A total of 1,01,320 trekkers visited Nepal in 2007. Out of total 60,237 (59.4%) visited Annapurna area while those visiting the Everest and Langtang regions accounted for 26,511 (26.5%) and 8,165 (8.1%) respectively.
"Tea-House Trekking" is the most easy way to trek also without requiring support. Tea Houses have now developed into full-scale tourist lodges with hot showers, pizza, pasta and beer. The day's hikes are between lodge-filled settlements or villages: there's no need for tents, food, water, or beer-- all those things, plus luxuries such as apple-pie, can be purchased along the way. The physical requirements go from very soft treks to strenuous ones.
Facilties available in remote areas are less extensive than in the more popular areas. It may be advisable to visit such regions with organised groups, including guide, porters and full support. Manaslu, Kanchenjunga, Dolpo, Mustang and Humla are in remote areas. Many of them require also special permits.
Annapurna Region Treks
- Annapurna Circuit: A 3-4 week trek around the Annapurna mountains.
- Jonsom-Muktinath Trek: The last week of the Annapurna Circuit, done in the opposite direction. Known as the "Apple-Pie Trek" partly for crossing the apple growing region of Nepal, and partly for being one of the easier treks.
Everest Region Treks
- Everest Base Camp Trek: Lukla to EBC, Stunning scenery, Wonderful Sherpa people.
- The 'Classic Everest Base Camp Trek': Jiri to EBC
- Gokyo: Lukla to the sacred lakes of Gokyo
- Numbur Cheese Circuit Trek through the largest cheese producing area, via the sacred lakes of Jata Pokhari and Panch Pokhari to Numburchuili base camp.
- Mera Peak Climbing: Enjoy panoramic views of Mt. Everest (8,848 m; 29,030 ft), Cho-Oyu (8,201 m; 26,910 ft), Lhotse (8,516 m; 27,940 ft), Makalu (8463 m; 27,770 ft), Kangchenjunga (8,586 m; 28,170 ft), Nuptse (7,855 m; 25,770 ft), and Chamlang (7,319 m; 24,010 ft).
- Island Peak Trek in the Everest region takes in some of the most spectacular scenery in the Himalayas. See 'Regions' - Khumbu
- Pikey Cultural Trail
- Dudh Kunda Cultural Trail
Langtang Region Treks
- Helambu Langtang Trek: Relatively easy Trek from Kathmandu
- Tamang Heritage Trail
Pro-Poor Rural Treks
Tourism is a dynamic sector of economy and accepting it as a vehicle of poverty reduction is a relatively new concept in Nepal. Nepal is a predominantly rural society, with 85% of the population living in the countryside. Naturally, Nepal’s rich culture and ethnic diversity are best experienced in its village Community’s. You can engage in local activities, learn how to cook local cuisine or take part in agricultural activities like kitchen gardening, etc.
- According to the NTB rural tourism in Nepal focuses on "Village Trek" visits to indigenous people that “… will make tourists, experience rural life and Nepalese hospitality off the beaten path with all the beautiful scenery and cultural diversity of Nepal.”
In the rural Nepal context, pro-poor tourism means expanding employment and small enterprise opportunities especially pro-Indigenous Peoples, youth and pro-women. Recent pro-poor initiatives in Nepal include the UNDP-TRPAP and ILO-EMPLED projects.
- Tamang Heritage Trail
- Chepang Heritage Trail
- Pathibhara Trail
- Limbu Cultural Trail
- Dudhkunda Cultural Trail
- Pikey Cultural Trail
- Numbur Cheese Circuit
- Indigenous Peoples Trail
Trekking on the Indigenous Peoples Trail and the Numbur Cheese Circuit is a means for Nepali as well as foreign visitors to experience the rural and traditional Nepali way of life, and for the local Community to participate in and benefit directly from tourism. You'll feel better knowing that your visit is genuinely helping your hosts. And if you want to simply lie on a beach.... well, The 'Majhi Fishing Experience' on the Sun Koshi in Ramechhap features one of the best beaches in Nepal!
Traveller's checks are your best bet outside of the major cities. There are banks in Kathmandu, Pokhara and in several other major cities that will allow you to retrieve cash from ATM or credit cards. You may be charged a service fee, depending on your bank. There are quite a number of ATMs now in those cities that are open round the clock. Although Indian currency is valid in Nepal, the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes are not acceptable. Carrying 500- and 1000-Indian rupee notes is a punishable offence in Nepal. Be sure to keep all currency exchange and ATM receipts as they are required at the airport bank to convert back to your original currency. If you don't have them, they will refuse to convert your currency but they will suggest going to the Duty Free shop upstairs, eventhough it isn't a licensed money changer.
