MAKING NEWS!

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  • Nepal, Bhutan, China & India

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  • Nepal is Forbes top places to visit

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  • Lonely Planet picks Bhutan - World Top Destination!

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FAQs

Nepal FAQs

Access to Nepal

By Air,   major international airlines and charter flights operate to Kathmandu

 

Tribhuvan International Airport from Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Bahrain, Bangalore, Bangkok, Bombay, Calcutta, Dhaka, Delhi, Doha, Dubai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Lhasa, Paro and Varanasi.  Airlines operating include Air Asia, Air China, Bahrain Air, Bangladesh Biman, Cosmic Air, Druk Air, Etihaad Airline, Fly Dubai, Gulf Air, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Malaysian Air, Martinair, Qatar Air, Nepal Airlines Corporation, Silkair, Thai International Airways.

 

By Land, overland travel is also possible from India through multiple entry points Kakarbitta, Raxaul, Sunauli, Jogbini to the south and to the north via Kodari, it is a drive of 2 day to reach Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region of China.  Or land route available to trek across from the western town of Simikot Nepal to Mt Kailash, Tibet, TAR, China.

 

Population

At 26.5 million; with approximately 18% of the populace live in the more than 20 cities and towns.  The rest live in the mid hill valleys of the southern “Terrai” plains and in scattered villages and mountain communities.

 

Religion

Officially 86% Hindu, 12% Buddhist 2% Islamic and others.  However Hinduism and Buddhism overlap and mingle in a manner which manifests in the worship of common deities, resulting in a peaceful co-existence between the world’s two great religions.

 

Language

Nepali is spoken by a majority of the populace and is the official language while Newari is spoken by 4% in and around the Kathmandu valley.  A dozen or so  ethnic groups speak as many as 50 different dialects  making up the remainder. In the urban areas general populace would understand English and the younger generation most likely to.

 

Geography

Landlocked, Nepal lies between India and China.  Almost rectangular in shape, it is 885 kms from east to west and about 145 to 241 kms north to south.  From sub tropical jungle to icy Himalaya, it is home to eight of the world’s ten highest mountains.

 

Climate

Nepal’s climate is governed by the monsoon, a seasonal wind that draws moisture up from the Indian ocean from approximately mid-June till early October, and  blows dry air down from central Asia for most of the rest of the year.  The summer monsoon brings heavy rain  (or snow at very  high elevations) except north of the main Himalayan chain.  Precipitation varies, however, from east to west – the eastern part of the country getting most of the rain.  Mid-valley centres like Kathmandu, Pokhara enjoy ambient weather making it a very pleasant throughout the year.

 

Clothing

Casual clothing is most suitable wherever you travel. Loose fitting trousers and top, easy walking shoes are appropriate. Warm clothing would be necessary from October through mid March while lightweight clothing along with some rain gear is recommended for the summer months July - September.

 

Office Hours

Government offices and Banks are open from 10 am till 5 pm Sunday through Friday.  Saturday is a holiday but tourist shops and restaurants remain open seven days a week.  Embassies and international organisation observe the usual two day weekend.

 

Time

Nepal is 5 hrs and 40 mins ahead of GMT,  2hr 15min behind China time, 15min behind Bhutan time and 15min ahead of India time.

 

Money / Credit cards

The preferred currency to carry is U.S.Dollars or Euro in cash or travellers cheque.  These are easily exchanged at banks, money exchange counters, hotels and travel agencies in major tourist centers at varying charges.  Visa, Master cards and American Express (much less), are welcome at major hotels, restaurants, carpet and curio shops throughout the country.

 

The current exchange rate is Rupees 120.20 = US $ 1 (22 Oct 21)

 

ATMS are available in all urban areas.

 

Duty Free Items

Apart from used personal belongings, visitors are allowed to bring free of duty cigarettes 200 or 50 cigars, distilled liquor one 1.15 litre bottle.  Tourists can bring the following articles duty free on condition that the items are taken out on departure : movie camera, laptop computer and portable music system.

