Visas: Citizens of virtually all countries require a visa to enter Nepal. This can often be obtained on arrival at the airport for EU and North American citizens. On occasion the visa on arrival at the airport can be cheaper than in your home country. Check TKTK for updated visa regulations and fees, as well as to locate the consulate or embassy of Nepal closest to you. If you are applying for a visa on arrival or prior to departure, your passport must be valid for at least sic ore months, and you must carry a passport-sized photograph. A visa on arrival costs US$30 for 60 days, single entry, and $50 double entry.
Permits: All tours and treks to areas designated as Conservation Areas, National Parks, or Restricted Areas require you to purchase a permit. It is in all cases cheaper to process this in Kathmandu at the concerned government office. Office hours are 1000-1500, and Saturdays are holidays. This means that if you arrive on Friday and depart for your trek or tour on Sunday, you need to provide us beforehand with a checklist of information, 4 passport size photos for Restricted Areas (Mustang, Manaslu, Dolpo), and two passport pictuers for other areas such as Annapurna, Everest, and Langtang. Usually, we will let you know in advance what we need, and also inform you of any government holidays or festivals that need to be factored in.
Airport tax: Visitors must factor in an airport tax of each domestic flight.
Reaching Kathmandu: From the time you land until you depart, we take care of whatever you need. What we cannot do is reserve your international flight. Discuss this with your travel agent at your end and do consider that if you fly via New Delhi or Bangkok, your flight options - and reliability - increase dramatically. Some of the best connections you can make are with Thai, Gulf, Qatar, Austrian (in season), Druk Air, Air China, Phuket Air, and other Indian and international airlines such as Indian Airlines, Lufthansa etc.
Currency: The currency in Nepal is the Nepali Rupee. Most major international currencies and travellers' cheques can be exchanged in Kathmandu. Tourists commonly bring in US$, UK£, €, ChF, Aus$ etc. If you keep your foreign exchange encashment certificate, or exchange office receipt, you may change back any remaining Nepali Rupees at departure. Major credit cards (except American Express) are accepted in Kathmandu and Pokhara and ATMS will usually dispense cash on foreign credit and debit cards too. Banks work weekdays
0930-1500, though some of the larger banks have one counter open in the city throughout the day and on all public holidays. Kantipath and Durbar Marg, close to the tourist and shopping centre of Thamel, house a number of banks including Standard Chartered (who issue cash advances against Visa and Mastercard with no commission), Nepal Investment Bank, and Nabil Bank. All through Thamel, open from 0800-2200, are money exchange counters that offer reasonable rates. There is no real tourist black market for foreign currency any more.
Weather: The best times to visit Nepal, particularly if trekking, are Sep-Dec and Feb-May. At these times of year, especially the autumn, the skies are a clear blue, flowers are in bloom, and walking is easy. Temperatures are moderate, with highs in the early-mid 20s and lows from 8-13 or so. Daytime clothing can be as light as a T-shirt and trousers, but nights can be chilly and require a sweater or a fleece jacket. Nepal gets the most of its rain in the monsoon from mid-June-September, so if travelling at this time it is wise to be well-prepared for rain, and not mind a leech or two out on the trails. It is entirely possible to trek through the winter, the only caveat being that you must be prepared for cold conditions and the off chance of being snowed into a lodge for a few days.
Insurance : We strongly advise all our clients to purchase travel insurance at home before they leave for their trip. Those planning on trekking are advised additionally to make sure that their insurance covers the eventuality of a helicopter rescue/ evacuation to Kathmandu.
Health care: No vaccinations are reuqired for travel to Nepal. There are a number of reputed hospitals in Kathmandu, and three clinics specifically for travellers. The best known is CIWEC on Darbar Marg, near the tourist and shopping centre Thamel. If going trekking above 3,000-3,500 m, ensure that all medical conditions are under control and that any medication you take will not interfere with Diamox, which is often administered to ease some of the symptoms of the acclimatisation process. Travelling in Nepal is safe, health-wise, and there is no reason you should fall prey to gastro-intestinal disorders if you take common sensible precautions with food, drink, and personal hygiene. Take particular care with water, and if bottled water is unavilable, drink only what you know has been sterilised, or do so yourself (carry water purification tablets with you).
Hotel accommodation: Tin-Tin Trekking provides tourist standard accommodation in Kathmandu and Pokhara in hotels close to the agency as well as the tourist, recreation and shopping centres of Thamel and Lakeside. If, however, you wish to stay in a particular hotel or simply a different class of hotel, please let us know. We can usually arrange a discounted rate for our clients at most hotels. Check www.nepalhotels.com for more information. All hotels we organise will store your remaining baggage when you are on a trek or tour.
Restaurants: In Kathmandu and Pokhara you will be accommodated in localities that house many different kinds of restaurants. We can direct you to usually reliable, clean restaurants in a variety of price ranges and catering to tastes ranging from traditional Nepali dal-bhat to steak. Just bear in mind that many restaurants in Kathmandu take last orders around 2100-2200; in Pokhara this is even earlier.
Some restaurants, cafés and bars popular in Kathmandu among tourists, locals, and expats are:
Nanglo Restaurant, Durbar Marg. Good Nepali, continental, and Chinese, and excellent ambience. The Nepali set lunch is a good option in the aftermoon, as is the barbecue in the evening, under the sprawling tree. Lunch including drinks ca. $4-6 per person.
Bhanchha Ghar, Kamaladi. Typical multicourse Nepali meal (set), set to tradional dance and music in an old building. Ca. $10 per head at dinner without drinks.
