Cultural Considerations

Nepal has only been opened to the West since 1950 and despite the veneer of Westernization in some areas, it is still a very traditional and religious society. As a visitor you must respect this and respond sensitively. Nepal is a naturally rich country that has great potantility on tourism and there are plenty lots of tourist visitng Nepal every year, and as a result, foreign influence is increasing each year. To counteract this we ask that you observe the notice on arrival at the airport in Kathmandu: Please keep in mind that "You may not Change Nepal, but let her Change You"

While the Nepalese will never rebuke you for unknowingly offending them, it is important to respect as many of their customs and beliefs as you can. During your stay in Nepal the following should be observed:

Women and men should not wear high cut or tight fitting shorts. Singlet tops that expose the shoulders are similarly unacceptable. Long, baggy shorts are acceptable for both men and women.

We visit villages on the trek as guests, and respectful, sensitive behavior is expected of us. Modest attire is important; not modest by western standards, but by Nepali standards. Nepalese attire has them fully covered. The closer to this you are, the better you will be accepted.

The following are some tips relating to local custom:

  • Nudity is totally unacceptable, so please wear a swimsuit or sarong when bathing.
  • Overt public displays of affection are discouraged.
  • When entering any Nepalese home, monastery or temple, always remove your shoes.
  • It is extremely offensive to throw rubbish into any cooking fire.
  • For religious reasons, Nepalese people are offended by being touched on the head and similarly, never direct the soles of your feet at a person or a religious shrine.
  • Many Hindu temples may not be open to non-Hindus. Always ask permission before entering.

Begging is a harsh reality of life in the developing world, but it is something that the Nepalese believe should not be encouraged, especially by Westerners who do not understand the occasions when it is appropriate. Giving money to street beggars should always be avoided. Handing out pens, balloons and sweets to children in the villages only decreases their respect for us and is strongly discouraged. Tourists, albeit with the best of intentions, have created this undesirable situation.

Last but not least, remember that in Nepal, punctuality has little meaning. Patience and a sense of humor are great assets. Leave your watch at home and take things as they come! Once you have become accustomed to the pace of Nepal, you are likely to reassess your busy Western schedule!