Culture & Health in Nepal
The larger towns, and in particular Kathmandu and Pokhara have a significant Western population and in the tourist areas there is a cosmopolitan feel. However in the villages, Western visitors may still be unusual and respect for the Asian culture is important. Dress code should be respected and physical contact with the opposite sex restrained.
The usual greeting is a “Namaste”, although a hand shake may also be offered.
The main religions of Nepal are Hinduism and Buddhism which co-exist in harmony.
Alcohol abuse related to poverty is a real problem in Nepal. We recommend that you avoid drinking in public in front of the local staff or in the villages as it may give people a bad impression of the organisation.
As medical staff we are expected by local staff to look reasonably tidy and modest. In the daytime it is sunny and warm most of the year but at altitude may be cold at night- please check internet for expected temperatures.
Men should bring a tie for interviews with the NMC or attending medical conferences, if required, but they are not necessary for working at the hospital or on outreach visits. A collared shirt is preferable. T shirts should be avoided.
Women should cover knees and shoulders. Trousers are acceptable. In tourist areas and among younger city Nepalis clothing such as leggings are becoming more acceptable, but do not look professional in a medical environment or outside these areas.
The water in Nepal is not safe to drink. It should be filtered, boiled or chemically treated. This includes the water you use to wash your teeth. In hotels a jug of boiled or treated mineral water may be made available to you but you should check that it has been decontaminated. Bottled mineral water is widely available, including on trekking routes (however please consider the environment consider bringing other means to sterilise or filter water).
Standards of food hygiene are variable and it is wise to consider the establishment that you are eating in. Cooked food is generally safe, but if eating salad check that it has been decontaminated in iodine water or it may be better to simply avoid it.
Routine medications are easily available so only bring personal or unusual medications, or those you might need during travel and your stay.
We recommend you bring:
- Insect repellent
- Travel sickness pills
- Antibiotics if you are travelling to remote areas: Ciprofloxacin and Metronidazole for diarrhoea
- Analgesics such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
(Most of these drugs are available cheaply locally)