Power, Reception & Internet: Staying in Touch in Nepal

Today’s Nepal is well-connected, and cellphone connection covers most of the country. But should you still be worried about power outages? Will your cellphone work in Nepal? Our local insider Maria helps you be prepared before you go.

Despite Nepal being a developing country, 21st century technological advances have influenced the country to a significant extent.

Unlike 10-15 years ago, when visitors relied on the scarce landlines and internet cafes in the cities, today’s Nepal is very well connected.

Mobile coverage and Internet work in many locations – including trekking areas high in the mountains. Although it’s pretty easy to stay in touch, there are a few things you should know and prepare before you go.

Electricity in Nepal

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

Tourists and inhabitants throughout the country developed a habit of checking the schedule of the cut-offs with apps like Load Shedding and adapt to this limitation.

However, this is no longer required nowadays. According to Kathmandu and Pokhara’s local residents, there have not been any electricity cut-offs since November 20, 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. Besides, many mountain regions are not connected to the grid and can only rely on local, micro solar- or hydropower stations, or just couple of photovoltaic panels on the roof of the lodge.

Tips for Dealing with Outages:

  • When booking your accommodation in the cities, ask the staff about back up for electricity. There are a lot of hotels with their own diesel generators or the batteries, which allow lighting of the rooms and charging devices even at the times of cut-offs.
  • Always bring an LED torch with you
  • Have your own power bank/independent battery of 15,000-20,000 mAh, especially if you’re trekking in the mountains. Having two USB outputs helps too 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 for 100-200 Rupees per item.

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 types of sockets and plugs.

When you’re in the mountains, you will need to pay for charging your phone, camera batteries, or your power bank. Costs vary from 100-500 Rupees for a full charge of one battery or phone. This depends on the region, height, and whether the village is connected to any kind of 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. These include the Annapurna Conservation area, Langtang National Park and Sagarmatha National Park among others.

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 bigger for this format and reception is more reliable.

As for the cities, Nepali operators NCell and NTC both work well, and it’s very easy to purchase the 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 Thamelthe 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 to making calls, you’ll have to visit an Ncell or Nepal Telecom office to fill in a registration form and to provide two document-style photographs. Allow couple of hours for this, as queues are the norm.

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