Nepal Cultural Tips

In general, Nepal is a very traditional and orthodox culture with strong Buddhist and Hindu cultural roots as well as a complex tribal and caste structure. Foreign visitors are urged to respect the multi-cultural taboos and practices that are common in the nation by adhering to them in order to get personal respect in return. The following cultural advice is provided for visitors to Nepal:

  • Namaste” with folded hands (palms pressed together like a prayer) is a way of formal greeting. Shaking hands is not the norm except for business purposes.
  • Dress up very modestly in Nepal. Women covering their arms and shoulder areas, chest, abdomen, and thigh will be considerate and humble.
  • It is more respectful if you address people by calling them didi (elder sister), baini (younger sister), dai (elder brother), bhai (younger brother), buwa (father), or muwa (mother).
  • Always finish your food served on the plate if you are a guest in a Nepali family. Leaving food unfinished on the plate indicates an unsatisfying meal to your host. If you feel that the food portion is too large for you, ask your host to remove some from the plate before you begin eating and they will happily do so. You are always welcome to add some more food later if the initial service did not fill you up.
  • Non-Hindus are not permitted entry to some religious sites which should be respected. At places where permission is granted or in Buddhist monasteries, you are expected to dress respectfully covering your shoulders and knees.
  • Always clockwise around Buddhist sacred Stupas and monuments.
  • Bringing a gift to your hosts when you are invited to their house is an honorable gesture.
  • Showing too much skin is not considered respectful, especially for womenfolk. Men usually wear shirts and long trousers while women wear sleeved shirts, long skirts, sarees, loose trousers, and salwar kurtas.
  • Leather items are generally not permitted inside the Hindu sacred areas.
  • It is considered very bad if you point the soles of your feet to anyone.
  • If eating with your hands, just use your right hand. The left hand is kept aloof for washing after using the washroom and is not considered offensive.
  • Remember, once you’ve touched any food item to your lips, it is considered adulterated for everyone else. It is not considered hygienic if you eat from other people’s plates or eat together on a single plate. The same formula applies to drinking water or other beverages.
  • When entering a local person’s house, you are expected to open your shoes and leave them outside the door. Feet and shoes are often considered ceremonially unclean.
  • If you are trekking in the mountains, do not leave your trash behind. Pack out your litter or dispose of it in the allocated bins.
  • Tipping, usually in hotels, restaurants, and to drivers, guides, and porters, is a customary thing. Some bills may not include a service charge, however, tips are always expected.