Home at the Foot of the Himalayas
Landlocked and located between China and India, Nepal has the greatest change in altitude of any place on earth. While the lowlands sit at sea level, the Himalaya mountain range represents the tallest peaks in the world. Named for the mythological Hindu sage, Ne, Nepal features a diverse geography with 5 climatic zones, wooded hills, fertile plains, and mountains.
Nepal provides plenty of interest for climbers, as it is home to Mt. Everest, as well as 8 of the tallest mountains in the world. The country also features several UNESCO World Heritage Sites and religious temples, monasteries, and shrines. For adventure travelers and outdoor enthusiasts, Nepal is a “must see” addition to their bucket lists.
Known for their friendly yet reserved nature and technical skills at mountaineers, the people of Nepal also devote much time to religion, whether it be Hinduism or Buddhism. Many of the festivals and celebrations are based on religious practices.
A multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multilingual country, Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha, who was born in the Kapilavastu district in a place known as Lumbini. During 500 B.C.E., Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, also called Buddha.
Nepal’s mountain region makes up about 64% of the country’s land area, formed by the Mahabharat range and lower Churia range. The lowland Terai, a flat river area of the Ganges, occupies about 17% of the country.
Summing up the attractions in Nepal can be difficult, as the country is as mysterious as it is mountainous. While Mount Everest certainly is a landmark that comes to mind, the country also has contrasts to its mountains. The terrain can also be flat and the climate oppressively warm.
The capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, features many religious monuments and historic sites. Some of the attractions include Patan Durbar Square, and the Swayhambhunath, Bhaktapur, and Boudhanath stupas. You can also enjoy short hikes around the city where, on clear days, you can view the Himalayas. Regardless of where you stay in the capital, you will need to acclimatize yourself to the elevations and climate. This is especially important if you plan to hike around the area.
The scenic city of Pokhara is not quite as bustling as the capital of Kathmandu. Most tourists can be found along Phewa Lake in the city. The city of Pokhara is also a good starting point for a trip to the district of Sanangkot Visitors like taking the 6-mile round trip excursion to see the sun rise over the Himalayas. For anyone planning a trek through the Annapurna range. Pokhara is the beginning point.
Some mountain trekkers prefer going through the Annapurna range versus trekking to Everest Base Camp, as climbing to the base camp requires ascending about 5,380 meters or 17,650 feet high – a major change in elevation if you are not used to it. You can also take optional treks in Nepal if you so desire. These treks offer great views along with natural hot springs. You can also visit hillside villages and lakes as you travel along the paths.
Chitwan National Park >
As you will discover, Nepal is more than mountains. You can also see some spectacular jungle scenery. One of the places where you can observe this terrain is in Chitwan National Park. Not only is the terrain flat, green, and humid during the warm season, it hosts a number of indigenous animals, including tigers, crocodiles, elephants, and rhinoceros. The park is approximately 10 hours via bus from the capital of Kathmandu.
Safari tours are featured in the park. You can also take jungle tours by foot, jeep or canoe. While some tourists ride elephants through the jungle, there is some controversy about this type of tour. Therefore, it is better to choose a more humane option, although the idea of a riding an elephant, at first, does sound exciting.
Eating Nepalese Food >
Part of the cultural experience of being in a Nepal includes eating Nepalese food. You really won’t eat dishes like the ones you discover in Nepal anywhere else in the world. The following list gives you an idea some unique recipes.
Mo Mo’s >
Mo Mo’s are dumplings that contain a veggies, chicken, or buffalo filling. While some think of Mo Mo’s as snack foods, others find them to be a tasty meal. You can buy about 10 of the dumplings on a plate, but that number may vary from eatery to eatery. The steamed dumplings can be eaten fried or served with a sauce. Some people eat them with soup. The most expensive of the Mo Mo’s are those filled with chicken.
Chia Tea >
This cheap tea can be consumed at a purchase price of about 15 cents in local tea shops. You can buy the tea sweetened and spiced with just about any flavor enhancer, including cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, or even pepper. To request less sugar, say, “chinni kom” to the server. That does not mean the tea will not be sweet. It just won’t be quite as sweet.
Generous in size, a samosa is also cheap – about 60 cents USD. The pastry, which comes baked or fried, features a savory filling of onion, peas, spiced potatoes, cheese, lentils, beef, or another meat. Samosas may be cone-shaped, triangular, or be shaped like a crescent.