Himalayan Java, Thamel entrance. Casual, many varieties of coffee, salads, sandwiches, $4-6 per head for snack/ light lunch or dinner.
Fire and Ice, Thamel entrance. Legendary thin crust pizza, past, polenta, soft-serve ice-cream, Italian-owned and run. $5-10 per head with drink.
Tibet Kitchen, Thamel. Excellent momos (Tibetan steamed ravioli), noodle soups and other traditional Tibetan dishes. Good dinner at $4-5 with drink.
Tashi Dhele, Thamel. Old standby for hot, cheap meals, including good Tibetan and Mexican. $2-4, lunch or dinner with drink.
New Orleans, Thamel. Good drinks, coffee, breakfast, interesting international menu, alfresco and covered. $2-10 with drink.
Maya Cocktail Bar, Thamel. Excellent huge selection of cocktails, two-for-one happy hours, popular with all. $2-4 per drink.
Roadhouse Café, Thamel. Excellent wood-fired pizza, hummous, coffee, and cocktails. $4-6 with drink
Picnic, Thamel. Excellent, spotless, value-for-money Korean, popular with all. $1-7 with drink. Closed 25th every month.
Everest Steak House, Thamel. Excellent - and enormous - post-trek steaks with a variety of sauces. $4-8 with drink.
Friendship Restaurant, Darbar Marg. Authentic Chinese chefs, clientele, and dishes. $2-8 with drink.
Tamura, Hotel Kido, Thapathali. Japanese for Japanese visitors, expats, well-kept secret. $5-12 with drink.
Gangri Sui Mai, Teku. Well-loved by locals for the open momos with four three sauces, and quality Chinese and Nepali meals. Lunch, dinner $2-4.
Royal Lotus, Bakhundole Patan. Real Thai food. Prix-fixe lunch with drink $3-5. Tuesday closed.
These are just a few suggestions to get you started; please do ask for more ideas.
Tipping: Tipping is catching on in Nepal. How much you leave depends, naturally, on the service you get, but also on the scale of the restaurant. At a smaller, cheaper restaurant a few rupees usually rounds up the bill and is adequate, while at more upscale western-style restaurants you can round up the bill and add a little, or leave anything from 5-15% depending on how satisfied you are.
If you want to tip the staff, do so at the end of your trek or tour. These are only suggestions based on what people have found reasonable to give in the past. For guide/ sirdar and cook: Rs 100-200 per day for the group. For porters, Rs50-100 per day for the group.
Shopping: Kathmandu is a shoppers' paradise. There is something for everybody, from adorable handknitted woollen outfits for children to trekking and climbing gear, from inexpensive silver jewellery to very expensive amber and turqouise, from thangka paintings (Buddhist religious art) to pashmina shawls, and great deals on cameras and cotton clothing. The key to not overpaying is not buying the first thing you see, no matter how much you like it. Look at similar merchandise in a couple more shops, compare prices and quality, and even try your hand at bargaining. Bargaining does not have to be hostile or exhausting - if you treat it as a game and don't try to beat people down to the lowest possible price - it's just a few rupees difference.
Barring shoes, you should be able to buy a lot of items you need for your trek in Kathmandu. The quality of the imitation windstoppers, down jackets, Gore-Tex gear, and fleece gear varies, but it is possible to get quality products for a lower price than back home. If nothing else, most of the gear is suitable for at least one trek. Look out for the slightly more expensive - but original - Chinese-made branded gear from Mountain Hardware and North Face. These are worth the money. Also available at reasonable prices are original headlamps, high-performance socks, ski/ trekking poles, and some climbing gear and quality sunglasses.
Electricity and electronic equipment: Devices run on 220 volts here, so be sure to bring converters for 110V devices. While most wall sockets are the round three-pin variety, there can sometimes be a frustrating variety of outlets, and it is best to have at least one plug adapter. If you are bringing along sensitive electronic equipment, also include a surge protector/ voltage stabiliser. While there is no real electricity in some areas along the trekking trails, many villages have improvised and possess generators, micro-hydropower plants, or solar-powered batteries, and will allow you to charge your equipment and batteries for a fee.
Photography and video: There is a surprisingly good range of film-based and digital still and video cameras, as well as accessories available, but to be on the safe side bring along whatever lenses, memory sticks and filters you anticipate needing.
The etiquette for photographing people, images of gods and godesses, temples and other religious monuments is the same as anywhere in the world. Do ask if you're in doubt about whether it is okay or not. In places where you are instructed that photography is prohibited, please be sensitive to the requirement. For example, when at Pashupatinath temple, tourists are not allowed close to the cremation pyres. You might see some standing across the river taking pictures with telephoto lenses. In this case ask yourself if one mediocre picture is worth your intruding into someone else's grief, and decide for yourself.
Photographs : Please kindly note to bring at least 6 pp size photos,if you obtain your entry visa for Nepal, needs 2 pp photos,for trekking like Manaslu,Mustang,Dolpo,Kanchanjung needs 2 pp photos, for each national park 1 pp size photo.
Beggars: In general begging is frowned upon in Nepal and there aren't many beggars, but tourist areas are the exception and there are a few. Please do not give them money. As you will see, a number of them, most noticably the young boys, are junkies, hooked on sniffing glue or slugging cough syrup. Your 'charity' will feed either their habit or that of their parents. It is perfectly okay to give them any food items you may have, ensuring however that you open the package before giving it. This is not as patronising as it sounds; it is a way to stop them selling it for a little cash to someone else and often then supporting their drug habit.