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From the exotic magic of Kathmandu, through remote hill villages with their different pace of life, and the steamy, hot jungles of the southern plains, to the awe-inspiring, almost incredible majesty of the high Himalayas, Nepal has something special for everyone. Nepal is less than 900 km from East to West, and only 150 to 200 km from North to South, and for 80% of the country, vertical is the main orientation. Up-and-down "ukaalo-oraalo" s the determining fact of life; access is predominantly by foot of man or beast or via a few isolated mountain-top STOL airstrips.

A country of superlatives, Nepal has our world's highest mountain (Mt. Everest 8848 m) and its deepest gorge (Kali Gandaki); it has even been said that if Nepa's landscape could be somehow detached from its rugged terrain, and stretched out flat, it would be nearly as large as mainland Europe - whereas in reality it occupies roughly the same area as England! The extreme altitudinal variations of Nepal have preserved an astonishing number of around 70 spoken languages and 40 ethnic groups, a variety to be found within few, if any, other nations. Among the middle hills may be found dozens of such ethnic groups, jealous guardians of their own languages, costumes, customs and beliefs, while the fertile green bowl of the Kathmandu Valley is an oasis of magnificent art, with seven of the World Cultural Heritage sites enclosed in a remarkably confined area.

Not surprisingly, Nepal has an amazing variety of ecosystems, from humid rainforests and terraced valleys to frozen peaks and alpine deserts. In Spring and in the Monsoon season, wild flowers cover the high mountains and the lower areas' in the Langtang and Annapurna regions you may see Orchids, Edelweiss, Gentians and Primulas, while at different times, and elsewhere, there will be myriads of other flowering plants, as well as huge forest trees, including Rhododendron, Magnolia and Sal. Nepal is surely a botanist's delight.

A large number of birds, both residents and visitors, are to be found too. The huge, bearded vulture, the Lammergeier, may be spotted soaring on the thermals in the high mountain ranges, while in the hot and steamy flat lands of Southern Nepal, flocks of Ring-necked Parakeets fill the sky with their brilliant green plumage. These are just two examples of over 850 species of birds which inhabit Nepal's astonishingly diverse regions, alongside over 600 species of butterflies and moths.

In the Terai, and notably the Chitwan National Park, the rare one-horned rhino may be seen along with other endangered species of mammals and reptiles in their protected environment. Elsewhere, in the hill and mountain regions there could be rare sightings of the Snow Leopard, Red Panda, and Himalayan Thar, with much more likely meetings with Langur and Rhesus monkeys and Barking Deer…and more. It may truly be said that the exotic realm of Nepal is a paradise on earth!


A small, landlocked country, Nepal is situated between Tibet (China) to its north, and India to its east, west and south. Although occupying just a tiny fraction of the earth's surface, Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity, due to its unique geographical position and altitudinal variation. The elevation of the country ranges from less than 100 metres above sea level in the Terai, to the highest point on earth, the summit of Mt. Everest, at 8,848 metres, all within a distance of about 150km, resulting in climatic conditions ranging from sub-tropical to Arctic. Nepal is topographically divided into three regions: the Himalaya to the north, the middle hills consisting of the Mahabharat range and the Churia Hills, and the Terai to the south. The Himalaya and its foothills make up the northern border of the country and represent 16% of the total land area. This is the least inhabited region of Nepal, with less than 8% of the population living there. Most permanent settlements are at less than 4000m altitude, although there are summer settlements as high as 5000m. The middle hills cover about 65% of the total land area and are home to around 45% of the population of the country. This area is the home of the ancient ethnic people of Nepal. The climate is good and most of Nepal's lakes and beautiful valleys are located in the middle hills, whereas the eastern hills receive most rainfall because of the monsoon clouds, which come from the Bay of Bengal. The middle hills provide an ideal habitat for wildlife, such as leopard, deer, bear, monkeys, butterflies and over four hundred indigenous species of birds. The Terai is the southern part of Nepal and is an extension of the Gangeatic plains of India. It covers 17% of the total land area, providing excellent farming land as well as space for large industry. Until 1950, the Terai was predominantly an area of heavily malarial, sub-tropical forest, inhabited only by the Royal Bengal tiger, leopard, wild boar, several species of deer, one-horned rhino, wild elephant and gharial and mugger crocodiles. But after the eradication of malaria in the 1960s, many people from the middle hills migrated to the Terai in search of farming land. Today, about 48% of the population occupies this region. With its interesting and exciting bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and altitudinal variation, Nepal is probably the only country in the world where, in a period of just two weeks it is possible to travel from sub-tropical lowlands to alpine glaciers, to experience altitudes from as low as 60m to the base of the highest mountain on the earth, temperatures from +40 to -40 degrees celsius, and a climate ranging from monsoon and humid to dry rain-shadow and frozen alpine zone. Nepal is home to - 2% of all the flowering plant species in the world - 8% of the world's population of birds (more than 848 species) - 4% of mammal species on earth - 11 of the world's 15 families of butterflies (more than 500 species) - 600 indigenous plant families - 319 species of exotic orchids.


Records mention  Gopalas and Mahishapalas, believed to have been the earliest rulers, with their capital at Matatirtha, the south-west corner of Kathmandu Valley. From C7th or C8th  B.C., valley ruled by Kirantis, whose famous King Yalumber is mentioned in the epic, ‘Mahabharat’. Around 300 A.D. Lichhavis arrived from India and overthrew Kirantis. An important Lichhavis legacy is Changu Narayan Temple near Bhaktapur, which dates back to the 5th Century and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Early in C7th, Amshuvarma, first Thakuri king, took over the throne from Lichavi father-in-law, and married off his daughter Bhrikuti to Tibetan King, Tsong Tsen Gampo, establishing good relations with Tibet. Lichhavis brought art and architecture to the valley, but Mallas responsible for golden age of creativity around C12th A.D.

