects of the war. The war ended only around 18 years ago after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord on 21 November 2006. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Nepal does not have political stability, and the Nepalese are still healing their scars from what happened during the Civil War.
Nepal is Developing
Nepal is one of the smallest and most developing countries in the world. Hence, there are a lot of aspects that are yet to be developed and grown here. While the education and job rates in Nepal are increasing, it is still lagging behind in many other sectors. Likewise, due to political and economic factors, several youths are in the country and flying abroad seeking better opportunities.
Ubiquitous Nepalese Army
The Nepalese army is always present all around Nepal. You will find armies in many places of the country, including the most rural to the most urban parts here. The armies are also a part of healing from the civil war. With the dangers related to the country from outside territories, it has always been crucial for these brave soldiers to watch for action.
Likewise, you will most certainly find these army men around the country’s protected areas.
No poaching allowed!
When in Nepal, poaching is highly restricted. Elephants are specially protected in the country. The laws in Nepal hold back people from riding the elephant more than one person at a time. Due to the strong religious beliefs and the laws, elephants are safe from harm.
In addition, Nepal’s economic condition makes the policies against poaching all the more strong because elephants, as well as some other animals in the country, promote tourism and keep intact the country’s beauty.
Use Namaste as a Greeting everywhere!
While there is a trend of saying hello and bye among the younger folks in Nepal, you should never miss out on saying the most typical and respectful greeting term, Namaste, when in Nepal!
Namaste can be used as a way to greet someone when you approach them and bid them goodbye. Regardless of the person’s age, a namaste will make you look respectful and kinder to the Nepalese people. In short, you can never go wrong when you know the right way to greet people.