Nepal FAQ

General Information
People
Language
Religion
History
Climate of Nepal
What to wear ?
Accessibility
Passport and Visa
Some Important information to tourist
Non Tourist Visa
Vegetation
Transport system
Foreign currency regulation
Customs Formalities
Cultural shocks and a few tips
Festivals and calendar

General Information

Nepal MAPNepal is a small landlocked country in central Asia in the Himalayan Mountains, bordered by China in the north and India in the east, west and south. Nepal comprises three major areas: forests and cultivatable land in the south; the mighty Himalayas, including Mt. Everest in the north; and moderately high mountains in the central region, which contains the Kathmandu valley. Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city. Nepal's beautiful landscape has been a blessing and has attracted a lot of visitors from different parts of the world. Nepal may not be very large in size, but here you will find highest mountain and historic temples on earth, enchanting cultures and tropical jungle wildlife and most of all the friendliest people you have ever met.

Area: 147,181 Sq. Km. (The length is 885 kilometers east-west, and breath from 145 to 241 kilometers north-south
Political-System: Federal Democratic Republic.
Time: Nepal time is 5 hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT and 15 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time.
Working Hours: Saturday is the weekend in Kathmandu valley. In rest of Nepal only Saturday is weekend. In weekend Government offices and banks are closed. In Kathmandu valley Government offices open from 10:00 A.M. to 17:00 P.M. in summer and till 16:00 P.M. in winter. Government offices open from 10:00 A.M. to 17:00 P.M. in summer and till 16:00 P.M. in winter and on Friday these offices are open till 3:00 PM only.

People

Nepal PeopleNepal has a population of 22 million, made of different races and tribes, living in different regions, wearing different costumes, and speaking different languages and dialects. The Gurungs and Magars live mainly in the west. The Rais, Limbus and Sunuwars inhabit the slopes and valleys of the eastern mid hills. The Sherpas a live in east Himalayan region up to an average altitude of 4570m. The Newar is an important ethnic group in the capital valley Kathmandu. There are Tharus, Yardavs, Satar, Rajvanshis and Dhimals in the Terai region. The Brahmans, Chhetri, and Thakuris are spread over regions of the Kingdom.

Language

Many different ethnic groups have their own languages or dialects. Nepali is the official language of Nepal. Almost all the educated community in the cities can understand and speak English as well. Hindi is also widely understood and spoken.

Religion

Nepal is the only Hindu Kingdom in the world. Nepal is the birth place of Lord Buddha. Hence Hinduism and Buddhism are two major religions of Nepal. Majority of the Nepali are Hindu 90%, Buddhist 7% and other 3%. There is no distinct between Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal. Both play a vital role in lifestyle of the Nepali people. The Caste System: The caste system is still intact today but the rules are not as rigid as they were in the past. Because of western education, contact with foreigners, media, and modern communications, people are progressive in many aspects. In 1962, a law was passed making it illegal to discriminate against the untouchable castes. Hence all castes are equally treated by the law. Education is free and open to all castes.

History

Nepal has a long glorious history. Its civilization can be traced back to thousand of years before the birth of Christ. A Hindu-Buddhist culture flourished in the Kathmandu valley by the 4th century A.D. In the Middle Ages many small principalities were established. The Gurkhas, one of these, became dominant in 1768. In 1816, after a war with the British, Nepal adopted a policy of seclusion from foreign contacts. Internal power struggles led in 1846 to the dominance of the Rana family, which controlled the country until 1951. Under the Rana, Nepal was isolated from foreign influence, and there was little economic modernization. Nepal was granted independence in 1951 and a limited constitutional monarchy was established. After a brief period of democracy (1959-60), political activity was banned. A form of party less government, the Panchayat system, was set up (1962), with executive power resting in the king. This system was narrowly approved (1980) in a national referendum. In 1990 protests led to the abolition of the Panchayat system and the reestablishment of democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Long influenced by India, Nepal has recently developed closer ties with China. During the past 40 years Nepal has diversified its economy and developed a basic infrastructure with Herculean efforts.

