Nepal is located in South Asia and shares territorial borders with India and China. Previously ruled as a kingdom, today it is a Federal Democratic Republic. Nepal is known for its exquisite natural beauty, with the iconic Himalayas running across the northern and western part of the country. Eight of the fourteen highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest, reside within the country's borders. Although Nepal is a relatively small country in comparison with its neighbors, it has an astonishingly diverse landscape, from the rugged Himalayas in the north to the humid Terai plains in the south. The capital and largest city is Kathmandu. The currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee(NPR).
The Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu welcomes visitors into the country and an additional 47 airports make getting around Nepal relatively easy, despite its rugged and mountainous terrain that makes some of the more remote virtually impossible to reach by road. Nepal Airlines is the official air carrier of the country, with a fleet consisting of two Boeing B-757s and seven DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft. The railway network in Nepal is rather sparse, with the main line running between Janakpur and Jainagar, a town close to the border of India. A rail link between Nepal and Lhasa in Tibet, China is under consideration for future development.
Passports and Visas
In most cases, visiting Nepal requires a valid passport and visa with an exception for visitors from India and China- which do not need a passport or visa. British, Australian, Canadian, USA and European Union nationals may apply for a visa on arrival in Kathmandu at the Department of Immigration. However, all visitors should check with their travel agent for current visa requirements. Most visas are valid for sixty days for the first visit. Subsequent visits in the same year may be restricted to thirty days. An application for a visa extension may be made.
Tourism provides a significant source of income for Nepal and a wide variety of accommodation ensures that travelers will find what they need within their price range. Most of Nepal’s world-class luxury hotels are located in Pokhara and Kathmandu, catering to the every need of the discerning traveler and business person, while providing a base from which to explore the surroundings in day trips. Health spas and yoga retreats are also popular among city-dwelling holiday-makers looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of modern living. Mid-range and budget hotels are plentiful throughout Nepal, while families in remote areas welcome visitors into their homes to live as one of the family for the duration of their stay – an option which fits in well with trekking expeditions.
While the most obvious attractions in Nepal are its majestic mountains and ruggedly beautiful landscapes, there are many historic and cultural treasures to appreciate. Bhaktapur Durbar Square in the town of Bhaktapur near Kathmandu is one of these treasures that should not be missed. It features the spectacular 17th century Lion Gate, the richly decorated Golden Gate and the nearby Palace of Fifty-Five windows. The Central Zoo In Jawalakhel is both a research and educational facility, welcoming animal-lovers to view the more than 900 birds, mammals, reptiles and fish on exhibit. Visitors may also enjoy an elephant ride as well as the picnic facilities and paddle boats.
There are also a number of national parks which protect the diverse wildlife and their habitats in Nepal. The Davis Falls (also known as Patale Chhango, Hell’s Falls, Devi’s Falls and Devin Falls) is an area renowned for its tranquility and mystic legends. The nearby Mahendra Cave (referred to as the House of Bats by locals) is also well worth a visit. History enthusiasts should make a point of visiting the Gorkha Royal Palace standing proudly on a hill overlooking the Gorkha Durbar. The climb to the elaborately decorated Newari-architectural style palace is challenging, but the view of the green landscapes, snow-capped Himalayas and the town below, as well as the palace itself, makes the effort well worth while. Kathmandu, a city which has been immortalized in countless songs, literary works, films and paintings, offers visitors numerous places of interest to visit, with some of the most noteworthy being Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhanath, Tharlam Monastery and the Kathmandu Durbar Square listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tours and Activities
Tours are popular in Nepal and there are many local tour providers. The most popular guided tours include short stopovers at major towns and cities allowing travelers to visit local attractions and do a bit of souvenir-hunting while soaking up the sights, sounds and aromas of Nepal’s markets. Ecotourism has become a very popular activity among many travelers.
Without a doubt two of the most popular activities enjoyed by visitors to Nepal are trekking and mountaineering with the rugged landscape offering innumerable opportunities for both. Trekking is an excellent way of really getting to understand what Nepal is all about. Trekkers can set their pace to enjoy the incredible scenery, meet the locals and stop off at the many temples and historic ruins that are often found in unexpected places. Other activities to be enjoyed by the adventurous at heart include elephant safaris, biking, river rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping, parasailing and hot air ballooning – an excellent way to view the spectacular Himalayas without actually climbing them.
If you would like more information about planning a vacation to Nepal, we offer many hunderds of pages of city guides about local attractions, destinations, museums, trekking, and eco-tours. Nepal.com also has travel specials on hotels, flights and car rental to help you make your trip the adventure of a lifetime!