Do's and Don'ts
With its diverse ethnic groups and traditional beliefs, Nepal has numerous cultural practices that may appear unusual to a person on his/her first visit to the country. However, to enjoy your stay in the remarkable country of white Himalayas and sparkling rivers, it is important to take into consideration the different cultural aspects of the country. Here is a list of things, which may be helpful to you.
Eating and Drinking
Never eat unpeeled fruit or vegetables unless you know they've been adequately soaked in solution. Drink only after water is boiled or iodized.
Drink tap water
Whether you’re in a 5-Star Deluxe Hotel in Kathmandu or a simple teahouse in the Himalaya you should never drink the tap water. Most places will provide safe drinking water. If in doubt, ask your guide.
Buy or use drugs
Cannabis/marijuana grows wild in Nepal: it's literally a weed. But it’s still illegal to use it here.
Nepalese jails are very, very unpleasant places: be sensible and make sure you don’t end up in one.
The Nepalese are still traditional and conservative in the way they dress. To avoid embarrassment on both sides, we recommend that you respect this by not wearing revealing clothes or sleeveless tops while visiting Nepal. Shorts are acceptable, but they should reach to just above the knee and be modest. For women, it is preferable to wear trousers or a long skirt when they travel to village areas.
While you're trekking, you may just find that dressing respectfully helps with those memorable cultural encounters you’re hoping for.
The form of greeting in Nepal is “Namaste" and is performed by joining the palms together. Among Hindus avoid touching women and holy men. In Nepal, people especially women, do not normally shakes hand when they greet one another, but instead press palms together in a prayer-like gesture known “Namaste” greeting is preferable.
To show gratitude and respect, use both of your hands rather than one when giving or receiving something, even money. It’s seen as a gesture of respect.
Remember not to point with a single finger but use a flat extended hand especially to indicate a sacred object or place.
Never eat beef in front of Hindus & Buddhist because beef is strictly prohibited among both Hindus and Buddhists. Cows are sacred in Nepal.
Remove your shoes when entering a home, temple or monastery (and leather items in Hindu temples) and avoid smoking and wearing scant dress in religious settings. Remember, some of the temples entrance may be prohibited for non-Hindus. . Seek permission first before entering a Hindu temple.
It is better not to touch offerings or persons when they are on way to shrines, especially if you are non-Hindu.
Be careful not to use your spoon, fork or a hand being used for your eating to touch other's food, plate, cooking utensil or the serving dish. Do not eat from other people's plate and do not drink from other people's bottle or glass. It is considered impure by the Nepalese.
Do walk around stupas clockwise, so that the outer walls are always on your right. If you encounter a stone wall covered with Tibetan inscriptions, do the same: Walk past with the wall on your right (and don’t take any of the stones).
Don’t lose your cool. Raising your voice or shouting is seen as extremely bad manners in Nepal too and will only make the problem worse.
Do get a receipt of authenticity when purchasing an antique replica, otherwise, you will not be allowed to take it out of the country. And don’t buy ivory or fur from endangered species, your purchases encourage the trade in such illegal goods, and you won’t be allowed to bring them back home anyway.
Public displays of affection between man and woman are frowned upon. Do not do something that is totally alien to our environment.
Develop a genuine interest to meet and talk to Nepalese people and respect their local customs.
Take photographs only after receiving permission for the object or person being photographed. Most Nepalese don't mind being photographed, but some do. Ask first, especially if photographing ceremonies or older people. Paying for a picture reinforces a hand-out mentality. Try instead to establish a friendly rapport with a few words or gestures.
Do not give candy, pens, trinkets or money to children but instead donate to a school, monastery or hospital. Nepalese give a few rupees to the handicapped and religious mendicants.
Tipping is a newly accepted custom in Nepal. Hotel, restaurant, touring and trekking organization staff members often make up for relatively meager wages with tips. But, it should only reward good work. Don't tip for short taxi rides in town or any service person you've bargain with. Groups might give a reasonable amount per day to a tip pool to be divided among the staff, generally relative to rank, for good service.
Even if you are an experienced medical practitioner, it is not wise to give medicine to a sick Nepali on the trek unless you can watch his or her reaction. Most Nepalese have never been exposed to Western medicine and may react unpredictably. Encourage villagers to wash cuts with soap and boiled water, and to see their closest clinic for medical treatment.
Trek with Others: Never trek alone; if you run into trouble or take a tumble no one will know. Trekking with an agency assures the greatest security.
Security: Watch your gear carefully in lodges and on the trail. Don't be showy with expensive items, and always lock your room or baggage.
High Altitude Sickness: Find out more from your agent or the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) about this sickness and helicopter rescue options. Always register your trekking plans with your embassy, consulate or HRA. Beware of other trail hazards, watch where you are going and don't over-extend yourself.