Embassies:You might want to register with your embassy whilst in Nepal. For more details please use this link: Foreign Missions in Nepal.
Length of stay: We require you to work with us for a minimum of one week. The amount of time you are able to give has a direct impact on what you will be able to achieve and the amount you will get out of the placement. If you are here for longer, there will be more opportunities to explore the country by going trekking, rafting, or on a jungle safari.
Health: Several vaccinations are required prior to coming to Nepal, some need a course of treatment before you leave. Visit your nearest traveler’s medical centre to discuss your needs. Ensure you have adequate travel insurance. The vaccinations you may need includes:
- Hepatitis A & B
- Yellow fever
Please consult your doctor before traveling. More information is available from the WHO’s (World Health Organization) Travelers health information.
Food and Drink: The local staple meal is dal bhat (rice with lentil soup, vegetables, and pickle). On trekking routes and in tourist areas, a variety of western dishes are also served. Drinking tap water is not recommended unless it has been treated with chlorine or iodine tablets which are readily available. Otherwise you can get the water boiled or buy bottled mineral water.
Weather: The width of Nepal is only about 200 km on average, but within this short distance the altitude of the land rises from a lowly 60 meters to all the way up to above 8,848meter high. Hence the weather depends upon the altitude of the place in Nepal. However, in general Nepal has four climatic seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
- Spring starts from March to May. The temperature of this season fluctuates between 20 °C to 30 °C (68 °F to 86°F).
- Summer starts from June to August. These are also the pre-monsoon months with occasional evening-thunderstorms and hot temperature.Autumn starts from September and ends by November. During this period, the climate is dry and mild with temperature fluctuating between 20 °C to 30 °C (68 °F to 86 °F).
- Winter starts from December to February. The morning and evening are very cold while the afternoon is pretty sunny. The temperature during these months rises from 15 °C to 20 °C (59 °F to 68 °F).
Peoples and Cultural Attitudes: Staring at things and people in Nepal is a national pastime, and is something you will have to adjust to. One of most problematic things that you will encounter is the fact that the concept of personal privacy does not exist in Nepal. Also that all your property will be treated as public property by your Nepali friends.
Activities: Many volunteers like to try something in addition to volunteering during their time in Nepal. Previous activities have included trekking, rafting, visiting the jungle, bungee jumping, visiting Lumbini and much more. Most activities can be arranged by yourself or you may want to team up with other volunteers. However, if you do want to do an arranged activity, such as Trekking, Jungle Safari, bungee jumping or rafting, there are a couple of companies we would recommend. Organizations will usually offer discounts to volunteers, so make sure you take your volunteering card along to see them.
Getting to Kathmandu
By Air: Nepal has only one international airport which is in Kathmandu. So all international flights and the majority of domestic flight start or terminate here. Although a number of major airlines sell flights to Nepal, most of these do not operate direct flight themselves so most people will arrive via flight from Dubai, Baharain, Bangkok, Hongkong, Qatar or the India. Among the airlines that fly direct to Nepal are Thai Airways, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Austrian Airways, Korean airlines, Korean airlines and Indian Airlines as well as a number of smaller Indian airways. Nepal Airways operate flights to a number or locations although they do not have the best reputation for reliability. Tribhuvan airport is located about 20 minutes from the center of Kathmandu and all volunteers will be met by a VCD Nepal representative at the airport. NOTE: Most international flights require confirmation 72 hours before departure. Try and obtain the confirmation telephone number before you go to your placement, so that wherever you are 3 days before you are due to leave you can easily confirm that you still have a seat.
Overland: Volunteers occasionally arrive in Nepal overland after traveling in either India or Tibet. It’s possible to arrive in Kathmandu by bus, or sometimes a combination of bus and train from Delhi, Varanasi, Kolkata and Darjeeling among other places in India and also from Tibet. The majority of buses arrive at the city bus station in Kathmandu although arrival times can obviously vary dramatically so we will arrange arrival information with you once you have booked.
Accommodation: Volunteers either stay at a home with local families or if working in an orphanage they often stay in the orphanage and volunteers working at monastery stay at the monastery. Nepali people are extremely hospitable and volunteers will be well looked after however the accommodation will be typically Nepali and therefore basic by Western standards. Toilets and showers are usually Nepali style and the electricity supply in many places can be unreliable. Most of our home stay families have lots of previous experience in looking after volunteers. Volunteers staying in orphanages or at the monastery are given their own room within the orphanage.
Internet: Kathmandu has plenty of internet cafes, all of which charge the same kinds of rates. When you first arrive in Kathmandu, you’ll probably be shocked at the slowness of the internet here. Get used to it. Once you leave Kathmandu things get slower and slower and taking an hour to open your inbox will become a regular occurrence. That’s before you think about things such as electricity cuts and telephone line failures. By the time you return to Kathmandu, you’ll be amazed at the speed of the internet there and when you return home you won’t quite believe how fast you can send emails! Whilst in Kathmandu take advantage of the better internet to tell people that you may not be able to read emails or reply to emails for weeks at a time and that they shouldn’t worry. Maybe also threaten them with dire consequences should they decide to send you attachments – attachments make it almost impossible to do anything with your email.
Haggling: Everywhere you go in Nepal you will find yourself haggling, especially once you speak a little Nepali. Practice haggling from day one and always offer less than what the shopkeeper asks.
Sightseeing: You’ll usually get to see some of the sights in Kathmandu with VCD Nepal, but you may want to see some places yourself as well. Try to get your VCD Nepal identity card first, as it will help to get you into places such as Swayambu, Durbar Square etc for free when foreigners usually have to pay.
Some temples may insist that you remove all leather before entering, so if you have a non leather belt and bag that may be useful. Many places in Kathmandu are so used to tourists that they may not say anything, but out in the regions this may happen more often.
Clothes: When you first get here it’s tempting to go out and buy yourself a whole new wardrobe simply because it’s so cheap. DON’T. It’s amazing how many volunteers lose or gain weight during their stay, so wait until you’re ready to leave before buying clothes.
Shopping: As per clothes, when you first get here it’s tempting to buy lots of things due to their low prices. Again, DONT. Once you’ve spent some time in Nepal and seen the prices outside of Kathmandu, you have a better idea of the kind of prices that you should be paying for thing. In addition, once you speak Nepali it’s amazing how much easier it is to get a discount. Wait until the end of your trip when you have a clear idea of what money you have left, and you know what kinds of things you really want to buy. Try and take someone from the office if you want to buy things such as Pashminas or Thangkas as they can help you find better quality items. yak wool scarves/shawls, incense, jewellery and material. Pashmina, cashmere and Thangkas are more expensive but are still far cheaper than at home. And tailor made clothes are a fantastic bargain in Nepal – perfectly fitting trousers in your favourite material for a few dollars.
Books: If you want to read anything whilst in Nepal, you can buy books from several second hand stores in the Thamel area. All of these stores will then buy the book back at 50% of what you paid, and they will also buy books that you brought with you and no longer need.
Laundry: There are plenty of places to get your clothes washed in Kathmandu. Most places charge by the piece.
Money: Nepali rupees are the local currency. There are bank ATM facilities in Kathmandu and Pokhara; US traveler’s cheques can be easily changed. Credit cards, though accepted at most places, usually incur 3-4% additional tax. Nepali rupees can be obtained on arrival at Kathmandu airport.
All major international currencies are accepted in Nepal and can be exchanged at the airport or other commercial banks in the country. Most of the hotels are also authorized for exchanging.