General Information and Travel Tip
All foreign tourists travelling to Nepal will need a valid passport and a Nepal tourist visa. Your passport should have at least 6 months validity left on it, beyond your expected departure date. You can obtain a Nepali tourist visa from the local embassy or consulate or on arrival at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan airport (or other major arrival points in Nepal). To enter Nepal you will need a valid passport, 2 passport size colour photos and a completed visa application form.
The mainstream banks in Kathmandu, Chitwan, Lumbini and Pokhara all have a cash machine where you can fill your wallet 24 hours a day using your normal bankcard or Master card / Visa. Smaller banks such as the Himalaya Bank also have cash machines, though we would recommend only using these machines during bank opening hours so as not to run the risk of losing your card if the system crashes (on rare occasions).
Major credit cards are generally accepted in Kathmandu, Pokhara and other major cities. Standard Chartered Bank and several smaller banks such as Nabil Bank and the Himalaya Bank will give an advance in rupees on your Master card or Visa. It is wise to carry some US dollars and rupees in small denomination notes in the smaller towns where you cannot use your credit card.
You can purchase Travelers’ Cheques at 1% or 2% commission. Both American and European Travelers’ Cheques are widely accepted at most of the major banks in the smaller towns. The good thing about Travelers’ Cheques is that in the event of loss you will receive new cheques within 24 hours.
Nepal Travel Health
Nepal Travel Plan has taken the greatest care to ensure that the contents of these pages are accurate. We advise our valued guests please contact your local GP regarding your fitness before 6 weeks prior to departure.
Nepal is a (sub) tropical country and you therefore run greater risk of becoming ill than at home. There are more varieties of bacteria in a tropical climate, and your body is not as used to them (as you do not live in that area of the world). Although the risk of getting ill must not be exaggerated, and certainly should not spoil your enjoyment of the holiday, it is advisable to be prepared for your trip and to be aware of the health risks of that country.
If you are currently taking prescription medicines, be sure to pack enough spare medicines and carry the instruction leaflet with you. This will make life a lot easier if you happen to lose the medicine, especially when trying to explain the medication to a Nepali pharmacist. Although the marketing name may vary from country to country, the chemist will certainly understand the written chemical contents.
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to take a copy of your prescription, as well as extra glasses or spare lenses.
Contact your local GP or tropical medical centre before you leave. Last minute trips to Nepal should not be a problem to an already healthy person, but be sure to double check for an up-to-date advice before you leave. Always carry your vaccinations’ booklet with you.
Here is a summary of information aimed at healthy, non-pregnant travelers planning to stay in Nepal for up to one month or less:
Malaria exists in Nepal and India, however the risk varies greatly across different regions. Whether you will need anti-malaria tablets depends upon your travel plans. The type of anti-malaria medication that you take depends on the strain that is prevalent in your destination.
The best bet is to try and reduce the risk of catching malaria by preventative measures. Keep your arms, legs and feet covered in the evenings, using anti-mosquito spray/cream on exposed areas of skin (the best ones contain DEET), and sleep under a mosquito net whenever possible. This is especially true in accommodation with no air-conditioning. It is possible to buy a mosquito net that is pre-impregnated with an insecticide.
If during or after your trip you find yourself with flu-like symptoms lasting longer than two days (even up to 2 months after your return to your country), seek advice of a doctor immediately, and advise that you have been in a malaria area.
Vaccinations against DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and polio; valid for about 10 years) and hepatitis A are advised. Most people had a DTP vaccination as a child and you can probably safely travel with a booster in this case. The normal injection with hepatitis A anti-body has a limited period of effectiveness so it makes good sense to have this vaccination just before travelling. If you travel frequently to a country where hepatitis A is present, or plan to stay longer in tropical countries, you should opt for a vaccination with a longer effective period. Keep in mind that long-term vaccinations are more expensive and still require a booster after six months. Vaccination against enteric fever is advised if you plan to stay in Nepal longer than three months. Vaccination against yellow fever is only advised if you have been in an infected area prior to travelling to Nepal.
Dengue fever and Japanese B-encephalitis
Both of these diseases are carried by mosquitoes, so you can take preventative measures similar to malaria. Some species, like the Asian tiger mosquito, are known to fly and feed during daytime and under artificial light. For more information about these diseases, and the status of any epidemics, you are advised to seek the advice of the NHS or suitable medical institution.
There is no vaccine against dengue fever, however there is for Japanese B encephalitis, which is advised if you are going to be in Asia for longer than six months.
