With its rich cultural history, Nepal is today diverse country with many ethnic groups and traditional beliefs. Although Hinduism is main religion you see influences of Buddhism and animism too. There are some cultural values and etiquette you need to respect during your visit (some of them may appear unusual to you on your first visit to the country).
Here are 10 cultural tips which may be helpful to you
1. ‘Namaste’ is widely used for greeting people. It is combined with a prayer like gesture.
2. People don’t shake hands in Nepal. While you may shake hands with a man if he offers his hand first, you should not shake hands with a woman.
3. Holding hands and cuddling/kissing in public can be offensive. Try to avoid it! Don’t show affection in public.
4. All visitors to Buddhist and Hindu temples should be appropriately dressed. Women should always dress modestly. Cover your shoulders and legs. Avoid shorts, skirts, tight fitting clothes and see through materials.
5. Shoes and feet are considered to be unclean. In temples, religious buildings, when coming to someone home, take your shoes off. Do not point your feet at a Buddha image, other people or things.
6. Do not eat from someone else’s plate.
7. Do not serve or offer any food or drink if someone has already touched it with the lips.
8. Always use the right hand for eating (left hand is for wiping your bottom, cleaning your feet and other unsavory functions).
9. Walk around stupas in a clockwise direction.
10. If you like to take a photo (close up) of people seek their permission. You should never have yourself photographed posing with a Buddha image with your back to the image. Do not use flash in temples.
Other cultural values and etiquette you should considerate
• Time is very flexible. A person may show up an hour late for an appointment, just relax, drink some tea and wait. As a foreigner, though, you are expected to be punctual.
• Bargaining is to be expected. Don’t bargain if you are not really interested.
• Heads are sacred and should be treated with respect. Never cuddle children’s heads (especially of little monks).