During Mallas’ 550-year rule, they built many temples and splendid palaces within their own courtyard squares. Also during Malla rule, society and cities became better organized, religious festivals were introduced and literature, music and art were encouraged. Following Yaksha Malla’s death, valley divided into three kingdoms: Kathmandu (Kantipur), Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon) and Patan (Lalitpur). Nepal, as named today, split into about 46 independent principalities, one being kingdom of Gorkha, with Shah ruler. Most of Kathmandu Valley’s history of that time was recorded by Capuchin friars who lived in the valley while travelling in and out of Tibet.

Ambitious Gorkha King, Prithvi Narayan Shah, embarked on a conquering mission leading to defeat of all valley kingdoms by 1769. Rather than annexe newly acquired states to Gorkha, it was decided to move capital to Kathmandu, thereby establishing Shah dynasty which ruled unified Nepal,1769 to 2008.
History of Gorkha state begins 1559, with establishment of kingdom in predominantly Magar area, by Dravya Shah. During C17th and early C18th, Gorkha continued gradual expansion, conquering some states while forging alliances with others. At early age, Prithvi Narayan dedicated himself to conquest of Kathmandu Valley. Recognizing threat from British Raj in India, European missionaries dismissed from Nepal, which remained isolated for over a century.
Mid-19th Century, Jung Bahadur Rana became Nepal’s first prime minister, wielding absolute power, relegating Shah kings to figureheads. Started hereditary dynasty of Rana Prime Ministers, which lasted for 104 years, until overthrown in democracy movement of early 1950s, with support from the monarch, King Tribhuvan. Soon after, Tribhuvan reinstated as  Head of the State, and in 1959, his son, King Mahendra, issued new constitution, and first democratic elections for national assembly were held. Nepali Congress Party victorious and their leader, Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala formed government, serving as prime minister. In 1960, King Mahendra changed mind and dissolved Parliament, dismissing first democratic government.

Following many years of struggle when political parties were banned, sufficient courage mustered to start People’s Movement in 1990. Paving way for democracy, Mahendra’s son, King Birendra, accepted constitutional reforms and established multiparty parliament with himself as the Head of State, and executive Prime Minister. May 1991 saws Nepal’s first parliamentary elections. February 1996, Maoist parties declared People’s War 1st June 2001, entire royal family, including King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and many of their closest relatives, massacred. King Birendra’s brother, Gyanendra, and his family survived and he was crowned. King Gyanendra abided by the elected government for some time and then dismissed the elected Parliament to wield absolute power. April 2006, another People’s Movement launched jointly by the democratic parties, focusing most energy in Kathmandu, leading to 19-day curfew. Eventually, King Gyanendra relinquished power and reinstated Parliament. November 21, 2006, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist chairman Prachanda signed Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) 2006, committing to democracy and peace for the progress of the country and people. Constituent Assembly election held April 10, 2008.  May 28,  newly elected Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic, abolishing 240 year-old monarchy. Nepal today has a President as Head of State and Prime Minister heading Government.

The People, Culture, and Language:

Nepal's diverse ethnic and cultural groups categorized geographically according to habitats. Higher hills of eastern and central Nepal are home to Sherpas, primarily Buddhists of Tibeto-Burman stock. Solo Khumbu region, where Mt. Everest stands, peopled mainly by these Sherpas, famed for mountaineering skills used professionally on major mountaineering expeditions. Those Sherpas also follow other career routes, such as business, administration and politics. Other powerful and successful business people of Tibetan origin, the Manangis, hail from arid region north of Annapurna. Mid-hills are home to wide variety of ethnic groups: Rais and Limbus (Kirats), with their primarily animist beliefs, inhabit East Nepal, whereas Gurungs populate the Annapurna region. The latter are mainly Buddhists, as are Tamangs, found throughout Nepal, with Magars, Thakalis and Sunwars also dwelling in the middle hills. All above ethnic groups are Sino-Mongoloid people, whereas from the South come mainly Hindu Indo-Caucasians. These include Brahmins, Chhetris, Ranas andThakuris. Newars, who may be either Hindu or Buddhist, were probably original inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley. To furthest south Nepal, in Gangeatic plain lowlands, may be found Tharus, one of the original ethnic groups inhabiting the Terai. Tharus have unique religion, and practice animism: they have Mongoloid features and their own spoken language.

Within Nepal there are around 15 major ethnic identities and over 100 unique spoken languages. Many ethnic groups are also so internally diverse that their dialects are mutually unintelligible. With increasing migration within Nepal nowadays, cultural definition of the Nepalese people by area is therefore difficult. Urban population is increasing annually, and most cultures have intermingled!


Nepal is a developing country where farming is still the main economic activity, followed by manufacturing, trade and tourism, although, sadly these have been badly affected by the national and world events of the last few years. As a rule, the chief sources of foreign currency earnings are merchandise export, services, tourism and Gurkha remittances.  

Eighty per cent of Nepalis are engaged in farming, and this has traditionally accounted for nearly half of the GDP. The ancient cultivated terraces of the hills of Nepal are one of the most arresting and admired images retained by most visitors to the country. Even in the Kathmandu Valley and, of course, in the flatlands of the Terai, large tracts of land are devoted to farming. Rice is the staple diet in Nepal and around 3 000 000 tons are produced annually. Other major crops are barley, maize, millet and wheat. Beside food grains, cash crops such as jute, oil seeds, sugarcane and tea are also cultivated in quantity.
Trading is second nature to the Nepalese people, especially as the country is situated at the cross-roads of the ancient trans-Himalayan trade route. Foreign trade is characterized by import of manufactured products and export of agricultural raw materials. Petroleum products are a major import. Exports include carpets, garments, handicraft goods, pulses, hides and skins, jute and medicinal herbs. Manufacturing is still at the developmental stage, representing less than 10% of the GDP. The chief industries include carpets, cement, garments, leather products, paper and textiles. Although there are many modern, large-scale factories, most of the production is from cottage or small-scale operations. Most of Nepal's industry is based in the Kathmandu Valley and in towns in the Terai.


