Staying Connected in Nepal: Internet Issues & Power Outages

Maria shares her tips on dealing with power outages, wi-fi connectivity and cell phone reception in Nepal.

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Trekking in the Upper Mustang Region, Nepal Photo © Samantha McMahon

Technological advances have made staying connected in Nepal much easier than it was in the 90s. But, power outages can cause conceren for travelers who are hoping to charge their devices before a day hiking in the mountains.

Mobile coverage and internet connection is good, even in remote areas at tea houses on trekking routes. Although it’s pretty easy to stay in touch, there are a few things you should know before traveling to Nepal.

Electricity in Nepal

It’s well-known that the electricity supply in Nepal has not been stable in recent years, and local people have struggled with electricity cut-offs, or load shedding.

Travelers and locals throughout Nepal developed a habit of checking the schedule of the cut-offs with apps like Load Shedding to adapt to this frustrating issue.

However, this is no longer required. According to Kathmandu and Pokhara’s local people, there have not been any electricity cut-offs since November 2016.

The Nepal National Electricity Authority has also confirmed this good news and promised a stable electricity supply throughout the country.

Despite the upgrades, it’s still recommended that you frequently backup your photos and data. Many mountain regions are not connected to the grid and can only rely on local solar or hydropower stations, or just couple of photovoltaic panels on the roof of a lodge.

Tips for Dealing with Outages

  • When booking your accommodation in cities, ask the staff about back up for electricity. There are a lot of hotels with their own diesel generators or batteries, which help lighting rooms and charging devices during cut-off periods
  • Always bring a battery powered torch with you
  • Pack a power bank or wireless charger, especially if you’re trekking in the mountains. Having two USB outputs helps if you have multiple devices.

Charging Your Devices

The voltage of the network in Nepal is 220-240 Volts, and the primary socket types are Indian/European plugs.

So, if the system differs to your home country, make sure that you’ve got a plug adapter and step-down transformer if required. Both can be purchased in Kathmandu.

It’s not uncommon to find that – even within your hotel room – there are two or three different types of sockets. The best solution is to carry a universal adapter-transformer, which can be used with any type of socket or plug.

When you’re in the mountains, you will need to pay for charging your phone, camera batteries, or your power bank at tea houses. Costs vary from 100-500 Rupees for a full charge of one battery or phone. This depends on the region, altitude you are sleeping at, and whether the village is connected to the grid.

Sim Cards and Reception

The mobile network coverage is quite good in Nepal, especially in the regions where the infrastructure for tourism and transport is well developed, including the Annapurna Conservation area, Langtang National Park and Sagarmatha National Park.

If you want to stay in touch while trekking in the mountains, it’s better to use CDMA phones and sim cards – the coverage area is much larger and reception is more reliable.

As for the cities, Nepali operators NCell and NTC both work well, and it’s very easy to purchase a sim card for your phone. It’s best to purchase a pre-paid Namaste sim card at the airport upon arrival to Kathmandu.

You can also buy sim cards in various shops in Thamel – the tourist area in Kathmandu, or at Lake Side in Pokhara.

If you want to get a better rate and to use mobile internet as well as make phone calls, you’ll have to visit an Ncell or Nepal Telecom office to fill in a registration form and provide two passport photographs.

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