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Entry to Nepal and Visas

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Money and Currency

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PNepal’s Programs and Projects

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mmodation and Transportation

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Electronics and Communication

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Health and Climate

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Local Culture and Customs

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Refer to our FAQ to have all sorts of questions answered, from travel planning, information on Nepal, and logistical concerns such as visa and money considerations. Also, feel free to contact the GAPNepal team with any additional questions or concerns. We’re always happy to hear from you!

Entry to Nepal and Visas How do I get to Nepal? Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu is the only international airport in Nepal. Many international airlines directly connect Kathmandu with major cities around the world. Alternatively, you can travel to Nepal overland from India. What is the time difference in Nepal? Nepali time is GMT + 5 hours and 45 minutes. Do I need a Visa to enter Nepal? All foreign nationals, except Indians, need visas to enter Nepal. Some nationalities, including US, UK, Canada, and Australia, may obtain a visa upon arrival. Tribhuvan International Airport, in addition to various overland entry points, will have the ability to issue visas. In countries with a Nepali embassy or consulate, you usually have the opportunity to arrange your visa prior to arrival as well. What is the process to obtain a visa on arrival? If you are eligible for visa on arrival, you will need to use the automatic machines in the arrivals terminal. The machines will scan your passport and take an electronic photo for your visa.


You then take your receipt to the immigration desk, where your application will be authorized and where you will pay your fee. Don’t be surprised if this process takes up to an hour, depending on the number of people at the airport. The maximum stay for a tourist visa is 150 days within a calendar year. What is the process to extend a visa after arrival? Tourist visas can be extended at the Immigration Department in Kathmandu or Pokhara. You have the option of extending your visa by 15, 30, 60, or 90 days. The maximum stay for a tourist visa is 150 days within a calendar year, including the extension. What are the requirements to obtain a Nepali visa? ► A valid passport-sized photo ► The requisite visa fee ► A photocopy of your passport photo page, to obtain the initial visa ► A photocopy of your passport photo and visa page, if you are extending your visa If you are extending your visa and need new photos, you can get them in Nepal for about 250 Rupees for a set of eight photos. How much does a Nepali visa cost? 15 days – Initial visa: USD$25 ► 15 days – Visa extension: USD$30 ► 30 days – Initial visa: USD$40 ► 30 days – Visa extension: USD$60 ► 60 days – Initial visa: USD$70 ► 60 days – Visa extension: USD$120 ► 90 days – Initial visa: USD$100 ► 90 days – Visa extension: USD$180 ► Add USD$20 to the cost of any visa to make it multiple-entry ►

Upon arrival, your visa fee is payable by credit card, or a selection of currencies, including US Dollar, Canadian Dollar, British Pound, Euro, Singapore Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Australian Dollar, and Japanese Yen. Nepali or Indian Rupees are not accepted as payment for the visa fee. There is a currency exchange counter at the airport if you do not have any of these currencies. If you’re extending your visa, the only accepted currency is the Nepali Rupee, and you are required to pay in cash.


If you overstay less than 30 days a fee of US$5 per day is payable, which includes a USD$2 per day charge, as well as a USD$3 per day administration fee. In addition, the logistical difficulties associated with overstayed visas may cause you to miss your departing flight. Important Notice: As of January 2016, this information was correct to the best of our knowledge. However, we do not guarantee its accuracy. You must ensure that you check with Nepali Immigration authorities before your trip to Nepal for the latest requirements: www.nepalimmigration.gov.np

Money and Currency What is the currency in Nepal? In Nepal the currency is the rupee; the short form is NRs., and the currency code is NPR. There are many currency exchange outlets where you can easily change money. Rupee notes are denominated in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000. Rupee coins are denominated in 1, 2, and 5. Can I use my credit card in Nepal? In Kathmandu and other major cities, you can occasionally use your credit card. Where credit cards are accepted, all major cards are valid. In remote areas and rural villages, you will (99% of the time) be unable to use your credit card to pay for things. In general, cash is king – be prepared to use it for most, if not all, of your purchases. Are there ATMs if I need to withdraw cash? There are numerous ATMs in the big cities such as Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan.


