10 Simple Things You Need to Know Before Traveling to Nepal

  September 25th, 2019

Obtaining Your Visa for Nepal and How Much Does It Cost?

If you are all set to travel to Nepal, the most convenient way to get a tourist visa is by applying it on arrival. The on-arrival permits are available at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and each of the land border crossings across the country. However, it can also be acquired in advance by applying at Nepal Foreign Consulates that are stationed abroad.
Once you issue the visa in Nepal, it will be valid for entry from three to six months. Minors under 10 years of age also require a permit in Nepal but are not charged any fees

How to get the on-arrival visa?

  • At first, you will need to fill up the visa application forms in the arrivals' hall or one of the electronic registration machines.
  • Take a photo (It is handy to carry a couple of passport size photo with yourself).
  • Print out the visa application form and submit it to immigration.
  • Pay the visa fees according to your visa requirement (US Dollar is the most preferred currency to pay for the visa fee, however it is also possible to pay by other currencies).
  • The validity of your passport should be a minimum of six months to apply the on arrival visa.
Please note the citizen of Afghanistan, Iraq, Cameroon, Ghana, Somalia, Swaziland, Palestine, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Libera cannot obtain a visa-on-arrival in Nepal.

How to apply for the visa in advance?

Another method to obtain the tourist visa for Nepal is by applying online within 15 days of your arrival date. You'll need a recent passport-sized digital photo to upload to the online application and the address of the hotel you've booked in Nepal. Submit the form and make sure to print out the confirmation receipt. Once you arrive at the Kathmandu airport, show the confirmation receipt to the immigration officer along with your passport and money for the visa.
To apply for the visa for Nepal in advance, click here: http://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa

How much does the visa cost?

In regards to the length of visa in Nepal, there are three options for a tourist visa:
Duration Price
15 days USD 30
30 days USD 50
90 days USD 125
Note: For SAARC citizens (except Afghanistan), who apply for a visa the first time in a given year, the visa fee is free up to 30 days.

Extending your visa

To extend your visa in Nepal, you'll have to apply for a visa extension at the Immigration Department in either Kathmandu or Pokhara. Your visa can be extended up to 150 days. For visa extension, you'll need to submit the application extension form, your passport, one photo, and the required fees. The cost of the visa extension is USD 30 for 15 days, and USD 2 per day after that.
Arriving in Kathmandu for the first time after a long flight can be daunting. Tribhuvan International Airport is usually crowded and vibrant with the flock of backpackers from all around the world. Once you get out of the plane, do not expect orderly queues or systematic entry in the airport.

Getting through immigration queue

While walking through the chaotic entry process can be frustrating, it is essential to stay patient and stand your ground in the line. It is handy to fill up the visa and custom forms on the plane. However, if the airlines did not provide you with the form, you will have to wrestle through the queues and get one from the immigration counter.
Remember always to bring a couple of passport-sized photos for your convenience. If you forget to bring your photos, you will need to walk towards one of the electronic kiosks, scan your passport on the machine, complete the visa form, and take a picture in the machine. If you already have the photos, you can entirely skip this step. Once you complete the visa form process, head towards the next counter at the end of the arrival hall. Hand over the paper slip you received from the passport machines along with your original passport and money in the table.

Collecting your luggage

After completing your visa process, walk towards the luggage area to collect your baggage. The airport security patrols the luggage area all the time to protect the bags from disappearing. Collect your bags from the baggage carousel. Make sure to keep your luggage claim tag safe and handy while collecting your bags as you may be asked to show it. After receiving the luggage, head downstairs to exit the airport.

How to Get to Thamel from Tribhuvan International Airport?

Once you leave the airport premises, the first thing you might want to do is head to Thamel. Thamel is the popular tourist hub in the heart of Kathmandu. The narrow alleys of Thamel are crowded with colourful shops, travel companies, hotels, and restaurants. There are a few alternatives you can take to reach Thamel from the airport.

