Nepal, an independent republic since May of 2008, is an incredible destination for world travelers looking to experience a diverse culture. The area is full of incredible people, spectacular monuments, amazing architecture, and the occasional odd tourist attraction. Visitors will find plenty of welcoming people, tea-houses, and hotels during their travels as well. There’s really no reason to stay away from Nepal, especially if you’ve planned a safe trip in advance.
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When to Visit Nepal
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The absolute best time of year to visit Nepal is between the months of September and December. August is monsoon season, so visiting any earlier will only prove to be a waste of time and money. After the monsoon season ends you’ll find yourself surrounded by beautiful valleys full of blooming flowers and flowing rivers.
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If you’d like to visit the hilly areas of Nepal you should consider visiting during the months of May and June. The temperatures during this time of year are approximately 22 – 25 degrees Celsius (or 71 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit). Do not visit the hills during monsoon season, as dangerous landslides are incredibly common during that time of year.
Communicating in Nepal
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Unlike many other tourist destinations, you are likely to find that most of Nepal’s population does not speak English. Because of this you may want to hire a travel guide or interpreter to travel with you. Even still, you should learn a few words of Nepalese. Some of the most important include:
- Namaste (Hello and goodbye – informal)
- Namaskar (Hello and goodbye – formal)
- Dhanyabaad (Thank you)
- Hajur (Yes)
- Chiana (No)
- Tapalaai Angregi bolchu (Do you speak English?)
- Toilet kaha cha (Where is the toilet?)
- Malaai sahayog chaiyo (I need your help)
- Malaai doctor chaiyo (I need a doctor)
- Maalai buhjina (I don’t understand)
Health Considerations in Nepal
Nepal is considered to be an underdeveloped country. As such, several serious diseases are prevalent in this area of the world, including some that are not found throughout the rest of South-Asia. These include malaria, kala-azar, Japanese encephalitis, Hepatitis A, dysentery, and parasites.
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It’s important to make sure you give your body time to acclimate to life in Nepal. For the first few days in the area you should avoid foods and beverages purchased from street stands and local markets. Stick to bottled water and restaurant or prepackaged foods whenever possible.
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Remember, most diseases are transferred via air and water. Mosquitoes are also a major concern, so don’t forget to ask your hotel concierge for insect repellent upon arrival.
Identifying Tourist Police in Nepal
You may, at times, become confused and disoriented as you move from attraction to attraction in Nepal. This feeling is only made worse by being unable to find someone who speaks English to communicate with easily.
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The Nepal Police have formed a special unit known as the Nepal Tourist Police. These police officers are all English-speaking and have been trained to help tourists who become lost, ill, or need any other type of assistance related to their travels. You’ll likely see them at all of the major tourist attractions you visit, but you should watch out for their blue vans and bicycles as you travel as well.
Currency Exchange in Nepal
The type of money used in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (or the Nepali Rupayiaah). This type of Rupee should not be confused with those used in Indian cultures such as the Indian Rupee, Sri Lankan Rupee, or Pakistani Rupee. Napalese Rupees have photographs of its Excellency printed on the bills or minted on each coin.
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The paper Rupee comes in 1, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 denominations. Coins start with the Paise, which is equal to 1/100th of a Rupee and are usually found 10 Paise, 25 Paise, 50 Paise, 1 Rupee, and 2 Rupee denominations.
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You can exchange your local currency into Rupees at any money-exchange center in Nepal. It’s usually safer to visit government affiliated offices, the hotel concierge, or a well-known bank to ensure you aren’t ripped off during the exchange process.
Safety Considerations in Nepal
As in any city, there are some safety considerations you should keep in mind as you travel throughout Nepal. Those traveling through Nepal for more than a few days should consider visiting their country’s embassy or consulate to register. This is to ensure your whereabouts are accounted for during your stay in the country.
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While violence isn’t common against tourists, it is recommended that you not travel through Maoist pockets without an escort. You should, of course, make all of your travel arrangements through authorized travel agencies. Doing so will ensure you always travel along the safest routes possible.
Pack your bags, grab your maps, and prepare for your trip to Nepal. Pay attention to your surroundings and keep your eyes peeled for friendly Tourist Police officers and travel agencies willing to help you along the way. Enjoy your travels!