An important part of the lives of most Nepalese people is the practice of religion. In this officially Hindu land, many cultural values are based on the mythologies of Hindu gods and goddesses, and on the philosophies of holy books like the Swasthani, Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharat. At dawn, Hindu women perform puja at their neighbourhood shrines, making offerings of rice, flowers and vermilion powder, burning incense, ringing temple bells and applying tika, a red paste, to their foreheads. Late at night, groups of men sometimes sit near temples playing music and singing hymns.
Nepal embraces Buddhism and Hinduism in almost equal measure, which is not surprising as the former emerged from the latter. The birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini, is a very important religious pilgrimage site for Buddhists, and the world’s largest stupa, Boudanath, is in Kathmandu. Along with Pashupatinath, a Hindu and Buddhist temple complex, considered to be one of the world’s most important sites, Lumbini and Boudanath, together with Muktinath, another joint Hindu/Buddhist complex in the Annapurna region, are the focus of much daily devotion, not to mention international religious tourism.

In addition to these two main religions, others, like Islam, Christianity, and Bon, are practiced in Nepal. Many of the earliest inhabitants of Nepal, like the Kirats and the Tharus, practice their own kind of religion known as animism, based on nature- and ancestor- worship.


Countless gods and goddesses comprise the Hindu pantheon. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are the three major gods, each with his own characteristics and incarnations. Many gods and goddesses have their own vehicles or steeds, statues of which are to be seen waiting patiently outside temples. Knowledge of these vehicles often helps visitors to discern which god is the object of worship in the many temples which abound in Nepal. Deities are frequently depicted with multiple arms, and hands holding symbolic objects which empower them to perform great feats


The founder of Buddhism is Sakyamuni Buddha who lived and taught during the sixth century BC. The world renowned stupas of Boudhanath and Swayambhunath are among the most ancient and most beautiful sites of worship in the Kathmandu Valley. Prostrating pilgrims, followers spinning prayer wheels, permanently-burning butter lamps and collective chanting, are some of the Buddhist practices often encountered by tourists. A slip of paper bearing a mantra is kept inside prayer wheels, and similar mantras are printed on prayer flags, so that prayers may be offered to the gods when the wheels are spun, or the flags are made to flutter by the wind. Scenes from the life and times of Buddha are depicted on thangka scroll paintings which are used during meditation and prayer ceremonies, some of which may be seen performed at Buddhist sites within the Kathmandu valley or further afield.

Climate and when to go:

It is difficult, and probably unwise, to generalize about the climate of a country ranging in elevation from 60m above sea level in the Terai, to the summit of Mount Everest at 8848m!. However, it may safely be said that, apart from areas within the rainshadow, most of Nepal's climate is governed by the same monsoonal pattern, with temperatures varying according to elevation. Climatically, Nepal can be said to have five disparate seasons but one should not choose to visit the country based solely on meteorological divisions. Other factors should influence decisions, such as mountain visibility, wildlife, festivals, high or low incidence of disease, and so on.

Autumn (October and November) is the season when almost half of all tourists visit Nepal. Cloudless skies after the monsoon rains, with good visibility in the mountains; temperatures that are not too low in the high hills or too high in the low plains; clear and dry weather, are all factors which make Autumn the most popular season for trekking. Nepal’s two most important festivals, Dasain and Tihar, fall during this season, adding to the cultural interest of an Autumn visit to Nepal.

Winter is the season when the snow line descends to 2000m - 3000m, and although snow is virtually unknown in Kathmandu, the capital feels cold and clammy. There are fewer tourists in Nepal and this leaves the trekking routes and guesthouses relatively quiet, but with reduced menus and some lodges on trekking routes closed for business.

Spring brings warmer temperatures, longer days, and more festivals to be enjoyed, like Shivaratri, Losar and Holi. Myriads of rhododendrons, magnolia, daphne and orchids are in bloom in the hills towards the end of this period, and in the Tarai the elephant grass for thatching has been cut, making this the optimum time for viewing wildlife.

Pre-Monsoon is sticky and airlessly humid at lower elevations, and dusty wind squalls are common. As people become somewhat fractious with the heat, this is the time for popular unrest, but also for the Kathmandu Valley's great rain-making festival, Indra Jatra. Temperatures are more bearable when trekking at higher altitudes.

The Monsoon season is welcomed in Nepal, not only because it breaks the enervating monotony of the previous months, bur primarily because it makes the fields come alive with rushing water and green shoots. This exciting season of renewal can be a fascinating time to visit, when Nepal is at its most Nepalese, but there are some drawbacks: mountain views are rare, leeches come out in force along the mid-elevation trekking routes, roads wash out, flights get cancelled, and the possibility of disease in Kathmandu is much increased as the rising water table brings to the surface the contents of the city's sewers! However, there is probably no better time to see a positive explosion of alpine and other flowers which respond almost instantaneously to the welcome rains.

Autumn (October and November):

Autumn (October and November) is the season when almost half of all tourists visit Nepal. Cloudless skies after the monsoon rains, with good visibility in the mountains; temperatures that are not too low in the high hills or too high in the low plains; clear and dry weather, are all factors which make Autumn the most popular season for trekking. The two important festivals of Dasain and Tihar fall during this season, adding to the cultural interest of a visit to Nepal.

