Nepal Culture and Customs

culture-nepal.jpg

How Not to Be Mistaken for a Tourist in Nepal

Understanding Nepalese culture and the traditional way of life is an important aspect of responsible tourism, which is the kind of travel we want to practice and encourage you to do the same. When you travel to Nepal, embrace and respect their customs, which may be as simple as washing your hands and mouth before dining, or making sure your shoulders are covered. By mirroring local traditions, you are showing that you value their way of life and you're helping to build a sustainable relationship between yourself as a traveler and the local people of Nepal. Here are a few pointers to get you on your way, and of course your guides will be by your side to help as well.

 

When it comes to food and drink

  • Only eat off your own plate and never use your knife or spoon to serve food off a communal plate.
  • When drinking from a communal cup or jug, pour the water straight into your mouth without the cup touching your lips. It's a bit tricky but makes hygienic sense, worth knowing just in case you misplace your water bottle!
  • In Nepal, your left hand is used for personal ablutions, so use your right hand to eat or pass around food. 
  • As in any country, wait to be served. Nepal is a very laid back country when it comes to time (to put it politely), so patience is most definitely a virtue!
  • It's customary to leave your shoes outdoors when dining in someone's house. But it's OK to keep shoes on in the tea houses.
  • Plastic bottles are causing horrific problems in the Himalayas where they litter the mountains. Please play your part in stopping this problem escalating even further by not purchasing plastic water bottles, and instead reusing your own bottle, or refilling a water bladder (such as a Camelbak).

When deciding what to pack

  • Nepal is a conservative society, so short shorts, sleeveless tops and other revealing items of clothing are not suitable for women or men. Alas, nudity is also very much unacceptable - so no bare chests either please! This is important throughout Nepal, including on the trails, where you'll need to wear long trekking pants and a t-shirt to cover your shoulders. Not a bad idea in terms of being sunsafe either.

Good old manners

  • As with anywhere you travel, a few simple greetings can go a long way. Only, in Nepal they might be slightly different from what you're used to! People in Nepal rarely shake hands, instead they prefer the "namaste" greeting, which is when you place your palms together in prayer position. You can do this wordlessly with a slight bow as "namaste" means "I bow to you" in Sanskrit.   
  • If you want to give your guide a hug at the end of the trip (and we're sure you will!) that is absolutely fine, but remember, public displays of affection between men and women are best kept brief, or even better kept in private.
  • Don't be shocked if you see many Nepali men hand in hand. This is quite normal in Nepal and doesn't carry any sexual overtones (usually).
  • If you give or receive money use your right hand and touch your right elbow with your left hand, as a gesture of respect (although I can understand if you would think it sounds like a game of Twister - best to practice beforehand!).
  • This is something that travellers come across all the time - when you ask a local something, like for directions, even if they don't know the answer they'll want to give a positive response - rather than saying they don't know. So if you are given the wrong information, it could be through fear of dissapointing you. In these situations, always try to remain cool, calm and collected because raising your voice or shouting is very much frowned upon in Nepal. 

Taking that special photo

  • The rule of thumb if you're hoping to photograph someone is always ask first and respect the wishes of the people you are asking.
  • The other place to be mindful of is at temples and monasteries, some of which prohibit photography. But don't worry, in our experience Nepal has proven to be the ultimate photographer's dream. Dark blue horizons against majestic towering peaks, with faded prayer flags in the foreground - who could ask for more!
  • If you'd like to take a picture of sadhus (holy men who travel from place to place), it is customary to give baksheesh (a tip).

Buying souvenirs and fair trade

  • Always try to be aware of the threat to local wild and endangered species through the purchase of products made from materials such as fur, shell or bone. We recommend not purchasing these products.
  • Also, try to shop at places that support fair trade. With a population dominated by rural poverty, fair trade can really make a difference by investing in sustainable materials, providing further education, avoiding child labour and giving decent wages to artisans. See the guide to Kathmandu for some ideas of where to buy fair trade products.

Related Posts

The First Timers’ Guide to Adventures in New Zealand

Here's your first timers' guide to adventures in New Zealand!

