About the Nepali Rupee Currency:
Nepal's official currency is the Nepalese Rupee or NRP & Rs.
The Nepalese Rupee comes in 1, 2 coins and 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupee note.
There are smaller coins called “paisa” which you will come across but really never used. They come in 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 paisa coins.
Large denominations of Nepalese rupee have their own names. 100,000 Nepalese rupees is known as 1 lakh. 200,000 is known as 2 lakh and so on.
2,000,000 Nepalese rupees is known as 2 lakhs.
It’s the “S” at the end that’s important to remember. In millions add it, in one hundred thousands.
Note: Up until about 8 years ago Indian Rupees were accepted in many parts of Nepal as regular cash with their own valuation in exchange of goods. That is no longer the case. Indian rupees will often be accepted but only after being converted to Nepalese Rupees via current currency exchange rates.
Where to get your money in Nepal?
Nepal's number one industry is tourism. Therefore there are many ways to get your cash converted to Nepalese rupees throughout the main cities in Nepal.
However, Kathmandu remains the most popular place to obtain your money. If you are bringing cash from a lesser known currency it’s best to change it in Kathmandu city's (Thamel area) rather than anywhere else.
The main ways to obtain Nepali Rupees are ATM’s, money exchangers, advance credit cards and wire services.
Major cash currencies for converting to Rs include USD, GBP, EURO, YEN and Indian Rupee. Most other currencies are accepted but stick with converting them to rupee in Kathmandu rather than Pokhara or other smaller cities.
Using ATMs in Nepal:
Automated Teller Machines are available throughout Nepal. However, only Kathmandu and Pohara have regularly “working” machines that accept international cards. Throughout the rest of the country they exist for National banks but not all International bank cards are accepted.
Popular ATMs that accept international credit cards (VISA, MasterCard) in Kathmandu and Pokhara include Standard Chartered, Everest Bank, Nabil Bank, and Himalaya Bank. Cash is given out only in Nepali Rupees.
Cirrus and American Express debit cards will need to be checked individually as they each have different relationships with national banks. Ask your own bank who they recommend using in Nepal before leaving.
The best places to try ATMs is around Thamel in Kathmandu and Lakeside in Pokhara where there are “ATM Lounges”.
There are limits on how much you can withdraw from an ATM in Nepal per transaction. The limits range from 10,000 rupees to 30,000 rupees depending on the bank. Most ATMs charge a fee for their usage per transaction so do keep that in mind.
Since 2015 ATMs in Kathmandu’s Thamel area and Pokhara Lakeside are generally found in groups within one dedicated area called an ATM Lounge. These usually consist of 4-5 ATM machines from different banks in one room.
Using Travellers Cheques in Nepal:
Travelers' cheques are still but rarely accepted in Nepal. The only possibility is to cash your cheques in any of the main (Foreign Exchange) FOREX offices in Kathmandu’s Thamel area. Be sure to ask if they are taking a commission when cashing them in. And be sure to bring your passport and other necessary identity documents when cashing them in. All in all, its not worth getting travelers' cheques for Nepal anymore.
Using Credits Cards in Nepal:
Credits cards can be used in a few major stores, hotels, restaurants, tour agencies and banks. Do be aware of commissions added. And don’t leave your credit card unattended with anyone no matter their excuse.
All major credit cards are accepted in Nepal. These include VISA, MasterCard, Cirrus and American Express. Do be aware that not all of these cards will work in ATMs. There are small signs in a few ATMs saying what will work. Its best to stick with the larger international banks than smaller regional banks for withdrawing cash.
When paying for tourist activities, hotels, flight, treks or good in person by credit card you should be aware of certain things. Chip & pin services are not fully active in Nepal. Many retail stores still use old style carbon copy machines.
Money Changers in Nepal:
There are plenty of Money Changers in Nepal’s tourist areas and they are known as either Money Changers or Foreign Exchange (FOREX). All major currencies are accepted. Many medium-sized currencies are accepted. And many minor currencies are also accepted though you might have to wait a while.