Winter (December and January):

Winter is the season when the snow line descends to 2000 - 3000m,and though snow is unknown in Kathmandu, the capital feels cold and clammy.. There are few tourists in Nepal and this leaves the trekking routes and guesthouses fairly quiet, with reduced menus and many lodges on trekking routes closed for business.

Spring (February to mid-April):

Spring brings warmer temperatures, longer days, and more festivals to be enjoyed, like Shivaratri, Losar and Holi. Myriads of rhododendrons, magnolia, daphne and orchids are in bloom in the hills towards the end of this period, and in the Tarai the elephant grass for thatching has been cut, making this the optimum time for viewing wildlife.

Pre-Monsoon (mid-April to early June):

Pre-Monsoon is sticky and airlessly humid at lower elevations, and dusty wind squalls are common. As people get rather fractious with the heat, this is the time for popular unrest, but also for the Kathmandu Valley's great rain-making festival, Indra Jatra. Temperatures are more bearable when trekking at higher altitudes.

Monsoon Season (June to September):

The Monsoon season is welcomed in Nepal, not only because it breaks the enervating monotony of the previous months, bur primarily because it makes the fields come alive with rushing water and green shoots. This exciting season of renewal can be a fascinating time to visit, when Nepal is at its most Nepalese, but there are some drawbacks: mountain views are rare, leeches come out in force along the mid-elevation trekking routes, roads wash out, flights get cancelled, and the possibility of disease in Kathmandu is much increased as the rising water table brings to the surface the contents of the city's sewers!. However, there is probably no better time to see a positive explosion of alpine and other flowers which respond almost instantaneously to the welcome rains.

Tourist Visa:

Visas are required to enter Nepal, for all nationals, except Indians.
Visas may be obtained from any Nepalese Embassy or Consulate, on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, or at any other entry point in Nepal, i.e. Kakadvitta, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Gaddachowki on Nepal-India border and Kodari on Nepal-China border.
Visas issued in Nepal may be obtained only through payment of cash in the following currencies: US Dollar (preferred), GB Pound Sterling, Euro, Swiss Franc, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Singapore Dollar and Japanese Yen. Credit cards, Indian currency and Nepali currency are not accepted as payment of visa fee.
Visa renewals/extensions may also be obtained at Department of Immigration, Kalikasthan, Kathmandu. These must be paid for in Nepalese rupees, as you will be in the country at the time of renewal.
•    Duly completed Visa application form.
•    Valid Passport (with a validity of a minimum period of six months)
•    One passport size Photograph.
•    If applying in person at the embassy, please bring cash for the visa fee
•    If applying by post, please enclose postal order or bank draft made payable to 'Embassy of Nepal' for the visa fee
•    If applying by post, please enclose a self-addressed Envelope with (Recorded delivery) stamp with the application (Only for applicants within UK)
•    Visa applications made in person to Embassy or Consulate require 24 hours processing time.
•    Applications by post may take up to two weeks to be processed.

Tourist Visa Charges
Visa Facility    Duration    Fee
Multiple entry    15 days    US$  25, £20 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry    30 days    US$  40, £35 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry    90 days    US$ 100, £75 or equivalent convertible currency
Children under the age of 10 shall be issued with a visit visa free of cost.
Neither credit cards nor Nepalese currency are accepted as payment of visa fee.

Trekking Permits:

Traditional permits issued by Nepal Ministry of Tourism are no longer required for trekking in common areas such as Sagarmatha, Annapurna and Langtang. Nowadays TIMS (Trekking Information Management Services) permits are required instead, and these are organised, as are all other permits, by your travel company.

Other areas still require Ministry of Tourism permits, issued by the Department of Immigration (again the responsibility of your travel company).
Permit Fees

Restricted areas which have been opened for Group Trekking
The following restricted areas are open only for group trekkers. And a trekking permit will not be issued to individual trekkers for such areas. The areas and required fees are as follows:
i)Dolpa district
a)Areas of lower Dolpa
Per week per person US$ 10 or equivalent convertible foreign currency.
b)Areas of Upper Dolpa
For the first 10 days per person US $500 and
After 10 days per day per person US$50

ii)Taplejung District
Kanchanjanga Region (Areas of Olangchunggola, Lelep, Papung and Yamphudin Village
Development Committee)
Per week per person US$ 10 or equivalent convertible foreign currency.

iii)Mustang district.
Upper Mustang
For the first 10 days per person US $500 and
After 10 days per day per person US$50.

iv) Gorkha District:
A. (Manaslu Area)
From September to November per week per person US$ 70 and
After 7 days per day per person US$ 10 and
From December to August per week per person US$ 50 and
After 7 days per day per person US$ 7 or equivalent convertible foreign currency.
B. (Chhekampar & Chunchet VDC (Sirdibas-Lokpa-Chumling-Chhekampar -Nile-Chhule Area)
From September to November per person US$ 35 for 8 days and
From December to August per person US$ 25 for first 8 days or equivalent convertible
foreign currency.

v)Dolakha District  (Gauri Shankar & Lamabagar)
Per week per person US$ 10 or equivalent  convertible foreign currency.

vi)Humla District(Simikot and Yari) :-
Areas of Limi and Muchu village Development Committee, and area way to Tibet via Tangekhola of Darma Village Development committee.
For the first 7 days per person US$50 and
After 7 days per day per person US$7 or equivalent convertible foreign currency.


Apart from used personal belongings, visitors are allowed to bring to Nepal free of duty cigarettes (200) or cigars (50), distilled liquor (one 1.15 litre bottle), and film (15 rolls). You can also bring in the following articles free of duty, on condition that you take them out with you when you leave: binoculars, movie or video camera, still camera, laptop computer, and portable music system.


