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This is a guest post by a fellow travel blogger Alexandra
Nepal, have you heard of it?
Maybe you’ve heard it being referred to as the World’s highest country, the home of Mount Everest or even the land of the Gurkhas?
Whether you’ve heard it being referred to as this or are not even aware of the country, it’s certainly a destination to explore. I’ve been living here as an expat for two years now, and my partner is Nepalese. Travelling around many parts of Nepal, I’ve learnt a lot and still learning from the locals. This country is a place that once your in, the best information to get is through someone else.
Especially in terms of travel, a lot of information in this country is from travel operators on an Expat forum. If it weren’t for travel blogs, you would have to really ask around for travel tips. On that note, you’re probably wondering what insider travel tips are there when travelling in Nepal?
1. Ride-Sharing Apps and Ask for the meter!
Taxi drivers within Kathmandu can try to charge you a set fare for a journey. By law, they shouldn’t be doing this. You can point-blank call them out and request for the meter before your trip. If not, a go-to option for me is using motorbike and car apps, like, Sarathi, Pathao and Tootle. The journeys are significantly cheaper, and at a maximum, you’re probably paying 200 NPR for one ride.
To be able to use these apps, you must have a Nepali sim card. You can get a sim card at the airport or a shop. Where you bring your x passport-sized photos and identification such as your passport.
2. Buy an NCELL Sim Card and not NTELL
Personally, I feel using NCELL sim cards you get more network, and they’re better for buying data packs. You get more signal range, and it’s the more popular option here in Nepal. NTELL is there, but there are more packages available on NCELL.
3. There are two main buses to Pokhara
Greenline is cheaper and safer, but the return journey drops you outside of the tourist hub Thamel. Whereas Jagadamba travels has comfier chairs, slightly more expensive, picks you up and drops you off in Durbar Marg (just next to Thamel). However, the bus drivers drive somewhat more dangerous. In my opinion, even though you may pay a taxi fee to get back to your destination, Greenline is the better option. For a little bit less comfort, you have charging sockets and a safe driver.
4. Don’t Eat Street Food in Monsoon Season
Around June-August, Monsoon season occurs in Nepal. If you’re within Kathmandu or anywhere else for that matter, I’d advise you to reconsider eating street food. Often the sellers wash their food in the rainwater, which is polluted and dirty. Likewise, only certain foods are seasonal. So stick to clean, healthy food from hotels or restaurants.
5. If exercising or walking a lot in Kathmandu wear a mask
Kathmandu is renowned for its air pollution and has a very high air quality index. People often develop coughs as a result of the dust. Lots of road maintenance, infrastructure projects, motorbikes and cars makes it an unhealthy city to walk around in.
6. Don’t Swear in Nepali
Learning the local language is excellent and highly encouraged. However, if you’re like me, you probably find swearing in your mother tongue is normal and relaxed. While Nepalese casually swear a lot in English, it’s highly taboo in Nepali. The Nepalese don’t swear in their mother tongue casually, and it’s deemed as highly offensive.
7. Join the Himalayan Hash House Harriers for at least one session
There’s way more to Nepal than Mount Everest! Kathmandu Valley has a lot of places to see and explore. Not just the city life, but the greenery of the hills. The best way to do this is to join the Himalayan Hash House Harriers one weekend. They are a trail running and walking group. You spend less than 1000 NPR for snacks and drinks; you get to go offbeat paths. Often there are around 15 hashers and up. Don’t worry, they have groups for runners and walkers.
8. Follow Routine of Nepal Banda on Facebook
While there are many news outlets in Nepal, it can kind of be hard to pinpoint, which is the quickest source of news. Some even have different professional opinions, and others have a lack of information. One trusted place I use on Facebook or Twitter is Routine of Nepal Banda. This is a team of people gathering information continuously 24/7 from verified sources. It’s my go-to and saves me time.
9. Get a trekking guide from a certified country
Once you arrive in Kathmandu, everyone and anyone is a trekking guide. So many people will quote you money, sometimes at a cheaper cost than the tour operators. These people are not medically qualified, registered guides or experienced. Trust, me it’s the main reason why a good guide is important for trekking in Nepal.
10. Don’t call people by their first names!
Nepalese have a way of addressing people out of respect. The majority of the time, they refer to everyone (even strangers) as a younger or older sibling. The younger brother is known as Bhai, and older brother is known as Dai. Older sister is known as didi, and younger sister is known as bahini. If locals look way older than that, then you can say aunty or uncle, which you’ll learn while there.
There you have it, 10 of my favourite insider travel tips when travelling in Nepal. If you have any more questions, comment here, and I’ll do my best to answer.
About Alexandra | www.extractsofalex.com
A British travel blogger, who’s spent her teenage years and early twenties travelling across four continents. Currently on a pitstop in Nepal.