Sel Roti and Doughnuts >
If you crave a fried yet doughy snack to eat with your chia tea, you might opt for sel roti deep fried circles. The little snack is made of rice flour and features small gritty and oily bits that are sweet to the taste. The doughnuts in Nepal have a distinct butter flavor and can be compared to a mix of an American doughnut and croissant.
Chow Mein >
Nepalese chow mein is a dish of wok-prepared noodles and vegetables, such as cabbage and carrots, as well as a salty sauce, a dash of a couple spices, and cilantro. You can select from buffalo, chicken, veggies, egg, or a combination of any of these ingredients. If you have chow mein with all the ingredients, or the “works,” you will pay about $1.50 USD. If you only have one or two of the listed ingredients included with your chow mein, you will pay about $1.00 USD.
City Guide By Region
Things to Do and See
Nepal is home to the world’s highest mountain range: The Himalayas. It shares the world’s tallest mountain, Mt. Everest (Sagarmāthā) with China. In addition to its border with China, Nepal has common borders with India (south), the Indian state of Sikkim, and Bhutan. The largest city in Nepal is Kathmandu which also serves as its capital. Citizens are known as Nepali and the country is home to 125 ethnic groups.
Of the 10 highest peaks in the world, Nepal is home to 8 of them, and proudly claims that it has one of the world’s highest elevation, lakes: Tilicho Lake at 4,929 m (16,240 ft). The country measures about 885 km (531 mi) across the Himalaya Mountain Range and measures about 250 km (155 mi) at its widest position. Relative to its size and remoteness, Nepal contains a disproportionally large and diverse ecosystem of flora and fauna. Due to its dramatic landscape Nepal is considered to be a unique in its biodiversity, habitat and reported 120 ecosystems.
Nepal is a Federal Parliamentary Republic with three branches of government: Executive, Judiciary, and the Legislature (Federal Parliament) comprised of a lower and upper house. The country has both a President and Prime Minister. Until 2008, the King of Nepal was the country’s head of state and the Nepalese monarchy.
Nepal is a comprised of 7 provinces and 14 administrative zones which are grouped into 5 development regions with the largest population residing in the Central Region. The Mid-Western Region has the largest land area (42,400 km²). Nepal is a member of the United Nations, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization (WTO), and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Below is our country profile containing facts and information to familiarize you with Nepal.
- Country Name: Nepal
- Official Name: Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal; सङ्घीयलोकतान्त्रिकगणतन्त्रनेपाल (Nepali)
- Nickname: None
- Formation: Kingdom declared in 1768; Republic in 2008 and its current Constitution enacted in 2015
- Historical Nicknames: None
- Location: Southeast Asia
- Country Motto: जननीजन्मभूमिश्चस्वर्गादपिगरीयसी (Sanskrit); Mother and Motherland are Greater than Heaven (English)
- National Anthem: सयौंथुँगाफूलका (Nepali); “Made of Hundreds of Flowers” (English)
- Language: Nepali (44.5%) is the official language, followed by Maithili (11.65%); 122 different languages spoken in Nepal
- Nationality: Nepali
- Capital and Largest City: Kathmandu
- Select Cities: Pokhara, Lalitpur, Bharatpur, Birganj
- Points of interest: Mountains, Rainforests, Plains, Heritage Sites
- Government: Federal Parliamentary Republic
- Major Religions: Hinduism (82%), Buddhism (9%), Islam (4%), Christianity (1.3%) and others
- Population: 28,000,00 (2018)
- Life expectancy: 69 years for males and 72 years for females
- Largest Ethnic Groups: 80% of the ethnic groups are comprised of 19 ethnic groups
- National Language: Nepali
- National Color: Crimson
- National Symbols: Rhododendron (flower); Himalayan Monal (bird)
- National Sport: Volleyball
- Area: 147,189 Km² (56,817 mi²), with 2.9% water
- Average Temperature: Daily: 14°C (55°F), Annual 14°C (55 °F)
- Climate: Tropical, stable temperatures, November-January (cooler), March-May (hot), with May-October (rainy and humid)
- Highest Point: Mt. Everest with an elevation of 8,848m (29,029 ft)
- Lowest Point: Gangetic Plain with elevation of approximately 100 m (330 ft)
- Longest River: Ghaghara with a length of510 km (313 mi)
- Deepest Lake: She-Phoksundo Lake,175m(575 ft)
- Largest Lake: Rara Lake 5.2 km (3.3 mi) in length and 2 km (1.2 mi) width
- Geographic Coordinates: 28 00 N, 84 00 E
- Currency: Nepalese Rupee (NPR); denominated in Paisa (Re or Rs)
- Driving Side: Left
- Time zone: Greenwich Mean Time (UTC+6).