After successful revolution in April 2007 and then conclusion of a political agreement in December 2007, Nepal was able to announce a new date for the Constituent Assembly Election. The election had took place on 10 April 2008. At the first session of the Constituent Assembly on 28 May, it voted to declare Nepal a federal democratic republic, thereby abolishing the monarchy. Five hundred sixty four members of the Constituent Assembly voted on this motion, with 560 in favor and four opposed. Moreover the major parties agreed on the creation of the position of President, while the Prime Minister was to hold executive powers.

Climate of Nepal

Nepal's climate varies with its topography. It ranges from sub-tropical to arctic depending upon the altitude. The Terai region has a hot and humid climate. The mid-land region are pleasant almost all the year round, although winter nights are cool. The northern mountain region, around an altitude above 3,353 m. has an alpine climate with a considerably lower temperature in winter as expected. Nepal has 4 distinct seasons. Nepal can be visited through out the year but best visited in Autumn and Spring.

Winter: (December to February): cold and dry weather with a few rainfalls.

Spring: (March to May): Mild – warm and dry weather with occasional shower. It is a little hazy if no showers for a long period.

Summer: (June to August): Warm – hot and humid weather.

Autumn: (September to November) Mild and dry weather. It is also a festival season. You can enjoy lots of green and blue sky. Best season for out door activities like trekking, rafting, and wild life jungle safari.

Monsoon: (Mid June - Mid September): Warm - hot and humid weather. Most of the rainfalls in Nepal are due to Monsoon in summer. The raining season depends on monsoon activities. Mostly rains at night, making the following days crispy clean and fresh. The length of summer and autumn also depend on the Monsoon. Most of the northern belt of the Trans-Himalayan zone is monsoon-shadowed and ideal for trekking.

What to wear ?

Medium-weight and easy-to-wash cottons are a good choice year-round in the Kathmandu Valley. From October to February ,woolen sweaters, jackets or similar other outfits are essential. Short or long sleeved shirts are comfortable for March to May. From June to September, light and loose garments are advisable. Down quilt jacket and under trousers are recommended for high altitude trekking.

Accessibility

By Air

Direct flight from New Delhi, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Vienna, Sharjah, Dubai, Dhaka, Karachi, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha, Paro, Lhasa, Mumbai, Banglore, Kolkata, and Varanashi are connected with Kathmandu via various airlines, viz. Nepal Airlines, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Air Arabia, Air China, Druk Air, Indian Airlines, Air Arabia, Pakistan International Airlines, Etihad, Fly Yeti, Austrian Airlines, Transavia, Gulf Air, Qatar Airlines, Thai International, etc.

By Land

From India entry points are Birganj, Sunauli, Kakarbhitta, Nepalganj, Dhangadhi, and Mahendra Nagar. Kodari is only entry point at Nepal-China border.

Passport and Visa

Tourist who intends to visit Nepal must hold valid passport and visa.

a. Entry: - Tourist entry visa can be obtained for the following duration from Nepalese Embassy or Consulate or other mission offices or at the following immigration offices in Nepal.

  1. Immigration Office, Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu
  2. Immigration Office, Kakarvitta, Jhapa (Eastern Nepal)
  3. Immigration Office, Birganj, Parsa (Central Nepal)
  4. Immigration Office, Kodari, Sindhupalchowk (Northern Border)
  5. Immigration Office, Belahia, Bhairahawa (Rupandehi, Western Nepal)
  6. Immigration Office, Jamunaha, Nepalgunj (Banke, Mid Western Nepal)
  7. Immigration Office, Mohana, Dhangadhi (Kailali, Far Western Nepal)
  8. Immigration Office, Gadda Chauki, Mahendranagar (Kanchanpur, Far Western Nepal)

1. Visa fee for visitors who enter Nepal for the first time in a visa year (Jan-Dec): Duration Fee Single entry 60 days from the date of entry US$ 30 or equivalent convertible foreign currency

2. Multiple entry facility can be obtained paying additional US$ 50 or equivalent convertible foreign currency. The facility will be valid for a visa year (Jan-Dec) if the visa period is valid.

b. Tourist Visa Extension:- A tourist visa can be extended upto 120 days from the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu and Pokhara Immigration Office on request. Thereafter an additional 30 days can be extended from Department of Immigration ensuring that tourist visa cannot be extended more than 150 days.

