Don’ts in Nepal (Dress, Etiquette)
Nepal is a country of diversity and it’s easy to see that a harmonious coexistence is present despite the differences. This can be attributed to the respect that different groups have for the customs and traditions of each other and also for the tolerance to the oddities. The Nepalese people are friendly and hospitable; however, travel in Nepal would be more pleasant and productive if certain common etiquettes are followed. Most people in the trekking routes are familiar with foreigners and are acceptable of the difference in actions between a local and an outsider. So following proper etiquette is not mandatory, and does not promise any reward or direct benefit.
1) Dress Scantily:
The Nepalese are still traditional and conservative in the way they dress. To avoid embarrassment on both sides, we recommend that you respect this, by not wearing revealing clothing or sleeveless tops while visiting Nepal. Shorts are acceptable, but they should reach to just above the knee and be modest. For women, it is preferable to wear trousers or a long skirt.
2) No Whistling:
Not that this situation would ever arise even in the wildest possible way, but keep in mind that it’s considered inauspicious and bad luck to whistle inside one’s house.
3) Don’t Hurry for handshakes:
In Nepal, a handshake is not the norm while greeting someone you’ve just met – especially when it’s a member of the opposite sex.Physical touch is only reserved for friends and relatives while greeting (who would hug each other or touch the elder’s feet when they meet).
Instead, join your hands together and greet people with a ‘Namaste’ – the famous Nepali greetings.
4) Buy or Use drugs:
Cannabis/marijuana grows wild in Nepal: it’s literally a weed. But it’s still illegal to use it here. Nepalese jails are very, very unpleasant places: be sensible and make sure you don’t end up in one.
5) Give money to beggars:
Begging in Nepal is not as common as it is in India. However, in a country where half the population lives on just $1 a day, tourists are seen to be very wealthy and fair game to a minority who will beg for money. Don’t encourage this behaviour by giving money to anyone begging, even the cute little children asking cheekily and cheerfully for “one rupee”. There’s also no need to be rude to beggars though. A firm but polite ‘no’ or simply ignoring them is usually sufficient.
6) Touch Someone’s head:
Realistically, you don’t go around patting people on the head back home but it’s important to be aware of the cultural differences here. In Nepal, as with many Asian nations, a person’s head is sacred, so touching is an absolute ‘no, no’.