Nepal is a small landlocked country with a diversity of natural and cultural wealth you will find in few places on earth. The land rises abruptly from the sweltering Terai plains in the south at 60 meters above sea level to the freezing heights of the Himalayan in the north well above 8000 meters culminating in the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8848 meters - with lush sub- tropical forests, green hills and valleys in between - within a distance of a mere 200 km. The tale of the country dates back to the time when the Gods and goddesses communed with the mortals. Religion and festivals are an integral part of every day life here. People still respect centuries old culture and tradition and history still lives on here among the numerous beautiful temples, monuments and palaces of exquisite art and architecture. This varied landscape offers a fascinating array of cultural experience, sightseeing and adventure opportunities.
The Royal Nepal Airlines (RA) is the national flag carrier of Nepal with flight connections to: Delhi, Mumbai in India; Bangkok in Thailand; Osaka in Japan; Hong Kong, Shanghai in China; Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia; Dubai in United Arab Emirates and Singapore. Other international airlines connecting Kathmandu to other parts of the world are Biman Bangladesh to Dacca in Bangladesh; China Airlines to Lhasa in Tibetan Autonomous Region of China; Druk Air to Paro in Bhutan and New Delhi in India; Gulf Air to Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates; Indian Airlines to Delhi, Kolkata, Varanasi in India; Qatar Airways to Doha in Qatar; Thai International to Bangkok in Thailand. Since Nepal has India in three sides and China in the north, coming to Nepal by land requires one to pass through India or China. The entry points to Nepal from India are Kakarbhitta, Birgunj, Belhiya, Bhairawa, Nepalgunj, Dhangadi and Mahendra Nagar. The Kodari Pass in Nepal-China border is the entry point to Nepal from China. Tourists entering the kingdom by land must possess an international carnet.
Nepal today has altogether 214 big and small hotels which are registered with the Department of Tourism, ranging from 5 star deluxe category to the small one star and tourist standard hotels. A general outline of facilities available in five, four and three star hotels are given below:
Five Star Hotels:
A five star hotel has all it's rooms air-conditioned, well furnished and with attached bath. More than two restaurants and bars serving a variety of cuisine and drinks, swimming pool, tennis court, beauty parlour, sauna, health club. Banquet and conference facilities and a variety of other modern luxurious facilities are also available.
Four Star Hotels:
The four star hotels in Kathmandu constitute of air-conditioned, well furnished room with attached bath, ore than one restaurant, garden, banquet and conference facilities - though in a slightly smaller scale.
Three Star Hotels:
The three star hotels have air-conditioned rooms with attached bath and standard furnishings. A minimum of one restaurant and bar are available with standard luxury.
Postal Services: The Central Post Office located near Sundhara or Bhimsen Tower, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The counters are open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and provide stamps, postcards and aerograms. Post Restante is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Express Mail Service (EMS) is available at GPO and at Thamel, Basantapur and airport postal counters.
Telephone Services:Telephone, fax, telex and telegraph services are available at the Nepal Telecommunications Corporation at Tripureshwar. Hotels and private communications centers provide long distance telephone. For calling from outside, country code for Nepal is 977 and the area code for Kathmandu is 1.
Internet Services:Several Internet cafes and communication centers have opened up in the Valley and around the country in the past few years. Visitors only have to find a place they are most comfortable in to use the facilities to keep in touch with home. E-mail and Internet services are also offered by hotels.
Media:Nepali media has sped light years ahead in just a few years time and what used to be a controlled and tight knit community, is so no more. The government audio and television news networks are Radio Nepal and Nepal Television respectively. However, numerous FM radio stations and upcoming regional television stations are dominating the market. Major Nepali daily newspapers are Gorkhapatra and Kantipur, while the English dailies are The Rising Nepal, The Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan. A number of other newspapers and magazines are also available.
Electricity:Major towns have electricity and the voltage available is 220-volts and 50 cycles. Load shedding is sometimes experienced. However, most major hotels have installed their own generators.
