Nepal officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country in South Asia and, as of 2010, the world’s most recent nation to become a republic. It is bordered to the north by the People’s Republic of China and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India. With an area of 147,181 square kilometres (56,827 sq mi) and a population of approximately 30 million, Nepal is the world’s 93rd largest country by land mass? and the 41st most populous country. Kathmandu the nation’s capital and the country’s largest metropolitan city.
For a small country, Nepal has great physical diversity, ranging from the Tarai Plain–the northern rim of the Gangetic Plain situated at about 300 meters above sea level in the south–to the almost 8,800-meter-high Mount Everest, locally known as Sagarmatha (its Nepali name), in the north. From the lowland Tarai belt, landforms rise in successive hill and mountain ranges, including the stupendous rampart of the towering Himalayas, ultimately reaching the Tibetan Plateau beyond the Inner Himalayas. This rise in elevation is punctuated
by valleys situated between mountain ranges. Within this maze of mountains, hills, ridges, and low valleys, elevational (altitudinal) changes rersulted in ecological variations.
Nepal commonly is divided into three broad physiographic areas: the Mountain Region, the Hill Region, and the Tarai Region. All three parallel each other, from east to west, as continuous ecological belts, occasionally bisected by the country’s river systems. These ecological regions were divided by the government into development sectors within the framework of regional development planning.
The rhythm of life in Nepal, as in most other parts of monsoonal Asia, is intricately yet intrinsically intertwined with its physical environment. As scholar Barry Bishop learned from his field research in the Karnali region in the northwest, the livelihood patterns of Nepal are inseparable from the environment.
The Hill Region (Pahad) abuts the mountains and varies from 800 to 4,000 metres (2,600???13,125 ft) in altitude with progression from subtropical climates below 1,200 meters to alpine climates above 3,600 meters. The Mahabharat Lekh reaching 1,500 to 3,000 meters is the southern limit of this region, with subtropical river valleys and “hills” alternating to the north of this range. Population density is high in valleys but notably less above 2,000 meters and very low above 2,500 meters where snow occasionally falls in winter.
The Mountain Region (Parbat), situated in the Great Himalayan Range, makes up the northern part of Nepal. It contains the highest elevations in the world including 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) height Mount Everest (Sagarmatha in Nepali) on the border with China. Seven other of the world’s eight thousand metre peaks are in Nepal or on its border with
China: Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu,Kanchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Manaslu.
Nepal has five climatic zones, broadly corresponding to the altitudes. The tropical and subtropical zones lie below 1,200 metres (3,940 ft), the temperate zone 1,200 to 2,400 metres (3,900???7,875 ft), thecold zone 2,400 to 3,600 metres (7,875???11,800 ft), the subarctic zone 3,600 to 4,400 metres (11,800???14,400 ft), and the Arctic zone above 4,400 metres (14,400 ft).
Nepal experiences five seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. The Himalaya blocks cold winds from Central Asia in the winter and forms the northern limit of the monsoon wind patterns. In a land once thickly forested, deforestation is a major problem in all regions, with resulting erosion and degradation of ecosystems.
Nepal is popular for mountaineering, containing some of the highest and most challenging mountains in the world, including Mount Everest. Technically, the south-east ridge on the Nepali side of the mountain is easier to climb; so, most climbers prefer to trek to Everest through Nepal. Morever Nepal has 8 of the top 10 highest mountains of the world with postcard beauty.
Nowhere is the world is the climate so distinct and poles apart. The long stretch of the northern frontier, which is mostly rugged terrain, towered by the mighty Himalayas experiences arctic type of climate and a few hours down south at the fringes of the Indian borderlands the landscape and climate changes dramatically as the elevation decreases. With lush green tropical forests and vast stretches of plains one can encounter hot humid climate.
The year is divided into 4 different seasons in Nepal – winter, spring, monsoon and autumn. The best period to visit the country for plant lovers is during spring when the flowers are in full bloom. The mountain slopes are covered with beautiful and colorful flowers. Spring season commences from early March and continues until late May. Even though the days are clear haze disturbs the mountain views. Late May, and the downpour begins. It continues till late August. Come September and the autumn season begins. It continues till late November. With temperate climate, clear blue skies and extraordinary mountain views it is the best season to visit the country. Winter begins in late November and continues till late February.
Temperature Chart ( In Celsius)
Time and Business Hours
Nepal is five hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT.
Business hours within the Valley: Government offices are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday and close at 3pm on Friday in the Kathmandu Valley. During the winter, they close at 4 pm. Most Business offices are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday. 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.
