Drinking and Dining

What dietary expectations should I have during my trip in Nepal?

In Kathmandu and Pokhara, plenty of restaurants are abound catering to virtually every foreign taste: Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Indian etc. In Kathmandu, you should try Newari cuisine: the Newars (original inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley) have a very rich history of culinary art. However, beyond these two primary tourist hubs, you may not have much in terms of dietary choice. Trekkers will probably end up eating "daal, bhaat, tarkaari" (lentil soup, curried vegetables with rice) for essentially every major meal.

For drinking, Nepal produces over a half a dozen of lager and light beers. Dark beer is not available. An amazing variety of other hard liquor such as rum, whiskey, gin, vodka etc. is also produced in Nepal. Some are okay but others are downright nasty. Imported liquors are available at exorbitant prices. You will also come across a few types of Nepalese home brewed alcohol along your trekking routes. Bottled water is available everywhere, and should be the only water you should drink. Coke, Pepsi and other major international brand name sodas are also available.

I am a vegetarian.

Well, then you will be at home in Nepal. Meat consumption in general is minimal among Nepalese either because it is an economic luxury or a religious disapprobation. Vegetarianism in Nepal means non-consumption of both meat and egg. Milk and other animal product is allowed. The concept of a vegan does not exist, and if you are one, you are advised to inform your host/restaurateur of your dietary restrictions. It should not be difficult though.

How about health precautions? Am I safe eating freely in Nepal?

In general, yes. But a few common sense precautions can take you a long way in avoiding health problems. No matter how tempting --and it can get very tempting after a long trek-- avoid drinking any other water than bottled water. If you have to drink non-bottled water, purify it with iodine or chlorine tablets (available readily in most drug stores in Kathmandu). Asking for bottled water in restaurants is a good idea.

Don't eat roadside food that has been exposed in the open air. Raw and unpeeled fruit and vegetables are best avoided. Other than that, boiled and fried and properly packaged food items should be fine. Read the FAQ on Health and Insurance for details on what to do in case of health problems.