Check with your bank to find out what the charges are to withdraw money from abroad. Also, most if not all ATMs will charge an additional fee of 500 Rupees to withdraw cash from a non-Nepali card. In remote areas, you will most likely not have access to ATMs. On major trekking routes, an ATM can sometimes be found, but the fees are higher to withdraw cash and the amount you are able to withdraw often has a much lower threshold. If you’re venturing outside of the city, the best bet is to make sure you take enough cash with you to cover your stay. Are prices in Nepal comparable to those at my home? Goods and services are often not priced as they are abroad. You will find that the cost to buy food, basic clothing, and accommodation, is lower than at home. For example, in most places you can buy dinner for less than USD$5. That being said, the Purchasing Power Parity in Nepal is extremely low, so although things cost relatively less than abroad, local salaries are reflectively and exponentially lower as well. Will I bargain for goods? Sometimes. Accommodations and restaurants are often (but not always) priced to a fixed level, and it would be in bad taste to bargain their cost. However, for tangible items such as souvenirs, clothing and toiletries, bargaining is a regular part of the purchasing experience in Nepal. The best practice is usually to start at half of the requested price, and meet in the middle of yours, and the shopkeeper’s, expectations. If you’re not sure how much something is worth or should cost, feel free to ask us!

Programs and Projects What kind of work will I be doing? If your chosen program includes a community project component, as most of our programs do, the volunteering that you will be doing can greatly vary. Generally, our community work will consist of manual labour, such as the building of homes or schools, installing irrigation or water purification systems or farming fields.


Occasionally, volunteers will also be working to teach English at local public schools or monasteries, in addition to leading extra-curricular sports activities. Can I still help if I can’t do manual labor? Yes! The building sites also require people to help monitor or support items that are being installed. We also need people to keep morale up and be a motivator, as well as entertain children who may be trying to get in the way. Many of the projects we work on, especially schools, also require having murals or pictures painted on the exterior or classroom walls! Additionally, we always need people to take photos or films of the ongoing projects and the experiences the other travelers are having with GAPNepal. What will I eat? In Kathmandu and during your tour, meals will be provided according to the outline of your trip itinerary, and will be taken either at your hotel or a local restaurant as chosen by GAPNepal. You are free to take your additional, not included meals, wherever you like! If you need suggestions, just ask. In rural villages and on your community project, you will have dal bhat for two meals per day; once around 11am and once again in the evening. The locals don’t eat breakfast, but you’ll often be offered something simple anyways. Are my special dietary requirements a problem? Not usually. First of all, it’s extremely easy to maintain a vegetarian diet in Nepal. Secondly, even if you are lactose intolerant or gluten intolerant, you will be able to eat dal bhat, which is comprised of rice, lentils, and a selection of vegetables and potatoes. If you suffer from severe allergies, you should let our staff know when you book your trip, so that we can make sure we take additional steps to accommodate you. How difficult are the treks included in GAPNepal trips? Each day you can expect between 5 and 7 hours walking, covering anywhere from 8km to 14km.


As you ascend in altitude, you will walk for the same amount of time each day, but cover markedly less ground; sometimes as little as half. All of our trekking itineraries are quite flexible, and allow for extra days of time, in case we need to accommodate a guest who has more difficulty with the physical requirements, or unexpected weather or geographical occurrences. What equipment should I bring? We provide sleeping bags and down jackets on our treks. However, hiking shoes or boots are a must, as well as anything else you think you may need. Keep in mind that you can also buy many trekking items locally, in varying qualities based on your budget. Should I be worried about altitude sickness? Before you depart on your trek, we will brief you on the signs and symptoms of altitude, or acute mountain sickness. GAPNepal trekking guides have many years of experience with high altitude trekking, and are chosen for their utmost professionalism and safety measures. Can I trek in Himalayas even I haven’t done so? Absolutely. In fact, it's a great place to start. As part of our job, one of the most important things we do is ascertain your experience and ambitions, and find the trek to best match. Whatever level of difficulty you think you’re capable of, we have the perfect trek for you.