It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old (sacred images, paintings, manuscripts) that are valued for cultural and religious reasons. Visitors are advised not to purchase such items as they are Nepal's cultural heritage and belong there. The Department of Archaeology (tel: 4250686, 4250687, 4250685) at Ramshah Path near Singha Durbar has to certify all metal statues, sacred paintings and similar objects before they are allowed to be sent or carried out of the country. Handicraft dealers and travel agents are able to assist you in this process. For more information on customs matters, contact the Chief Customs Administrator, TIA Customs Office.

Airport Tax:

Passengers departing from Tribhuvan International Airport are not required to pay airport tax as this is included in ticket price. Domestic airport tax is NRs.200.



Airport taxi:

Tribhuvan International Airport Transport Workers' Cooperative operates a fixed-rate taxi service from the airport to the city. The transport is available almost around the clock. Contact the TIA-TWC counter near the arrivals lounge exit. There are also meter taxis and other transport services. Hassle by taxi and hotel touts at the exit door of the arrivals lounge has increased to a totally unacceptable level, and should not be encouraged. Far better to arrange accommodation or have some idea of this before arrival in Nepal, so that you can give specific directions to any taxi driver. If you are already booked into a hotel in Kathmandu, the establishment concerned should pick you up from the airport. It is a matter of grave concern to the Nepalese people that a sub-culture of beggars is fast gaining a hold. To help halt this tendency, please resist the pleas from the many children and others who will ask you for money at the airport, even if they have taken it upon themselves to heave your luggage about. If you do not ask them to be a porter for you, they should not expect payment.

Around the city:

Meter taxis can be hailed off the street, though they are a bit difficult to find after sundown. Kathmandu yellow cab (tel:4420987) operates from 6 am till 10 pm. Nepal Blue Cab (tel: 4231632) operates from 6 am till 8:30 pm. In addition, there are many freelance taxis. A night taxi service is available from the taxi stand at Dharma Path from 8 pm till 12 midnight. These taxis can also be summoned by telephone for pick-up (tel: 4223474). Cars and drivers for sightseeing can be hired through hotels or travel agencies.


Rickshaws (two-seater tricycles) can be an inexpensive way to see the city. The fare should be negotiated beforehand.


There are buses, mini-buses, micro-buses and three-wheeler tempos that ply on fixed routes at regular intervals. Last bus around 8 pm. City Buses as well as those going to Kirtipur, Banepa, Dhulikhel, and Thankot leave from Tripureswor near the stadium. Long-distance buses to different parts of Nepal leave from the Gangabu Bus park located on the Ring Road on the north side of town. A comprehensive network of road & communication is under construction in the Kingdom. Pokhara Valley is linked with Kathmandu by a picturesque highway, Prithvi Rajmarg. Pokhara, 202 kilometres west from Kathmandu, is also linked with the Indian border town of Sunauli by another highway named Siddhartha Rajmarg. One can drive from Kathmandu right to the far eastern border of Nepal connecting through Mahendra Rajmarg, also known as East-West Highway. The interior parts of the country are also linked with a number of motorable roads. Buses for different parts of the country are available at the Central Bus Terminal which is located at Gangabu. Cars, jeeps, mini-buses and other vehicles are also available on hire in Kathmandu.



Given Nepal's mountainous terrain, aircraft play a vital role in the country's transport network, especially in the west where planes are often used to carry in food during the winter. Of the forty towns and villages with airstrips, almost half are two or more days' walk from a road. Most flights begin or end in Kathmandu, but two other airports in the Tarai - Nepalgunj in the west and Biratnagar in the east - serve as secondary hubs. Popular destinations, such as Lukla in the Everest region, get up to six flights a day, while obscure airstrips may receive only one flight a week. Some operate only seasonally.



Radio and Television:

The government-run Radio Nepal is by far the most influential of the nation's media, catering to the illiterate majority of Nepalis and reaching villages well beyond access of any newspaper. With a daily format of traditional and pop music, news bulletins, English language lessons, dramas and development messages, it has been a powerful force for cultural and linguistic unity, though demands by various ethnic groups for programming in their native tongues has recently become a hot political topic. The station carries English-language news bulletins daily, and also relays the BBC World Service. .A recommended private radio station, Radio Sagarmatha 102.4MHz, broadcasts in English and offers the World Service news each early morning (07.15 to 07.45) as well as many highly informative and controversial programmes. Satellite television coverage may be accessed in most large hotels in Nepal.


Despite less than 50-percent literacy, Nepal boasts an astonishing 460 newspapers. Of the handful printed in English, the dailies, Kathmandu Post, Himalayan Times and Rising Nepal are quite widely circulated, but in remote areas they are often a day or more out of date. The Nepali Times is a weekly (Fridays) newspaper which is highly recommended as, unusually for Nepal, it does not shy from investigative journalism or from using foreign reporters who see Nepal objectively.


Medical Treatment:

Helicopter Rescue:

For serious medical emergencies when a patient cannot walk or be carried out, a helicopter rescue can be arranged. The service is expensive and must be paid for by the rescuee, as we, in line with all other trekking companies, do not stump up the cost of helicopter rescue, even temporarily. All helicopter companies insist on receiving assurance of payment before they will dispatch a flight. This assurance will be obtained on your behalf, by your trekking agency, if you are with a group (they should be given a copy of your insurance policy with details of emergency contact addresses and phone numbers). You need to be aware that once the helicopter takes off from Kathmandu or Pokhara, you are liable for the cost of the flight, even if the helicopter doesn't find you! It is for this reason that clients are not included in our trekking groups without comprehensive trip insurance, including helicopter evacuation


Kathmandu has the country's best medical facilities, but for anything very serious you may prefer to fly back home. Nepalese hospitals are crowded and very basic, although the medical treatment is thorough and skilled.

