Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
When should I arrive?
Any time of the year. We are very flexible in starting your training any time you arrive.
How do I get from the airport to the guest house/training facility?
You will be met outside the airport terminal by an INFO Nepal representative holding a placard with your name on it who will then escort you to the guest house or training centre. Please provide us your flight information as soon as possible so that a punctual pick-up can be assured.
Does Nepal have a high rate of petty theft? Should I bring valuables along?
Though petty theft is not as common in Nepal as in, say, neighboring India, it does still exist - and foreigners are the primary targets. As such, it is important to exercise caution and travel smartly. Bring a bag that you can wear crossed over your body, or if you have a backpack, bring a lock. Don't flash around money or other valuables, and keep an eye on your belongings - especially while taking public transportation.
Is there any way of securing valuable things at the INFO office?
You can give your passport or plane ticket to a staff member at the office and they can keep them in the safe. Generally, your room at your placement will have a lock on the door or a locked compartment, and you should use it because the kids and your host family are really curious about you and they will rifle through your stuff. It is harmless but can get annoying and can account for the occasional misplacement of items.
How can I pay for the program fees?
The program fees are due when your training commences. Currently we do not accept traveller's cheques or credit cards. We prefer payment in Euros, but can accept Nepalese Rupees as well. If you wish to extend your volunteering program you must discuss this with INFO and pay the fee accordingly.
Do the fees have any insurance incorporated in it? Do I have to provide my own, if so what do I need to have covered?
There is no insurance and so we recommend that you get your own travel medical insurance to protect yourself in case of illness or lost or damaged property
What happens if I decide to return home before the placement is completed?
Once the volunteer commences training, having paid the fee and received a receipt, INFO Nepal does not refund programme fees. However, if due to unavoidable circumstances (e.g. serious illness, family bereavement), INFO Nepal will consider a refund of 30% of the Host Family Costs, provided the volunteer is registered for a programme of more than 30 days. No refund will be offered for programmes of less than 30 days.
Is there a Training program?
Yes, depending on your length of stay, you will receive up to 10 days of Cultural and Language training from the INFO staff. The first phase of the training includes basic cultural and language information and will be conducted at our office near Thamel. The next phase of the training takes place either in Sanga or Dhulikhel village to help prepare you for village life. During your time in the village, the INFO staff will continue to provide language training. For more information about the training program, please review the Program Section.
Where will I stay during the training period?
During the first phase of the training period, you will either stay at Happy Home or a Guest House in Kathmandu, just North of Thamel, across the street from the INFO office. Both locations have facilities similar to Western standards. Starting with the first date of your training class, INFO Nepal will pay for your hotel and basic food costs during your stay. When you return from your placement, INFO will pay for up to two nights of your accomodation. You will be responsible for the costs of your accommodation and food for the rest of your time in Nepal.
During the second phase of training, you will be moved to the placement village where you will stay with a traditional host family for one or two nights.
INFO Nepal will organize the transportation to and from your placement and ensure that you arrive safely.
Where will my placement be?
Currently, we are sending volunteers to villages within the Kathmandu Valley, Chitwan and its surrounding villages, the rural areas around Pokhara, Langtang, and the Everest region.
Do you select my placement area?
Yes, placements are decided based upon program vacancy and volunteer's skills. We do try, however, to take into account any special preferences / needs of the volunteers. If you have any preferences, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can endeavor to accommodate them. Your placement village will be finalized during your training week.
How can my family contact me during my placement?
Depending on your particular placement, your host family may or may not have a telephone within their home. Most villages will have one phone that can accept incoming and outgoing international calls. In addition, most placements are within an hour travel to a major city that provides email/internet and/or international phone service.
That said, in case of an emergency, your family/friends may contact INFO Nepal. We will do our best to get a message to the individual as quickly as possible. You must understand that the infrastructure in Nepal is not as reliable as in more developed countries. In some cases it may be hours or even a day before a message can get through to a volunteer.
Does an INFO staff person stay in the village with me during my placement?
An INFO Nepal staff member will not be in your placement village throughout your stay. However, each village has a local 'point person' to assist the volunteer with any issues that may arise in the village. If there is a problem that he or she can not resolve, then they will contact an INFO staff person to provide assistance.
During the placement an INFO staff person will provide site visits (the number determined by your length of stay), and/or will contact the volunteer via phone or email to provide regular 'check-ins' .
What sort of Health Care Facilities are available?