Accommodation and Transportation How far is Kathmandu from the airport? It takes about 25 minutes to drive from the airport to Kathmandu. The distance is around 8-10 km.


Does GAPNepal offer an airport transfer service? Yes, one of our representatives will pick you up at the airport on your scheduled arrival date. We will be waiting at the exit gate with a sign that has your name on it. You may find that several people at the airport might try to help you carry your baggage in exchange for a tip. Do not tip more than USD$1-2, or 100-200 Rupees. If you don’t want or need help, simply say so. Does Nepal have public transport? Yes. In major cities you can use a public bus to get around, or you can choose to hire a taxi, bicycle rickshaw or battery-operated threewheeler. In Nepal, taxis do have meters, but the drivers will often tell you that the meter isn’t working, and ask you to bargain for your ride. If you can easily find another taxi and want to avoid the argument, you can choose that option; you can also inform the driver that you are aware of their requirement to operate on a meter, and insist upon the ride. Long routes are operated by busses, and you will have the option of a less expensive local bus, or a larger and more comfortable tourist bus. Nepal does not have a railway system connecting cities. Where will I stay? The itinerary specific to your trip indicates what type of accommodation is included. ► ►

► ►

Standard rooms have basic furnishings and an ensuite bathroom Tent camps are canvas tents with wooden platforms to raise you from the ground Teahouses are a trekker’s fare; see below for additional information Homestays will see you staying with a local family in their home Depending on the program and the group size, we may house you in a school or community building instead of a homestay during your community project We book our trips on a doubleoccupancy basis; if you’re a single traveler, you will be paired with another guest.


Alternatively, or you can choose to purchase a single-occupancy upgrade for 25% of the trip cost. If you prefer to be paired with a same-sex roommate, please let us know when you book. Although we can’t guarantee this, we will do everything in our power to accommodate you What are teahouses like? Nepal’s main trekking routes and trails are dotted with simple teahouses to cater to hikers, and they will be where you will you will sleep, eat, and relax while on your trek. Teahouses usually feature simple wooden or cement rooms, with a shared bathroom; although, the bathrooms of teahouses usually only feature a toilet. If you wish to have a shower on your trek, you may find that a bucket of heated water is the norm! Shared living space usually consists of a room with a hot oven or fireplace, and benches or tables for you to eat and relax at.

Electronics and Communication What type of sockets are used in Nepal? Electricity in Nepal is 230 volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second; therefore, you will need a voltage converter for any device that is not 230 volts at 50MHz. Power sockets vary. Technically, Nepal operates on Type D plugs, but it’s not uncommon to find British, American or Portuguese socket types (Types A, B, E, G, and M). Your best bet is to bring a universal converter; you can always buy inexpensive converters locally as well. What is load shedding? Nepal undergoes regularly scheduled power cuts, called load shedding. Load shedding is a fact of life both in major cities as well as rural communities, but you will find that many hotels, and some larger restaurants, have backup generators for critical processes, and usually lights.


