If you stay in rock-bottom
accommodation and survive on a predominantly Nepalese diet, you could
easily live in Nepal on less than US$15 a day. If you prefer to stay
in comfortable lodgings, eat in tourist-oriented restaurants and take
the occasional taxi, your living costs are likely to be between US$20
and US$40 a day. On an independent trek between village inns, your
living costs are likely to be between US$10 and US$15 a day, as long
as you don't indulge in too many 'luxury' items, like beer and
There are effectively three exchange rates in Nepal: the rate set by
the government's Nepal Rastra Bank, the slightly more generous (but
still legal) rate set by the private banks, and the even more generous
black-market rate set by carpet shops and travel agents. The daily
Rising Nepal newspaper lists the Nepal Rastra Bank's rate, which is a
useful reference point. Exchange rates and commissions can vary quite
significantly, so shop around.
When you change money legally, you are issued with a Foreign Exchange
Encashment Receipt showing the amount of hard currency you have
exchanged. If you leave Nepal via Kathmandu airport and haven't spent
all your rupees, you can exchange up to 15% of the amount shown on
these unused receipts back into hard currency.
Major international currencies such as the US dollar and pounds
sterling are readily accepted, and the Indian rupee is also considered
a 'hard' currency. Outside the Kathmandu Valley, it may be difficult
to use large-denomination Nepalese notes, so keep a decent portion of
your money in small-denomination notes. If you're trekking, take
enough small-denomination cash with you to last the whole trek.
Tipping is becoming fairly common in upmarket restaurants in
Kathmandu, so leave around 10% of the bill if service was good.
There's no need to tip in cheaper establishments or to tip taxi
drivers. Porters on treks, however, should be tipped around Rs 100 per
day. Bargaining is commonplace in markets and tourist shops, but treat
it as a form of polite social discourse rather than a matter of life