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General Information of Nepal

Nepal

 
GENERAL INFORMATION
Nepal is a landlocked country that shares a border with Tibet in the north and India in the west, south and east. Before 1951 this Himalayan kingdom was closed to foreigners and the few who visited did so on strictly invitation basis. Today tourism is a major foreign exchange earner and facilities for tourists have grown considerably in the last decade. There are six five star hotels in Kathmandu and lodges in remote areas along the trekking routes. There are domestic flights to all regions of Nepal making trek routes easily accessible.
Area: 147,181sq.km. Southern Nepal comprises flat plains called the terai, while the northern border is made up of some of the highest mountains in the world including Mt. Everest, the highest.

Latitude: 26deg 12’ and 30deg 27’ North
Longitude: 80deg 4’ and 88deg 12’ East

Time: Nepalese Time is 15 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time and 5 hour 40 minutes ahead of GMT.
Topography: From 60m above sea level in the terai, (the plains) the terrain rises to the highest point on earth, Mt Everest at 8848m. Nepal also has the deepest gorge in the world, the Kali Gandaki gorge.
Climate: Nepal has a short spring (March ­mid April) when the days are pleasant but the mornings and evenings are still chilly. This is followed by a summer that is cut short by the monsoon rains which normally arrives at the end of May or early June. The rains last until late September after which the best time of the year arrives. From late September the skies are clear until November. The ideal time to be in Nepal is October-November. According to altitude, the climate changes from sub-tropical in the lowlands to arctic conditions in the high Himalayas.
People: There are more than 50 ethnic groups in Nepal speaking more than 200 different dialects. The population can be generally divided into the Mongoloid and non-Mongoloid groups (mostly of Aryan descent). The former prefer to live in the mountainous regions while most of the latter are found living in the lowlands known as the terai.
Religion: The dominant religions of Nepal are Hinduism and Buddhism. The majority are Hindus followed by Buddhists. The minorities consist of Christians, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs and a few animistic religions still prevalent around the country. The caste system is very much in evidence and still influences marriages and social activities of the population.
Languages: The national language is Nepali and is understood and spoken by most Nepalese citizens. The local dialects are still spoken by a large part of the population. The Newari community who are the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu valley,speak various dialects of the Newari language. The languages spoken in Nepal are divided into two distinct groups 1) Sanskrit based such as Nepali and Maithili, etc. 2) Tibeto-Burman languages like Tamang and Gurung, etc. Tourists have no communication problems in Nepal as most people in the tourism sector speak English and the general public understands the language.

National Parks, Reserves and Conservation Areas: 1. Royal Chitwan National Park
2. Royal Bardia National Park
3. Sagarmatha National Park
4. Langtang National Park
5. Khaptad National Park
6. Makalu-Barun National Park& Conservation Area
7. Rara National Park
8. Shey-Phoksumdo National Park
9. Parsa Wildlife Reserve
10. Royal Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
11. Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
12. Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve
13. Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP)
14. Kanchenjunga Conservation Area
15. Manaslu Conservation Area
16. Shivapuri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve

Major Activities for Tourists: Trekking, white water rafting, kayaking, mountaineering, jungle safari, bird watching, hunting, fishing, hot-air ballooning, hang gliding, ultra-light aircraft rides, mountain flights, bungy jumping and canyoning.
Communication: Internet services are available in most of the urban tourist areas and e-phones have made international calls cheap. Many hotels also provide these services for which there is a service charge.
Currency: The Nepalese Rupee has been steadily losing value against the US Dollar and at present Rupees 76.5/- is equivalent to US $. 1.00/-.
A Rupee equals 100 paisa. Paper currency notes are available in denominations of 1,2,5,10,20,25,50,100,250,500 and 1000. Before leaving the country, you may repurchase Dollars with your excess Nepalese money, up to 10% of the convertible currency you had exchanged earlier.
Customs: Custom duties are exempted on 200 sticks of cigarettes, 20 cigars, one bottle of spirit and 2 bottles or 12 cans of beer. The following personal effects are also duty-free: a camera with a reasonable amount of film, a pair of binoculars, a tape-recorder with 12 tapes, a musical instrument, a transistor radio, one video camera without deck. The following items may not be brought into the country: Firearms and ammunitions, walkie-talkies, radio transmitters and drugs.
Immunisation requirements: Travelers entering Nepal should take immunisation shots against typhoid, hepatitis, cholera and tetanus. Children should be immunised as required. Many of these shots can be taken here in Kathmandu.
Health Care: To avoid stomach ailments, always drink bottled water or make sure the water you drink is boiled and filtered. Even ice cubes should be taken with caution. Food served during our organized treks and tours are of the highest quality and safe.
Visa: The Royal Nepalese Embassies or Consulates abroad issue visas but you could also obtain one on arrival at the Tribhuwan International Airport (Immigration counter). A 30-day visa can be obtained for US$ 30/-. If you have plans to visit neighbouring countries like Tibet and Bhutan, be sure to obtain a double entry visa. This can be obtained from the airport on arrival.
Postal Services: The Central Post Office is located in the heart of Kathmandu near the Tudihkel grounds. Postage facilities are also available in many hotels. Courier services are available with DHL and UPS operating from Nepal.
Hospitals and Clinics: There are three major Government hospitals in Kathmandu; Bir Hospital, Patan Hospital, Teaching Hospital. Among the private clinics, Nepal International Clinic is popular among tourists. It is operated by a U.S.board certified internist, who takes care of all the medical needs of tourists.
Media: You can watch many international news channels like the B.B.C., CNN and C.N.B.C. OR catch the English news on Nepal TV or one of the Indian channels. Besides these there are English dailies like Kathmandu Post, Space Time Today or The Rising Nepal.
Shopping Facilities: Souvenirs come in many shapes and sizes. The most sought after souvenirs are Thangkas (which can be very expensive) followed by carpets, and then there are the Khukuri (Gurkha knife), handicrafts, sculptures, Pashmina shawls, etc.
Highways: The major highway linking Nepal to India and the capital Kathmandu to the terai regions of the country is the Prithivi Highway, which follows the Trishuli river all the way to Narayanghat in the terai. The Mahendra Highway links eastern Nepal with western Nepal while the Arniko Highway is the road to Tibet starting from Kathmandu. The old road leading out of the valley and over the mountains is known as the Tribhuwan Highway. This road goes via the hill resort of Daman and reaches Hetauda in the terai.
Tipping: The accepted norm is to leave a 10% tip in restaurants. The hotel waiters and bellboys are also tipped according to one’s discretion.
Clothing: For summer; shorts and T-shirts are suitable. Raincoats are a must for a monsoon visit, which is the off-season. In the winter, the mornings and evenings are chilly (even in the terai) hence pullovers and jackets are essential.
Accommodation: The cheaper hotels where most of the tourists flock to are in Thamel which has practically become the tourist district of Kathmandu; not only because of lodgings but also because that is where visitors like to be in the evenings for entertainment and the lively atmosphere. In other words, that’s where the action is. The poor cousin of Thamel is Freak Street (once the hangout of hippies and low budget tourists). Today Freak Street is only a shadow of its glory days in the ‘70s, and has become a haven for those tourists who seek peace and quiet. For souvenir shopping, it is still one of the attractions with the large Basantapur Square full of temporary shops that are set up in the morning and removed at night. The Five Stars and other bigger hotels are located all over the city and easily reached by taxi.

GETTING TO NEPAL
By Air:
All international flights land at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, the only international airport in Nepal. The airlines that serve Kathmandu are Thai International, Singapore Airlines, Lauda Air, Pakistan International Airlines, Bangladesh Biman, China Southwest AIrlines, Druk Air, Gulf Air and Qatar Airlines. The national carrier - Royal Nepal Airlines (RNAC), operates flights to Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
Within Asia:
You could travel to Kathmandu from Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. If in India, you can fly to Nepal from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Calcutta and Varanasi, Delhi to Kathmandu is a one-hour flight.

Flights to Kathmandu from Lhasa are operated by China Southwest Airlines. Druk Air flies between Kathmandu and Paro in Bhutan. Bangladesh Biman operates flights to Kathmandu from Dhaka (Bangladesh). Qatar Airways flies between Doha and Kathmandu. From Europe and Middle East to Nepal:
Lauda Air flies to Kathmandu from Austria twice a week. Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Aeroflot, Thai International, Pakistan International Airlines and Bangladesh Biman all have services from Europe to Kathmandu.
By Land
There are eight entry points into Nepal by land open to tourists, out of which six are from India and the others from Tibet. Via India:
The crossing points from India include Mahendranagar, Dhangadhi, Nepalgunj and Sunauli in the west, Birganj in the central region and Kakarbhitta in the east. There are direct buses to the Nepal border from Delhi, Varanasi, Calcutta, and Patna.
Via Tibet:
Nepal can be entered from Tibet via Kodari. For trekkers entering Tibet from Nepal, the entry point is Simikot in far north west Nepal for which special permits are required.
VISAS & DOCUMENTS
All the important documents, original as well as a photocopied set should be brought along. Your documents should include passport data, visa page, credit cards, travel/Health insurance policy, air/bus/train tickets, and having a set of passport photographs (colour or Black & white) always comes in handy.
Visas: Barring Indians, every other nationality needs a visa to enter Nepal. They are available from the embassies and consulates abroad, at the border with India or on arrival at the Tribhuvan airport at Kathmandu. Single entry tourist visa are available for 15 days (US $15) or 30 days (US $25). Multiple entry 60 days visa is available for US $60. Visa Extensions: You can extend your tourist visa for a total of 150 days. A further 30 days can be granted ‘on reasonable grounds’. A tourist cannot stay beyond 180 days. You will require a passport size photograph for your visa extension.
Local Transport
For traveling within Kathmandu, there are local buses, vans, three wheelers (battery or gas) and a trolley bus (electric) service to Bhaktapur. For hire there are meter-taxis, meter three wheelers and rickshaws. However, most taxis will refuse to take tourists by meter. Besides these you can also hire a motorcycle or mountain bike to get around. For reaching other destinations within Nepal there is an extensive network of air-links operated both by the national carrier as well as by private airlines. By land there are buses to most destinations leaving from the Gongabhu Bus Park beside the Ring Road.