Load shedding occurs between 8 and 14 hours per day depending on where you are; you can check the schedule at any time by visiting the Nepal Electrical Authority website; the schedule is usually quite accurate. It’s a great idea to purchase a power bank or battery pack to store extra energy for your small devices. Will I have internet access? In the big cities such as Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan, internet access is so common that it’s almost expected. In tourist hotspots such as the Thamel district of Kathmandu, most hotels and restaurants offer complementary WiFi as well. In remote areas and rural villages, it’s possible but not guaranteed that you will have online access. Is you have a Nepali SIM card, you may have access to 2G or 3G networks, but that also isn’t a guarantee. If you have a need to be connected for a specific purpose, contact GAPNepal, and we will let you know for sure if we will be able to accommodate you. Can I get a local Nepali SIM card? You can buy a SIM card at the airport, or once you get to your hotel in Kathmandu; mobile shops are widespread. To get a local SIM card, you will need a passport-sized photo of yourself, as well as your Nepali visa (which should be pasted directly into your passport itself). The most popular mobile carrier is N-Cell, followed closely by Namaste Networks. Phone plans are reasonably priced, but the most common option is to purchase a pre-paid phone card. Usually, you can buy pre-paid phone cards in denominations ranging from 20 Rupees up to 500 Rupees. Can I bring my own phone to use in Nepal? Sure, but make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave home. Alternatively, you can have it unlocked locally, and the cost will be between 2000-6000 Rupees, depending on your phone.

What is the country code of Nepal? The country calling code for Nepal is +977.


What are some useful phone numbers in Nepal? ► Police 100 ► Tourist police 01 422 5709 ► Tourism hot line 01 422 570

Health and Climate What is the climate of Nepal like? The climate of Nepal varies from warm summers with mild winters in the low-lying southern region, to alpine conditions with severe winters in the mountains. The city of Kathmandu lies in a warm temperate zone and experiences relatively pleasant weather year-round. Even during the winter in Kathmandu, days are warm, though the temperature drops to become quite cold during the night. The Everest, Langtang and Annapurna trekking regions in the mountains are cool throughout the year. Check out our chart below for the average temperatures and rainfall in Nepal’s three most popular cities.

May, June, July

Dec, Jan, Feb

Kathmandu

High 28° | Low 20° 312 mm rain

High 19° | Low 3° 15 mm rain

Pokhara

High 30° | Low 21° 830 mm rain

High 20° | Low 8° 26 mm rain

Chitwan

High 33° | Low 25° 404 mm rain

High 24° | Low 8° 14 mm rain


What should I bring to accommodate for the weather? If you’re coming to Nepal in the monsoon summer months, bring a rain coat, and an umbrella! Light, loose clothing is a good option for the spring and summer months. For winter months, pack warm clothes such as woolens and jackets, and remember your trekking gear if your adventurous spirit is taking you on one of our trekking trips. Do I need any vaccinations? Although specific vaccinations are not required to enter Nepal, you may want to contact your doctor or a travel medical clinic before you leave home to have a professional recommendation for possible vaccines. Try to go at least 8 weeks before; some antidotes take that long to become active. Cases of diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies, hepatitis A and hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, tuberculosis, and malaria have all been reported in Nepal in the past. Taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites is also a good idea, though you shouldn’t need a mosquito net when sleeping in most areas of the country. Important Notice: If you’re traveling to Nepal from an area where Yellow Fever is endemic, you will need to produce proof of vaccination upon entry to Nepal. Will I have access to a hospital? In major cities such as Kathmandu and Pokhara, there are many facilities that offer general and emergency medical care. Nepal’s hospitals and clinics are typically well-equipped, with competent physicians. If you do become ill or acquire an injury while in Nepal, your tour guide will bring you immediately to the nearest facility. Do I need travel insurance ? We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance, as medical costs can add up quickly in the unlikely scenario that you are injured or sick while abroad. Medical evacuation to facilities of higher quality and competency can also be astronomically high, in the event that you require it.