For most illnesses, you should consult a Nepali doctor, which could be arranged by your hotel if you are in Kathmandu or Pokhara, or, visit a private clinic. CIWEC Travel Medicine Centre, Lazimpath, near British Embassy, Tel: 442 4111, is staffed by Nepalese and Western physicians and nurses and provides competent care, but a visit is expensive by Nepalese standards. Nepal International Clinic (tel. 4434642), across from the Royal Palace, is run by a Nepali doctor who studied in Canada. Both clinics have a doctor on-call after hours for emergencies.

Plenty of pharmacies are scattered about town. No prescriptions are necessary and you can get a wide range of inexpensive medication, most of it made in India. Ayurvedic medicines based on the ancient Indian system of herbal remedies are frequently used. Tibetan medicine with its thousands of herbal-based remedies is also popular; the largest concentration of Tibetan doctors is in Boudhanath.

Books and Bookstores:

Kathmandu is an international centre for books on Himalayan regions, especially Nepal and Tibet. There are probably 200 titles on Nepal and many on Tibet. Regional specialities include mountaineering in the Himalaya, Tantrism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Indian and Asian travel accounts by Westerners, plus dozens of lavish photographic books on the Himalaya, surely one of the most photographed regions on earth.

Few travellers realize that Kathmandu's bookstores offer bargains on new as well as used books. Some are sold at Asian edition prices, 35-50% less than in the West. Locally published books are remarkably cheap, and Indian editions are also reasonable. You can find speciality books long out of print, or unavailable in the West. Best of all are the many discounted books sold on remainder, often of popular titles which are being pushed off the market by new arrivals. You can get especially good bargains on expensive photographic books.

Kathmandu's oldest booksellers, Ratna Pushtak Bhandar in Bhotahiti, operates Ratna Book Distributors in Bagh Bazaar near the French Cultural Centre. They publish Kailash and the Biblioteca Himalayica series of inexpensive reprints of rare classics on the Himalaya. Another place to check is Himalayan Booksellers in Bagh Bazaar (also with a Thamel outlet). Mandala Bookpoint on Kanti Path has an excellent selection of regional books.

Pilgrim's Bookhouse in Thamel – a treasure trove of many objects other than books, from tea, through maps and incense sticks, to bronze statuettes - sadly was destroyed by fire a few months ago – a terrible occurrence which saw the end of exceptional stock, numbering tens of thousands of books, including many rare and first editions. Thankfully, no human life was endangered and no fire-related injury occurred, but the loss of all those wonderful books, covering almost every genre of literature, is considered a terrible tragedy in its own right. The smaller branch of Pilgrims, up the street, was not affected by the fire, although it probably relied on stock which was kept in the original shop.

Educational Booksellers on the Tundikhel has a good range of Penguins, modern fiction, and children's books, plus shelves of textbooks and business books, including Asian editions of computer software manuals retailing for half the Western price.

Kathmandu's used book shops are famous for their eclectic selection provided by Western travellers. In essence they're like a perennially rotating library; you can sell books back for 50% of the original price and buy more. Shelves are stocked with a genuine cross-section of travellers reading. Generally, quantity predominates over quality; thick historical novels are popular buys for long treks.


Being a country rich in culture and traditional art forms, Nepal has a very wide range of souvenirs to choose from. Most are skilfully made handicrafts with colourful designs; however, practical items such as Nepalese clothes or folk music cassettes and records are also popular among tourists. Several outlets focus on some kind of fair trade concept, and offer for sale many beautifully made items made by some of the most disadvantaged people in Nepal, increasingly women, who are helped through training to develop new skills in order to improve their lives through trade.
Some of Nepal's best known and most popular souvenir items are listed here along with a brief description of where to go and what to look for when buying these items.

As mentioned in the section of culture, thangkas are religious paintings usually depicting Hindu and Buddhist deities. There are many different types and qualities of thangka available in the Kathmandu Valley but probably the best value for money can be found in Bhaktapur where many professional ateliers devote their entire time to producing hand painted masterpieces. Besides Bhaktapur, good thangkas can also be found in the Thamel. Swayambunath, Boudhanath and Hanuman Dhoka areas of Kathmandu.

Batik, Oil Painting and Paper crafts:
Oil paintings and batik art have become very popular over the last few years. Batik paintings usually depict everyday village scenes such as a girl carrying a baby on her back, porters carrying their loads etc. Most souvenir shops have a number of different sizes and designs, mostly unframed; it is also possible to order one's own design if sufficient advance notice is given. Oil paintings have a charm of their own and are especially successful in depicting landscapes and mountain scenes. An interesting variation is found in oil paintings painted on the reverse side of the 'nanglos' - circular hand-woven trays used by Nepalese women to winnow and sort rice. Yet another form of painting is found in greeting cards and consists of oil or water colours painted on leaf skeletons of the pipal tree. The most common design shows Buddha in meditation; bird and flower designs are also available. Pressed plant greeting cards are attractively presented and usually contain a brief description of the making process. Very beautiful cards, printed on Lokhta paper, are printed in Bhaktapur, with traditional designs based on Nepal’s landscape, flora and fauna – also cards painted, usually by women  in the naïve, Maithili, style of south Nepal.Bhaktapur is also famed for its papier mache products – masks, puppets, toys, picture and photograph frames, etc. Visits to paper-making works are popular and may be enjoyed on a walk-in basis.