Best Time to Visit Peru | Destinations, Climate, and Seasons

So, when is the best time to visit Peru?If you're…

Travelling to Europe During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Insider Guide

Since July 2021, we've been back exploring the breathtaking trails…

Podcast: Kit Parks Interviews Wendy, CEO, About the Merger of Active and Austin Adventures

Kit Parks from Active Travel Adventures and Wendy van Lieshout,…

Safe Travel in 2021: Why Small Group Adventure Travel is the New Normal

It's no secret that since March of 2020, the travel…

Hiking Iceland: The Best Day Hikes and Multi-day Hikes in Iceland

Iceland is a hikers paradise. Its vast wilderness calls to…

North Island vs South Island of New Zealand: How to Pick?

New Zealand (or Aotearoa as it's known in the Maori…

What to pack for your next day hike

It’s the night before the hike you and some of…

Podcast: Stan Jacobson talks with Kit about his 'Annapurna Sanctuary Trek' in the Himalayas

 

5 Stars x 3“I rated this as 5 stars, "Excellent,…

Things to Do in Glenorchy - the Gateway to Paradise

Situated at the end of the road, there’s only one…

Video: Food and Wine with Active Adventures

New Zealand’s seasonal, local food is something we’re immensely proud…

Video : Choosing a pair of hiking boots

A lot of our guests wonder how to pick the…

Active Hearts Foundation Documentary

The Active Hearts Foundation is a grass roots international charity…

Staff Picks: Adventure Books and Movies to Stay Inspired

At Active, we’re all big travel and outdoor enthusiasts…I know,…

The Top 6 Roads You Have to Drive On Your Next New Zealand Road Trip

Getting down to us here in New Zealand is easy enough,…

Staff Picks: Favourite Places in New Zealand

Here at Active Adventures, we consider ourselves pretty well-travelled and…

Things to Do in Auckland: Explore New Zealand's City of Sails

Auckland, known as the 'city of sails', was recently voted…

Peru's Rainbow Mountain and the 'Camino del Apu Ausangate' Lodge to Lodge Trek

The beautiful coloured striations of Rainbow Mountain in Peru's Andes…

Discover the Best Things to Do in Lima, Peru

The once-called City of Kings, founded in 1535, is the…

7 New Zealand Must-Sees You Can't Go Wrong With!

If you're looking for the best natural destinations in New…

Finding Flights to Patagonia

Sorting out Patagonia flights and Patagonia travel doesn't have to…

Best Time to Visit Patagonia

With years of experience in the travel arena under our…

Bolivia Culture and Customs

The culture and customs in Bolivia are unique and have…

Is It Safe to Travel to Bolivia?

If you’ve been thinking about travelling to South America, safety…

Little City Guide to Copacabana, Bolivia

Wedged between two mountains, Copacabana is a small and colourful…

City Guide to La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz, also known as ‘the city that touches the…

Little Guide to Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni is the land of the endless horizon, home to…

What to Pack for a 2 Week Adventure Vacation to New Zealand

Lynette from our office talks you through what you'll need…

Everest Base Camp Trek

Our guest Jack Taylor made this incredible video for us,…

Video: An Introduction to Active Adventures

Not sure what Active Adventures is all about? Here's what…

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek 'AST' Trip

Experience what it's like to trek in the Annapurna Region…

Travel to Nepal: Everything you need to know

We're big believers in the journey being just as important…

When is the best time to visit Nepal?