In Nepal, medical facilities request payment upon delivery of medical service, so try to get a policy which will pay them directly, to save you the hassle of establishing a claim at a later date. Can I drink the water in Nepal? We do not advise drinking the tap water in Nepal. We recommend bringing a water bottle with a filter, using iodine tablets, purchasing mineral water, or planning on boiling water before you drink it. It’s also recommended to order your beverages without ice cubes when dining out, unless you know specifically that the ice isn’t made from tap water. How hygienic the food in Nepal? Where food is concerned, we (or your tour guide!) will always be happy to point you in the right direction to a clean restaurant known to have hygienic practices. If you plan on eating at a street food vendor, try to observe the cleanliness of the stall first. Fruits and vegetables purchased on the street should be washed with clean water before you eat them, and always wash your hands before eating. What are the toilets like in Nepal? Many of the restaurants and hotels in Nepal use western style toilets. However, if you use the bathroom in public places, at long-haul bus stops, in smaller cities or villages, then you will probably find that there are squat toilets. Always carry toilet paper with you and either soap or antibacterial gel for afterwards. Is traveling in Nepal safe? The short answer is yes. Nepal is generally quite a peaceful country, and the locals will more often than not to be inviting and accommodating to travelers. Nepal’s geology is largely stable as well, except during monsoon season, when mudslides and rockslides are more common in remote regions. That said, you should always be more cautious when you’re traveling then when you’re at home, since you’re in new scenarios and unfamiliar territory on a more regular basis. Check out our Safe Trip Abroad Handbook for more information! It’s posted on our website, or you can reach out to us directly and we will send it to you. The Handbook is a comprehensive collection of safety tips and advice, to help you prepare for unexpected difficulties during your time in Nepal.


Culture and Customs Is there any dress code for foreigners? You can wear modern clothes, but you should try to dress conservatively to respect local customs. For women, try to avoid skirts or shorts that don’t cover the knees, and everyone should avoid transparent clothing. Will I get culture shock in Nepal? The culture and daily lifestyle in Nepal will most likely be quite different than what you’re used to, and you may need some days or weeks to adjust to your new environment. But, although culture shock is likely, Nepalis are very friendly people, and will make you feel at ease. What is traditional Nepali food like? One of the most common dished in Nepal is dal bhat, which is comprised of rice, lentils, and a selection of vegetables and potatoes. Goat meat is also popular, as are momos; small, vegetable-filled steamed dumplings. Many meals, and especially curries, are served with flatbreads such as roti or chapatti. In Kathmandu, and especially in the tourist hotspot of Thamel, there are many restaurants that offer a wide variety of cuisines in addition to Nepali cuisine. What is the parliamentary structure like? The government of Nepal forms a Federal Republic. There is a functional Prime Minister, elected democratically, who presides over the Cabinet, as well as a President who serves as a figurehead. The government is officially non-secular.

What are the basic Nepali customs that I should be aware of? Greeting the locals with the traditional “Namaste” with your palms pressed together is very common, even for foreigners.


Smiles go a long way in Nepal, especially during a greeting. You can accept a handshake offered by either a male or a female. In addition to this, keep the following in mind: ► ► ►

Only touch food or shake hands with your right hand When visiting a temple or stupa, always walk clockwise around it Take off your shoes before entering a temple, Nepali home or Nepali office Always ask permission before taking a photo of a temple, or someone’s home or shop Overt public displays of affection or attention are not considered proper When visiting a temple or other holy place, women should cover their shoulders Cows are sacred in Nepal; never harm one, and avoid distributing them at all if you’re able

What are business hours in Nepal? In government offices, business hours are from Sunday through Thursday, from 10am til 4pm. Sometimes during the summer, hours will extend until 5pm, and on Fridays can be shortened to 3pm. Most international organizations and private businesses operate from 9am til 5pm. You will also find that individuals such as farmers, shop keepers and ware sellers have their own hours, which often start before the sun rises and end well after it has set. When you come to Nepal, you should check the local festival calendar, as most everything is closed during national festivals and holidays. Are there post offices, and are they reliable? The post offices are generally reliable. Express Mail Service is available at the General Post Office in Kathmandu. Additionally, there are many international carriers such as FedEx and DHL for shipping.

Questions? Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions or concerns! The GAPNepal team are experts with numerous years of experience in the travel industry (and the Nepali region in particular!) and are happy to provide additional advice.

info@gapyearnepal.com +977 1 438 9748


GAPNepal FAQ Handbook  

Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions Handbook to have all sorts of questions answered, from travel planning, information on Nepal, and lo...

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