Here are some important info about Nepal, for those planning to visit this incredible country. Let me know your comments.

When to Go?

Oct – Dec = good weather, sunny warm days, cool evenings -- peak tourist season. Jan – Feb = sunny, but cool, off season so you can get good deals. Mar – May = good weather, tourist season, but not as busy as Fall. Jun – Sep = rainy, and July & Aug. Monsoon. Not the best time to come. (End of Sep. is starting to get nice.)

Visas, Customs, and Transportation 

If you are arriving by air, your point of entry will be Kathmandu’s Thribuvan International Airport. The visa and customs are easy to get through, but you need to be a little prepared. Visas to Nepal are issued upon arrival; here is what you will need: 1) A pen to fill out the forms (there are none available in the airport). 2) Two passport size photos (bring plenty of spares as you will need these for trekking permit, visa extensions, and any other official document in Nepal.) 3) US dollars or convertible currency (15 days is $25; 90 days is $100). 4) Address and contact of where you will be staying. After you pass through the immigration area, you will go downstairs to the baggage area. Clearing customs is straight forward, just put your luggage on the scanning belt. Nepal customs is like most other countries where drugs, firearms, plants, fruits, live animals, etc. are not allowed to enter the country. After you leave the customs, you will walk down a corridor that ends with a glass wall with hordes of drivers on the other side waving signs, and looking for their pick-ups. Just keep going out the door to the left, and if you do have someone picking you up, they will most likely see you there. If you need a taxi, keep reading, there are some things you need to know.


There are plenty of taxi drivers waiting to take you to your destination, and an equal amount of young men ready to grab your bag and “help” you. A word of warning here: If you allow someone to help you with your bag, an appropriate tip is $1 or 100 NPR. They may try to say “Five dollars, or 10 dollars!” But that is WAY too much. (Keep in mind, tipping is not the “norm” in this country, so never for taxi drivers or waiters.) My advice is carry your own bags, and get used to saying “No thanks!” and keep walking.

Taxis – There are small white taxis that can comfortably seat 3 people and hold your luggage in the trunk or roof. These should cost maximum of 250 - 300 rupees to/from the airport. But they will all tell you that it is 500 rupees (or more). The taxi drivers try to stick together on this, so if you can get one for 300-400 to Thamel (main tourist district), or Kathmandu Center, then you are paying what everyone else does. There are also small taxi vans you can get, and they should cost only slightly more; 500 rupees would be a fair price for the van. The vans sometimes say they are charging “per person” but just say your final price is 500 rupees.

Other places; other modes -- From other places in Kathmandu, a taxi should always cost 200-300 rupees maximum. If you pay more, you’re getting ripped off. The micros (small white mini-vans packed with people) are cheap, usually around 15-20 rupees to anywhere in the city, but they are sometimes full of people and very slow. Most westerners prefer taxis, unless they are on a strict budget and staying here a long time. Rickshaws are from 50-100 rupees to most places you would want to go with this mode of transportation. One hundred would be a bit high for a Rickshaw from say, Thamel to Durbar Square, but 70 rupees would be fair.

Tourist Bus – Costs 250-300 rupees each way to Pokhara or Chitwan. Any tour operator in Thamel will book this for you and reserve you a seat for $10. The advantage to this is that during peak times, you are sure to get a seat. Best bus is Baba Adventure travels to Pokhara. Sai Baba is good for Chitwan. I think $10 is cheap enough for a 5-7 hour ride, so I have it reserved. In fairness, the tourist business in Thamel do need to make a living so they can keep operating. They make a phone call, provide you with all the information you need and give you support, so it’s up to you if you want to pre-book or not.

What to pack? You can get almost anything here that you can get in the West; so if you want to pack light, don’t bother bringing tons of bulky things “just in case.” I would recommend a very well broken in pair of trekking shoes if you will be doing that activity (I have seen some heinous blisters on trekkers who “thought” they broke-in their shoes). Any shoes brand new, slightly new, or not sure would probably kill you. So, bring a backpack with clothes you can layer, and remember you can always have them laundered in Thamel (Kathmandu tourist district) or Pokhara (resort town which is the start point for Annapurna Circuit). Don’t bring chocolate – you can get all that here - Toblerone, Cadbury, Nestle. And girls, yes, you can get all sorts of feminine hygiene products in the Thamel supermarkets, so don’t “over do it” on that type of thing. Same goes for shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, wet wipes, etc. There are also several English language bookstores around, so no need to bring 4 novels. Just head straight for Thamel on your first day if you think you will need these things. Don’t buy a bunch of expensive trekking stuff; it’s all here… this is the land of Mt. Everest after all!

What to wear

'Don’t EVER '– wear a bikini/revealing bathing suit when rafting, swimming, etc. I saw a western girl run into an open shower (outside near the road) that had only men in it with her bikini on after a rafting trip one time. She was yelling “woohoo!” and splashing water on the other people, like it was a spring break beach party. One of the rafting guides was mortified, but did not know what to say to her. All of the villagers watched, and it was embarrassing to see a fellow Westerner make such an offensive mistake. The first clue for this girl should have been that there were no other women in the shower, and second, that even when you do see Nepali women bathing in water taps near the road, they have on a “lungee” (like a long sarong) that covers everything except for arms, shoulders, and feet. At swimming pools, women wear bathing suits with skirts around the bottoms. And for rafting and kayaking, I recommend you were surfing type shorts, and sport shirts that dry easily. If you want to wear your bathing suit underneath, fine. Men and women who disrespect the dress code here make a bad reputation for all of us. Nepalis don’t travel much, and many don’t have TV, so you are the only idea they have about what Western people are like. Here are some things you might want to bring from home depending on your planned activities: • Trekking shoes, climbing shoes, sport shoes, river shoes – broken in. • Clothes you can layer. T-shirts, fleece, windbreaker, shorts, lightweight pants, sport pants, gloves & hat (if it is Oct-Mar). But not a lot of clothes. • A nice shirt/pants for nightlife – but not too flashy because you’ll stick out. Girls, no sun dresses, high heels or revealing clothes. Dress fun, but decent. • Good camera – this country is a feast for the eyes, and a photographer’s dream! • Pocket size Flashlight (you can buy it here if need be, but there are always powercuts, so have it handy! Seems like the lights go off whenever you are in an unfamiliar toilet.) • A sarong (for girls) and/or a light weight towel. • Ladies, if you like wearing a little make-up when you go out, bring it. It is hard to find here. Most of the make-up here is really weird, cheap stuff. Just bring a couple things that make you feel happy for the party nights! If you want to buy some new clothes in Kathmandu, don’t shop in Thamel unless you like the “hippy/new age” look. You can get Western style clothes in Durbar Marg, Asan, and Kathmandu Mall on New Road. You can get designer label clothes for literally a few dollars, custom made jeans for the equivalent of $7, and trekking clothes for MUCH cheaper than in Western countries, so don’t load your suitcase with these things.

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Comment by Pablo Souto Maior on September 13, 2013 at 12:38pm

Thanks Shannon, I wish I knew this before going to Nepal.

Comment by Shannon Farley on September 13, 2013 at 12:27pm

Great article! Very informative! I've traveled to Nepal and found your article right on with all points.

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