You can assemble your own tropical first aid kit or buy a ready-made kit. We advise you to obtain a book on how to stay healthy in the tropics, which will contain information about the first aid kit.
Health on location
Besides the general advice given here ensure that you have the correct vaccinations before travelling in Nepal and remain as healthy as possible before you leave. Of course it is important that you avoid becoming ill while you are travelling but remain alert of any symptoms of illness: when in doubt, consult a doctor.
Jet lag occurs when your biological clock is confused (primarily your sleeping and waking rhythms) by flying through time zones. The body has to adjust to the new biorhythm for the first few days after your flight during which time you can feel tired and irritable.
We advise that during the flight you drink very limited amounts of coffee or alcohol and upon arrival do not demand too much of your body for the first couple of days. It is also handy to get into the new sleeping rhythm as quickly as possible. We recommend an hour of sleep after arrival, and then remain awake until you take an early night.
A change of rhythm, climate and food (especially spicy) can throw your stomach out of sorts. If you start feeling dodgy, just take it easy and drink plenty of water in small quantities. It may be necessary to take some Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) dissolved in water to prevent dehydration and this is especially important for the elderly and children. Drugs such as loperamide and diphenoxylate, may be taken if you really have to travel when you have diarrhea (not suitable for children under two years old). These drugs have the effect of sedating the intestine, which stops stomach cramps and suppresses the feeling of diarrhea. Only use these drugs when you are on the move and cannot get to the toilet regularly. If the diarrhea persists for more than 48 hours, and is accompanied by headache, vomiting, or blood in the stool OR you are taking any other medication at the time, you should contact a doctor. The doctor can send a sample for lab analysis to determine exactly what is going on. Your diarrhea can stop quite quickly, but can leave a lasting feeling of lethargy due to the fact that your intestines needs time to recover.
Only consume water and soft drinks from properly closed and sealed tins or bottles, or drink boiled water (tea or coffee). Ice is safe if it is in the form of machine-produced ice cubes. Fruit juice is safe, provided no water has been added.
Food, particularly meat and fish, must be well cooked. In general, we advise against the western-style salads offered in salad bars (in inexpensive hotels and restaurants). Generally, it is safe to eat from street stalls, even though you would expect the opposite. Eat where it is busy, as the time between food preparation and consumption is the shortest and this is good for hygiene. Take note of how the plates, glasses and cutleries are washed because often, there is no running water and only a bucket with soap in it, baking in the sun. If that is the case, be sensible and find somewhere else to eat.
Many restaurants have open plan kitchens, so anywhere that looks clean is probably a safe bet. With regards to street stalls, it is probably wise not to eat meat at the end of the day – the meat could have been lying around, sometimes all day, unrefrigerated. A tried and trusted housewives remedy to prevent dehydration during diarrhea is to drink cola and stock (not at the same time obviously). Cola can be bought everywhere and you can bring stock cubes and a single-cup beverage with you.
Additional health tips for travelling in Nepal travel
Take all cuts, scratches etc. in the tropics seriously: keep a close eye on them, clean them with disinfectant and keep them covered with a plaster during the day. Do not scratch mosquito bites.
Always use a high factor sunscreen cream on exposed skin, even in the rainy season. The sun is super strong particularly at high altitudes, even if it is cloudy.
You can avoid attracting biting insects by not wearing brightly coloured or black clothing, strong perfume or deodorant or aftershave. If you are prone to skin irritations, wear cotton or linen clothing. You can help avoid prickly heat by using talcum powder on your body after your morning shower.
Wash or disinfect your hands after using the toilet and do not bite your nails.
During the dry season, in the wooded areas, there is a slight chance that a tick may land on you. Check your body for these bugs in the morning and evening; especially behind the knees and in the genital area. Should you find one, do not try to just pull it out but use tick pincers (obtainable from chemists) or seek medical attention. If, after being in the woods, you find a bloody circular skin wound slowly increasing in size, seek professional medical attention.
Sunstroke can be prevented by drinking water, wearing a hat and sunglasses. Always keep a bottle of water with you, especially if you are off the beaten track and unlikely to come across drinking water. If you suspect sunstroke (feeling light-headed, headaches), you can prevent it from getting worse by drinking water and if possible find somewhere in the shade to sit and stay there until you feel well enough.
Health upon return
If upon your return (and this can occur months later), you experience influenza, stomach problems, or experience some other unusual symptoms, contact your GP and let them know where and when you were last in Nepal and what you did there.