Nepal is home to 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world. It is no surprise that Nepal is great for trekking and is famous around the world as one of the most affordable and adventurous trekking destinations.
Trekking in Nepal is a wholesome experience of enjoying the country’s diverse landscapes along with its natural and cultural diversity. Nepal has a range of treks available to anyone from a novice to an experienced trekker, solo trekkers to group or family treks.
It has a diverse number of trails that are suitable for short treks to long-duration treks, budget trekkers to luxurious ones.
It is a perfect destination for all kinds of vacations. People come here from all over the world for jungle safaris, cultural tours, historical tours, trekking, camping, mountain climbing, rafting, adventurous sports and so on.
While trekking in Nepal it’s better to spend on local currency. And to obtain it, you find numerous banks, money exchange in main cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Before we go into details of which currencies to use, ATM, Cards and so on, let us take a look at the popular treks and tours in Nepal
Popular Treks and Tours to Do in Nepal
The Local Currency
While planning for vacations or treks, the money used in the local country is usually forgotten. Nepal’s official currency is NPR, Rs. or the Nepalese Rupee. The Nepalese rupee is different from the other rupees found in Asia like the Indian Rupees, Pakistan Rupee and so on.
It comes in notes of 1,2, 5, 10, 20, 50,100, 500 and 1000. Nepali coins are also available in 1, 2 and 5 but is used less. 1,00,000 NRR is called 1 lakh and 1,00,00,000 NRR is called 1 crore.
Nepal is heavily dependent on tourism industry; hence you will not have any difficulty to convert your currency into the local currency. The Nepalese currency is a universally recognized currency and can be converted into any currency.
While trekking to different parts of Nepal, having the local currency, the Nepalese rupee is the best option.
You can easily convert your currency into the local currency through money exchanges, as per daily exchange rates.
There are lots of money exchange centers in Nepal including both Government affiliated ones and privately owned.
You can find money-exchange counters throughout Kathmandu and Pokhara. There are also a few available in the popular trails of Nepal including the ones in the Annapurna region and Everest Region.
It is recommended you exchange your currency in Kathmandu as the counters here will offer you better rates. All currencies of the world are accepted here.
Pounds, Dollars, and the Euro are easily accepted everywhere in Nepal. It would be best to exchange other currencies in Kathmandu. Money-exchange centers outside of Kathmandu may not accept other currencies.
If you are not comfortable using money exchange counters, opt for the Government affiliated ones. Nepal Rastra Bank at Thirdham Sadak at Baluwatar or Nepal Bank at New Road are two big Government banks that provides you with local currencies.
However, private exchange counters will give you slightly better rates.
You can check the latest updates of money exchange rates on the official website of Nepal Rastra Bank.
All major credit cards like VISA, MasterCard, American Express are accepted in Nepal. Most of the ATM booths have small signs informing you of the cards they accept. It is quite simple.
Credit cards can be used in few of the major hotels, boutiques, restaurants, tour agencies, stores and banks.
When using credit cards, you must be aware that chip and pin services are not fully active in Nepal. Nepal still uses carbon copy machines.
Automated Teller Machines, ATMs are available throughout Nepal including the popular trekking trails of Nepal.
ATM’s can be found in abundance in Kathmandu, Pokhara. You can actually find ATM lounges with a range of ATM’s from different banks in the country in Thamel, Kathmandu and Lakeside, Pokhara.
It is recommended you use ATM within Kathmandu and Pokhara. ATM’s in these regions are usually functional and kept up to date with repairs and cash. The ATM’s in the trails of the higher regions of Nepal are not always functioning or stocked.
Also, as you ascend higher in trekking trails, you may not find ATMs to withdraw cash. So, it’s wise to carry extra cash before you start trekking in Nepal.
Popular ATMs that accept international credit cards are Standard Chartered Bank(SCB), Nabil Bank, Himalayan Bank, Everest Bank.
You can also wire money to Nepal. It is not possible to send money out of the country through money wire services or bank transfers.
Wire services are available throughout the major cities of Nepal. Kathmandu is the preferred option with the most available and functioning centers.
Western Union is the most popular option for this service. Other popular options include MoneyGram, Nepal Remit International.
Amount of Cash you should carry for a trek
The amount of cash largely depends on the duration of your trek, type of trekking and your trekking destination. Be sure to interact with your trekking company before you head for your trek.
You require permits for any treks within the country. Some of the restricted region treks require special permits which will add to your cash requirements. This can be arranged through your travelling agency. You can usually pay them using credit cards.
Tea house treks cost less than luxurious treks or camping.
The daily expenses you will encounter on your trek are your accommodations, meals and snacks. These expenses will again depend on the lodges you stay which can range from $1 to $15 per day, meals- $2-$8 per meal.
A registered, licensed guide will add $25 per day to your expense and a porter will cost $15 per day. Both these costs include everything related to their expenses- accommodation, meals, insurance, daily earnings.
For snacks and first aid kit, it is recommended that you get them in Kathmandu. As you trek towards the higher regions, the cost for medicines, snacks, bottled water, food will increase.
Some of the popular trails in the Annapurna and Everest region do have ATM’s, wire services and credit card services. However, it is recommended that you do not depend on them as their functionality is not guaranteed due to lack of maintenance, manpower, electrical power failures.
Some Tips to consider before using ATM’s, credit cards, wire services and money exchange centers
- Kathmandu is a preferred destination for any of these services because of the availability, number of choices and functionality of the services.
- Before using ATM, credit cards or wire services in Nepal, let your bank know of your travels to Nepal as some banks cancel your cards for uninformed international use.
- If you have time, lookout for the best exchange rates.
- There is a limit on the amount of cash you can withdraw from the ATM. This limit ranges from NPR 15,000 to NPR 25,000 depending on the bank.
- There is charges that you encounter after every transaction while using ATM or credit cards.
- Be aware of additional charges while paying for services in restaurants, spas, hotels. You could be spending a lot more than you planned to.
- Ask the commission rates, international fees before using wire services. This can depend on the service providers. Hence, you can make a better decision once you are aware of these rates and fees.
- Avoid hotels and airports for converting money. They have a lower rate of exchange and have additional charges.
Paying for things in cash is the best option in Nepal. Nepal is still on its way to development and hence many things taken for granted like fully functional ATM, credit card machines, 24hr. electricity is still in the process of becoming a reality.
Unlike using ATM, credit card and wire services within your own country, using it internationally can mean extra charges like international fees, commissions that can add to your overall expenses.
Although Nepal is a safe country, it is always best to take precautions using ATM services at night or crowded places.
Don’t leave your personal belonging including your credit card unattended, it is better to be safe than otherwise.