Foreign Currency and Credit Cards
Payment in hotels, travel agencies, and airlines are
made in foreign exchange. Credit cards like American
Express, Master and Visa are widely accepted at major
hotels, shops, and restaurants. Remember to keep your
Foreign Exchange Encashment Receipt while making foreign
exchange payments or transferring foreign currency into
Nepalese rupees. The receipts may be needed to change
left-over Nepalese Rupees into hard currency before
leaving the country. However, only 10 percent of the
total amount may be converted by the bank. ATM is widely
in use in Kathmandu.
Major banks, hotels and exchange counters at Tribhuvan
International Airport provide services for exchanging
Exchange rates are published in English dailies such as
The Rising Nepal, The Kathmandu Post and The Himalayan
Times. Nepalese Rupees are found in denominations of
Rupees 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are
found in denominations of Rupees 5, 2 and 1. One rupee
equals 100 paisa.
Time and Business Hours
Nepal is five hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT.
Business hours within the Valley: Government offices
are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. from Sunday through
Thursday and close at 3pm on Friday in the Kathmandu
Valley. During the winter, they close at 4 pm. Most
Business offices are open from 10 am to 5 p.m. Sunday
through Friday. Embassies and international
organizations are open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through
Friday. Most shops open after 10 am and close at about 8
pm and are usually closed on Saturdays.
Business hours outside the Valley: Government
offices outside Kathmandu valley open from 10 am to 5
p.m. from Sunday through Thursday. On Fridays they
remain open until 3 pm. Banks are open from Sunday
through Thursday from 10 am to 3 pm. On Fridays, banks
remain open until 12 pm only. Business offices are open
from 10 am to 5 pm Sunday through Friday. Recently many
private banks have re-organized to have different
branches open at various different times making banking
hours longer. If one branch is closed another will be
Holidays: Nepal observes numerous holidays, at the
least a couple in a month. So please check the holiday
calendar. The longest holiday in Nepal is during the
Dashain festival in late September or October.
Government offices observe all the national holidays and
banks observe most of them. Businesses observe major
Postal Services: The Central Post Office located near
Dharahara Tower, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
through Friday. The counters are open from 10 a.m. to 4
p.m. and provide stamps, postcards and aerograms. Post
Restante is available Sunday through Friday from 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m. Express Mail Service (EMS) is available at GPO
and at Thamel, Basantapur and airport postal counters.
Telephone Services: Telephone and fax services are
available at the Nepal Telecommunications Corporation at
Tripureshwar. Hotels and private communications centers
provide long distance telephone and fax facilities. For
calling from outside, country code for Nepal is 977 and
the area code for Kathmandu is 1.
Internet Services: There are countless Internet
cafes and communication centers have opened up in the
Valley and around the country. Visitors only have to
find a place they are most comfortable in to use the
facilities to keep in touch with home. Internet services
are also offered by hotels.
Media: Nepali media has made a gigantic leap
ahead in just a few years time and what used to be a
controlled and tight knit community, is no more. The
government audio and television news networks are Radio
Nepal and Nepal Television respectively. However,
numerous FM radio stations and regional television
stations are dominating the market. Major Nepali daily
newspapers are Gorkhapatra and Kantipur, while the
English dailies are The Rising Nepal, The Kathmandu Post
and The Himalayan Times. A number of other newspapers
and magazines are also available.
Electricity: Major towns have electricity and the
voltage available is 220-volts and 50 cycles. Load
shedding is a seasonal phenomenon during the dry season
and eases off once it begins to rain. However, most
major hotels have uninterrupted power supply through
their own generators.
Economy: Nepal is a developing country with an
agricultural economy. In recent years, the country's
efforts to expand into manufacturing industries and
other technological sectors have achieved much progress.
Farming is the main economic activity followed by
manufacturing, trade and tourism. The chief sources of
foreign currency earnings are merchandise export,
services, tourism and Gurkha remittances. The annual
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is about US$ 4.3 billion.
Agriculture: Eight out of 10 Nepalese are engaged
in farming and it accounts for more than 40% of the GDP.
Rolling fields and neat terraces can be seen all over
the Terai flatlands and the hills of Nepal. Even in the
highly urbanized Kathmandu Valley, large tracts of land
outside the city areas are devoted to farming. Rice is
the staple diet in Nepal and around three million tons
are produced annually. Other major crops are maize,
wheat, millet and barley. Besides food grains, cash
crops like sugarcane, oil seeds, tobacco, jute and tea
are also cultivated in large quantities.
Manufacturing: Manufacturing is still at the
developmental stage and it represents less than 10% of
the GDP Major industries are woolen carpets, garments,
textiles, leather products, paper and cement. Other
products made in Nepal are steel utensils, cigarettes,
beverages and sugar. There are many modern large-scale
factories but the majority are cottage or small scale
operations. Most of Nepal's industries are based in the
Kathmandu Valley and a string of small towns in the
southern Terai plains.
Trade: Commerce has been a major occupation in
Nepal since early times. Being situated at the
crossroads of the ancient trans-Himalayan trade route,
trading is second nature to the Nepalese people. Foreign
trade is characterized mainly by import of manufactured
products and export of agricultural raw materials. Nepal
imports manufactured goods and petroleum products worth
about US$ 1 billion annually. The value of exports is
about US$ 315 million. Woolen carpets are Nepal's
largest export, earning the country over US$ 135 million
per year Garment exports account for more than US$ 74
million and handicraft goods bring in about US$ 1
million. Other important exports are pulses, hides and
skins, jute and medicinal herbs.
In 1999, a total of 491,504 tourists visited Nepal,
making tourism one of the largest industries in the
Kingdom. This sector has been expanding rapidly since
its inception in the 1950. Thanks to Nepal's natural
beauty, rich cultural heritage and the diversity of
sight-seeing and adventure opportunities available. At
one time, tourism used to be the biggest foreign
currency earner for the country. Nepal earned over US$
152 million from tourism in 1998.