In Kathmandu, health care is relatively good - and also very inexpensive. In your placement, however, the same cannot be said. Some placements are close to Kathmandu or Pokhara (another large city), but if you are in a village, there will be little to no access to health care. There probably won't even be access to medication, so we recommend that you bring your own mini-pharmacy.
Is electricity available in the placements, and is it worth bringing my lap top?
If you are a technology junkie, Nepal is not the place for you. If you have all of this equipment you will not only have to bother with storing and securing all of this equipment, but you will look quite affluent to your family and village. The villagers may approach you for funding. While most placements have electricity there is a rolling blackout at different times during the day - even in Kathmandu. It's thus likely not worth bringing a laptop.
How hard is it to get E-Mail access where I will be staying?
There are email cafes in most areas in and around large cities like Kathmandu or Pokhara. Email is a dial up connection (sloooooow) and is generally 20-100 rupees/hr. Some host families do offer you internet, but it is better you do not accept or go online for only a few minutes as this is extremely expensive. In our most remote placements, there is no internet access.
Is it worth while bringing a digital camera and/or video camera?
Digital Cameras and video cameras are a good idea. You can also buy these quite affordably in Kathmandu. Nepali children all love being filmed and having their picture taken. It is a good idea to make sure you have a large memory card and extra batteries, or ones that can take ‘AA’ batteries if you’re in a pinch. You can download the pictures to a CD in Thamel - the tourist area close to the office.
How can I prepare for teaching English prior to my arrival?
If you choose, you can be provided basic TEFL instruction during your training period, but it would be helpful for you to brush up on your grammatical knowledge of the English language. You could also consider bringing any English language textbooks, and or TEFL books that you may find useful as they are difficult to find in Nepal.
Should I be concerned about Maoist or other minority group activity?
Obviously, this is an issue that is currently affecting Nepal, however, we place all of our volunteers in areas and with families that we know to be safe. Please remember, there are always inherent risks when traveling abroad, especially to developing countries. We advise you to contact your embassy to make informed decisions regarding your stay in Nepal. If you would like to speak with one of our volunteers about this issue please contact us at email@example.com and we will get you in contact via email with a current or recent volunteer or Country Coordinator.
To date, none of our volunteers have had any encounters with Maoists. The Maoists are not targeting foreign nationals although whilst trekking you may encounter them asking for donations, but this is rare. Volunteers will probably experience going through army security checkpoints while traveling, but in general, the army only looks through the bags of the Nepali people (they leave the tourists on the buses alone). This process is basically similar to going through security screening at an airport and is for general safety.
I am from the United States (or country X). Should I be concerned about anti-Americanism (country x-ism) while in Nepal?
The Nepali people are very welcoming to tourists, and are very interested in speaking with people from other countries. We have had volunteers from all over the world participate in our program; none of them have experienced any 'anti-x country' sentiments.
What is the weather like in Nepal?
The width of Nepal is only about 200 km on average, but within this short distance the altitude of the land rises from lowly 60m to all the way up to above 8000m. Hence the weather depends upon the altitude of the place in Nepal. However, in general Nepal has four climatic seasons: Summer, Monsoon, Autumn and Winter.
Summer is from March to May. The temperature of this season fluctuates between 20 °C to 30 °C (68 °F to 86°F). Monsoon lasts from June to August. These are also the pre-monsoon months with occasional evening-thunderstorms and hot temperature. Autumn starts from September and ends by November. During this period, the climate is dry and mild with temperature fluctuating between 20 °C to 30 °C (68 °F to 86 °F). Winter starts from December to February. The morning and evening are very cold while the afternoon is pretty sunny. The temperature during these months rises from 15 °C to 20 °C (59 °F to 68 °F).
How much money should I bring with me?
It's difficult to give an exact amount of money that you should bring. Costs will vary according to how much time you spend traveling on your own, whether or not you go trekking/traveling, if you drink beer (!), how often you phone home / use the internet etc.
That said, living in the village is very cheap as you will not have to pay for your main food or accommodation and there is very little for you to spend your money on! During your training and placement you are responsible for any incidentals (sodas, snacks, etc.) that you may accrue.
We recommend purchasing one of the travel guides, such as the Lonely Planet for Nepal to help you estimate how much money you may need.
Don't forget that you also need to budget for INFO's program fees, visa fees and your flight and any extra activities, extra transportation and extra food.
What is the best way for me to access money once there?
