Dos and Don’t in Nepal
Nepal is a melting pot of different local ethic cultures and regional cultures. It’s a known fact that 80% of the population is Hindu.
It is very well known that Nepal works on a barter system for many things. Fixed prices do exist but can still be bargained to a reasonable price.
In general, Nepalese people are very friendly to foreigners. However, there are people (touts) who will try to take advantage of tourists, especially in the bigger cities.
Fun fact: Nepalese calendar follows Bikram Samwat meaning it’s 56.7 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar. So yes, when it’s 2016 in the west it’s 2073 in Nepal.
The common meal here is a rice, vegetable and soup dish known as Dal Bhat. It’s eaten in very large quantities at least twice a day.
Regardless if you are a local tourist or an International one, the respect our country gives to you will always be the same.
The great thing about our culture is that we treat everyone as our family. Nepal believes tourists or guest are like our god.
Nepal offers you its rich culture and helps you experience them to the fullest, but before that are done the following described dos and don’ts should be considered.
“NAMASTE” is how we greet each other here. It is performed by joining the palms together with bowing your heads at the same time.
To show gratefulness and respect, do use both of your hands but don’t use only one when giving or receiving something, even money. It is understood as a gesture of respect.
It shouldn’t be felt as being offended if a Nepalese woman hesitates to give you a hand.
Especially women, but greet you with “Namaste”, a gesture that is meaningful of a praying position.
Public gestures of affection between man and woman are not common in Nepal. Therefore, don’t showcase such affection in public.
The Nepalese will quite often consider someone they have respect or care for as a close relative of theirs.
Commonly used a word like “Didi” means “older sister”, “Dai” means “older brother”. These terms can be used without hesitation when two people have become close to each other. It can also be used in referring to someone of the same age as you.
The terms “Dai” and “Bhai” can also mean “younger sister” and “younger brother” respectively.
These terms are often used, showing a slight respect to people serving you too, for example, a waiter in a restaurant.
Do say “Dhanyabaad” which means “Thank You” which conveys the meaning of gratitude. The word “Thank you” is not used that much between Nepalese.
However, don’t hold back to say “Dhanyabaad” after someone helps you or hands you over anything. So be as polite and mannered as possible among the people.
3. Yes and No
The gesture for “yes” is very similar to the “no” headshake used in Western countries and at first can be a very confusing.
To say “yes” or show your consent on certain things, slightly tilt your head to the side and then bring it back to the center.
To indicate “no” hold your hand out in front of you, palm flat and forwards, and swivel your wrist subtly.
4. Put on suitable clothes
Nepal is quite a conservative country which especially holds true in religious and rural areas.
Nepalese will not say if you can or cannot wear something out of respect for the tourist.
However, there can be a deep discontentment amongst locals towards the tourists who dress inappropriately so do put on suitable clothes.
If you’re a male, do wear long sleeved shirts and long trousers. This can be applied when visiting people’s homes or religious areas to prevent unnecessary gossip.
If you’re a female, do wear long skirts or a sari. Loose fitting trousers are becoming widely accepted too. Shoulders and chest areas should remain covered.
In Kathmandu and Pokhara, many local Nepalese can be seen wearing western style clothing and is still seen as provocative.
Don’t wear provocative clothes which can show openness to sexual disrespect.
In more rural areas, do dress conservatively as there are many Nepalese who will think of you as being too open and can draw unnecessary attention.
5. Dealing With Beggars in Nepal
Street beggars are a common occurrence in many parts of Nepal.
There’s the issue of women being divorced or widowed and finding themselves homeless and sleeping on the sidewalks.
There’s also a great deal of issue of homeless street children. There are organizations in Nepal who work towards improvement of their lifestyle but some are corrupt or simply unqualified to make a mere difference.
Many tourists might find themselves showing love and support to the beggars but don’t fall for their story every single time.
The unfortunate side effect is that as tourists they are often taken advantage of without even knowing.
The amount of beggars in Nepal is breathtaking. Some are professionals which can be laughable but it’s true. Others are pretty genuine.
At the end of the day it’s up to you. If you’re kindhearted, do help those in needs. But it shouldn’t be of any pressure.
And don’t give money or sealed food to street children because more often than not, they will end up selling back the food and use the money to buy drugs.
Most of the Nepalese eat with their hands and don’t feel comfortable eating with fork, knife and spoon. They use their right hand for eating and left hand is used for toilet hygiene purposes.
If you are invited to a house to eat, it is very unlikely that you find that they don’t have knives and forks.
You will be shown distinct place to wash your hands and face before and after meals.
The plate placed towards you will be considered as only yours once you start eating, you don’t share or offer this food to anyone else. Do eat everything that is put in front of you.
Do ask them to take some food away before you commence eating if you feel like you’ve been given too much. This is perfectly acceptable and is more appreciated than wasting food.
Nepalese will not usually take bites of each other’s food so don’t encourage that as well.
While drinking water Nepalese people drink without letting it touches their lips. If you are unsure just observe what the other people are doing and do apply the same.
7. Temple Visiting
You should be very sensitive and careful when it comes to visiting the places of worship.
You should feel the need to dress conservatively and do keep your shoulders and knees covered.
Always take off your shoes before entering. Be aware of the fact that some Hindu temples do not allow non-Hindus to enter into the premises.
Also do ask before taking photos of religious festivals, cremation grounds and the inside of any temples you visit.
Don’t wear leather belts while on your way to any temple because that is strictly prohibited.
And note that cows are a sacred animal in Nepal and injuring or killing them is a serious offence. You will find cows grazing and roaming all over the place.
8. Buying or using drugs
Cannabis/marijuana grows wildly in Nepal. It is the form of a weed. But it’s very much illegal to use it here.
Drug abuse and drug trafficking rules are strictly followed. Possession of drugs is a serious offense in Nepal and will be severely punished.
Nepalese jails are very unpleasant places so don’t go off the rails and make sure you don’t end up in one.
9.Taxi in Kathmandu
Small white taxis can be found that can comfortably seat 3 people and hold your luggage in their trunk or roof.
These should cost at most 500 – 600 rupees to/from the airport. The taxi drivers try to stick together when it comes to taxi fare, so if you can get one for 500 rupees to Thamel or Kathmandu Center, then you are paying a reasonable amount.
Don’t fall for their talks and bargain on the prices because they’ll usually end up take advantage of you.
It’s quite probable that when you’re visiting places and public buses/mini buses aren’t easily found, you’ll want to take a taxi. If you do, do insist that the driver uses the meter. Also note that the fare is usually double after 10pm.
10. Affection in Public
Don’t showcase physical contact with your partner if you’re travelling with one in public. It can be seen that it is acceptable for boys and girls to hold hands etc. and vice versa for girls.
If you’re a homosexual couple, then the chances are you’ll be stared at and gossiped about because of unfamiliarity of such sexualities.
You shouldn’t be surprised to see boys walking arm in arm and hugging. These things are signs of friendship don’t take them any other way.
You’re unlikely to see Nepali men and women displaying public affection towards each other.
There are certain things you need to consider while trying to blend with people here. It’s not that difficult but it won’t be easy at first considering the type of culture you come from.
We assure you your visit will be splendid if you’re willing to cooperate with us.
Nepal will welcome you with open arms and help you experience things you’ve never experienced before.