Foreign Currency Exchange in Nepal

In Nepal, there are different options to exchange foreign currencies, such as banks, certified forex exchange counters, hotels, and the Tribhuwan International Airport at Kathmandu. They exchange all sorts of currencies from different countries, including major and minor currencies. As a result, the exchange rates can vary daily as determined by the market. Nepalese Rupee (NPR) is the only currency of Nepal. Therefore, the most useful ones during the stay are NPR 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 notes.

Places for exchanging Foreign Currency

There are sixteen commercial banks, and the most trusted banks in the capital are Everest Bank, Himalayan Bank, Nabil Bank, Nepal SBI Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and others. And their branches are in every corner of major cities of Nepal. The banks are open from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM from Sunday to Thursday and from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Fridays, and they remain closed on Saturdays. There can be slight variations in the run-time of different banks. Being the hub for tourists, Thamel has many money exchange services.
Famous money exchanging centers in Kathmandu are; Dolphin Money Exchange, North Point Money Exchange, Annapurna Money Exchange, etc. in Thamel area, Universal Money Exchange, East-West Money Exchange, A One Money Changer in Chaksibari Marg, Continental Money Exchange, NBL Satahi, and many others in Durbar Square area. Services are open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
The Tribhuvan International Airport also provides travelers with two money-changing counters within the airport premises. It is easier to exchange the money at arrival; however, they give lower rates than other facilities. For immediate needs, one can exchange at the airport.
There are ATM facilities in Kathmandu where you can withdraw Nepalese currency. However, there are limitations (NPR 10,000 to 30,000) for withdrawal at a time in a day. The Charges are also higher for foreign cards.
For tourists arriving from India, the exchange of Indian Rupees (INR) into NPR will always be 1.61 times the INR rupees. Some places in the city may accept INR; however, Nepalese currency is convenient to prevent the hassle.

Money Exchange Counter in Thamel, Kathmandu
Money Exchange Counter in Thamel, Kathmandu

Useful tips for exchange currency.

  • The exchange rates provided by the banks and the Forex centers only have slight differences. Comparing can be a waste of time and effort.
  • Exchanging bulk amounts and higher denominations earns higher rates than the smaller transactions.
  • Always be well documented with the exchange receipts for future references.
  • Forex counter are preferred more for the exchange of currencies because banks require certain documents and paperwork’s and the process is time-consuming.

Can you exchange foreign currency while trekking to the base camp?

It can be hard to exchange foreign currency at Everest Base Camp or Annapurna base camp because there aren’t many places to do it, except in towns like Lukla and Namche Bazaar in Everest Region. Many lodges and teahouses along the trek accept US dollars. However, it’s a good idea to exchange enough Nepalese Rupees in big cities like Kathmandu or Pokhara before you start your trek. You can use US dollars in emergencies, but it’s better to have some local currency with you for easier transactions.

Do I need to submit any documents to exchange money?

Yes, it is compulsory to show the original passport and provide a photocopy to the exchanger.

Is it safe to exchange the currency in Thamel?

Thamel is a hub for tourists arriving in Kathmandu and has been for many years. The police officials well protect the area, and the local businesses are tourists friendly. There are many help desks to guide the tourists. Travelers from different parts of the globe visit the area multiple times because of its homely and safe nature.
The market already specifies the exchange rates, and the services that exchange the currencies cannot charge higher than the rate fixed by the Central bank of Nepal.
Carrying a large amount of cash is not recommended.

Himalayan Bank Limited in Thamel
Himalayan Bank Limited in Thamel

Where can I exchange Nepalese rupees (NPR) into dollars?

The traveler must not forget to exchange NPR into the required currency before departure from Nepal since NPR is unacceptable in other countries. The Nepalese currency can be easily exchanged into dollars or any currency at the airport before departure or at any other exchange facility in the city.

ATM lounge in Thamel
ATM lounge in Thamel

Is it safe to use Debit and Credit cards to use in Nepal?

Credit cards like Mastercard, American Express, and VISA are all accepted in Nepal. The ATM card booths provide information on the cards they accept. It is very simple and widely used by hotels from mid-range to the premiums, restaurants, shopping malls and shops of different kinds. It is completely safe to use credit and debit cards in Nepal because they are tourist-friendly. Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Chitwan are well equipped to serve the credit cards; however, the facility is not flexible in other cities and trekking routes. A proper consultation with the guide must be done before heading out on a trek because all trekking routes are remote in the country and do not provide credit card facilities. Many restricted areas in different trekking regions require cash. Ascending higher in the Himalayan region’s costs for food and lodging is expensive and must also be paid in cash. Therefore, a realistic plan of the cost that is going to take must be planned and the cash must be carried accordingly. The travel agencies can arrange all the needs of cash.
Few tips to consider before using credit and debit cards in Nepal.

  • Some Banks freeze the cards because of uninformed international use. So, it is very important to inform the banks about the travel to Nepal before using any ATM or credit card services in Nepal.
  • Search for the best exchange rates.
  • Banks in Nepal have a daily limit of NPR 15,000 to NPR 25,000 for international cards withdrawal.
  • The charges for international cards are higher.
  • Paying through credit cards can be expensive if used multiple times for payments in hotels, restaurants, spas, etc. A 3-5% processing fee for the transaction is also added.
  • Cash payment is the best option in Nepal as there are no additional charges during payment.