Visa Extension Fee

  1. Tourist visa extension fee for 30 days :- US$ 30 in equivalent Nepalese currency.
  2. Tourist visa extension with multiple entry facility :-Multiple entry facility can be obtained paying additional US$ 50 or equivalent convertible foreign currency. The facility will be valid for a visa year (Jan-Dec) if the visa period is valid.
  3. Late fee for not applying extension in time :- - US$2 in equivalent Nepalese currency per day for the first 30 days. - US$3 in equivalent Nepalese currency per day for the next 31 to 90 days. - US$5 in equivalent Nepalese currency per day for more than 90 days.
  4. Gratis visa :-
    • Children below 10 yrs. - Dependants up to the age of 16 years, holding foreign passports of Nepalese parents or either of their parent being a Nepalese citizen.
    • Citizen of Nepali origin, after having obtained passport for the first time from a Nepal based foreign mission, until the period of his departure to a foreign country.
    • Citizens of member countries of South Asian association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the people's Republic of china.
    • Any foreigner, who has lived in Nepal up to fifteen (15) days continuously, re-entering Nepal during the same visa year.
    • Any foreigner, tourist entering into Nepal for three days or less than that.

Some Important information to tourist

Don't or Do's

  • A tourist may stay in Nepal up to 150 days in a visa year (Jan-Dec).
  • A tourist must extend his/her visa before expiry of the visa validity period. A tourist who does not comply with these regulations may be liable of fine and other prosecution as provided in Immigration Act and Rules.
  • A Foreigner having obtained tourist visa shall not be allowed to work with or without receiving remuneration.
  • A foreigner shall not be allowed to carry out any work other than that for which purpose s/he has obtained the visa.

Non Tourist Visa

Who may apply : Following foreigners and their family members may apply for this

(a) Foreigners involved in the social and economic development works approved by Nepal Government, under the expenses to be borne by governmental institutions of the foreign friendly nations;

(b) Foreigners having obtained recommendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work in the institutions run by the foreign missions located in Nepal,

(c) Foreign representatives having obtained recommendation from the Ministry of Information and Communications to work in foreign newspapers and news agencies,

(d) Foreigners having obtained recommendation from the concerned Ministry to act as helpers of the foreigners having obtained diplomatic or official visas,

(e) Foreigners having obtained approval from His Majesty's Government to work on remuneration basis in any firm, company, association, industry or enterprise within the Kingdom of Nepal,

(f) Foreigners having obtained recommendation from the Ministry concerned to work in any international airlines organization located in the Kingdom of Nepal,

(g) Foreign importer visiting Nepal from third country on the recommendation of foreign governmental agency or Federation of Industries or Chamber of Commerce of Foreign Country,

(h) Foreigners who have marital relation with the citizens of Nepal and furnish the marriage registration certificate. If any foreigner of Nepali origin or a foreign passport holder issue of a Nepalese father or mother is to come to Nepal to visit any relatives.

(i) Foreigners who come to Nepal to work, on the recommendation of the concerned Ministry pursuant to an agreement or understanding agreed upon at governmental or non governmental level,

(j) Foreigners having obtained recommendation of the concerned Ministry to conduct feasibility study of an industry or enterprise for a period not exceeding 6 months.

(k) Group leader of the foreigners making application, accompanied by the recommendation of the Ministry concerned, for making the tourists' tour in group in Nepal.

(l) Such Foreigners as may be thought fit by Government of Nepal.

What is needed to apply :

1. Recommendation from the concerned Ministry or Department. 2. Work permit (for the employees) . 3. Six Copies of application forms with photographs. 4. A copy of passport including the copy of last Nepalese Visa. 5. A marriage certificate from the concerned authority to obtain NT visa on the grounds of marriage. 6. A relation certificate from the competent authority to obtain NT Visa on the grounds of relation. 7. Valid Press identity card issued from Department of Information. Duration : Up to one year at one time (can be extended) Issuing Authority : • For the category (g) mentioned above - Nepalese Embassy or Permanent Diplomatic Missions located in the foreign country or Director General, Department of Immigration. • For all others - Department of Immigration Fee : • For journalist status Nepalese currency equivalent to US$ 10 per month. • For marriage status Nepalese currency equivalent to US$ 10 per month. • For Chinese worker of category (a) having work permit, - Nepalese currency equivalent to US$ 20 per month. • For the status of all other categories if otherwise not mentioned - Nepalese currency equivalent to US$ 60 per month for the first year and US$ 100 per month for succeeding year.

