Snow-capped mountains, jungle safaris, and getting your zen on in world renowned spirituality centers. A gap year in Nepal will take you from the highs of the Himalayas to the floors of hot yoga studios in Kathmandu. Spend a year in Nepal to cleanse your aura at one of it’s 3000 plus age-old temples. Or, get lost in Nepal’s stunning landscapes (Himalayas, much?) and incredible biodiversity. Even better, you’ll be hangin’ with the Nepalese—they’ve got a rep for being some of the world’s most friendly peeps. Real talk, this is an opportunity you don’t want to pass up. Do a gap year in Nepal!
In terms of population and size, Nepal is a lot smaller than its neighbors, China and India. But Nepal still packs it’s own hefty punch, boasting a colossal amount of places to see and experiences to explore. In 2015, Nepal was hit by a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake near Kathmandu. However, the country is rebuilding and still ripe for gap year travel. You’ll find gap year travelers in Nepal exploring everything from the tropical Terai region of southern Nepal to the glacial peaks of Everest. With 360 degrees of tradition, culture, and natural beauty, Nepali adventure is always just a quick rickshaw ride away!
Kathmandu. Buddhist temples, Hindu fests, and street market shopping for days… That’s just a taste of what Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital and largest city, offers gap year travelers. Now, Kathmandu is kinda hectic. With over one million residents, the crowds and traffic can be a little intimidating. But before you know it, you’ll be knee-deep in the local culture, walking like a true Nepali. For peace and quiet, sit down for some dahl baht, a traditional and super tasty Nepali dish. Then head to the ancient Narayanhiti royal palace or one of the city’s many sacred Buddhist sites.
Chitwan. If the idea of exploring the Asian jungle side gets you hyped, Chitwan is the spot. Head to this southern Nepali region to discover a tropical oasis of wildlife, backcountry, and the Chitwan National Park. You’ll find 68 species of mammals including protected rhinos and if you’re lucky you might even spot a Royal Bengal tiger! When you’re not on jungle walks, gappers with medical backgrounds will finds opportunities for medical volunteering at Chitwan health facilities. Or, take your love for animals to the next level researching elephant diseases while helping take care of them.
Tap into your higher consciousness, kick your adrenaline into high gear, or help with earthquake reconstruction. Pick your passion or do it all on your gap year in Nepal. This country offers loads of experiences for every type of gap year traveler. So grab a cup of chai tea and let’s chat about some of the more popular ways to spend your gap year in Nepal.
Volunteering. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world so there are needs for help across many sectors. Gappers can volunteer with earthquake relief, women’s empowerment, community health, and more. You could go even go “voluntrekking” with an org that donates to charitable Nepali projects. Just remember to thoroughly vet any company you’re thinking of being a volunteer with. You’ll want to be sure you’re engaged in ethical volunteering to responsibly support local communities. Our GoAbroad online advisors can do all the work and match you with a vetted gap year program in Nepal.
Teach Abroad. Got a knack for classroom management and breaking down the English language? Then bust out your chalk and eraser and spend your gap year teaching English in Nepal. The country has a huge demand for native English speakers to teach everyone from school kids to Buddhist monks. Some programs will pair you up with local teachers to help with professional development. Just keep in mind that certain Nepali institutions require TEFL certification. So, get crystal clear on the requirements of any teaching English in Nepal opps.
Adventure Travel. Dreaming of a gap year brimming with thrill and adventure? You’re on the right path because Nepal is hailed as a prime adventure travel locale. Skydiving, ziplining, bungee jumping, canyoning, jungle safaris, trekking… You want excitement? Nepal’s got ya covered. Take along a buddy for anything really extreme and double the fun!
Everything else you need to know about gap years in Nepal
Costs. Nepal’s cost of living is pretty low compared to life in the West. And get this: Kathmandu is one of the cheapest places in the world to live! So, if you’re coming with Western currency in your pockets, you’ll live comfortably. Still, well paid gap year in Nepal work is hard to come by. So, you’ll need to budget and save well for your travels. In the months leading up to your gap year, get a side gig to stack some dough. Or, tuck your tail between your legs and ask your fam to donate to your travels. You could also go big and set up an official gap year in Nepal fundraiser. This FundMyTravel tool will guide you through the crowdfunding process.
Accommodations. If you’re doing service work like volunteering in Nepal, don’t expect the Ritz Carlton. You’ll probably be living with a host family or bunking with another gapper in a volunteer house. Some gappers even live in monasteries and orphanages that they’re working at. Accommodation for gap year in Nepal programs is generally comfortable but modest. Trekking to the Himalayas? There’s a good chance you’ll stay in a “teahouse.” These are quaint but cozy hotels that decrease in amenities the higher elevation you go. The view at the top of the mountain will be totally worth it though!
Visas. Gappers entering Nepal generally have a easy time getting their visa. Many travelers actually get their visa at the airport. Planning on exploring Nepal for a few months? Then you’ll just need a tourist visa. Now, if you’re gonna volunteer in Nepal, you’ll need a different type of visa (volunteering on a tourist visa is a punishable offence in Nepal!). Wanna teach English in Nepal? Same deal. Chat with your gap year program advisor about what type of visa you’ll need for your gap year. You can also contact a local Nepali embassy. Swing through our GoAbroad embassy directory to find their contact info.
Safety. Crime is pretty low in Nepal. Still, there are human and natural hazards to watch out for, especially while adventure traveling. Travel experts and the Nepalese government strongly advise against solo trekking due to dangers like avalanches, altitude sickness, or criminal activity. It’s also smart to stay away from bandhs (strikes) given their potential for violence. Most tap water in Nepal is also unsafe to drink, so bottled H20 is your best bet.
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop
A gap year in Nepal will nurture your soul from head to toe. You’ll be immersed in the warmth of the Nepali and enveloped in centuries of stirring tradition. What better way to plan your life after gapping than surrounded by the peace of sacred shrines? Ommmm. Talk about clarity!
Your jaunts through big city and rural Nepal will also beef up your adjustment skills. By the time your gap year wraps up, you’ll be a pro at navigating whatever unpredictability life throws your way. And all those gap year non-negotiables you think you have? Post gap year you will be way more flexible than your legs at that Pokhara yoga retreat. Pow!
While Nepal is renowned for its friendliness, it’s easy to accidentally offend a local. So, before you kick off your gap year in Nepal, read up on local customs. For example, PDA and skimpy outfits are no-nos. And taking off your shoes before entering homes or religious sites is a must. Get a good grasp of the conservative side to Nepal. It may seem quirky, but respect the local culture and your Nepal year of travel will go hiccup-free.
Now that you’re all squared on what your gap year in Nepal could be, it’s time to take action. So, reflect on all the amazing reasons to take a gap year and start start planning it! Think about how you’d like to spend your Nepali gap year. Mastering meditation techniques from monks in exchange for teaching English in Nepal? Getting one with nature in this “Amazon of Asia?” Or, how about climbing the Himalayas in search of the infamous Yeti? Whatever your speed, rest easy knowing that a Nepal year of travel won’t let you down. Namaste.
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