Patan Durbar Square in Kathmandu Nepal

Nepal, Tibet & Bhutan - Useful Info

 

Voltage

Standard voltage is 220V. Pack a worldwide/international travel adaptor to cover all destinations, that will allow you to use a hairdryer, electric shaver, charge a mobile phone or Ipod etc in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.

 

 

Health

It is recommended that you be vaccinated for Tetanus and Polio, if you haven’t had a booster in the last ten years. Food and waterborne diseases are common, so we recommend vaccinations for Typhoid (valid 3 years) and Hepatitis A (validity varies). You may also require malaria tablets, dependent upon which regions you will be visiting. This information is intended as a guide only as reccommendations can change, so please contact your local healthcare provider, several weeks before travel.

 

 

Water

Only drink bottled mineral water which is readily available and make sure the seal is unbroken. Avoid salads which may be washed in unhygienic water.

 

 

Climate

Weather conditions in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan vary considerably in different regions due to the significant range of altitudes. For more information, take a look at our Best Time to Visit page.

 

 

Time

  • Kathmandu (Nepal) is 5 hours 45 mins ahead of GMT and does not observe daylight saving time.
  • Lhasa (Tibet) is 8 hours ahead of GMT and does not observe daylight savings time.
  • Thimphu (Bhutan) is 6 hours ahead of GMT and does not observe daylight savings time.

 

 

Money

The Nepalese Rupee is a fully convertible currency and there are plenty of 

places to exchange money in Kathmandu.There are also ATMs at the banks in Kathmandu and Pokhara, although as these are sometimes out of order and banks are not always open, we advise that you bring some cash with you, preferably US dollars.

 

The Bhutanese Ngultrum, is on par with the Indian Rupee and both are used in Bhutan. Foreign currencies can be changed at the airport and in banks. Visa and AMEX are accepted by the bigger hotels and business establishments mostly confined to the larger towns such as Thimpu and Paro.

 

In Tibet, money can be exchanged at the Bank of China in Zhangmu, Shigatse and Lhasa and all major foriegn currencies can all be exchanged. Many hotels also have exchange facilities. There are ATMs in Lhasa and Shigatse and credit cards may be accepted in large hotels, shops and restaurants. 

 

 

Food, glorious food

 

Nepal

The national dish of Nepal is Daal Bhaat Takaari (lentils, rice and vegetable curry) which can be found in a range of flavours and is often served as a main course for lunch and dinner. For many people in Nepal this is the only dish they eat. It often varies in quality, being excellent in one restaurant and bland in another. Nepali food has Tibetan influences especially in the mountains where a traditional diet consists of soups, potatoes, pasta and toasted flour. You will also find Indian food in Nepal, such as Roti (bread) tandoori meats, masaala and kofti. Kathmandu is renowned as the budget eating capital of Asia with tourist restaurants selling a wide variety of Western style fast food including chips, steaks and pizza. Noodles are available everywhere and ideal for a quick snack, the Nepali name for them is chao-chao.

 

Tibet

Tibetan food consists mainly of barley, meat and dairy products. Staple foods include; Yak butter which is refined from the milk of cattle and goats and 'tsamba' which is made of roasted barley, ground with flour and mixed with a little tea, butter, curds and sugar to add flavour. 'Tubo' is a common evening dish; a type of gruel made from dried meat, tsamba and wheat flour. Tibetans are limited to only being able to eat things that grow at over 4000m, which means vegetables are very scarce and people in the higher altitudes eat a lot more meat instead. In winter beef and mutton is cut into strips and air dried in order to preserve it, it is then barbequed or eaten raw.

 

In Lhasa there are numerous restuarants and noodle places serving national dishes and also Indian, Western and Nepali cuisine. A tasty speciality are 'momos,' which are tiny steamed or fried dough parcels containing meat or vegetables.

 

Bhutan

Bhutanese food is very simple but delicious and each region has its own specialities. Most meals consist of meat (yak, chicken, pork or beef) and vegetables, which are accompanied with rice, and chilies feature in almost all recipes. A popular dish is Ema Datshi which is simply made of cheese and chilies; it's tasty but very hot! Tibetan specialites such as momos and noodles are also popular in Bhutan and western food is becoming more prevalent in cities.

 

 

Shopping

 

Nepal

The Kathmandu Valley is heavenly for shoppers, with a host of craft outlets selling locally made handicrafts, stone idols and statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities. There are also beautifully designed brass pots and vessels available. Jewellery shops sell gold, silver, white metal and semi precious stones, as well maala (the traditional necklace worn by women in the Himalayas, which is made of gold with strings of glass beads) at very reasonable prices. If you are more interested in clothing there are delicately embroidered Kaftans, Pashminas made of goats wool, Kashmiri Shawls and Tibetan robes. You can also pick up inexpensive leather jackets.

 

Whilst trekking there are traders dotted along the trails selling everything from down jackets, waterproofs, jumpers, hats and socks at very reasonable prices, so there is no need to panic if you haven't packed enough! It is advisable to pack light and simply buy extra clothing en route if needed.

 

You are expected to barter for your goods in Nepal and the process is always very lighthearted. Most traders will speak English in tourist areas but if you can learn a few words in Nepali you may get a better deal.

 

Tibet

Shopping in Lhasa is a popular tourist activity and Barkhor Street Bazaar is the best place for it. In Barkhor there are lots of stalls, selling a wide range of goods including; Yak wool jumpers, silver ornaments, jewellery and handicrafts. Tibetan incense is a good souvenir, Tibetans use it to worship Buddha and drive away evil spirits. Thangkas (religious scrolls) are also very popular, the higher quality ones have a hand-painted image (rather than printed) in the middle, with very detailed backgrounds. The quality of Thangkas can vary dramatically, so take care when purchasing one.

 

It is a good idea to buy any practical items you may need in Lhasa before you travel to more remote towns. There are departments stores which will supply all of your everyday goods. In the markets, small shops and stalls, you should barter and generally try to cut the asking price by 50 percent.

 

Bhutan

The handicraft industry is much smaller in Bhutan because there aren't as many tourists but there are plenty of shops in Thimphu (the capital) which sell a range of goods including wooden bowls, handmade paper, jewellery, masks and thangkas. Bhutan is renowned for it's brightly coloured and boldly designed stamps, so it's paradise for stamp collectors!

 

The Bhutanese do not generally barter for products and a fixed price prevails. Bartering is often seen as offensive so it's best not to try it.

 

 

Tipping

Tipping is not a natural part of many Western cultures but it makes up a significant proportion of many peoples wages, especially in third world countries. It is very important to tip your guides, drivers and porters (if you are trekking). You will find tipping advise on the Go Guides for each tour. On our Himalayan tours we do not collect a tipping kitty but have given a guide as to how much you will need to allocate for tips throughout the tour. Tipping is an entirely personal gesture so the amounts given are just to be used as a guide.

 

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