Vegetation

Nepal possesses some of the most outstanding bio-diversity in the world, ranging from sub-tropical Rain forests to Alpine deserts. Wildlife: Nepal has 30 species of large wild animals and approximately 180 species of mammals .The one horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal tiger, crocodile, snow leopard, red panda, Himalayan black bear, and many other wild animals are found in the forests of Nepal. Nepal has 840 different species of wet-land, migratory and residential birds.

Transport system

Road

Kathmandu and major cities are inter-connected. They are also well connected with India through plains of the Terai followed by the most picturesque highways. Visitors are permitted to drive their own cars but the vehicles must possess an international carnet. There are regular bus services to Kathmandu and major cities from all the border points. The interior parts of the country are also linked with a number of highways. In Kathmandu buses for the different parts of the country are available at the Gongabu bus terminal. Buses, micro buses, and three wheelers are for mass transport. Taxi, rickshaw, and micro-buses are available in Kathmandu and other major towns.

Domestic Air Service

The Royal Nepal Airlines and other domestic airlines operate an extensive network of air service in the interior parts of Nepal. Other major domestic airlines are Agni Air, Cosmic Air, Yeti Airways, Buddha Air, Gorkha Airlines, Mountain Airlines, and Shangri-La Air. The domestic airports are in Kathmandu, Taplejung, Bharatpur, Bhojpur, Phaplu, Lukla, Lamidada, Tumlingtar, Rumjatar, Biratnagar, Simra, Janakpur, Ramechhap, Bharatpur, Meghauli Pokhara, Jomsom, Manang, Bhairahawa, Nepalganj Chaurjhahari, Surkhet, Dolpa, Jumla, Bajura, Baitadi, Darchula, Mahendranagar, Dhangadi, Tikapur, and Sanfebagar.

Foreign currency regulation

Nepalese currency can be purchased at foreign exchange counter at the airport. Foreign currency exchange counters of different banks, authorized money changers are found in most tourist area of various cities. Foreign currencies must be exchanged only through the banks or authorized money changers. The exchange rates of the foreign currencies are announced in the daily newspapers. Foreign visitors other than the Indian nationals are required to pay their hotel bills and air tickets in foreign currency. As per Government regulation Indian 500.00 or 1000.00 bank notes are not accepted in banks, hotels, and markets.

Customs Formalities

Passengers arriving without any dutiable goods can pass through the Green Channel. Dutiable goods have to be declared at the Red Channel. It is illegal to export goods over 100 years old. The Department of Archeology has to certify for export any metal statues, sacred paintings and similar objects before being taken out of the country.

Cultural shocks and a few tips

Festivals and calendar

Nepal has more festivals than the number of days in a year. Festivals in Nepal are always a meaningful and memorable event in the life of Nepalese people. Every festival has some purpose to serve. From bringing in the rain to honoring the dead or averting calamities, every festival has something spiritual about it. Festival is a way of life in Nepal. With the number of festivals that Nepal has, it is one of the best ways to understand and appreciate the Nepalese ways of life. The date of Nepali festivals are according to the lunar calendar. Hence the date of festivals varies from year to year. The list of festivals is as follows:

April - May

Nepali New Year
Bisket: Festival of the God Bhairab in Bhaktapur. Four days of colorful parades and processions
Mother's day

Rato Machhendranath: The festival of Lokeswar, one of the patron Gods of Kathmandu. A 40-foot tall chariot with the God's image installed is pushed and pulled through the streets by hundreds of worshippers.

Buddha Jayanti: Celebrating the birth of Lord Buddha

May - June

Kumar Sasthi: A celebration of the birth of the Hindu warrior God Kumar marks the beginning of the rice planting season. It's also celebrated by groups of boys who indulge in stone throwing fights.

June - July

No major festivals in the worst of the monsoon season.

July - August

Ghanta Karma: A festival commemorating an ancient victory over a particularly malevolent devil, Gathemuga. Mock funerals are held and figures burned in effigy.