Business hours outside the Valley: Government offices outside Kathmandu valley open from 10 am to 5 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday. On Fridays they remain open until 3 pm. Banks are open from Sunday through Thursday from 10 am to 3 pm. On Fridays, banks remain open until 12 pm only. Business offices are open from 10 am to 5 pm Sunday through Friday. Recently many private banks have re-organized to have different branches open at various different times making banking hours longer. If one branch is closed another will be open.
Holidays: Nepal observes numerous holidays, at the least a couple in a month. So please check the holiday calendar. The longest holiday in Nepal is during the Dashain festival in late September or October. Government offices observe all the national holidays and banks observe most of them. Businesses observe major holidays only.
Travelling by Air
Nepal Airlines is the national flag carrier of Nepal with flights to/from Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Other international airlines operating from/ to Kathmandu are Air Arabia (Sharjah), Air China (Lhasa, Chengdu), ArkeFly(Amsterdam ), Bahrain Air (Bahrain ), Biman Bangladesh (Dhaka), China Southern Airlines (Guanzhou), China Eastern (Kunming), Dragon Air (Hong Kong), Druk Air (Delhi, Paro), Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi), GMG Airlines (Dhaka), Gulf Air (Bahrain, Muscat), Indian Airlines (Delhi, Kolkotta, Varanasi), Jet Airways (Delhi, Mumbai), Jet Lite (Delhi), Korean Air (Seoul), Pakistan International Airlines (Karachi), Qatar Airways (Doha), Silk Air (Singapore) and Thai Airways (Bangkok).
Airfares fluctuate with the changes in exchange rates and are to be paid in foreign currency by foreign nationals. Only Nepalese and Indian nationals are permitted to pay in rupees for air passage between Nepal and India. Departure flight tickets should be reconfirmed three days in advance to avoid inconveniences by possible flight cancellation or changes in the flight schedule. Overweight luggage charges are levied in foreign exchange.
All baggage must be declared and cleared through the customs on arrival at the port of entry. Passengers arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) without any dutiable goods can proceed through the Green Channel for quick clearance without a baggage check. If you are carrying dutiable articles, you have to pass through the Red Channel for detailed customs clearance.
Apart from used personal belongings, visitors are allowed to bring to Nepal free of duty cigarette (200) or cigars (50), distilled liquor (one 1.15 liter bottle), and film (15 rolls). You can also bring in the following articles free of duty on condition that you take them out with you when you leave: binoculars, movie or video camera, still camera, laptop computer, and portable music system.
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 (tel: 4213701, 4213702) 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; tel: 4470110, 4472266.[/tab]
Travelling by road
All visitors entering Nepal by land must use no other entry points other than:
* Belhiya, Bhairahawa
* Mahendra Nagar
The overland tourists entering the country with their vehicles must possess an international carnet.
Foreign Currency and Credit Cards
Payment in hotels, travel agencies, and airlines are made in foreign exchange. Credit cards like American Express, Master and Visa are widely accepted at major hotels, shops, and restaurants. Remember to keep your Foreign Exchange Encashment Receipt while making foreign exchange payments or transferring foreign currency into Nepalese rupees. The receipts may be needed to change left-over Nepalese Rupees into hard currency before leaving the country. However, only 10 percent of the total amount may be converted by the bank. ATM is widely in use in Kathmandu.
Major banks, hotels and exchange counters at Tribhuvan International Airport provide services for exchanging foreign currency.
Exchange rates are published in English dailies such as The Rising Nepal, The Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan Times. Nepalese Rupees are found in denominations of Rupees 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are found in denominations of Rupees 5, 2 and 1. One rupee equals 100 paisa.
Entry Procedures & Visa Rules
a. Tourist Visa
Visa Facility? ? ? ? ? Duration? ? ? ? Fee
Multiple entry? ? ? 15 days? ? ? ? US$ 25 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry? ? ? 30 days? ? ? ? US$ 40 or equivalent convertible currency
Multiple entry? ? ? ? 90 days? ? ? US$ 100 or equivalent convertible currency
b.? ? ? Gratis (Free) Visa
???? ? ? Gratis visa for 30 days is available only for nationals of SAARC countries. However, for extension of visa for SAARC nationals, the rule is same as that of other nationals.
???? ? ? Indian nationals do not require visa to enter into Nepal.
For Visa Extension:
Tourists can stay for a maximum of 150 days in a visa year (Jan 1 to Dec 31) extending the visa at the rate of 2 US $ per day. However, a minimum amount of 30 US$ has to be paid for a period of 15 days or less.
(For further information, please, contact Department of Immigration, Maitighar, Impact Building, Kathmandu, Tel: 00977-1-4221996/ 4223590/ 4222453, Web: www.immi.gov.np )
- Manjulaa N Tour consultant Travel Air Pvt Ltd