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Nepal Travel Guide: What every traveler needs to know

by Pilar Dujan | June 5, 2023
Practical guide to travel to Nepal

Nepal might not be the biggest or flashiest country in the world, but it sure is one of the more interesting and unique ones. A long history of religious traditions, both Buddhist and Hindi, have shaped its people, culture and architecture. 

Even the Nepal time zone is special: instead of being a round hour, it’s +5:45. One of the very few places in the world where that happens!  If you travel to Nepal, you’re going to need a Nepal travel guide with general information. Discover everything you need to know here.

General overview

Travel to Nepal with all the general information about Nepal

Remember to always check out the Nepal entry requirements before traveling. They may change over time.

Flag of Nepal

Nepal travel guide: flag

The Nepal flag is the only one in the world with a shape other than a rectangle or square! 

Its story can be traced back to the 17th–19th centuries, when the Indian subcontinent in Asia was filled with independent states before British colonization. One of those states was Nepal, with the flag we see flying to this day.

The flag of Nepal has a red background and a blue border. The two white symbols are the sun and the moon, which represent the desire for the longevity of Nepal. 

This flag became official in 1962. 

Geography of Nepal

Where is Nepal located?

Nepal travel map

As we can see in Nepal’s map, the country is located in Asia. It neighbors primarily India, which covers all the Southern, Eastern and Western borders of Nepal. The North of Nepal shares its border with Tibet

Landscape of Nepal

Nepal has the greatest altitude change of any country in the world: about 75% of the territory is covered by mountains

The geography and landscape of Nepal is usually divided into four physical belts:

  • The Tarai is a flat, fertile land
  • The Churia foothills with beautiful forests and the Inner Tarai zone
  • The mid-mountain region between the Mahābhārat Range and the Great Himalayas
  • The Great Himalaya Range with some the highest peaks in the world, including the Everest

The main rivers of Nepal are the Kosi, Nārāyani (Gandak) and Karnāli, all of which run south from the Himalaya range.

Sadly, the water sources of the Tarai are polluted because of domestic waste, and thus they can’t be drunk.

Travel to Nepal and the Himalayas

History and Heritage of Nepal

If you want to travel to Nepal, you must know some about Nepal's history. The indigenous people of Nepal Valley were the Newar. There are mentions of Nepal from at least 2.500, a time in which it was already connected to its big neighbor: India. 

Nepal has Buddhist and Hindu traditions. In fact, the southern city of Lumbini was the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. The two core religions of the country were always allowed to flourish simultaneously, although Hinduism is practiced by more people than Buddhism. 

Nepal was governed by different dynasties for many centuries. One of them, the Shah rulers, moved the capital of Nepal to Kathmandu in 1769, where it remains until this day.

In present times, Nepal is a democratic republic ruled by a President and Prime Minister with three branches: the executive, the legislative (formed by the Pratinidhi Sabha and the Rastriya Sabha) and judicial.

Discover the religious statues when you travel to Nepal

Culture and Traditions of Nepal

If you visit Nepal, you will see how many different dialectst there are. Language is a way to grasp the diversity of the people: even though the official language is Nepali, the country has recognized over 123 other dialects. 

Probably the central ingredient of Nepalese culture is religion. It’s omnipresent in the country and it has influenced every aspect of life in Nepal. 

We can find examples of Newari culture in the form of craftsmanship, which is available in carvings and sculptures. Nepal has a big culture in terms of literature and the arts, although most of the themes present in Nepalese art are religious. 

Music and dancing also have a place in the culture of Nepal, with its own particular instruments (madal, sarangi, bansuri and more) and dances (like the Dhan Nach or Maruni). 

Two Sadhu men painted and with beards and long hair in Nepalese custom

Gastronomy of Nepal

The food of Nepal reflects the influences of its neighboring countries: India, Tibet and China. However, it also represents the different regions and cultures of Nepal. Each one has its own cuisine with typical dishes, all delicious!

The traditional Nepal food is quite healthy. Rice, lentils and vegetables are the key ingredients, as well as some cuts of lean meat. In fact, the national dish of Nepal is the Dal Bhat, consisting of lentil soup (Dal), rice (Bhat) and curries.

Spices are other key ingredients of Nepalese food. The most used ones are cumin, ginger, garlic and turmeric, amongst others. 

Since a large part of Nepal’s people is vegetarian due to religious reasons, some of the traditional dishes of the nation are a vegetable curry (Tarkari) and a potato and bamboo curry (Aloo Tama). You should try them to discover another part of Nepalese culture. 

If you travel to Nepal, one of the best ways to try as much Nepalese food as possible is to go to street markets. For example, you can try Chatamari, a rice flour crepe, and Sel Roti, a sweet rice bread, two staples of the street food of Nepal. 