 

Export

It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old, sacred images, paintings, manuscripts that are valued for cultural and religious reasons.  Visitors are advised not to purchase such items as they are Nepal’s cultural heritage and belong here.  If in doubt contact the Depart of Archaeology or the Chief Customs Administrator, TIA Customs Office.

 

Electricity / Telephone / Cable

Major towns in Nepal are electrified using 220 volts alternating current.  Inter regional phone systems within the country are excellent, making calls possible even from the remotest corners and on popular trekking trails.  International Direct Dialing system is available in all the cities and towns.  E-mail, fax, telephony calls and internet service is readily found and inexpensive outside the hotels.

 

Autumn Festivals

Bada Dashain (September-October) is truly the national festival of Nepal almost like Christmas and New Year.  Every Nepalese is stirred by the prospects of the joy this festival brings with it especially after the monsoon rains. 

 

Dashain is a time for family get togethers, feasting, merriment and dressing in all your finery.  This commemorates the victory of good over evil. 

 

Tihar, Laxmi Puja, Dipawali or the Festival of Lights (October-November), occurs a forthnight after Dashain.  The festivity lasts five days marked by worship to different animals; crow, dog and cow on different days. Festivals are celebrated in the mountains as well, such as the Mani Rimdu festivities (September upto November) of the Thyangboche and Chewang monasteries. 

 

Mid September to Mid- December is the high tourist season. Farmers will be reaping a fall harvest and village markets flaunt the bounty.  This is a particular good time for tours and treks. As the air is crisp and clear, views of the Himalayas are awe inspiring. Monasteries and temples throb with festivals, dancing and celebration.  Temperatures are cool and fresh snow shimmers on the high peaks against deep blue skies.

Tibet TAR FAQs

By air ~ Air China, Air Sichuan, China Eastern operate Lhasa – Kathmandu – Lhasa year round flights though schedules however are subject to change without notice.  

 

From Lhasa, there are flights connecting to all major cities of China viz Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kunming, Shanghai, Xian connecting international overseas destinations. Lhasa Gonggar Airport is 65 kms from Lhasa, a drive of approximately 1 hr.

 

Please contact us to learn more about how one can visit Bhutan currently.

 

 

BY ROAD, from Nepal the entry point to Lhasa overland is from the north east Nepalese border town of Rasuwa adjoining Kyirong or Gyirong, Tibet TAR.  From Kathmandu, capital of Nepal it is just 2 days drive away.  To the east it is a 5 or more day drive from Chengdu and a shorter time from Golmud.

 

BY TRAIN, one of the most spectacular train journeys in the world on the highland of the Tibetan plateau. Daily train service connects to Beijing, Chengdu, Golmud, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xining.  Chair car seating and soft sleepers are available.  A dining car serves excellent meals and light snacks on push carts are available.  Views of snow mountains, rugged terrain, azure blue sky, vast lakes, rivers and yak pastures can be seen on this remarkable trip.  Wild yaks, Tibetan gazelles, wild ass, marmot, wolf, many species inhabit this permafrost region. 

 

GEOGRAPHY : a beautiful land rich in natural and cultural heritage, Tibet is located at the main part of Qinghai-Tibet plateau, south west of China.  It has an average altitude of 4,000 metre above sea level with more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metre of which eleven are over 8,000 metre.  With an area of 1.2 million sq. km it borders Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Xingjiang provinces; to neighbouring countries in the south Bhutan, Burma, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

 

POPULATION : there are 2 million people mostly living in the central area in cities like Lhasa, Xigatse, Gyantse and Tsedang.  Many more live in smaller communities in valleys and alpine pastures.  The far west and southern areas towards the Himalayan range are sparsely populated.  A majority are farmers and raise yak and sheep. A growing agriculture farming under hot houses have sprung up throughout the region.

 

RELIGION : almost all practice Mahayana Buddhism. There are also pre Buddhist Bon-po and Islam. 

 

LANGUAGE : is derived from the Sanskrit text.  There are more than 20 local dialects that are spoken.  Tourism related individuals speak working English.