So, you’ve decided you want to go to Nepal? Or…

Hiking in Nepal: Multi-Day Treks

To hikers and trekkers from all over the world, the…

Everything You Need to Know About the Annapurna Massif

The Annapurna Massif is as epic as you imagine it…

Challenge Your Trekking Guide With These Everest Base Camp Facts

Everest Base Camp represents either an origin or a destination…

Nepal’s Everest Base Camp Guided Trekking Tour Itinerary

A trek to Everest Base Camp is a ‘bucket list’…

Popular Religious Sites in Nepal

Nepal is a cultural mecca, it is architecturally rich with…

Guide to Nepal Villages, the Popular and Hidden Gems

If you're heading to Nepal to immerse yourself in the…

Discover the Mustang Region in Nepal

You may have heard quiet whispers, unconfirmed claims at truth,…

Discover the colourful city of Pokhara in Nepal

If you’re planning on heading to Pokhara during your stay…

A Little Guide About Kathmandu, Nepal

All four of our Nepal tours start and finish in…

8 Places to visit in Nepal

When Mother Nature turned her attention to South Asia, she…

Bhutan Culture and Customs

Bhutanese people are known for being happy. You'll pick this…

Things to Know Before You Travel to Bhutan

Bhutan is a unique destination, and a unique destination calls…

Things to Know About Iceland Before You Go

Has Iceland been recently added to your bucket list? No…

When is the best time to visit Iceland?

Welcome to the ultimate guide to the best time to…

Hiking in the European Alps

A hiking & mountaineering dreamThe European Alps stretches across seven…

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

This really is one for the bucket list, so you'll…

The best time to visit Tanzania

Tanzania is known for having some of the best safaris…

Everything You Need to Know Before Travelling in Patagonia

Patagonia has an almost surreal quality to it so it's…

Gearlists and Packing Tips for Hiking in New Zealand

We all approach the task of packing for an adventure…

Multi-Day Hiking in New Zealand: How to Plan the Perfect Trip for You

New Zealand has earned itself a reputation as one of…

How to get to New Zealand

New Zealand is about as far away as it's possible…

How to Plan Your New Zealand Hiking Trip: An Easy 5 Step Guide

Not many travel companies will share these unbiased truths about…

Booking your Airline Ticket to New Zealand

Once upon a time, if you wanted to fly somewhere…

Hiking Safety Tips for Tramping in New Zealand

Safety’s not as hard as you may think – New…

The Best Day Hikes on New Zealand's South Island

Wherever you are in New Zealand, chances are you aren't…

Best Time To Visit New Zealand

Thinking of joining us here in New Zealand for an…

The Complete Guide to New Zealand's 10 Great Walks

The "Great Walks" are generally regarded as New Zealand's premier…

How to Prepare for a Hike: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

“Am I too out-of-shape for an adventure trip?” It’s the…

Our Guides Take On the Everest Marathon

Our guides are pretty amazing people. They're understanding, adaptable, enthusiastic,…

Everest Base Camp Trek 'EBC' Gear Packing List

Here you'll find a list of 32 items you'll want…

5 Reasons to Take up Adventure Travel in Your 40’s

You mean you haven’t already done it yet? That’s OK.…

6 Travel Apps You Absolutely Need When Travelling in South America

The smartphone has quickly evolved into one of the most…

Peru Vaccinations and Medical Checklist

Exploring the ancient streets of Cusco, trekking the Inca or…

Huayna Picchu Hike: How Fit Must you be to Climb?

So you've made it up to Machu Picchu. After months…

Inca Trail Packing List: The 12 Most Important Items and Why

You've done it… You've finally decided to go hiking the…

7 Things to Know About Traveling to Peru

Sometimes surprises when you're travelling can be good - a…

15 Bucket List Activities to do in South America

We've been running trips in South America for over a decade…

Annapurna Base Camp Tips: Everything You Need to Know

Now that we’ve been running trips in the Nepalese Himalayas…

How to prevent and deal with Altitude Sickness

Most hikers will never experience altitude sickness, (sometimes called acute…

Best Day Hikes in New Zealand

As a small island nation, New Zealand is an absolute…

Multi-day Hiking in New Zealand's Backcountry, and 8 Reasons to Go Guided

The team here at Active Adventures are an outdoorsy bunch!…

The Best Places to Eat in Peru

There is no place quite like Peru. And no, we’re…

Why Joining a Small Group Tour is the Bee's Knees

I better start by explaining the term ‘Bee’s knees’… I’ve been doing…

Mustang Adventure 2018: Trip of a Lifetime for Body, Mind and Soul

When thinking about hiking in Nepal, a lot of people…

Benefits of Travelling Alone & Tips to Plan Like a Pro

Solo travel is on the rise and we’re stoked about…

Replace Your New Year's Resolution with one of these Bucket-List Hikes

New Year's resolutions are notoriously difficult to stick to, most…