Information about Nepal
Comparison of temperatures
Nepal is a land-locked state in South Asia, bordered to the north by China and to the East, South and West by India.
Form of government:
A democratic republic (since 28 May, 2008), the head of state is President Bidya Devi Bhandari (since 28 October, 2015)
Kathmandu (1.7 million inhabitants)
Approx. 80% Hindus, 9% Buddhists, 4% Muslims, 1.4% Christians; there is a ban on missionary work
Nepalese is the official national language; there are also around 50 minority languages or dialects spoken; English is understood and spoken almost everywhere
Monsoon climate, more temperate in the north thanks to the elevation. Winters are moderate (0° to 20°C), high rainfall in the summer (monsoon period June to October, 25° to 32°C)
220 V, 50 Hz; an adapter is recommended.
Nepal has no summer / winter clock changes. The time difference from England is +4.45 hours in summer and +5.45 hours in winter.
The prefix for calls from England to Nepal is 00977. For telephone calls to England, dial 0044 first. Omit the first 0 of the area code.
Entry requirements for British citizens:
You will need a visa to travel to Nepal. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months when you submit your application for a visa.
To apply for a visa in the United Kingdom you should contact the Embassy of Nepal. Visas are available on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport and at some land borders. To obtain a visa upon arrival by air in Nepal you must fill in an application form on arrival and provide a passport photograph. A single-entry visa valid for 15, 30 or 90 days costs US$25, 40 or 100. At Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport the fee is payable in any major currency (some land crossings insist on payment in US dollars). A Nepali visa is valid for entry for three to six months from the date of issue.
You must have a valid visa in your passport to leave Nepal. If your visa has expired you will have to arrange an extension at the Department of Immigration, before your departure.
Overstaying without authority is serious. Foreign nationals who overstay in Nepal without a valid visa are subject to (i) a fine of up to 50,000 Nepali Rupees, and/or (ii) deportation from Nepal.
Approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs is required for deportation, which could be a lengthy process. The immigration office may take the foreign national in its custody (detain) until the decision is made by the Ministry of Home Affairs. For more information, please contact Nepal Immigration.
In England, visas can also be requested from the Nepalese embassy in London and picked up on the same day. Applications can also be submitted by post. Please read carefully which documents you need to submit for this and expect a turnaround time of around one week (within the UK). In your own interests, we recommend checking the entry requirements before you start your journey.
Legal information and/or information outside the scope of these notes regarding entry requirements can only be obtained directly from the embassy or one of your destination country’s general consulates: https://uk.nepalembassy.gov.np/.
Citizens of other countries are advised to enquire about the applicable entry requirements from their respective embassy. You are solely responsible for applying for, and presenting, any visa that may be required. RSD assumes no liability if you fail to do this. Please note that entry is dependent upon the approval of the immigration authorities.
Your expert tour guide will be able to provide you with detailed information about the country, people, history, culture, etc., and offer advice and assistance for organizing your trip. They can also help with room allocation and look forward to welcoming you with initial information. Here you will find out all you need to know and useful information about the trip. We have put together a varied programme including numerous highlights, enabling you to experience the culture and diversity of landscape that Nepal has to offer, and learn all about the country and its people.
Although your trip already includes a comprehensive package, you also have the option of choosing added extras. We recommend booking the following packages:
Gourmet package: The package includes half-board with delicious dinners, including 1× dinner with an Everest sherpa in Kathmandu and 1× traditional dinner in Kathmandu with a folklore show: only £159 per person
Explorer package: The package includes the ”Elephant safari in Chitwan National Park” as well as admission to the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara and the all-day excursion “Kathmandu, Swayambhunath & Patan (World Heritage)”: only £139 per person
The currency unit is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR). 1 Rupee = 2 Mohur = 100 Paisa. Exchange rate (August 2019): 1 GBP = 132.07 NPR; 100 NPR = 0.007 GBP.
The opening hours of the banks are generally as follows: Sun – Thu 10.00 – 14.30, Fri 10.00 – 12.00. Authorised bureaux de change are open for 12 hours a day. It is only possible to change cash into the local currency on arrival in Nepal. It should be noted that exchanges must be made in authorised bureaux and that receipts must be kept if you wish to change the national currency back.
In the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara, cash can be withdrawn from ATMs. Most ATMs accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards. EC cards are rarely accepted. The bank will charge a foreign transaction fee for each withdrawal. In high-end hotels, restaurants or businesses, but mainly in Nepal’s major cities, credit cards are accepted as a means of payment. For each cashless payment with a credit card, your home credit card company will charge a fee for using the card abroad. On trips to less densely populated regions especially, we recommend taking US dollars in cash, as well as sufficient numbers of Rupees in cash.
