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Are you off to explore Nepal but don’t have time for the multi-day treks of Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Base Camp? Check out our tips on what to wear in Nepal when you’re not trekking!
If you are trekking Everest Base Camp, read this!
What to Wear in Nepal
Written by: Lola Méndez & Tammy Lowe
Table Of Contents
From the Himalayan highlands to the city streets of Kathmandu we have advice on where to go and what to wear!
Nepal Clothing Style
While packing your luggage for Nepal, it’s important to remember that the country is very conservative and deeply religious. Bare shoulders or knees will be seen as disrespectful and will make it nearly impossible to visit ancient ruins, temples, or UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Many Nepali women wear the traditional costumes of saris or a kurta, which is a long cotton shirt worn over matching leggings. In cities, young Nepali women will wear Western-style jeans with Eastern-style moderate tops.
Nepal is a very popular destination for the elephant pant-wearing and backpack-bearing traveling crowd. You’ll be able to create your own collection of elephant pants, Om symbol shirts, and cultural clothing at the many shops.
The climate in Nepal is extremely diverse, varying significantly depending on the time of the year you go. Spring is relatively warm with average daily temperatures of 20°C. During the day you can get away with wearing a t-shirt, but don’t forget to keep your shoulders and knees covered.
Always check the weather forecast before your trip. Once you’ve researched the weather, you can focus on creating a travel capsule wardrobe.
During March, the Holi Festival is celebrated. People throw colored powder and water at each other, so plan ahead to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting ruined during the festival!
Summers can be very warm with temperatures reaching up to 86°F / 30°C. It’s also monsoon season, so frequent and heavy downpours are common. A rain jacket will feel too hot; an umbrella might be a better option. Flip flops or trekking sandals would work well if you get caught in a downpour, as they dry quickly.
When it’s not raining in summer, it’s going to be hot and humid. The best clothes to stay cool would be wide and loose-fitting clothes made of breathable materials such as cotton, silk, linen, or merino wool.
Here’s how to choose the best fabrics for your trip!
Autumn is still fairly warm during the day but can dip down to 50°F / 10°C at night. During the day, carry a light jacket or cardigan in case it gets a bit chilly. You can also buy beautiful pashmina scarves everywhere in Nepal that can keep you warm cover up your shoulders if need be. At night, I’d recommend a warm jacket.
Winters are cold, especially in the mountain areas and sub-zero temperatures and snow is common. A down jacket is a good option as it can still be fairly warm during the day though, even in the winter.
Find out how to pack for cold weather!
Temple Hopping in Kathmandu
The capital city of Kathmandu is where any Nepal adventure must start if you’re arriving via airplane. It isn’t very glamorous, but the most practical thing you could pack if you plan to spend a few days exploring the city is a face mask.
Construction is still underway to rebuild the city after the devastating 2015 earthquake. This lead to a constant haze of dust and debris in the air. Travelers and locals alike will be wearing the masks so put safety first and take care of your health.
In Kathmandu you’ll have the chance to visit many historical religious sites including the Buddhist Boudhanath Stupa and Swayambhu Stupa, otherwise known as the monkey temple. Explore as many of the city’s Durbar squares as you can to discover the unique Nepalese ancient architecture and culture.
To enter these sites you’ll be required to remove your footwear. This can be tedious, especially for temples that are located on the top of hills and can’t be comfortably climbed in flip-flops. Pack comfortable walking shoes that are slip-on or have velcro straps.
Here are the best shoes for walking, hiking, and trekking on a Round-the-World Trip!
You’re required to leave shoes outside of the temple; you cannot carry them inside, not even in a bag. Sometimes there are bins for the shoes but usually they’re left on the steps outside the sacred place. Due to this, there’s opportunity for theft, so it’s best not to invest a lot of money in these shoes but instead bring a pair that you wouldn’t be heartbroken over losing.
Pack a few outfits with coordinating pieces so you can mix up your ensembles during your travels. A button-up, lightweight denim shirt tucked into wide trousers and finished with a bold red lip is a timeless look that’s also practical and comfortable.
If you plan to buy a sari, pack your favorite crop top. Finding a sari top can be difficult as they aren’t cut to Western proportions.
Use packing cubes to help you organize and even compress your belongings to maximize your space.
Visiting Chitwan National Park
Walking safaris in Chitwan National Park are an incredible way to encounter local flora and fauna. Tours can last between 5-8 hours so it’s crucial to pack sunscreen, a reusable water bottle, and a hat to keep yourself hydrated and prevent sun damage during your adventure.
You’re almost guaranteed to see a single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros during your jungle exploration, so you won’t regret wearing a stable pair of sneakers when you have to run and climb a tree when one gets a little too close!
It’s advisable to wear neutral color clothing to blend in with the scenery and avoid unwanted attention from wild animals. If you do have to run from a rhino or come face to face with a Bengal tiger, you’ll have to drop your bag as a distraction tactic so pack a lightweight backpack and only keep the essentials inside.
Here are more tips on what to wear on a safari!
Excursions Around Pokhara
Your sneakers and loose pants are going to come in handy in Pokhara where you’ll have the chance to go on many short excursions. There’s also a major problem with dust here, so your mask should be worn.
From paddling a boat across Phewa Lake, climbing to the Japanese Peace Pagoda, chasing waterfalls, or trekking to the top of Sarangkot mountain to witness an epic sunset over the Himalayas, there are many adventures for adrenaline seekers in Pokhara.
With all this physical activity, you’re going to need a sturdy sports bra and breathable tee. It can get chilly in Pokhara at night, even in the summer, so a thin cardigan or scarf will provide an extra layer of warmth when you head out to the many lakefront cafes for dinner.
These are the best leggings for traveling!
What are your tips on what to wear in Nepal when you’re not trekking? Share your tips in the comments below!
For more Asia packing tips, please read:
- What to Wear for Everest Base Camp Trek
- What to Pack for India: Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur
- What to Wear in India: Mumbai, Goa, and Kerala
- What to Wear in Yunnan Province, China
Suggested travel resources:
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Author Bio: Lola Méndez is a full-time traveler sharing her adventures on Miss Filatelista as she adds to her collection of passport stamps. She travels to develop her own worldview and has explored 46 countries. Passionate about sustainable travel, she seeks out ethical experiences that benefit local communities. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Author Bio: Tammy is a travel blogger and adventure junkie. She has endured the Everest Base Camp trek, abseiled down a skyscraper, cycled down the world’s most dangerous road, and trekked through the mosquito infested Amazon jungle. You can follow her adventures on her blog Tammy & Chris on the move or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.