Prepaid Taxi

Pre-paid taxis are the most convenient way to travel out of the Kathmandu airport. Operated by Nepal Government, the pre-paid taxis can be booked inside the arrival hall and are represented by the green license plates. The rate of the taxis is fixed and exhibited on board along with the destination.
Pre-paid taxi will generally cost you around $7-$8 during the day and an additional $1-$2 at night. Although they are slightly expensive compared to the regular taxis, pre-paid taxis avoids unnecessary hassles and are a safer way to travel.

Local Taxi

Local taxis or meter taxis are generally much cheaper than the pre-paid taxis. However, the rate of these taxis are inconsistent and fluctuating. You may probably have to bargain a little to travel in a decent fare.
Usually, the local taxi will cost you $4-$5 during the daytime and an additional $1-$2 at night. Local taxis have black license plates.

Public Bus

For people who are determined to save a few dollars on transport from the airport can travel via Sajha Yatayat, a green-coloured bus. However, this bus will not take you directly to Thamel. The best idea is to go to Ratopul via Sanjha Bus, then change bus to Ratna Park or Jamal. It only takes about 10-15 minutes of walk to reach Thamel from Jamal. The public bus is far cheaper than the taxi costing you about $0.20.

Private Vehicle

A few travel companies and hotels also provide transfer facility from the airport. The representative of your travel company or hotel will be waiting for you outside the arrival gate with your name on the placard. Although the service may cost $8-$10, it is well worth to avoid the hassles and ensure safety while travelling. Most of the travel companies or hotels use tourist transportation with a green license plate.

Where to Exchange Local Currency in Nepal?

After arriving in Kathmandu, exchanging your currency into Nepalese rupees (NPR) may be one of your priorities. There are plenty of banks and exchange centres in Nepal that converts your foreign cash into Nepali rupees.
You can easily find such exchange counters in the touristy areas around Kathmandu and Pokhara, including one at the terminal of Tribhuvan International Airport. There are also a few accessible counters in the popular trekking trails of Nepal including the Everest and Annapurna region.
It is highly recommended to exchange your currency in Kathmandu before heading off on the trails. There are hundreds of exchange centres in Thamel. The best idea is to stroll around a few of these counters and compare the better rates of exchange. If you are planning to go trekking in the mountain trails of Nepal, it is advisable to exchange your currency in small denominations.

Buying a SIM Card and Mobile Internet in Nepal

It is quite apparent, as a foreigner, you would want to stay connected with your loved ones while in Nepal. Although wifi is available in most of the trekking trails in Nepal, they are often slower in the mountains. Mobile internet, however, is surprisingly faster, especially around the cities and also works well in the Himalayas where mobile networks are available.
In Nepal, the smartest idea for the travellers is to buy a local SIM card. While there are a few companies that provide the SIM cards, Nepal Telecom (NTC) and Ncell are the two favourites among the local people. So, which one of these SIM cards should you buy?
While Ncell is much faster and easily available around the cities, Nepal Telecom has more excellent coverage in the mountains. So, if you are only travelling around the cities, you should buy Ncell. However, if you are also planning to spend a few weeks in the mountains, consider buying Nepal Telecom SIM card as well. You can buy one of these at the Tribhuvan International Airport. If you do not choose to buy it at the airport, look for the Ncell logo the shopfront around Thamel, and ask them if SIM cards are available. It is handy to carry both SIM cards since they hardly cost around $1 – $1.50 each.
To buy a SIM card, you will need one passport-sized photo and your passport. The shopkeeper will provide you with a form to fill up. In case of any confusion, the vendor will assist you in filling it out. They will keep a photocopy of the passport identity page and visa. Once you complete the process, the vendor will provide you with the SIM card. It is handy to ask him to add as much credit as you need beforehand. In case you need to add a top-up, store displaying Nepal Telecom and Ncell logo should be able to sell you one. Instructions to add the top-up is mentioned on the card.
Both Nepal Telecom and Ncell offer plenty of voice call packages as well as mobile internet packages. 