The import of foreign currency is permitted without restriction, however it must be declared. The export of larger amounts of currency that have not been declared on arrival is a punishable offence. The national currency must not be imported or exported. Essential items and consumables may only be imported in certain quantities. These include, for example, 1 camera, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, as well as medications for your own use for the duration of your stay (with the exception of medications that are subject to a ban – see Government of Nepal, Department of Drug Administration). More information can be found on the Foreign Office’s website. Products made in Nepal can be exported without a permit (with the exception of those subject to an export ban) up to the amount in foreign currency that tourists have exchanged at a bank or state-authorised bureau de change.
More detailed customs information on bringing goods into the country is available from the embassy of your country of destination. Legally binding information can only be provided there.
The customs regulations for the UK can be viewed on the British Customs www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk.
General travel information::
Due to difficulties with the power supply, a manoeuvre known as ”load shedding” is carried out across Nepal, although this has decreased significantly over recent months. This means several hours of no power each day, which causes major problems for the entire country, especially industry. Tourists should bear in mind that batteries cannot always be charged.
Safety information specific to Nepal:
Bandhs/strikes: In the current political climate, there are only rare short-notice ”bandhs” (forced strikes of any kind, including in the Kathmandu Valley, with blockades / road blocks); sometimes, these are also imposed by force. The latter also applies to transport strikes. Based on previous experience, these protest campaigns can disrupt public life. During strikes, overland travel is impossible or is only possible under difficult conditions. Air traffic is generally not affected by bandhs, although arrival at and departure from the airport may be. We recommend avoiding any demonstrations and large gatherings of people. In the Terai especially, protest campaigns and violent, in some cases dangerous, confrontations may occur.
Crime: In tourist areas especially, pickpockets may operate. Rapes have been reported on occasion. Women are therefore recommended to take extra care after dark, and to always be accompanied when out walking. Criminal organisations and other gangs may, in isolated cases, attempt to blackmail national and international organisations, business people and individuals, and make occasionally violent demands. Trekking tourists are occasionally the target of such ”attempted extortion of donations”. A local guide can de-escalate such situations. When dealing with state security forces, it should be noted that
Nepal sometimes has a different understanding of the law. Compliant behaviour is therefore recommended.
Natural disasters: Nepal lies in an area of seismic activity, and the Himalayas region especially is at high risk of earthquakes. In the event of a severe earthquake, it must be assumed that medical facilities and general emergency services will be overloaded. During the monsoon period, which lasts in Nepal from June to the start of October, sudden and often prolonged bad weather can cause repeated flooding, torrents and mudslides that can even affect and restrict main transport routes. Travellers should follow the bad weather warnings issued by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and take particular care, especially on mountain slopes and near rivers.
Special criminal provisions:
If you stay in Nepal longer than your visa allows, you may be required to pay a fine or even face imprisonment. The Nepalese police and judiciary prosecute drug offences harshly. Long prison sentences are to be expected for breaking the law. The export of large sums of money not declared on arrival can also incur significant financial penalties or imprisonment.
Sexual acts with minors are also prohibited and will be punished with a severe fine as well as with imprisonment. Homosexual acts are no longer criminal in Nepal, however we
recommend refraining from behaviour that may be regarded by the local population as provocative, and being respectful to local customs. The Nepalese Electronic Transactions Act punishes articles in social and electronic media that disrupt social harmony in Nepal or defame individuals. Foreigners may be punished with deportation and/or prison sentences.
Vaccinations: At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website (https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/159/nepal) Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. Every traveller should be sufficiently protected against tetanus and typhoid as well as hepatitis A.
Cholera, diarrhoea and gastrointestinal problems: In Nepal, and especially in the Kathmandu Valley, there is an increase in cases of cholera at the start of the monsoon season. Diarrhoeal illnesses are common all year round throughout the country. Tap water is not always safe to drink, even in cities. We recommend only consuming bottled or canned drinks, or filtering, chemically disinfecting or boiling water before drinking it. Only treated drinking water should be used for washing fruit or vegetables or for brushing your teeth. Do not consume raw, uncooked or un-peeled products. Meat must have been cooked very well before being eaten. There is a risk of infection from salmonella, shigella and typhoid bacteria, amoeba, lamblia and tapeworms all over the country. General hygiene measures such as regular hand-washing or hand disinfection after using the toilet and before eating, and keeping flies off food, can reduce the risk of infection.
Infectious diseases: Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a condition that causes inflammation of the brain and is caused by a virus. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, which are active at night. Pigs and water fowl are mainly infected by the virus, without appearing to be sick themselves. Cases in humans are rare, however they are often severe and can cause permanent damage or even be fatal. There are no effective medications against the JE virus. Therefore careful mosquito protection and, if necessary, preventative vaccinations are especially important.
There is a risk of JE transmission in the southern regions of Nepal, but isolated cases have also been reported in the Kathmandu Valley.