To summarize, some of the main dishes you can’t leave Nepal without trying are:

  • Dal Bhat
  • Momos (dumplings)
  • Pani Puri
  • Roti
  • Chatamari
  • Samosas
  • Thukpa

Nepal tourism: try Dal Bhat, the national dish of Nepal

Weather in Nepal

In any Nepal travel you will find a subtropical climate, and that it varies greatly across the different regions of Nepal.

For example, in the Tarai the weather is warm, but in the Himalayas there’s an Alpine climate. The highest peaks have below freezing temperatures. 

There’s a monsoon season, which goes from June to mid-September approximately, with high temperatures and humidity. This is also the time in which Nepal gets around 80% of its annual precipitation.

The best time in Nepal for tourism is in spring (March and April) and autumn (October and November) because the weather is not as extreme as during other parts of the year. Also, these seasons are great for trekking and outdoor activities such as visiting Nepal’s National Parks.

Travel to Nepal and Kathmandu

Currency of Nepal

The currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (Rs). It’s divided into 100 units called paisa. Nepal is a country that suffers from inflation, so the paisa is no longer used for the most part. 

The banknotes available are of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1.000 rupees. Coins have the denomination of 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupees. 

Foreign citizens are only allowed to leave Nepal with a maximum of 5.000 Nepalese rupees in banknotes. Any larger amount has to be declared. 

Do some Nepal tourism in Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal

Nepal tourist attractions

Even though it’s not a big country, Nepal has many things worth seeing at least once. From trekking in Nepal to its beautiful and special cities, here’s a list with some of Nepal tourist attractions.


Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal. Here you will find stunning temples and amazing views you will never forget.

If you’re in the city, you can’t miss Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sadly, it was damaged by an earthquake, but some of the classic buildings are still standing. 

Some of the top things to do in Kathmandu will be covered later, like the Boudhanath Stupa and the Monkey Temple.

Trekking through the Himalayas

Nepal might just be the best country for trekking in the entire world: it has most of the highest peaks on Earth. Visit the Himalayas to see the colorful prayer flags that follow the tracks, views you won’t get anywhere else and the freshest air available. 

The Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna circuit are waiting for you in Nepal! 

Boudhanath Stupa

This 14th-century Buddhist stupa is one of Nepal’s can’t-miss attractions. Located in Kathmandu, it’s both the largest and holiest Buddhist temple in Nepal. 

You may have seen photos of the temple that show Buddhist prayer flags and the all-seeing eye of Buddha. If seen from above, the temple becomes the ultimate tribute to Buddha in the shape of a Mandala.

Try to visit the Boudhanath Stupa in the late afternoon for the best experience.

Boudhanath Stupa, Nepal


Pokhara is one of the top cities in Nepal. One of its claims is that it is the starting point for trekking through the Annapurna region

In this city you will be able to enjoy activities such as mountain biking and paragliding. It’s a camping destination for the ages with stunning views of the mountains! 

Swayambhunath Stupa

The Swayambhunath Stupa is also called the Monkey temple. The reason is obvious to any of its visitors: it’s filled with monkeys! 

With Hindu and Buddhist iconography, from this Stupa you can enjoy stunning sights of the Kathmandu Valley. A tip: try to catch the sunset from up there. 

Chitwan National Park

This Nepalese National Park was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. From here you can enjoy the wildlife while trekking or by booking a safari. 

It’s home to grasslands, forests and marshes. In terms of fauna, you will find elephants, Bengal tigers, over 500 species of birds, leopards, crocodiles and rhinos, amongst others.

You can choose between an Elephant Safari or a Jeep Safari, depending on the experience you’re looking for.

Travel to Nepal and discover some jungles

Safety in Nepal

Nepal is a safe country to visit. However, as with most countries, we should take some precautions. For example, we should be careful with our belongings because of pickpocketing and bag-snatching, especially in transport terminals or airports. 

Women should be careful alone after dark and avoid taking drinks from strangers. Last but not least, accidents on the road are common, both in cars and public transportation. 

Visit Nepal and see the Nepalese prayer flags

Nepal visa

Every foreign traveler, with the exception of Indian citizens, needs to have a visa to visit Nepal. 

Some countries are eligible to apply online for the Nepal visa. If we’re traveling for reasons other than tourism or our nationality is not eligible for the online visa, we’re going to have to apply in person at an embassy or consulate. The other option is to get the visa on arrival at the airport, but that’s not recommended.

All the visas for Nepal have to be presented on arrival to the country, where Nepalese authorities will check the information and grant the final approval. 

To learn more about the application process, read our article on how to get a visa for Nepal.