There are ATM's in Kathmandu and Pokhara. You can also exchange your money into rupees at a number of locations in Thamel, or cash traveler's checks at a bank. If you're in a pinch, there are Western Union facilities in both Kathmandu and Pokhara. There is NO credit/debit card system here - leave your card at home.
Is there anything I can bring with me that would be useful to your organization?
We would be very grateful for educational books (grammar, TEFL, science, health, etc.,) illustrated books, English novels and children's books. Also very much appreciated are donations of clothes, art supplies, and stationery.
What should I bring for my host family?
The Nepali people are very friendly, and giving gifts to the volunteer on the day of their departure is very common. If you would like to bring gifts for your family, below are some suggestions:
• A framed picture of yourself and your Nepali family (you can have this made while in Nepal)
• A small photo album with pictures of you and your family/friends from home
• A 'coffee table' book of your home town or country
• Posters, stickers or magazine pictures from your country
• Children's books
• T-shirts (new) from your country
Whatever you decide to give your host family, please consider the next volunteer. Buying your family something elaborate or expensive will create an expectation in them to receive similar presents in the future. It is better to give them something sentimental (representative of your time with them or of your home country).
What Should I Bring for myself?
This will vary depending on what non-INFO activities you want to participate in (trekking, white water rafting, etc.) and how much you need to be comfortable during your placement. With the exception of medicine, first-aid-kit and high-tech trekking gear, you can buy everything that you would need for your placement in Kathmandu (likely cheaper than in your home country). Here are a few suggestions:
• Sleeping Bag
• Hiking boots
• Tevas/ flip flops
• Fleece jacket (during winter months)
• Light-weight cotton clothing (see Program Guide and Volunteer Room for details)
• Waterproof jacket (a fold-away windcheater is fine)
• (Women) Sarong (or you can buy a lungi cheaply in Nepal)
• Mosquito repellent
• Sun cream
• Water purification tablets and/or good quality water purifier
• First aid kit
• Flashlight (torch)
• Books about your country
• Photos of your family / friends / home (essential!)
• Souvenirs for your family and staff from your country
• A few examples of your local currency
• Music CDs
• Basic Learner's English/Nepali/English dictionary – for simple definitions (buy a Nepali dictionary on arrival in Kathmandu)
• Coloured pencils and pens, drawing books, stickers
• Inflatable globe
• Books on teaching English/English Grammar for your reference
What types of sanitary items are available in Nepal? What do I need to bring from home?
Most things are available here - shampoos, soaps, shaving products, toothpastes. It is recommended, however, that women bring tampons (if they wear them), as you cannot get those in Nepal. Hand sanitizer/ wipes should also be brought from home, as well as any name-brand/prescription medicine. Since rice is eaten with every meal here, some people may have constipation problems - volunteers should thus consider bringing fiber vitamins!
Is it possible to find English books in Nepal, or should I bring them from home?
You can English books in Thamel, both new and used, and the selection is wonderfully vast. Books tend to be around 500RS and you can get a 20% volunteer discount on used books if you bargain with the dealer. You will also get 50% back upon return of the book.
What vaccinations should I consider having prior to arrival?
You should consider the following vaccinations, however, please consult your doctor / local travel clinic for the latest recommendations regarding vaccines and Nepal:
Hepatitis A & B
Can my family send me small packages, cards etc.?
Yes, we generally check the post office weekly. You can have mail sent to our P.O. Box and we will hold it at the office or try to send it to you depending on where your placement is.
c/o your name
PO Box 19531,
If you are sending a package by FedEX, or delivery method, please send it to the office, you will also need to put our contact #'s
16 Pakanajol, Thamel, Nepal
In front of the yellow star youth club or Near the Sarakhutte Police Post
What Makes a Good Volunteer?
INFO Nepal does not ask for any formal qualifications from our volunteers. All we ask is that you have a genuine desire to help people and are committed to seeing the Program through. A positive and flexible attitude will also help you to get the most out of your stay in Nepal.
If you are applying to teach English, a strong command of the English language is a necessity. Similarly, if you are interested in volunteering at a Health Post, some prior medical experience and first aid skills would be useful. If you are applying to teach computers at the Resource Centre, to the environmental awareness program, or income generation program, you should possess the skills and knowledge necessary to work within these programs.
The following attributes are vital for survival, regardless of the program!
Good problem-solving skills
Sense of humour/ability to laugh at yourself
Willingness to share
Enthusiasm to learn about new cultures
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail. We love to hear from you. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org