- Internet TLD: .np
- Calling code: +977
- Bordering Countries: India, Tibet, Bangladesh and Bhutan
What currency is used in Nepal?
The official currency of Nepal is the Rupee which is represented by the symbol (Rs, NPR), and it is divided into 100 paisa. The Nepalese rupee is pegged to the Indian Rupee.
Where should I visit Nepal?
Based upon its population and size, Nepal is one of the most popular tourist destinations amongst the Southeast Asian countries. Although it attracts climbers and mountaineers, Nepal has local and regional attractions for every type of visitor. If you like outdoors, you can choose to visit one its 13 National Parksor wildlife reserves such as Sagarmatha National Park, its 6 Conservation Areas such as Annapurna or Api Nampa; its 10 Ramsar (wetlands) sites such as Mai Pokhari.
Adventurers and outdoorsmen can trekthough exotic forests or travel along many of the famous route of previous expeditionsin one of Nepal’s popular valleys or famous mountain peaks. There are also many excursions or safaris to choose where visitors can marvel at wildlife species such as elephants, snow leopards, or the chital deer.
For visitors wishing to explore cities and towns, Nepal has a variety of charming historical landmarks, attractions, and national treasures. Some of the most popular visitor spots include museums such as the National Museum,palaces such as the Hanuman Dhoka; temples, monasteries and religious sites like the Changu Narayan Temple, Centers for Performing Arts, and art galleries such as the NAFA Gallery in the Naxal Palace.
When is the best time of year to travel to Nepal?
Nepal as eight climatic zones with weather divided into a wet season in summer (June to September) and a dry season between (October – June). Although Nepal has four distinct seasons most travelers agree that late August through the end of October are the best times to visit. With its diverse and unique geography, spanning from lowlands and plains to mountains and rainforests, the climate can often vary significantly. April to May are the hottest and driest months as temperatures can often exceed 40 °C (103 °F). Summer monsoons arrive between mid to late June so be prepared for varying weather and climatic conditions.
What are some of the “must see” places in Nepal?
Visitors can choose among many companies that can arrange guided tours or help you create a customized itinerary. Some popular places to see in Nepal could include the a tour of the Gorkha Royal Palace established in 1560 and home to dynasties and past rulers; the Central Zoo in Jawalakhel which houses more than 800 animals and a dozen endangered species, and a UNESCO Heritage Site located at Patan Durbar Square. For more information about destinations and travel ideas see our map and area guides.
How expensive is Nepal?
Youth hostels and accommodations are plentiful with season prices ranging between USD$10 and USD$15 a night. In the capital of Kathmandu, two to three-star hotel prices can range from $25 to $60 a night. Luxury, four start rated hotels and resort accommodations can be priced in the range of USD$150 to USD$400 per night. Depending on your country of origin cost of international flights from cities of origin in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe (excluding budget airlines) can range between USD$700 (low season) to USD$1250 (high season). Advanced purchase gains superior pricing and discounts. Car rentals is available but can be expensive with daily rates between USD$35-$100, and weekly rates for economy often exceeding USD$399 and USD$435, respectively.
Travel budgets should reflect the cost of dining out (good meals at nice restaurants can be priced at $5 to $10 dollars each). Guided tours can be pricy but anticipate paying between USD$25 to USD$500 a day, with weekly tour options also available. Prices can also vary significantly between regions. A good budget will also allocate funds for fees and costs to enter national parks, museums, galleries as well as wildlife reserves like Koshi Tappu.
Do I need a visa to visit Nepal?
Unlike many other countries, Nepal’s visa policy is exceptionally welcoming to foreign visitors. All foreign visitors, except from India, are required to secure a visa. In many cases, a visa issued upon arrival at certain designated places (border crossings and the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu but there are a number of limitations. Members of SAARC countries can receive a free (no cost) 30-day tourist visa. The maximum stay for many visitors is 150 days in each calendar year. All visitors must hold a valid passport for 6 months from the date of arrivaland may be asked to demonstrate proof of sufficient funds. It is strongly recommend that all visitors determine and secure the required documentation before attempting to enter Nepal.