Travel Essentials: Nepal (Part II)


Nepal is one of the world’s more crime-free countries, but it would be unwise not to take a few simple precautions.

The main concern is petty theft. Store valuables in your hotel safe, close windows or grilles at night in cities to deter “fishing”, and use a money belt or pouch around your neck. Some public bus routes have reputations for baggage theft. Pickpockets (often street children) operate in crowded urban areas, especially during festivals; be vigilant.

If you’re robbed, report it as soon as possible to the police headquarters of the district in which the robbery occurred. Policemen are apt to be friendly, if not much help. For insurance purposes, go to the Interpol Section of the police headquarters in Durbar Square, Kathmandu, to fill in a report; you’ll need a copy of it to claim from your insurer once back home. Bring a photocopy of your passport and your Nepali visa, together with two passport photos.

Violent crime is rare. An occasional concern is a certain amount of hooliganism or sexual aggression in the Kathmandu tourist bars, and late-night muggings do sometimes occur. In addition, there have been a couple of well-publicized armed robberies and sex murders in the national parks on the edge of the Kathmandu Valley. A few Western women have been raped, but most problems come about within relationships with Nepali men – trekking or rafting guides, for instance – not due to attack by strangers. The countryside, generally, is very safe, though there is a small risk of attack by bandits on remote trekking trails. In the Terai, there are a number of armed Madhesi groups, but tourists are not targets and you are unlikely to be affected much beyond the odd delayed bus, roadblock or bandh.
There are several ways to get on the wrong side of the law. Smuggling is the usual cause of serious trouble – if you get caught with commercial quantities of either drugs or gold you’ll be looking at a more or less automatic five to twenty years in prison.

In Nepal, where government servants are poorly paid, a little bakshish sometimes greases the wheels. Nepali police don’t bust tourists simply in order to get bribes, but if you’re accused of something it might not hurt to make an offer, in an extremely careful, euphemistic and deniable way. This shouldn’t be necessary if you’re the victim of a crime, although you may feel like offering a “reward”.
The worst trouble you’re likely to run into is one of Nepal’s all-too-common civil disturbances. Political parties, student organizations and anyone else with a gripe may call a chakka jam (traffic halt) or bandh (general strike). In either case, most shops pull down their shutters as well, and vehicles stay off the roads to avoid having their windows smashed. Demonstrations sometimes involve rock-throwing, tear gas and lathis (Asian-style police batons), but you’d have to go out of your way to get mixed up in this.


Drugs are illegal in Nepal, but it is impossible to walk through Thamel or any of the other tourist hotspots without being approached by a dealer offering hash. It would be incredibly stupid to go through customs with illegal drugs, but discreet possession inside the country carries relatively little risk. While the drug dealers are often shady characters, they are not generally informants.


Power comes at 220 volts/50 cycles per second, when you can get it: lengthy power cuts (“load shedding”) are a daily occurrence. Smarter hotels and restaurants have backup generators. Tourist guesthouses usually offer sockets that accept almost any kind of pin, but the European standard two-pin is the most common.


Dial 100 for the police. Hospitals and other organizations have their own telephone numbers for an ambulance, but get a Nepali-speaker to do the talking. Registering with your embassy can speed things up in the event of an emergency.

Entry regulations

All foreign nationals except Indians need a visa to enter Nepal. These are free (for 30 days) for nationals of other South Asian Area Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries: Pakistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh. All other nationals have to pay for them. Tourist visas are issued on arrival at Kathmandu airport and official overland entry points. At the former, queues can be long, so you may prefer to get one in advance from a Nepali embassy or consulate in your own country. Otherwise, have a passport-size photo at the ready. At the airport, you can pay the visa fee in US dollars, euros, pounds sterling or other major foreign currencies. At overland entry points, officials tend to demand US dollars or Nepali rupees.

The fee structure at the time of writing was $25 for 15 days, $40 for 30 days and $100 for 90 days; all are multiple-entry visas. Fees may change without warning, however, so double-check atw before setting out. Tourist visas can be extended up to a maximum of 150 days in a calendar year: an extension of 15 days or less costs $30; for more than 15 days, it costs an extra $2 per day. Extensions are granted only at the Kathmandu or Pokhara Department of Immigration offices. Submit your passport and one passport-size photo with your application. A transit visa, valid for 24 hours and non-extendable, costs $5.

Don’t overstay more than a couple of days, and don’t tamper with your visa – tourists have been fined and even jailed for these seemingly minor infractions.

It is no longer necessary to have a trekking permit to visit the most popular trekking regions, but you will need the TIMS card, which amounts to much the same thing. You’ll have to pay national park entry fees for the Annapurna, Everest and Langtang areas. A handful of remote regions are still restricted, and require permits to enter.

It’s worth noting, too, that a few sites in the Kathmandu Valley, including the entire city of Bhaktapur, charge entry fees.

Customs officers are fairly lax on entry, but checks are more thorough on departure, and it is illegal to export objects over 100 years old (see Ethical shopping).

Travel Essentials: Nepal (Part I)


Kids always help break the ice with strangers, and Nepal can be a magical place for a child to visit. Arranging childcare is easy, and Nepalis generally love kids. Some children (especially those with fair skin and blond hair) may be uncomfortable with the endless attention, however.