The Nepali national meal is daal bhaat tarkaari (spiced lentils, boiled rice, vegetable curry). This is served in most Nepalese homes and teahouses, two meals a day at about 10 AM and 7 or 8 PM. If rice is scarce the grain part may be cornmeal mush called Ato, barley, or chapatis (whole wheat 'tortillas'). The meal may be accompanied by dahi (yogurt) and a small helping of ultra-spicy fresh chutney or achar (pickle). Traditionally this meal is eaten with the right hand. Curried meat -- goat or possibly chicken -- is an occasional luxury. Pork is eaten by some tribes but not by upper-caste Hindus. Since Hindus hold cattle sacred, beef is forbidden. Buffalo and yak are eaten by some but considered too cow-like by others.
A variety of snacks may be available at other times. Tea, made with milk and sugar is certainly a pick-me-up. Corn may be heated and partially popped, although it really isn't popcorn. This is called "ka-ja", meaning "eat and run!" Rice may be heated and crushed, called "chiura", usually translated as "beaten rice". It can be eaten with yogurt, hot milk and sugar, or other flavorings. Fritters called 'pakora' and turnovers called "samosa" can sometimes be found, as can sweets made from sugar, milk, fried batter, sugar cane juice, etc. Be sure such delicacies are either freshly cooked or have been protected from flies. Otherwise flies land in the human waste that is everywhere in the streets, then on your food, and so you become a walking medical textbook of gastrological conditions.
Many dishes are Tibetan in origin and not very spicy. Some dishes to look for include momos, a meat or vegetable filled dumpling - similar to Chinese pot-stickers -often served with beer, and Tibetan Bread and Honey a puffy fried bread with heavy raw honey, great for breakfast. One delicacy that you do not want to miss while in Nepal is the dried meat (it especially complements with beer/alcoholic beverages).
Newars, an ethnic group, are connoisseur of great foods who lament that feasting is their downfall (whereas sexual indulgence is said to be the downfall of Paharis), so watch for Newari Restaurants. Some of them even come with cultural shows... a great way to enjoy good food while having a crash-course in Nepalese culture. In the Everest region try the local Sherpa dish of potato pancakes (rikikul). They are delicious eaten straight off the griddle and covered with dzo (female yak) butter or cheese.
Pizza, Mexican, Thai and Chinese food, and Middle-Eastern food can all be found in the tourist districts of Kathmandu and Pokhara. If you are on a budget, sticking with local dishes will save a lot of money.
Note that many small restaurants are not prepared to cook several different dishes; try to stick with one or two dishes or you will find yourself waiting as the cook tries to make one after another on a one-burner stove.
- Raksi is a clear and fiery liquid, similar to saki or cheap tequila. As anywhere else, taste and strength differs from each 'distillery', usually homemade. This is by far the cheapest drink in the country. It is often served on special occasions in small, unbaked clay cups that hold less then a shot. It works great as a mixer in juice or soda. Note that it may appear on menus as "Nepali wine".
- Jaand (Nepali) or chyaang (Tibetan) is a cloudy, moderately alcoholic drink sometimes called Nepali beer". While weaker than raksi, it will still have quite an effect. This is often offered to guests in Nepali homes. Unfortunately it is likely to be mixed with unsafe water.
- Beer in Nepal has seen a lively industry. Some local beer's are now also exported, and the quality of beer has reached quite international standards. International brands are popular in the urban areas.
- Cocktails can pretty much only be found in Kathmandu and Pokhara's tourist areas. There you can get watered-down "two for one drinks" at a variety of pubs, restaurants, and sports bars.
Although not as internationally famous as Indian brands, Nepal does in fact have a large tea growing industry. Most plantations are located in the east of the country and the type of tea grown is very similar to that produced in neighboring Darjeeling. Well known varieties are Dhankuta, Illam, Jhapa, Terathhum and Panchthar (all named after their growing regions).
- Chya is a tea drink with added milk and also sometimes containing ginger and spices such as cardamom.
- Suja. Salty tea made with milk and butter - only available in areas inhabited by Tibetans, Sherpas and a few other Himalayan people.
