APTLD 73
Courtesy of Chandra Chakradhar



Useful Tips

For your convenience, we put all the useful tips and life hacks in the alphabetical order.

Airport:

Tribhuvan International Airport (Nepali: त्रिभुवन अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय विमानस्थल, IATA: KTM, ICAO: VNKT) is the sole international airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. The airport is about six kilometres from the city centre, in the Kathmandu valley. The airport has one domestic and one international terminal.

Airport tax:

Passengers departing from the Tribhuvan International Airport are required to pay an airport tax of Rs. 900 if going to SAARC countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) and Rs. 1100.00 to all other international destinations. Domestic airport tax is Rs. 165.

Air quality:

If your respiratory system is sensitive to dry air, dust or pollution, then you might need a few days or a week to adjust to the less-than-ideal air when you arrive in Kathmandu. During that time you might find yourself unexpectedly sprouting allergy symptoms such as a runny nose, stuffed up sinuses, mild headaches, dry mouth & lips and/or exhaustion.

Bicycle as an alternative:

If you’re confident cycling on Kathmandu’s poor roads and hectic traffic (it’s very slow moving) then renting a bicycle is the way to go. All the bike rental shops have mountain bikes with wide knobby tires.
Rates in central Thamel are outrageously expensive: $15 US per day! Luckily, there are much cheaper alternatives in Kathmandu. Simply head 1-2 streets west of Thamel to Paknajol Road, which runs north-south parallel to the main Thamel roads. On Paknajol Street you’ll find several shops renting bikes for 300-500 rp per day ($3-5 US) they usually have different grades of bikes for different rates, but all are mountain bikes with wide knobby tires. The shop owners are willing to negotiate on the rates, too, especially if you’re going to rent for a few days or a week.

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. Always wash your hands before eating. Also, avoid street food outlets (just to be on the safe page)

Electricity:

(voltage, plugs and sockets): see

Export:

It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old (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. The Department of Archaeology (Ph: 4271504, 4271478) at Ramshah Path near Singha Durbar has to certify all metal statues, sacred paintings and similar objects before they are allowed to be sent or carried out of the country. Handicraft dealers and travel agents are able to assist you in this process. For more information on customs matters, contact the Chief Customs Administrator, TIA Customs Office; Ph:4470110, 4472266.

Getting around:

Although Kathmandu is a fairly large, sprawling city, most of the main sights and attractions are all within the city center, within walking distance of each other and from Thamel, the main ‘tourist ghetto’ district.

From Thamel you can reach Durbar Square within 10 minutes or Swayambunath hill top temple in about 30 minutes. All the narrow streets between Thamel & Durbar are full of interesting shops, temples & Nepali daily life.

Several main attractions, though, are not really within easy walking distance. They include Patan, Boudhanath Tibetan Stupa and Pashupatinath Temple. To reach those sites, you’ll need some sort of transportation.

Internet access:

Plenty of internet shops are scattered all around Kathmandu. In addition, most guest houses, hotels, tourist restaurants, cafes and bars offer wifi. But when the power is cut off, so is the wifi. Upscale hotels and larger tourist restaurants with powerful back up generators might still have wifi access. However, smaller guest houses probably don’t have back up power strong enough to keep wifi running.

If you work online or have other crucial reasons to access the internet reliably a sound alternative is to use a usb modem with your laptop. In Nepal, NCell usb modem internet access is generally much faster than many wifi ports and it is completely independent of the frequent power cuts.

So if you find yourself in Kathmandu with a three hour power cut right when you need to work online, no problem! Just plug in your usb and access the web.

To get hooked up with Ncell usb internet, visit the main NCell Office on Durbar Marg Road, about two blocks south of the Imperial palace grounds and just east of Thamel.

If you already have an international usb modem (especially with Huawei software) it should work with NCell’s sim and internet system. (NCell’s usb modem is also a Huawei stick) If not, you’ll need to buy an NCell modem, which costs 3500 rp / $35 US.

But the sim card costs a mere 100 rp / $1 US!

Monthly pre-paid internet packages are priced by how much MB or GB data you need to use. Some sample rates are 500 MB for 450 rp, 1 GB for 700 rp or 5 GB o 2300 rp. You can also buy much less or more than these amounts. A reasonable monthly amount if you’re online several hours per day is 1 GB for 700 rp / $7 US.

If you already have your own international usb modem, it’s really very inexpensive to use this system in Nepal. Most importantly, it’s faster than wifi and is independent of daily power cuts.

No-no! things:

  • To show appreciation and respect, use two hands rather than one when giving or receiving something, even money.

  • Remember not to point with a single finger but use a flat extended hand especially to indicate a sacred object or place.

  • Among Hindus, avoid touching women and holy men the traditional palms-together "Namaste" greeting is preferable.

  • Don't eat with your left hand and nor eat beef among Hindus.

  • Try not to step over or point your feet at another person, a sacred place or a hearth.

  • 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.

  • Do not offer food from your plate, nor eat from a common pot, and avoid touching your lips to a shared drinking vessel.

Power outages:

Kathmandu at times has random power cuts, that usually occur in the afternoon and early evening and can last even for several hours. But worry not, as guest houses, tourist restaurants and hotels all have back-up power.

Security: Nepal is safe – don’t worry about theft or personal safety. Quite happily, theft doesn’t seem to be part of Nepali culture. You really don’t have to keep an eagle eye on your bags, wallets or possessions. Not when you’re walking down the streets or browsing in shops or eating at a restaurant or hanging out in your guest house.

You also don’t have to worry about your things in your room, assuming you’ve locked the door and windows, of course. You probably wouldn’t even need to lock your door when you’re sleeping at night, truth be told.

Safety- what to do in case of an earthquake:

Check out and memorize the best guidelines and comprehensive recommendations here:

Time and Business Hours:

Nepal is five hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT. Government offices are open from 10 am to 5 pm from Sunday through Friday. Banks are open from Sunday through Friday from 9 am to 3 pm. Most banks remain open until 12 pm on Saturday.

Embassies and international organizations are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Most shops open after 10 am and close at about 8 pm and are usually closed on Saturdays.

Tips:

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.

Visa to Nepal:

see

Also important:

As most nations are eligible for a visa-upon-arrival regime, it is effective only for tourists, so it would be wise to play a small trick by NOT referencing to the APTLD meeting while filling out the papers at the immigration, but put TOURISM as a primary purpose of your visit to the country.

If one believes that such a trick is against one’s principles, then one should apply for a regular business visa at the Embassy of Nepal in one’s country.

Watch your step:

Only a small percentage of Kathmandu’s streets are paved. Most are simply compacted dirt or extremely old stone tiling. All the roads, whether paved, dirt or stone are chock full of potholes, loose stones and dirt piles.  No sidewalks exist along most roads, so the streets are full of pedestrians as well as motorbikes, bicycles, cars, buses, dogs, rickshaws and various deliver vehicles & carts.



© APTLD, 2017