Parents will of course have to take extra precautions in the light of Nepal’s poor sanitation, dogs, crowds, traffic, pollution, bright sun, rooftops and steep slopes.

It may be hard to keep hands clean and yucky stuff out of mouths, and you’ll have to keep a firm grip on small children while out and about. If your child comes down with diarrhea, keep them hydrated and topped up on salts – have oral rehydration formula on hand.

Naturally, you’ll want to plan a more modest itinerary and travel in greater comfort with children than you might on your own. In tourist areas, it should be no problem finding food that kids will eat, though in other places it might be more challenging. Baby food and disposable nappies/diapers are available in Kathmandu and Pokhara, but are hard to come by elsewhere. Some toys and books can be bought in Nepal, but bring a supply of your own. Carry small tots in a backpack or papoose – a stroller or pushchair will be virtually useless.

Trekking with children is generally a wonderful experience, though it can be logistically awkward if they’re too old to ride in a backpack and too young to hike on their own (though mules or horses can often be arranged).


Nepal’s climate varies significantly through the year, with seasons showing themselves very differently at different altitudes. The pre-monsoon period, generally very hot and humid at lower elevations, lasts from mid-April to early June, while the monsoon itself, when travel is difficult but not impossible, dominates the period between mid-June and mid-September. Autumn sees pleasant temperatures and dry weather, while winter is generally cool and clear.


Your money goes a long way in Nepal. Off the tourist routes, it can actually be hard to spend $30–40 a day, including food, transport and accommodation. On the other hand, Kathmandu and some of the other tourist traps can burn a hole in your pocket faster than you might expect. Even so, it’s still possible for a frugal traveler to keep to $20 a day in the capital, although the figure can effortlessly balloon to $50 or more simply by choosing slightly nicer hotels and restaurants. If you like to travel in greater luxury, you should reckon on spending $60–80 or more per day, depending mainly on standard of accommodation.

You’ll inevitably pay over the odds for things at first, and it may even feel as if people are charging you as much as they think they can get away with, but that’s hardly a market principle exclusive to Nepal. Bargain where appropriate, but don’t begrudge a few rupees to someone who has worked hard for them.

Many hotels (and most tourist restaurants) quote their prices exclusive of the 13 percent “government” tax (essentially a value-added tax) and charge another 10 percent service charge.
No matter how tight your budget, it would be foolish not to splurge now and then on some of the things that make Nepal unique: organized treks, rafting, biking and wildlife trips are relatively expensive, but well worth it.

Filming in Nepal: History

History of Nepali Film Industry

Even though Nepal does not have a very long film history, the industry has its own place in the cultural heritage of the country. Most of the Nepali films use Bollywood-style songs and narrative, and are shot on 16-millimeter film. In the film industry idiom, Kathmandu, the capital and the center of the Nepali-language film industry, is called Kollywood within Nepal (different than India’s Tamil-language film industry, Kollywood, based in Chennai).

The making of Nepali films is said to have begun with D. B. Pariyar’s Satya Harishchandra, which was the first Nepali language film to be shot. It was produced from Kolkata, India, and was released on September 14, 1951. Aama was the first film produced in Nepal, and was released on October 7, 1964. It was produced by the Information Department of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal (now Government of Nepal), directed by Hira Singh Khatri with Shiva Shankar Manandhar and Bhuwan Thapa as the lead actors, who are also regarded as the first actors in the history of the Nepali film industry.

The first film to be produced under a private banner was Maitighar, which was released at the end of 1966 by Sumonanjali Films Pvt. Ltd. Although being a Nepali movie, it had many Indians contributing toward the making of the film. Mala Sinha had the lead role, along with C P Lohani. It had special appearances of Sunil Dutt and comedian Rajendra Nath. It was directed by B S Thapa and music composed by Jaidev, a veteran music maestro, it had established Indian singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar, and Manna Dey, doing the playback-singing along with the household names of Nepali music, like Narayan Gopal, Prem Dhoj Pradhan, C P Lohani, and Aruna Lama.

The government later established the Royal Nepal Film Corporation in 1971 which produced Mann Ko Bandh with Prakesh Thapa as the director of the film and Nati Kaji and Shiva Shankar as the music composers. Amber Gurung scored the background music. The film premiered in 1973 in Kathmandu. It was followed by Kumari (the first color Nepali film) in 1977, Sindoor in 1980, and Jeevan Rekha in series. The success of these films opened up avenue for private parties to enter into film making as industrial endeavor.
The Nepali film industry started to ruin during the Maoist revolution. Fewer films were made with low budget and even lower performance during that period which resulted in even smaller audiences. In the later years of the conflict, the production and release of Nepali films had come to a standstill with many actors and filmmakers leaving the country in search of work because there were no films being made.

However, with Maoists coming into mainstream politics by 2006, the Nepali film industry started to develop. Now, more and more films are being made and released. The production companies and those in the industry are enthusiastic about the country’s new situation. Also the quality of the films being produced is improving, however, in comparison to Bollywood, it still lags far behind and the competition is tough with maximum youths preferring Bollywood and Hollywood to Kollywood. Nevertheless, the production of movies like Loot, Highway, Apabad, etc. that are based on contemporary subjects, good content and presentation, the future of Nepali Film Industry looks hopeful.