After thangkas and paintings, carpets are probably Nepal's most popular souvenir item. As making a good carpet requires a lot of work and materials, this can be better understood by taking a cursory glance at the manufacturing process. Carpets are woven entirely by hand on huge handlooms. Chemical dyes are nowadays often used instead of vegetable dyes. In places such as Jawalakhel and Boudhanath it is possible to see the entire manufacturing process. The smallest size of carpet is sixteen inches square, usually used for chair coverings. The price depends on whether a chemical or vegetable dye is used in the making process. A chemical dye is cheaper but has brighter colours, making the carpet seem slightly less authentic even though the quality remains the same in every other way. The most popular size of carpet is three feet by six feet, although larger sizes are also available. Carpet designs vary from fire-breathing dragons to Buddhist deities and geometric patterns. Apart from the above mentioned areas, one can also buy carpets in the lndrachowk and Durbar Marg areas of Kathmandu and at Mangal Bazaar in Patan. The cost of the carpet is also driven by the number of knots per square inch – more knots equals more time equals higher price.

Besides carpets, a variety of other traditional and religious items such as wooden, bone or bronze prayer wheels, magic amulets, prayer boxes and ritual bells, as well as practical items like coats, belts and buckles, are also made by hand. Souvenir shops are found in the shopping arcades of most of Kathmandu's larger hotels as well as in Boudhanath, Swayambhunath and Jawalakhel. There are also some fair trade outlets dedicated to handicrafts made by disadvantaged women who have been especially trained in their crafts. Many of these are to be found in Lazimpat, not far from the British Embassy: Mahaguthi is one name to look out for, as its products are very wide ranging and of high quality. Nowadays, although not conventionally a handicraft, high quality, high-grown Nepalese tea is now entering the souvenir market. Packed in cloth bags or tiny wooden tea chests, the leaf tea matches the very best that India (Darjeeling) or Sri Lanka can offer. Sagarmatha Tea House on Lazimpat, near to the British Embassy, is a recommended source of supply, including several organically grown varieties, where the proprietor will make you cups of several types of tea, as a friendly gesture, whether or not you decide to make a purchase.

Dolls and Puppets:
Dolls and puppets are some other souvenir items that accurately reflect Nepalese culture and lifestyles. Beautifully made, and available in many different sizes, Nepalese dolls show traditional costumes of different ethnic groups, often carrying, in miniature, the tools of their  trade, for example, a plough or sickle. String puppets usually represent the masked dancers which one sees in festivals like Indra Jatra or Gai Jatra. Although available in most souvenir shops, the best place to buy a doll or puppet is in Makhan Tole, the paved road leading from Hanuman Dhoka to Indrachowk.

Lokta Paper:
Like carpets and thangkas, lokta paper and prints are another traditional art form that has survived the passing of centuries and re-gained popularity, this time as souvenirs rather than religious manuscripts. The paper is made by hand from the fibres of the Lokta (daphne papyracea) bush, and is well suited for printing purposes due to its highly absorptive properties. The actual prints, often of deities or religious monuments, are made by wooden blocks rubbed with a thin layer of black ink. Nowadays coloured greetings cards and wrapping paper with traditional block prints are also made, though these are naturally a little more expensive. Lokta paper prints can be purchased along with the wooden blocks if required, in the Basantpur area of Kathmandu, as well as at many souvenir shops in the Valley's three main cities.

Nepalese clothing:
Traditional and modern Nepalese clothes are easily available souvenirs. Nepalese caps or 'topis' are available in the lndrachowk and Asan areas of Kathmandu, as well as in the markets elsewhere. One can buy a black topi (a 'Bhadgaonle topi') or a colourful printed cap, a 'dhaka topi'. Nepalese woollen jackets for men and women are also very popular, especially during the colder months, and may be purchased in most tourist shops at a reasonable price. Pashmina shawls, stoles and mufflers make a lovely souvenir and gift item. The name pashmina refers to the soft and warm underhair of a species of goat found in the mountain regions of Nepal. For the warmer months, cotton garments such as the traditional daura (shirt) and suruwal (trousers) for men, and saris or Punjabi kurta suits for women, are available in most bazaar areas. Shoes and slippers complete an outfit of Nepalese clothes; velvet, flannel and cloth designs are commonly found, many of them also brightly embroidered. Often, the soles are made of thick cord rather than the synthetic materials one usually sees. Machine embroidery is very popular among visitors to Nepal. Ready embroidered T-shirts are to be found everywhere, and it is sometimes possible to order embroidery to your own design or choose from a pattern book. Skirts and other garments can be tailored to order at a low cost from many outlets.

Idols and Images:
Miniature replicas of Nepal's many Buddhist and Hindu deities have become some of Nepal's most famous souvenir items. Bronze or brass images are made by a wax modelling process which involves first making a wax model inside a clay mould, into which molten metal is poured. The hot metal melts the wax, hence the name of ‘lost wax’ or ‘cire perdue’, for the casting process. When set, the idol is sanded and smoothed to remove rough edges. A large variety of metal, as well as carved, wooden idols, is commonly available in most souvenir shops. Stone images are naturally more difficult to make and are thus rarer and more expensive. Although many stone, metal and wooden images are available in the shopping centres, it is forbidden to take out of the country any artefact more than one hundred years old without specific written permission from the Archaeology Department. Artistically designed miniatures of Pashupati temple, Swayambhu stupa and Krishna temple are also available in both wood and metal. Miniature Nepalese houses are somewhat rarer but are of equal artistic value, being made of local materials such as wood, hay and clay.

Khukuris are the long shaped knives made internationally famous by Gurkha soldiers. However, these knives have long been used by villagers as an all-purpose tool, and most Nepalese households lay claim to at least one. Khukuris can be purchased in many Kathmandu souvenir shops or alternatively at open side stalls in Basantapur, near Hanuman Dhoka. The knife has different types and varieties, with the older styles containing, inside the knife sheath, two miniature knives, one serving as a pen knife and the other as a flint for lighting fires. Some khukuris have elaborately-carved handles and sheaths, whilst others are plainer in design. Miniature knives and khukuri pins and even gold jewellery, are also available.

