Nepal wholeheartedly welcomes all types of visitors to this wonderful Himalayan country. Whatever the purpose of your visit, wherever you are coming from, you will always feel at home because of the forever smiling faces of the locals you encounter during your trip in Nepal. The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s survey says that Nepalese people are the happiest in South Asia. The survey data was collected from people in about 150 countries worldwide.
In return for the warm welcome that you receive while traveling in Nepal, you need to be very careful before doing anything for or in front of the Nepalese. Whether you are going for a trek like the Everest Base Camp Trek or taking a tour around the Kathmandu valley or any other city in Nepal, you need to treat the land and its people with care and respect.
Nepal is a country with a multilingual and multicultural society. Such diversity can be astonishing for newcomers, and you might be confused at some point about what you should or should not do in Nepal. We recommend that you be very careful not to show any sign of disrespect to the people of varied cultures, natures, and religions. Here are some tips on what to do and not to do while traveling around the beautiful Himalayan country of Nepal.
- To show gratitude and respect, use both of your hands instead of one when giving or receiving something, including money. It is 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.
- Among Hindus, avoid touching women and holy men. In Nepal, people, especially women, do not normally shake hands when greeting one another. Instead, they press their palms together in a prayer-like gesture known as “Namaste”. “Namaste” is widely preferred among the Nepalese.
- Avoid eating with your left hand. It is considered an uncivilized act to use the left hand for eating.
- Wear full, long-sleeved dresses, and avoid provocative and sexually enticing clothing. As many people in rural Nepal are not used to westernization, you must be careful not to wear anything that you may regret later on. Read a guideline on what to wear while trekking in Nepal.
- Never eat beef in front of Hindus or Buddhists. Beef is strictly prohibited among both Hindus and Buddhists, and cows are considered sacred in Nepal.
- 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 a scant dress in religious settings. Remember, some entrances of the temple may be prohibited for non-Hindus.
- It is better not to touch offerings or persons when they are on the way to shrines, especially if you are non-Hindu.
- Don’t offer food to a Nepalese after tasting it, nor eat from a common pot. And avoid touching a shared drinking vessel with your lips.
- The sight of men holding hands is common, but men and women holding hands, and general acts of affection, are frowned upon. Do not do something that is totally alien to Nepalese culture.
- 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. And it only worsens the situation leading you to problems.
- 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.
- Don’t give in to children who ask for just a few rupees. Although a few rupees is a small amount that anyone can spare, successful begging leads young children to drop out of school and take up panhandling as their trade. If you want to help, give to a trustworthy charity or a school.
- Don’t take photographs of locals, holy shrines, and temples unless they have clearly given their consent.
These are the general lists of things you can and cannot do while in Nepal. However, it is entirely subjective and depends on where you visit. If you spend your time in Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, you will find that locals are much more westernized, and your activities may not affect them.
However, you may not have that freedom everywhere in Nepal, especially if you go outside of cities. So, when you appear in front of locals, be careful with what you do, and connect with them through gradual communication and greetings. We hope these Do’s and Don’ts help you enjoy your Nepal trip with mutual respect. Happy traveling, and when you return home, feel free to comment if there is anything you would like to add to our list of Nepal’s dos and don’ts! Thank you, and happy traveling!
“Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love.” – Miguel Angel Ruiz.
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