Quick tips and tricks to know before you go
Commonly referred to as one of the most beautiful countries in the world for travelers, Nepal is a beautiful backpacking haven open to everyone! It has sprawling, lush forests and glistening, snow-capped mountains just waiting to be explored! And while that may seem like something to dive right into, there are a few essential things to know before you go. Check out this list of the top things I wish I knew before going to Nepal to make your next trip nothing but happy hiking:
When in doubt, go for bottled water!
Water from the tap in Nepal is not considered safe, especially for tourists whose stomachs are not adjusted. Therefore, it is vitally important that visitors stick to the bottled or boiled rule. Here it might be smart to pack a filter and/or a boiling pan just in case there’s no bottled water around. It will also help with costs if you bring a refillable water bottle— especially one with a built in filter! Just because it’s readily available does not mean it is safe for consumption so also be wary of anything that may have been ‘washed’ in tap water such as fruits or vegetables. If you’re not sure at a restaurant, ask for bottled water or bring your own!
Come with an empty stomach
No, it may not be the cuisine you are used to, but nearly everyone who visits Nepal says their food is one of the things they miss most. Make the most out of it and be adventurous! Try out that dish that says house specialty and don’t be afraid to sample some spice! The local restaurants here have been operating for years, consistently dishing out the best in Nepali meals. Nepali food is often referred to as being ‘spicy’ but there are plenty of options all around the country for a wide variety of patrons. Be as adventurous as you are on the path, and opt for some real, traditional Nepal food while in town.
There are many ways to reach the peak
While I highly recommend taking the hike up any number of stunning mountains in the area, that’s not the only way you can see it. For those who have put in their steps for the trip, or simply just want to take a load off without missing the essentials: try a helicopter tour! These will take you to the peak of Mount Everest! A climb that is famous for being incredibly physically challenging. From this helicopter you will not only see the snowy peak, but you will also be able to see some of the most breathtaking views known to Nepal. Such as any number of glaciers, lakes, rivers, forests, valleys, and so much more! Helicopter tours are a great way to see it all, and should definitely be considered on any Nepal bucket list!
Be aware of local customs and culture
Important no matter where you go! In Nepal there are a few local customs you should be aware of before you arrive. For greetings, it is customary to place your palms flat together and say either “Namaste” or “Namaskar”. The elderly should be regarded with respect, with the use of “daai” for men, and “didi” for women. It is also important to note that revealing clothes are not acceptable in Nepal. Opt for something a bit more reserved than shorts, and for swimwear go with the classic one piece. Shopping in Nepal might be a great resource just so you can get a feel for what the locals do and do not wear around town. Although considering it is an area known for hiking, a lot of the clothing centers around outdoors comfort. Furthermore, try to avoid touching anyone with your feet or stepping over outstretched legs as many Nepali natives considered this to be incredibly rude.
Inside the Nepali home, it is imperative that you take off your shoes upon entrance. There will typically be a place next to the door to leave your shoes, but ask nicely if you are unsure. Before dinner, it is customary to wash both your hands and mouth. When it is time to eat, wait until the host serves you rather than serving yourself, and do not use your own utensils to serve! Many houses have other independent, private customs, but these are just a few that tend to be similarities amongst the Nepali culture.
Don’t forget to tip
Generally, the tip is already included in many Nepali restaurants and bars. However, if it is not, the usual rate is 10%. Keep in mind that working wages here are not known to be stellar, and therefore the more you can tip, the better. Especially if you liked the food and service! It is also customary to tip trek guides if they did a good job at keeping your party safe and together. Most people will tip somewhere around $10 USD, depending on the duration of the tour and stops along the way.
It is also important to carry around cash with you. The Nepalese Rupee is the official local currency in the country. However, as such a premiere tourist destination, it should not be hard to find a place that either accepts foreign money, or will be able to exchange it. That being said, it can be stressful to assume, so just to ere on the side of safety you should travel with enough Nepalese Rupee’s to hold you over till the next activity.
Be open to adventure!
Nepal is a beautiful country, with a new adventure around every corner! Don’t be afraid to try something you never have before, because you may have just found your newest favorite activity! Try that hiking path that the locals don’t stop raving about, or order that traditional Nepali dish that your friends are too scared to brave. Be open to adventure, and the adventure will be open to you!