Customs:All baggage must be declared and cleared through the customs on arrival at the entry. Personal effects are permitted free entry.Passengers arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) without any dutiable goods can proceed through the Green Channel for quick clearance without a baggage check. If you are carrying dutiable articles, you have to pass through the Red Channel for detailed customs clearance.
Import:Apart from used personal belongings, visitors are allowed to bring to Nepal free of duty cigarette (200) or cigars (50), distilled liquor (one 1.15 liter bottle), and film (15 rolls). You can also bring in the following articles free of duty on condition that you take them out with you when you leave: binocular, movie or video camera, still camera, laptop computer, and portable music system.
Export:The export of antiques require special certification from the Department of Archeology, National Archive Building, Ram Shah Path, Kathmandu. It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old like sacred images, paintings, manuscripts that are valued for culture and religious reasons. Visitors are advised not to purchase such items as they are Nepal's cultural heritage and belong here.
For more information on customs matters, contact the Chief Customs Administrator, TIA Customs Office (Phone: 4470110, 4472266).
Nationals of SAARC countries and China do not need visa when visiting Nepal. As per this rule, Indian nationals do not require visa. However, effective from October 2000, Indians traveling to Nepal by air have to show upon arrival at entry point a valid photo identity like a passport, voter's identity or an identify card issued by the Indian government. Temporary identity card with photographs issued by Nepal-based Indian diplomatic missions is considered in case of exception. Children under 10 years need not show any identification.
Other non-Nepali visitors do not need visa to be in Nepal for three days. Visa must be obtained for staying over the initial period of three days. Free visa is to be given to tourists for re-entry to Nepal provided they stay at least for 15 days in the country in that visa year.
First single entry to Nepal for 60 days from the date of entry is US $ 30 or equivalent convertible foreign or Nepali currency. The second entry in the same visa year for 30 days from the date of entry is US $ 30.
Multiple entry for one visa year is US $ 50 plus US $ 30 for single entry or equivalent convertible foreign or Nepali currency.
The visitors who wish to stay for more than 60 days in Nepal can extend their tourist visa by paying US $ 30 or equivalent convertible foreign or Nepali currency for 30 days from the Department of
For foreign investors business visa with multiple entry facility for a period of one year and five years can be obtained from the Department of Immigration on the recommendation of Department of Industry and Commerce by paying US $ 100 and US $ 250 or equivalent convertible foreign or Nepali currency.
Visitors can go to different parts of Nepal either by road or by air. Among domestic airlines of Nepal the Royal Nepal Airlines (RA) provides extensive network. Other domestic airlines more than 18 in operation provide regular and charter services to popular domestic destinations. Excepting weather conditions Nepal's domestic air service is known to be punctual and reliable.
Buses are available to different parts of the capital and the kingdom from the new bus park in Gongabu and the old bus park in Sundhara. Regular bus services operate within the three cities in Kathmandu Valley. Scheduled bus services for outside the Valley operate from the Gongabu Bus Terminal. There are tourist bus services to selected places offered by a few travel agencies. In addition, one can also hire private vehicles at nominal rates.
Airport bus carries passengers from the airport into the city. Getting around Kathmandu Valley is made easier by metered taxis that can be hailed off the streets and are easily recognizable by the taxi sign and their black number plates. No tip is expected. Night taxis are available for higher prices. Three wheeler scooters that are cheaper than taxis are also available. For cheaper rides buses and teeny vans called micro buses are available to different parts of the Valley. Battery run scooters also serve the same purpose.
Nepal has a typical monsoonal two-season year. There's the dry season from October to May while wet season of the monsoons last from June to September. The start of dry season September and November is the best time of the year in Nepal. With the end of monsoons and onset of fall the countryside is green and lush. Nepalis celebrate their two popular festivals, Dashain and Tihar during this time. Summer months in Nepal are from April to September while winter months are from November to March. In the north summers are mild and winters harsh while in south summers are extreme and winters mild.
The most preferred time for traveling in Nepal is from mid-September - right after the monsoon all the way through April.