7 things you need to know before you go to Nepal
Pigeons flies over around the Boudhanath stupa at Kathmandu, Nepal (Picture: Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto/ Getty Images)

Nepal is surely one of the friendliest countries on the planet.

In places, it’s also one of the most beautiful.

Though you’ll probably fly into dust-choked Kathmandu, you’ll soon breathe freely again as you begin to explore the fresh air of national parks, vast lakes and, of course, the indomitable Himalayas.

Nepal has great food, abundant sites of cultural and historic interest. It’s more than worth the visit.

Here are seven things you need to know before you go.

The people are the best

7 things you need to know before you go to Nepal
Celebrations for the Hindu Holi festival in Kathmandu (Picture: Frank Bienewald/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Hand on heart, Nepalis are some of the kindest, most welcoming people I have ever come across.

You will be greeted with a warm smile and warmer hospitality everywhere you go.

Venture beyond Kathmandu

The capital is perhaps the least enjoyable thing about the country

Though the tourist hub of Thamel holds appeal for shopping, eating and nightlife, Kathmandu still probably won’t be a highlight of your trip.

As with many sprawling Asian capitals, it’s dirty, smog-strangled and hectic, albeit with many treasures to be discovered within.

But don’t miss it altogether

7 things you need to know before you go to Nepal
A decorated view of Boudhanath Stupa at Kathmandu (Picture: Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

So it’s not all bad.

Glorious Hindu and Buddhist temples like Pashupatinath and Boudhanath Stupa are well worth the visit for their impressive scale, and Patan Durbar Square is a marvel in itself.

Sadly, though, some of these monuments have been damaged by the 2015 earthquake.

You might be sick of dal bhat by the time you leave

Dal bhat, lentils and rice, is the much-loved national staple of Nepal.

And it is delicious, don’t get me wrong. You just might end up eating it three times a day – especially if you’re vegetarian, or eating in a lot of local establishments, or find yourselves a bit off the beaten track.

Then again, you’ll probably start craving it when you get home.

Prepare to get messy when you eat

Half the fun of eating in Nepal is trying out the traditional method of eating with your hands.

Scoop with your fingers, squash the food together, and scrape it into your mouth using your thumb. Great fun.

Eat with your right hand only, though, or you might get some funny looks, as the left is traditionally used for toilet duties.

Avoid the monsoon

In Nepal, monsoon is a strongly felt presence. If you time things badly, you might pay for it.

The infrastructure pretty much collapses when it rains big. Dusty streets turn to muddy rivers, and transport gets even more impossible.

They have living goddesses

7 things you need to know before you go to Nepal
Nepalese devotees carrying Trishna Shakya, a three year old Kumari or living goddess of Nepal towards the Changu Narayan festival celebrated at Hunuman Dhoka, Kathmandu, Nepal (Picture: Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

The Newar people of the Kathmandu valley believe the goddess Taleju is incarnated on earth.

Those who are seen as a living embodiment of the goddess are called Kumari, and their feet aren’t allowed to touch the ground outside.

The position of living goddess is taken up by a female child, who has to fulfill certain characteristics. It is, as you might expect, a controversial practice.

It is fascinating as a tradition. You might catch a glimpse as she emerges from her palace several times a year.

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