What should I know about Nepal
ATITHI DEWO BHAWA
While greeting, it is not customary to shake hands but instead you should join palms together and say “Namaste”. Namaste can be used for saying both hello and goodbye.
Men in urban areas are comfortable with a handshake upon meeting, but for women, allow them to offer their hands first.
Like in many other cultures around the world, women usually do not shake hands with other women.
Show respect for the elderly and greet the eldest person first when you enter the room.
Personal space is very much valued. Avoid touching or getting too close to another person.
Public display of affection is considered a taboo in Nepal. Please do not display passionate kiss or any intimate gesture with your partner.
Avoid scant dressing in public and religious settings. Also, keep in mind that women and men in religious attire (such as monks) do not like getting touched in public, or without consent.
Hands and Fingers:
As a gesture of respect, do not point at people or religious places with your finger.
It is less-frequent but normal for two male friends to hold hands in public.
Please remove your shoes when entering a home, temple or place of belief. Do not step over objects or point your feet at a person, animal or plant. Placing feet over religious, sacred or objects of faith is an offence.
When you are offered food, politely hesitate before accepting.
At home and in a private setting, almost all Nepalese people eat using their hands. In restaurants and public places, however, using cutlery is a norm.
If you intend to use your hand while eating, do so with your right hand.
You should not share food after tasting it, and avoid touching your lips to a shared drinking vessel.
Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Food:
You can order non-vegetarian food except beef at nearly all restaurants and food outlets around the country.
Please refrain from taking or eating meat (beef, chicken, mutton, fish) at religious places.
Eggs are considered non-veg food in Nepal like in many regions of the world.
Please keep in mind that cows are sacred in Nepal. Selling and buying beef is illegal.
There are selected shops that sell halal food. Please check with your hotel for details.
Walk around stupas and temples in a clockwise manner, so that its outer walls are always on your right. The same applies to stone walls, rocks, monuments or objects covered with religious inscriptions.
Please note that some temples are prohibited for entrance for non-Hindus. Leather items such as belts, wallets and others are forbidden inside a Hindu temple.
Taking Photos and Videos:
Do not take photographs of strangers in public or in private without prior consent of the person appearing in the frame.
Walking on the street, you might find a window attractive but it is better to ask before taking shot of the artistic window that belongs to someone else.
In temples and shrines, you can take pictures except where prohibited.
Always ask for a receipt while purchasing goods of special value such as antiques and their replica.
You can support local artisans by buying their products.
You should never engage in buying and selling of items made from endangered species because it is illegal in Nepal.
Tipping and Giving:
You can amply tip your guide, porter, bellboy, restaurant waiter, or even your taxi driver.
Do not encourage begging in streets, as successful begging leads young children to drop out of school, and get into problems later. If you want, you can always express your generosity by giving to a charitable trust or an authentic donation-seeker.
At a Restaurant:
To summon a waiter, make a gesture with your hand.
The bill is paid by the person who made the invitation, but it is considered polite if you offer to pay.
Business and Dealings:
Starting a business discussion immediately upon meeting is impolite. Ask about their and their family’s well-being before beginning formal business discussion.
It is normal for scheduled meetings to get a few minutes late. Yet, you are expected to reach on time.
Expect your business meetings to get lengthy. Often, there will be more than one meeting on similar issues. So, it is required to adjust your time accordingly.
Do not exchange gifts during business meetings at all.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner time are considered private and relaxing. So, business during these hours is not customary in Nepal.
Putting your feet over desks or chairs is rude.
Talking and Socializing:
Calling people with a first name is generally reserved for those who are senior in age and designation.
Do not use slangs and metaphors while talking. Speak in plain English so that the listener can follow you without difficulty.
Creating the ‘V’ sign, or ‘O’ sign with your fingers means nothing in Nepal. So does the “thumbs up” sign. However, in some cultures in Nepal, you can use the ‘O’ sign made with your thumb and index fingers. With three fingers raised, you mean to say ‘beautiful’ as a compliment.
Yawning is natural and should be done as comfortably as you feel. You might consider covering your mouth.
Do not wink at people of opposite sex unless you are flirting.
Do not blow or clean your nose in front of another person. Do not use toothpicks in public without covering your mouth, and refrain from clipping your nails or combing your hair in public.
Parties & Invitations:
For dinners or luncheons, always arrive a few minutes early. It is customary to bring a small present for the host.
When invited in a home for dinner or entertainment, do not offer help for cleanup later on. Politely thank the host for the wonderful dinner before leaving.
Nepali people do not like wasting food. Finish the food on your plate. One good way is to start from small portions and keep on adding as you eat.
While giving opinions, wait until the speaker has finished. Then gently call attention before politely expressing yourself.
In lunches and dinners, you can begin only after the guest of honor has taken his plate. Traditionally, the host begins last.
Dinner parties do not go late. Prepare to leave after 9:00 PM during summer and 8:00 PM during winter.
Smoking and Drinking:
Smoking cigar, cigarettes or hookah in public is not allowed by the law, but there are areas in restaurants and hotels where you can do so. Smoking in the presence of elders is considered rude.
Buying, selling or growing all forms of cannabis, hemp and marijuana is illegal. Narcotics is illegal in Nepal.
Drinking and driving is strictly prohibited in Nepal. You should not consume even a small amount before driving.
Gifts and Presents:
Nepali people do not open gifts in front of the giver. They like to do so alone.
Do not give gifts without removing price tags. It is extremely rude. Give good quality gifts or none at all.