Other etiquette tips:
Most Nepalis live in rural areas, and their outlook on life is simple and traditional. They often take delight in the company of foreign visitors, but there are certain things that could be alien or embarrassing to Nepalese people. Keep these tips in mind when travelling in Nepal:
- Dress modestly in Nepal. Sun and beachwear are not considered proper attire. Short skirts, shorts or bare shoulders and backs may not be appreciated by local people. One need not be stiff and overdressed but comfortably and decently covered.
- Do not be offended if a Nepali lady hesitates to shake hands. In Nepal, people (especially women) do not normally shake hands when they greet each other, but instead press their palms together in a prayer-like gesture known as Namaste.
- Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon.
- Drug abuse, trafficking and possession are serious offences.
- Do not encourage beggars by giving them money. Doing so encourages more people to beg, and does not solve their problems.
- Use hotel safety boxes for your valuables. Do not leave cash or other valuables lying around your room.
- Table manners in Nepal are quite different from those at home. In traditional Nepali houses, plates, knives, forks and spoons may be absent from the dinner table. Nepali people use their right hand for eating, but this does not mean that guests have to if they feel more comfortable with forks and spoons.
- Utensils that touch the finger or lips are considered jutho, which means contaminated. Do not touch these utensils to food that others will be eating.
- Children often ask for chocolates and money, but we suggest not doing so, as begging is not an accepted part of Nepali culture and is discouraged.
- Prepare for noise and pollution in Nepali cities with a scarf or dust mask.
- You may encounter potholes on the sidewalk, so be careful when out walking.
- Local markets in Nepal close by 9 PM. Tourist markets in Thamel remain open for an hour or so extra. The government grants permission for nightlife in Kathmandu in the Thamel area only. Some bars and pubs in Thamel are open after midnight. Visiting such places is at the traveller’s discretion.
- There are many stray dogs on the streets in Nepal. They are especially noisy at night, so bring earplugs with you.
- Don’t be scared of stray dogs, but please keep your distance from them and don’t feed them or they will follow you. There are some shelters that take care of them. Dogs are considered a vehicle of God Bhairav, and Nepalis celebrate a festival for dogs called Kukur Tihar during the Tihar Festival (Oct - Nov).
- If your hotel is near a religious site you may hear the early morning bells of the temples. Locals visit temples and shrines very early in the morning, sometimes as early as 4 AM, and ring the bell when entering. Another reason to pack earplugs!