- Herbal teas. Most herbal teas are made from wild flowers from the Solu Khumbu region. In Kathmandu, these teas are generally only served in high class establishments or those run by Sherpas from the Solu Khumbu.
Water: Problematic due to lack of sanitary facilities and sewage treatment. It is safest to assume water is unsafe for drinking without being chemically treated or boiled, which is one reason to stick to tea.
Nepal is a landlocked country in Southern Asia, between
China and India. It contains eight of the world's 10 highest
peaks, including Mount Everest - the world's tallest - on the
border with Tibet.
Nepal is divided into five development regions, from east to west:
- Eastern Nepal – Everest region][http://www.nepalvisitors.com Everest Region Information, Arun valley, Kanchenjunga, Ilam.
- Central Nepal – Kathmandu and Langtang region.
- Western Nepal – Pokhara and the Annapurna region
- Mid Western Nepal – Dhaulagiri Himalaya, Dolpa, inner Terai valleys and Jumla.
- Far Western Nepal – Mahakali river.
These are further divided into fourteen administrative zones called 'anchal'.
Other regions (most of these are popular names, not official district/region titles): Annapurna, Everest, Kathmandu Valley, Langtang, Mustang, Terai
Cities and Towns
- Kathmandu – capital and cultural center of Nepal
- Bhaktapur – well-preserved historical city, center of Nepali pottery making.
- Biratnagar – this city is in eastern Nepal near Dharan and famous for political reason.
- Birgunj – business gateway between India and Nepal. It is in mid-southern Nepal.
- Janakpur - a historical religious centre and home to the 500-year old Janaki Temple.
- Namche Bazaar – a Sherpa settlement located in the Solu Khumbu region - popular with trekkers
- Nepalgunj – the main hub for the Mid- and Far-Western Development Region. Bardiya National Park is close-by
- Patan – sister-city of Kathmandu and metal working center
- Pokhara – picturesque lake shore town and base for many of Nepal's most accessible treks
- Chitwan National Park - See tigers, rhinos and animals in the Jungle.
- Khumbu - At the foot of Mt. Everest.
- Nagarkot - A hill station one hour from Kathmandu offering excellent views of the Himalayan Range.
- Daman - A tiny village in the mountains offering panoramic views of the Himalayas - especially stunning at sunrise and sunset.
- Annapurna area - Popular trekking region of Nepal, where the world-famous Annapurna Circuit is.
- Dang-Deukhuri - Lowland valleys in western Nepal inhabited by Tharus who have a very distinctive culture.
- Dhorpatan - Large east-west valley south of the western Dhaulagiri Range. It connects the far western Karnali-Bheri basin that is the birthplace of the Nepali language (and probably its rulers) to the Gandaki basin that they migrated into before unifying the country. This is also a trekking gateway to the far west, the Dhaulagiri Range, and to Dolpa and other high valleys with Tibetan culture beyond the Dhaulagiris.
- Rara Tal (Lake) - Large, deep subalpine lake at the foot of Kanjiroba Himalaya, far western Nepal. Another gateway to transhimalayan Humla and Dolpa regions.
Locked between the snow peaks of the Himalayas and the seething Ganges plain, Nepal has long been home to wandering ascetics and tantric yogis. Consequently, the country has a wealth of sacred sites:
- Lumbini is the sacred site of the Buddha Shakyamuni's birth. Today it a small village, located 27 km (17 mi) from Sunauli on the Indo-Nepal border.
- Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu.
- Parping in the Kathmandu Valley is the site of several sacred caves associated with Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism.
- Haleshi (often known by the Tibetan name of Maratika) in Eastern Nepal is the site of a mountain cave where Padmasambhava attained a state beyond life and death.
- Muktinath between the upper valley of the Kali Gandaki and the Annapurna Range, this pilgrimage objective has 108 fountains where the faithful bathe and perpetual flames fed by natural gas. This region is also famous for Shaligrams -- fossil ammonites said to be a manifestation of the god Vishnu.
- Pashupatinath. Hindu temples and cremation ghats on the Bagmati River in Kathmandu. The main areas are closed to non-Hindus.
- Dakshinkali. Hindu temple complex south of Kathmandu on the Bagmati River where it enters a gorge through the Mahabharat Range.