Jewellery, Ornaments and Precious Stones:
Many different types of pendants, bracelets, rings, earrings and bangles, of Nepalese and Tibetan design, can be bought in nearly all souvenir shops. These are often adorned with such semi-precious stones as tourmaline, garnet, aquamarine and smoky quartz, all indigenous to Nepal. Among other decorations indigenous to Nepal are coral and turquoise, used both in religious ceremonies and in ornaments. Be careful in choosing a jeweller/silversmith if you want good quality items. There are some good silversmiths in Thamel who use genuine precious stones, and a recommended specialist area for the purchase quality gold jewellery and rings inlaid with precious stones is New Road.

Conduct and Customs:

With so many different ethnic groups and traditional beliefs, Nepal has many cultural practices that may appear unusual to anyone on a first visit to the country. However, to enjoy fully your stay in this remarkable country of white Himalaya and sparkling rivers, it is important to take into consideration those different cultural aspects.

Here is a list of general things about Nepal, which may be helpful to you:

The form of greeting hello and goodbye is Namaste (na-mas-tay) and is spoken whilst holding the hands, joined together in a prayer-like gesture, in front of the chest, with the fingertips pointing straight at the chin.

Before entering a Nepalese home, temple or stupa, remember to remove your shoes.

While travelling, dress appropriately. Men should wear at least a t-shirt and a pair of conservative shorts. Women should especially avoid dressing in revealing outfits, such as brief shorts and sleeveless or halter tops. Nepalese people are modest in their dress, so please respect their feelings.

Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon. Same-sex handholding is acceptable and should not be interpreted as meaning anything other than basic friendship.

Never touch anything with your feet, or step over any person or their belongings. Feet are considered the most degrading part of one's body, and shoes the most degrading part of one's apparel. Similarly, the head of an adult Nepali is the most sacred or ritually clean part of the body. You should never touch it. Where you do not have access to cutlery, do not eat or touch any food with your left hand, which is traditionally reserved for ablutions after defecation.

Pointing at someone with your finger is also considered impolite.

Walking round temples, stupas and mani walls is traditionally done clockwise.

Take photographs only after receiving permission from the person concerned; also ask permission before photographing special objects. Never pay money for taking a photograph.

Do not encourage begging (or tooth decay!), by offering sweets to children on the trail. Especially do not respond to requests for money or school pens. If you wish to donate money or pens, make your gifts to the local school and not to individuals on the way.

Food and Drinks:

Nepal’s national dish is known as dal bhat, which is plain boiled rice (bhat), accompanied by well-seasoned boiled pulses, of which there are many kinds (dal), and served with curried vegetables (tarkari or sabji). A dab of spicy pickled vegetables is also provided as a seasoning, with occasional meat or fish as a luxury addition.

Dal bhat is enjoyed morning and evening by those who can afford it, and it is rarely the same twice running, given the wide variety of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices available in Nepal. Rice is expensive in the unirrigated higher hills, where the staple served in place of bhat is dhiro, a boiled mush of millet, corn, wheat or buckwheat. Up in the mountains, food is Tibetan in style, and tsampa predominates. This roasted barley meal may be mixed with tea and eaten without further cooking; a major advantage in a region where fuel is scarce.

The Sherpas of Khumbu base their cuisine around particularly flavoursome high-altitude potatoes. Take the chance, if offered, of trying the local crisp pancakes (rigi koor) made from these potatoes, served with yak butter, chillies and delicious yak-milk yoghurt (dahi).

Nepalis’ two main, daily meals are usually taken around 10 a.m. and just after sunset. Between-meals snacks consist of unleavened bread of many kinds such as fried rice-flour rings of sel roti and flat, dry-pan-cooked chapati; rice (puffed or beaten); small portions of fried meat and curried vegetables, and tasty roasted soybeans, chickpeas, broad beans, white peas, peanuts or maize.

In town, Mithai shops sell extremely sugary sweetmeats, most based on boiled or condensed milk, flavoured with almonds, pistachios and rosewater, and often decorated with edible silver. Such snacks. which are normally enjoyed only on very special occasions, are usually washed down with chiya, an uplifting and invigorating, often-spiced potion of tea brewed with sugar and milk.

Though simple,Nepalese food is tasty and functional, especially when labour or trekking has worked up a hearty appetite. Cooks season their dishes with garlic, fresh ginger, onions and a variety of fresh herbs and spices such as coriander, mint, chives, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, mustard seed, turmeric and chilli. Tibetan dishes are now part of the daily cuisine in Nepal. Most popular are momos, small steamed or fried, minced meat- or vegetable-stuffed pastry parcels served with a fiery sauce. Thukpa, or thick noodle soup, is another popular dish, full of vegetables or meat. A poor relation of this is the widely available packaged, dried instant noodle soup which may be reconstituted, or is sometimes eaten dry as an inexpensive snack.

Home-distilled and -brewed liquor is widely available. Distilled rakshi or grain alcohol is preferable to bottled, commercial firewater, from the point of view of flavour. Bars in large guesthouses and hotels serve imported wines and spirits and Kathmandu boasts several brands of locally produced beer, many made under foreign licence, the best probably being Everest, Tuborg and San Miguel. Traditional home-brewed beer, made from barley, rice or millet, is called jaad in Nepali, and chang in Tibetan. A variation on this theme is tongba; hot water poured onto fermented millet grains in a cylindrical and lidded, traditionally wooden container, and sipped through a bamboo straw. All home-made liquors vary in strength and some can render you less than in control, in a very short time!