 

CLIMATE :  the best time to visit Tibet is from April through to November.  When the rest of the South Asian subcontinent is hot and humid, the highland plateau of Tibet is most inviting.  Spring is from April to June, followed by a short Summer in July to August when it rains a little, Autumn from September to November and Winter from December to March.

 

VISA : all visitors to Tibet must travel with passports with a minimum 6 months validity.  After a package tour is confirmed, visa is issued by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu on presentation of passport.  Visitors travelling from mainland China require a Tibet Travel Permit from the point of entry while boarding flight, train or road journey. Fees vary according to country and how soon visa need to be processed. 

 

ELECTRICITY / TELPHONE :  all towns in Tibet are electrified using 220 volts alternating current.  Most major cities have International call facilities.  Mobile connectivity has made good progress and internet is available.  Satellite phones are also available for rentals especially for expeditions.

 

HOTELS / ACCOMMODATIONS : Tibet has seen a proliferation of 3 to 4 star hotels and luxe category which include St Regis, Hotel Shangri La, 4 Points by Sheraton, Inter Continental hotel and many Boutique styled accommodations especially in Lhasa.  Tourist standard hotels are 2 to 3 star, the further away from cities the standards are lower.  Some journeys viz Mt Kailash mean roughing it out in local guest house styled accommodation which are very basic. Major hotels are clean and serve good meals. The hotels used by Asian Bhrikuti are the best in class.

 

RESTAURANTS : there are always restaurants outside hotels.  Our guides will recommend the better ones.  For trips away from the big cities Tibet have less choices and Tibetan cuisine are limited in variety.  For treks or distant excursion, it is handy to carry anything that can be brewed with hot water especially instant noodle, soups, etc.

 

ROADS : the major highways are well maintained.  Where expedition grade trips are booked, expect dirt road that can be bumpy and dusty by 4-wheel drive vehicle while the majority of travel is by mini van or coaches. The new entry point of Rasuwa - Kyirong 146kms north east of Kathmandu is open to all tourists.

 

CUSTOMS : there is no restriction on use of still and video cameras, camcorders as long as they are registered by a customs official on your passport.  Not permitted are printed matters considered unsuitable by the Chinese Government.  Customs regulations forbid the export of art objects created prior to 1959 or souvenirs in large amounts deemed excessive for personal use.

 

TIME : 08 hours ahead of GMT.  Note Tibet is linked to Beijing time so when you cross the border from Nepal the time change is considerable.  Nepal is 05 hours and 45 minutes ahead of GMT.

 

BUSINESS HOURS : most shops are open between 0900 hrs and 1230 hrs and from 1430 hrs until 1730 hrs, these close on SUNDAYS.  Government offices are usually closed on SATURDAY afternoon and all day SUNDAY. There are many banks and ATMs in major urban areas.  Opening hours are from 1000 hrs to 1330 hrs and from 1600 hrs. to 1830 hrs.  It is closed all day on SUNDAY.

 

MONEY : RENMINBI RMB or YUAN the people's money used by millions of Chinese everyday circulates in notes of higher denomination upto 100 and lower value coins.  The preferred currency to use while travelling is US Dollars or EURO cash. With digital transformation; Alipay / Wechat mobile app is most widely used with even fruit vendors using it! 

 

The check-list items are :  Comfortable walking shoes, dust masks, sun hat, sun glasses, sunscreen lotion, a flashlight, personal first aid, toiletteries and recommended clothing items.

Bhutan FAQs

As of 01 October 2021, Bhutan has not re-opened fully its international borders for visitors though a 21 Staycation package is available for those who wish to enjoy a longer stay in the country.

 

Please contact us to learn more about how one can visit Bhutan currently.

 

BY AIR : The national carrier Druk Air and private carrier Bhutan Air operates from the only international airport in Bhutan at Paro.  It has flight to Bagdogra, Bangkok, Delhi, Dhaka, Guwahati, Kathmandu, Kolkata and Singapore. Official carrier Druk Air has ATR turboprop and Airbus A319 aircrafts, private airline Bhutan Air also operates Airbus A319.  Three domestic airports link Paro to Bathpalathang Bumthang, Gelephu and Yongphula Trashigang. Helicopter charter services are available for scenic flights.