Malaria is transmitted through bites from the blood-sucking Anopheles mosquito, which is active at night. Untreated, the dangerous Malaria tropica can frequently be fatal in Europeans who are not immune to the condition. The condition can develop even several weeks after a stay in endemic regions. The symptoms of malaria (fever, chills, headache and joint pain, diarrhoea, etc.) are usually uncharacteristic and are hard to distinguish from influenza or a similar illness. With prompt diagnosis, even Malaria tropica can be treated effectively without causing any lasting damage or symptoms. Apart from altitudes above approx. 2,000 m, Nepal has a medium risk of malaria transmission throughout the year, especially in the summer months from May to October. The risk is highest in the southern lowlands and slowly decreases the further north you go as the altitude increases. Around 70% of cases involve Malaria tertiana, a condition transmitted by Plasmodium vivax and which is rarely life-threatening. Around 30% of cases, however, are Malaria tropica. There is no absolutely reliable protection against malaria. The prophylactic consumption of medications (chemoprophylaxis) is not recommended, and is only worth considering in exceptional cases. Due to the risk of purchasing fake medications in Nepal, it is advisable to take your own prescription-only malaria treatment for use in an emergency. If you develop a fever after visiting Nepal, seek medical attention promptly and tell the doctor that you have been to a region where malaria is present.
Dengue fever is transmitted through the bites of mosquitoes that are active during the day. Fever, headache and joint pain, as well as a skin rash, are common symptoms and can be confused with symptoms of malaria or influenza. In isolated cases, the condition can be severe, causing serious consequences for health or even death. There is no vaccination and no effective medications against the Dengue virus. Dengue fever occurs especially in the south of the country, and during and immediately after the rainy season also in the central parts of the country up to altitudes of around 2,000 m.
All-day, adequate protection against mosquitoes (exposure prophylaxis) is the most important form of protection from infectious diseases transmitted by mosquito bite:
• Wear long, light clothing impregnated against insects when outdoors
• Consistently treat all areas of the skin with a suitable repellent
• Use impregnated mosquito nets during the night or stay in mosquito-proofed rooms (fly screens, air-conditioning systems)
Rabies is an infectious disease that is regularly fatal. It is caused by a virus that is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals or humans (through bites, licks to open wounds or droplets of saliva on the mucosal tissue of the mouth, nose and eyes). There is a high risk of bite injuries throughout the country from stray dogs, with the associated risk of rabies. Monkeys can also transmit rabies and should never be fed. Medical treatment for un-vaccinated people who have been bitten is not always available in Nepal. Vaccination before being bitten offers reliable protection against the condition. Therefore the prophylactic rabies vaccine is especially important when travelling to Nepal. It should be completed before you begin your trip. The ”top-up” dose required immediately after a bite can, if necessary, be given once there.
Tuberculosis occurs throughout the country, and is much more common than in Central Europe. It is transmitted from person to person through droplets or close contact. Incorrect or incomplete treatment is resulting in increasingly resistant tuberculosis pathogens, including in Nepal. The wearing of a surgical face mask will not provide protection against infection.
Altitude sickness: Altitude sickness is a condition caused by tactical errors in the essential adaptation to heights above 2,300 m (e.g. caused by too-rapid ascent and over-exertion). It is a potentially very dangerous condition affecting the lungs and brain. Even young, healthy and well-trained people can develop the condition, including those who have already managed high altitudes and rapid ascents without problems in the past. Fatalities are not uncommon, since the fundamental rules are forgotten, early symptoms are missed and medications are used incorrectly. Certain conditions affecting the heart and lungs also increase the risk of developing altitude sickness.
Medical care in large parts of the country is inadequate and often does not meet European standards. Adequate basic care is available in Kathmandu and popular tourist destinations, as well as along major trekking routes. In Kathmandu, medical care in certain specialisms is also of a very high standard. For serious illnesses, medical evacuation may therefore need to be considered, for example to Kathmandu or further on, to India. Adequate and valid health insurance, including repatriation cover, is absolutely essential. Advice from a doctor experienced in travel medicine is strongly recommended an appropriate time before you intend to travel. People with chronic conditions or those needing treatment in particular should be aware of the risks to health of travelling to Nepal. The supply of reliable medications and an uninterrupted cool chain are not always guaranteed. It must be anticipated that, especially in small pharmacies, fake products may be sold instead of proper medications. Travellers should bring sufficient quantities of medications that they take regularly with them to Nepal, and bring a letter from their doctor in English to show at immigration stating that they are needed. There are numerous resistances to commonly used antibiotics throughout the country. A personalised first-aid kit should be carried with you following consultation with a travel physician.
In an emergency, contact the British embassy in Kathmandu (www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-kathmandu) Customers must ensure that they are physically and mentally well enough to undertake their chosen trip. They should find out for themselves the physical mobility levels and mental capacity required for this trip.
All information is subject to change / Last updated: June 2020