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Need to know – Nepal

The famous Durbar Square in Patan.
Image courtesy: Kit Hartford/ Creative Commons

In this extract from Lonely Planet India’s Nepal travel guide, we look at some of the very basic information you need while planning a trip to the city.

Quick facts

Languages: Nepali, Hindi, English.

Time: 15 minutes ahead of IST.

Currency: Nepali Rupee (Rs). The Indian Rupee is also widely used.

Mobile phones: Indian mobiles work if international roaming is enabled. Local SIM cards are available at the airport or at NCell/Nepal Telecom offices.

Internet access: Internet services and wi-fi access easily available in Kathmandu, Pokhara and most other towns.

Tourist information: Nepal Tourism Board (Ph: 01-4256909, 24hr tourism hotline Ph: 01–4225709; operates offices in Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport and at the Tourist Service Centre in central Kathmandu.

When to go

October–November – high season: Clear skies and warm days. Trekkers flock to the Everest and Annapurna regions and accommodation in Kathmandu gets booked up; prices rise.

December–April – mid season: Winter sees chilly nights in Kathmandu; mist sometimes delays flights and snowfall can close passes on high trekking routes. February is a good time for a low- altitude trek or to visit Chitwan National Park. In spring, the weather is warm and spectacular rhododendrons bloom.

June–September – low season: The monsoon rains bring landslides and clouds obscure mountain views, though hefty accommodation discounts are common. The plentiful rain and leeches deter most trekkers.

What to Pack

• Warm clothes in the winter and for high-altitude places. Synthetic pile and fleece are ideal fabrics.

• Earplugs for travel on noisy turboprop planes and local buses, plus noisy hotel rooms.

• Lip balm and sunscreen.

• Hiking boots or shoes – buying footwear in Nepal is a shortcut to blisters.

• A padlock to lock your bag to bus baggage racks.

• LED torch

• Insect repellent

• A reusable water bottle and iodine tablets to purify your own water, especially when trekking.

• Swimsuit for rafting trips.

Getting around

• Air: Nepal has an excellent network of domestic flights, but services rarely leave on time and many flights are cancelled at the last minute because of poor visibility. Air safety is something you should bear in mind, but this has to be weighed up against the risks of travelling by road and the time saved by flying.
• Bus: The main form of public transport – tickets are very cheap but journeys can be uncomfortable. It’s better to travel by tourist buses though they cost a little extra.
• Taxi: Metered taxis in larger towns such as Kathmandu and Pokhara can be hired for both local and long-distance journeys.
• Car hire: You can easily hire a car or jeep with a driver through a travel agency. Having your own car gives you the most flexibility but can be expensive.