- Janaki Mandir - A temple complex in the city Janakpur in the eastern Terai marking where semi-divine figure Sita was born and raised, and married Rama, hero of the epic Ramayana. She was the ideal Hindu wife who immolated herself on her husband's funeral pyre. A seven-day festival celebrates Sita's birth at the end of April/beginning of May. Probably the exact dates vary from year to year, being set astrologically.
Nepal has a Monsoonal climate with four main seasons - though traditionally a year was categorized into six distinct climate periods: Basanta (spring), Grishma (early summer), Barkha (summer monsoon), Sharad (early autumn), Hemanta (late autumn) and Shishir (winter).
Below is a general guide to conditions at different seasons:
- Heavy monsoonal rains from June to September - the rains are generally lighter high in the Himalayas than in Kathmandu, though the mountain peaks are often lost in cloud.
- Clear and cool weather from October to December - after the monsoon, there is little dust in the air so this is the best season to visit the mountains.
- Cold from January to March, with the temperature in Kathmandu often dropping as low as 0°C (32°F) at night, with extreme cold at high elevations. It is possible to trek in places like the Everest region during the winter, but it is extremely cold and snow fall may prevent going above 4,000 - 4,500 meters (13,000 - 15,000 feet). The Jomosom trek is a reasonable alternative, staying below 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) with expected minimum temperatures about -10°C (14°F) (and much better chances of avoiding heavy snow.)
- Dry and warm weather from April to June - there is an abundance of blooming flowers in the Himalayas at this time, with rhododendrons, in particular, adding a splash of color to the landscape. Terai temperatures may reach or exceed 40°C (104°F) while Kathmandu temperatures are about 30°C (86°F).
The ceasefire signed by the Maoists has seen the opening up of routes with new airlines in the country. There are direct flights from Kathmandu to Bangkok , Singapore , Hong Kong with Dragon Air/Cathay Pacific . Many European destinations can be reached via Doha with Qatar Airways , Abu Dhabi with Ethihad , Dubai with Emirates , Bahrain with Gulf Air . Flights are also available via Delhi on Jet Airways and UAE on Air Arabia.
Nepal's Tribhuvan International Airport is located just outside of the Ring Road in Kathmandu. The terminal is a one-room brick building with a large wooden table serving as both customs and immigration. Tourist visa of 15 days or more is available on arrival. Money can be changed to the local currency as well, but these services are only available directly after scheduled arrivals.
Outside the airport, all 'representatives' of the tourist industry are required to remain 10 meters (about 30 feet) from the front door. This does not prevent them from waving large signs and yelling in an attempt to encourage you to choose them as your guide/taxi/hotel/luggage carrier. Make your choice before crossing the line, or better yet, arrange your first night's accommodation before you arrive and ask the hotel to send someone to meet you. Many hotel and guest houses offer complimentary pick up and delivery from the airport. Fixed priceTaxis are also available before you exit the building but you may get a cheaper fair if you are willing to haggle!. As always, negotiate the price beforehand with the driver. A taxi ride to Thamel or Boudha should be around 300 NRS. Otherwise, order a taxi at the pre-paid booth inside the airport, which costs 400+NRs (and rising). This is more than the normal taxi rate, but it saves the hassle of long negotiations.
Car rental in Nepal is almost unheard of, as is renting a car in India and taking it across the border. Many travellers drive from India on Royal Enfield motorcycles. Foreigners do not have to pay customs at the borders but selling on the bike in Nepal is near impossible as locals must pay over 200% import tax. One option is to sell the bike on to fellow travelers, or Angels and demons in Pokhara. The petrol crisis is an added disadvantage, however, if you are coming form India you will find driving in Nepal a lot less chaotic! The roads are patchy but manageable and the new east-west highway currently under construction with support from the Japanese will open up new destinations for those interested in exploring Nepal by motor-bike.
There are four border crossings open to tourists. The Sunauli-Bhairawa border crossing is the closest to Varanasi, the Raxaul-Birganj crossing to Kolkata, and Siliguri-Kakarbhitta is to Darjeeling. The Banbassa-Mahendrenagar border crossing in the extreme west of Nepal, is the closest to Delhi.
The crossing between Nepal and Tibet via Kodari is open to independent travelers entering Nepal, but only to organised groups entering Tibet.
A cargo train began operating between Sirsiya in southern Nepal, and the Indian town of Raxaul in 2003. Internal train network is limited to few kilometers of train network in Janakpur
- Micro Bus has become very popular lately. They are 10-12 seater with very fast service. It has almost replaced local bus service given its fast service. However, apart from previous few routes, Micro Bus has come up with many other alternate routes and now has got good coverage. The fare is more expensive than the local bus.