Common Greetings and Courtesies in Nepal

Namaste’ or ‘Namaskar’ is the most common way of greeting in Nepal. In Sanskrit, ‘Namaste’ means ‘the divine in me, salutes the divine in you.’ The local custom is to place your hands together at heart with your fingers pointed upwards, then slightly bow your head down, before saying ‘Namaste.
Another unique aspect of Nepali culture is the way people in Nepal address each other. It is well worth learning to say - ‘dai (older brother),’ ‘Bhai (younger brother),’ ‘didi (older sister),’ ‘bahini (older sister),’ ‘buwa (father),’ and ‘aama (mother)’ to be more respectful and receive warm reactions.
The word ‘dhanyabad’ is usually translated as thank you in Nepali. However, when you are incredibly thankful for major situations, use ‘dherai dherai dhanyabad.’

Basic Words and Expressions of Nepali Language

It is always helpful to learn a few basics of the local language while travelling to new destinations. Although you may not be able to speak the language fluently, learning the basics of Nepali language will help you to get around the place, meet new people, and provide a more in-depth insight to your cultural experience. In addition to that, just an effort to speak/learn the language will make the Nepali people treat you with immense respect and bring a smile on their faces.
So, here are a few common Nepali words and sentences for you to learn that can help you connect with the locals while in Nepal:
English Nepali
Hello Namaste
How are you? Tapai sanchai hunu huncha?
What is your name? Tapaiko naam k ho?
My name is ( _____ ) Mero naam ( _____ ) ho
Thank you Dhanyabad
Sorry Maaf garnu hos
It’s fun Ramailo cha
It’s nice Ramro cha
See you again Pheri bhetaula
Food Khana
Water Pani
Tea Chiya
Tasty Mitho
Yes Ho/Hajur
No Haina
Good Ramro
Bad Naramro
Let’s go Jaum Jaum
Room Kotha
Do you speak English? Tapai Angreji bolna huncha?
I’m lost Ma haraaye
How much is this? Yesko kati parcha?
Where is the toilet? Sauchalaya kata cha?
How do I get to ( _____ )? ( _____ ) kasari janey?

Is it Safe to Ride a Local Taxi in Nepal?

Local taxis are one of the most convenient means of transport in Nepal, especially around the bigger cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara. They are ideal for both local rides as well as long-distance journeys around the valley. Travelling through the local taxis in Nepal is safe. Most of the tourists prefer to hire taxis to stroll around the cities and explore the travel destinations near the towns. The nearest taxi stand in Thamel is Tridevi Sadak Marg, approximately 150m from the junction with Jyatha Road.
Although the taxis are supposed to be metered, most of the drivers are reluctant to use them. Therefore, make sure to negotiate for the lowest possible rates and before you get in, always agree on the price first. While you may have to haggle for the right price, taxis are the fast and cheap means to get around in Nepal.

Is it Safe to Walk Around Thamel at Night?

Thamel has always been the centre of attraction among the tourists and foreigners travelling to Nepal. Mostly, the picturesque alleys of Thamel breathe in a vibrant and lively atmosphere with the horde of travellers from all around the world.
But as the dusk falls around the scene, life in Thamel becomes much more trendy and animated. Dazzlings streets, late-night dinners, live music, clubs, and wild parties dominate the exotic locale of Thamel. Since the atmosphere is pretty bustling until late at night, walking around Thamel is safe. However, it is essential to keep hold of your valuable belongings in the crowded areas and disregard the strangers along the way. The police are also actively patrolling the streets late until night. If your hotel is away from Thamel, taxis and rickshaws are available for service until dawn. However, be aware that these vehicles will charge you twice the amount of money to take you home.

Places to Visit on Arrival Day in Nepal

With historical monuments, ancient culture, old Newari towns, and medieval temples, Kathmandu is an incredibly diverse city in the heart of Nepal. While most of the trekkers make Kathmandu their stop before the Himalayan adventure, there is much more to that in this ancient city. If you are planning to head off to Nepal anytime soon, here are a few suggested place you can visit on the day of your arrival.
  • Kathmandu Durbar Square
  • Thamel
  • Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
  • Boudhanath Stupa
  • Pashupatinath Temple
  • Garden of Dreams
  • Narayanhiti Palace Museum
  • Ason Tole


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