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Volunteer programs, travel and work in Nepal

Nepali Culture

Nepal is there to change you, not for you to change it. Loss yourself in its essence. Make your footprints with care and awareness of the precarious balance around you. Take souvenirs in your mind and spirit, not in your pockets. Nepal is not only a place on the map but an experience, a way of life from which we all can learn.





  • Affection between men and women is seldom expressed. Public kissing, hugging, or hand holding (different sex) is offensive to Nepalese.
  • However, you will often see men holding hands with other men, and women holding hands with other women. This is acceptable and is not indication of homosexuality.


Nepalese believe the feet are the most polluted, profane part of the body. That is why……

  • Before entering a temple always take your shoes off.
  • Most Nepalese take off their shoes before entering the inner rooms of the house.
  • Don't point the soles of your feet at another person or anything.
  • Don't step over any portion of another person, food, utensils, books, stationers,etc.,
  • Accidentally touching someone else with your feet should be apologized for immediately by touching your hand (or making a motion) to the other persons feet and then touching your head while repeating Vishnu's name, in essence saying "Your feet are higher than my head".


Your right hand is your more sacred and pure hand, and your left hand is the less sacred and pure. That is why..

  • Don't give or receive things with your left hand.
  • Eat with your right hand only. If you are left handed its considerable.
  • Your left hand is generally reserved for cleaning yourself in the toilet.


The head is he most sacred and pure part of he body. That is why..

  • Avoid patting people, even children, on the head.
  • Don't ever take a man's hat from his head, even in jest.


The Nepalese are conservative people; try to respect their local dress, even if many tourists do not. Women should not wear short-cut shorts, halter-tops, or tank tops. Knee length shorts and T-shirts are acceptable.

  • It is preferable to dress conservatively.
  • Women: Long skirts and conservative pants are best. Anything that is not tight or revealing is acceptable.
  • Men: Long pants and shirts are most preferable. Shorts can be all right if they are relatively conservative. Going bare-chested is unacceptable.
  • Wearing traditional clothes is greatly encouraged by Nepalese. It shows that your respect and are interested in their culture.
  • You are expected to dress formally if invited to formal ceremonies, wedding ceremonies or other religious ceremonies.




Do's and Don'ts

  • Do Namaste to those older than you in age, rank or position. But only once on the first meeting each day. You may also shake hands with people of same sex. Don't shake hands with a person of opposite sex.
  • Smile when you meet people you have met once.
  • If some one offers you something to eat, do not say No directly. If you do not want to eat, you can say, " I have just had….." or "I do not feel like eating now " or "I never eat/drink…." And so on. Just find some excuses. Because direct "No" may hurt people's feelings.
  • If some one ask for money, your belongings you should follow the same technique." You don't have,…..". "I don't have film in my camera," "I need to use"
  • Take off your shoes or flip flops before entering a carpeted floor, Kitchen, bedroom, dining hall etc. Because shoes are considered to be contaminated/ impure.
  • Do not talk about sex in group.
  • Do not talk with a Nepali friend about his wife if you are a male talking to male and about her husband if you are a female talking to a female. Mainly words of appreciation may be misunderstood.
  • Do not use left hand eating, receiving, or offering things.
  • Brush your teeth, wash your face before eating breakfast.
  • Wash and rinse your hands before and after eating food. And using long or short toilet. In a rural
    situation use water instead of toilet paper.
  • Do not whistle inside house and also in the evening. Whistling is supposed to invite evil spirits and ghosts. It is bad luck.
  • Do not wear clothes inside out. It is also considered bad luck.
  • Do not leave your shoes upside down. It is also bad luck too
  • Do not step on or over someone. It is an offensive.
  • Do not point the soles of your feet to someone. It is also an offense. Crossing your legs in front of someone senior to you is also considered an offense.

Key Approaches When Dealing With Nepalese

  • Patience and Politeness: In the perception of many foreigners, Nepalese do not seem to care much about time, e.g. deadlines, punctuality, targets and quality of work. This may be because of a deep-rooted belief in fate and rebirth. There may be many other reasons behind such practice, which you cannot change, in a short period. So the only solution is to be patient if and when you are in such a situation.
  • Relationship of Trust: Nepalese tend to value relationship than task. Developing relationship and trust are more valued than a contractual obligation of getting the job done. It may be called that Nepalese work to live and westerners live to work. Nepalese have a strong tendency to build up a good relationship of trust with them.
  • Support: Nepalese tend to look at expatriates as leaders/ advisors/ directors as a more knowledgeable person than themselves. They may expect your suggestion/ guidance/ support/ approval at various stages so make them feel that you support them.

Kathmandu Durbar Square