- Super Express Bus - or 'Supper Express' as the ticket says is somewhere between a micro and a local bus. These generally depart between 5 - 7 am and do not stop to pick up locals along the way. People are not allowed to sit on the roof. The 'supper express' is more expensive than a local bus but cheaper, (and faster) than the micro.
- Local Bus - Although the system can be confusing they are cheap. They can be crowded at times both with people and domestic animals such as goats, ducks etc. Some buses will not depart until full to a certain quota.
- Tourist Bus - Book a few days ahead at a Kathmandu or Pokhara travel agent (or your hotel will book for you). A few steps above local buses (no goats, everyone gets a seat) but not much safer.
- Rickshaw - Good for short jaunts if you don't have much luggage and don't mind being bounced around a bit. Bargain before you get in, and don't be afraid to walk away and try another.
- Tempo - These come in two types. One is a three wheeled electric or propane powered micro-bus for 10-13 passengers. They run in different routes around the city and cost 5-12 NRs. The other type is a newer Toyota van running the same routes at a higher price and a bit faster and safer. Be prepared for a crowd
- Taxis - There are two types of taxi -- "private", which pretty much run from the airport to your (upscale) hotel; and "10 Rupee", which don't leave until they are full. When haggling for fair remember that Taxi drivers have been hit hard by the petrol crisis sometimes queing up overnight to get 5 litres of petrol at twice the market price. So be sympathetic but don’t get ripped off! Offer to pay 'meter plus tip', 10% is more than enough.
- Tram - The old-fashioned street cable-car that ran from Kathmandu (near the stadium) to Bhaktapur is currently closed due to 'non-existing maintenance' and the fact that none of the drivers paid for the power.
- Motorcycle - Another choice is to rent a motorcycle. And it can be rented in the Thamel area. Again with the petrol crisis, motorcycle rental has become a costly choice, depending on availabily 1 litre of petrol will cost you 120-250 NRs on top of the rental fee (250-500NRs).
- On Foot - although motor roads are penetrating further into the hinterlands, many destinations can only be reached by foot (or helicopter). See the section on trekking, below.
The great biological and cultural diversity of present-day Nepal is matched by its linguistic diversity. Nepal boasts 123 living languages an impressively large number for a country with a small land mass like Nepal. Nepal has more distinct and individual languages in one country than the whole of the European community.
The official language of Nepal is Nepali. It's related to Hindi, Punjabi, and other Indo-Aryan languages, and is normally written with the Devanagari script (as is Hindi). While most Nepali speak at least some Nepali, a large percentage of the population has as their mother tongue another language, such as Tharu around Chitwan, Newari in the Kathmandu Valley, and Sherpa in the Everest area.
Although Nepal was never a British colony, proximity to India has made English somewhat widespread among educated Nepalis. Nevertheless learning even a few words of Nepali is fun and useful, especially outside of the tourist district and while trekking.As Asian languages go, Nepali has to be one of the easiest to learn, and the traveler making the effort isn't likely to make worse blunders than many natives with a different first language.
A disturbingly large number of Nepal’s mother tongues are severely endangered and will likely be reduced to symbolic identity markers within a generation. So why not try to pick up a few phrases!
- Massage - The Healing Hands Center . Classes in Ancient Massage / Thai Massage. Five-day course, ten-day course and one-month professional course every month.
- Buddhism - Rangjung Yeshe Institute . An international institute for Buddhist higher studies in Boudhanath, Nepal, modeled on a traditional Tibetan Shedra.
- Meditation - Nepal Vipassana Centers . Vipassana Meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka.
Volunteer in Nepal
Volunteering in Nepal can be a rewarding alternative to simple tourism. Currently in Nepal, the tourism industry is far removed from the everyday village life of most of the population. Trekking or package tours often move too quickly through the country to provide an appreciation of the natural beauty and diverse cultures. Volunteering is sometimes the only way to see remote areas outside the Kathmandu Valley and well-trod trekking trails.
Teaching English is a popular project for volunteers and is often combined with courses in computer literacy or health and physical education. The Nepali school system, which many children only attend for a few years, requires English fluency so there is always a demand for native English speakers of all ages, races, and nationalities. There are no prerequisites for teaching beyond English fluency and, in some programs, any university level degree.