Don’ts in Nepal (Dress, Etiquette)
Nepal is diverse, and it’s easy to see a harmonious coexistence despite the differences. This can be attributed to different groups’ respect for each other’s customs and traditions and the tolerance of oddities. The Nepalese people are friendly and hospitable; however, traveling in Nepal would be more pleasant and productive if certain common etiquette were followed. Most people on the trekking routes are familiar with foreigners and accept the difference in actions between locals and outsiders. So following proper etiquette is not mandatory and does not promise any reward or direct benefit, but following them will make you understand the culture and tradition Nepalese have been following for the past several decades. Some of the common etiquettes for foreigners visiting Nepal are listed below.
1) Dress Scantily:
The Nepalese are still traditional and conservative in the way they dress. To avoid embarrassment on both sides, we recommend you respect this by not wearing revealing clothing or sleeveless tops while visiting Nepal. Shorts are acceptable but should reach 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 and greet people with a ‘Namaste’ – the famous Nepali greeting.
4) Buy or Use drugs:
Cannabis/marijuana grows wild in Nepal: it’s a weed. But it’s still illegal to use it here. Nepalese jails are very unpleasant places: be sensible and ensure you don’t end up in one.
5) Give money to beggars:
Begging in Nepal is less common than 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 behavior 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. 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’.