 

GEOGRAPHY :  Bhutan lies in between two immense land mass; to the north the Tibetan plateau of China and to the south the Gangetic plains of India.  It is located between 80*45' and 92*10' longitude east and between 26*40' and 28*15' latitude north and covers 47,000 sq kms.  It is basically mountainous with its mid valleys being the most inhabited, followed by the towns in the southern foothills of the country.  The far north is a sparsely inhabited.

South Bhutan is tropical, with a monsoon season.  The east is warmer than the west.  The central valleys of Punakha, Wangdi Phodrang, Gangtey, Mongar, Tashigang and Lhuntshi enjoy a semi tropical climate with very cool winters; whereas Ha, Paro, Thimphu, Tongsa and Bumthang have a colder climate with ocassional snowfalls in the winter.

 

RELIGION :  almost 90% practice the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism of the Drukpa Kargyud Sect.  The balance 10% are Hindus Southern Bhutanese of Nepalese origins.  Bhutan has many Dzongs which are very large castle like complexes with religious and government administration offices alongside one another.

 

VISA :  All visitors to Bhutan must hold valid passports for entry into the country.  Visas are issued only after a tour program is booked and confirmed.  Asian - Bhrikuti will advice on the procedures to be followed.  A US$40 flat visa fee is valid for the period of visit prepaid by the agency.

 

MONEY :  US Dollars cash can be changed in hotels and banks.  It is adviced to have them exchanged in larger towns Paro, Thimphu, Phuntsholing and Bumthang.  Credit cards are gradually being accepted in hotels but still limited with shops.  There are ATMs in Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang.  No exchange is available while on trekking.  The exchange rate is Ngultrum Nu 74.12 = Indian Rupees 74.12 = US$1.00 as of 01 October 2021.

 

OFFICE HOURS :  most office, banks, government offices are open from 10 am to 5 pm Monday through to mid Saturday.  Shops and restaurant usually open seven days a week.  In the winter months though the work day time are 10 am to 2 pm.  Embassies (only Bangladesh, India and Kuwait) and International organisations are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

 

ELECTRICITY / TELEPHONE / CABLE :  Bhutan uses 220 volts alternating current.  All urban and rural areas have phone and mobile communication.  International Direct Dialing system and Internet is available in all the major towns. SIM cards of Druk Cell and Tashi Cell can be purchased for local use. Certain international SIM mobile phones can also avail of service.

 

RESTAURANTS / FOOD : dining is a mix of Continental, Pan Asian including Chinese, Indian, Thai cuisine, delicious Bhutanese meals and for those adventurous a dash of the famous hot chillies "emma dazi" the Bhutanese love.  Emphasis is on fresh vegetables, rice and noodles with chicken, beef and pork.  Meals are often served buffet style.  Both fresh and canned fruits and juices from orchards in the south are frequently offered.  Hotel bars are stocked with more local than foreign liquor, bottled beer and mineral water.

 

THE PEOPLE : with the opening of roads, small towns have sprung up and visitors can occasionally find modern automobiles parked in front of centuries old temples.  But most of Bhutan continues to live as it has for hundreds of years – in rustic, rural homes surrounded by fields of rice, maize, buckwheat and wheat or, at higher altitudes in nomadic tents woven of yak hair.  This life close to nature has moulded the hardy character of the Bhutanese people.

 

LANGUAGE : the national language is Dzongkha and each region has its own dialect.  English has been the principal medium of instruction in public schools since the 1960’s and is spoken by many.  Nepali is also widely used in the country.

 

ARCHERY : this is the pride and national game of the country; archers throughout take great pains in hitting any portion of a dinner plate sized target placed 140 metre away with traditional bow and now increasingly with modern bow.  Every village has its own archery teams and range; high spirited competitions take place as part of every festival. It is a delight to watch as each team compete in a surreal and enthusiastic way.