Gunla: A Buddhist Lent or Ramadan-like holy month of penance and pilgrimage, climaxing in a rollicking celebration.

Naga Panchami: A festival devoted to the snake gods, who most Nepalese believe ruled the Valley before the coming of people.

Janai Purnima: The festival of changing of the sacred thread which every Brahmin caste Hindu male wears around his torso.

August - September

Gaijatra: A festival to the sacred cow. Among other symbolisms of the cow, cows are believed to lead the souls of the dead to the underworld; and on Gaijatra Newar households process around an ancient path believed to mark the city walls of times past, in honor of recently deceased members of their families. It's also a carnival celebration with practical jokes - something like Mardi Gras combined with April Fool's day.

Krishna Asthami: Celebrating the birth of the Hindu God Krishna.

Father's Day
Tij Brata - A woman's' festival . Worshippers undergo fasting and penance and seek good fortune and long life, and a ritual purification of self. The three (or four) day celebration ends with a great feast.

September - October

Indrajatra - This festival officially begins with the raising of a 50-feet tall ceremonial pole at Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square in Kathmandu. A weeklong traditional display of old images of Akash Bhairab is one of the highlights of this festival. The ceremonial pulling of the rath (chariot) of the Kumari, the chariots of Ganesh and Bhairab accompany the Virgin or Living Goddess.

Dasain: The biggest and most widely celebrated national festival in Nepal, usually falls in early October. It begins with Ghatsthapana. Of the two full weeks of celebrations, the 8th, 9th and 10th are the most eventful and auspicious days. The main deity worshipped during Dashain is Goddess Durga. On the 9th day, thousands of devotees visit important Durga temples to worship her. The tenth day is climax day. People visits to seniors for Tika (blessings). The ministers, high ranking officials, general public queue to get Tika from their Majesty in Royal Palace.

October - November

Tihar: It is also known as Diwali or Deepavali, is the festival of lights in Nepal. The celebrations continue for five days. It is an annual festival celebrated in the bright blue days of autumn. The festival begins with the worship of crows, followed by the worship of dogs on the 2nd day. On the 3rd day, Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, is worshipped. On the 5th day, one's own soul is worshipped. Sisters also worship their brothers on this day. This is called Bhai Tika, and is a great day and the grand finale to Tihar.

November - December

Indriani Puja - Festival of the Goddess Indriani and of the carious mother goddesses which protect each village in Nepal.

Sita Bibaha Panchami: Celebrating the wedding of the Goddess Sita and the God Ram with mock wedding processions

Dhanya Purnima: A full moon festival celebrating the end of the rice harvest.

Mani Rimdu: It is one of the most fascinating High Himalayan Buddhist festivals observed every year, usually in November. Thengboche, the world's highest monastery located in Solu Khumbu district of Nepal, is the focal point for the celebration of this festival. The main attraction of this festival is the various masked dances of religious significance.

December - January

Seto Machhendranath - A cleansing ritual for the White (seto) Machhendranath, a counterpart god to the Red (rato) Machhendranath who's chariot procession is in April-May.

January - February

Losar: It is one of the greatest festivals of significant importance to the Sherpas and peoples of Tibetan origin. It is celebrated every year in February. The focus of this festival centers around the celebration of the Tibetan New Year. Many fascinating rituals and celebrations may be observed in Boudha and in Tibetan settlements such as the Tibetan Refugee Camp at Jawlakhel, Patan.

February - March

Shiva Ratri - The all day and all night festival of the great God Shiva.

Holi - a rowdy festival of "colors", in which participants douse themselves (and sometimes unwary onlookers) with colored powder and liquid, and generally have a great time.

March - April

Ram Nawami is a big day for the Nepalese Hindu. It is celebrated in the honor of the great Hindu King Ram, and takes place around March. The main deity to be worshipped on this occasion is Goddess Durga. The holy Hindu scriptures say that Ram was able to kill his archenemy, Ravana, the dreaded demon, by the blessings of Goddess Durga. This day symbolizes the victory of virtue over vice, or of good over evil.

Ghodejatra: A horse festival, celebrated with coach processions, horse racing, and military displays on the main parade ground in Kathmandu.