When I first started traveling, I never took the time to download apps. It just didn’t seem important to me. When I started trekking in Nepal, I noticed several of the people I was with had cool apps. Some were maps of the trekking routes. Others you could hold your phone up to the Himalayas and it would tell you the mountains you were looking at. I realized that there are a lot of great Nepali apps for travelers as well as other travel apps that are good for travel anywhere. Here are my favorites!
Nepali Apps for Transportation
Getting around places like Kathmandu can be a nightmare if you’re on a budget. Public transport is so hard to figure out that my local friends are impressed when I use it because even they can’t figure it out half the time. There’s no map or time schedule, and often, the bus driver doesn’t speak English. On top of that, the names of places in Nepal can be hard for foreigners to pronounce and locals may not understand what you’re trying to say. For instance, “Thamel” (a popular place for tourists to stay in Kathmandu) has an almost silent “h” and is pronounced more like Tamel.
That’s where Tootle and Pathao come in. They are like Uber but on scooters and motorbikes. You can avoid negotiating the price since it’s already set in the app. The only problem is that driving in Nepal is chaotic and being on the back of a bike is dangerous. So, I only recommend this if you feel super confident. I have my own helmet for riding on the backs of bikes even though it’s not required. I probably look like a total nerd, but most deaths in Nepal come from road accidents. Better safe than sorry.
Walking Tour Apps
GPS my city isn’t a Nepali app, but they do have a great section of walking tours in Nepal (some written by yours truly). It is a paid app, but you can walk at your own pace and learn a little history as you go. Once you download and pay for the app, you can access their walking tours all around the world.
Apps for Trekking in Nepal
If you plan to do any trek without a guide, then Maps.Me is a must. It’s a free app which has most trekking/hiking trails on it. You can download an entire area and then follow the map offline which is great when you’re in the mountains.
Peak Visor is cool if you want to know more about your surroundings. You can hold your phone up to the mountains and it will tell you which ones you are looking at. This is extremely helpful as they all start to blend together once you’re in the middle of them and I often find myself guessing which mountain I’m looking at.
Communication & Phone Plan Apps
I highly recommend everyone to get a SIM card while in Nepal. SIM cards can easily be changed with your current card (as long as your phone is unlocked) and you can use a local number while in the country. This allows you to make calls and use data without paying a fortune. There are two companies: Ncell and NTC. I used Ncell and it costs about $15 for a SIM card and 30 days with 16GB. They have shorter cheaper plans too, but for $15 I feel like I can use the internet all the time and never have to worry about getting lost. I also recommend downloading Whatsapp which is a free texting, video, and phone app that many people use while overseas. If your family downloads it back home, you can stay in touch with them for free.
Check out my post about SIM Cards in Nepal for more info.
Nepali Apps for Language
I believe that it’s important to learn at least a few basic sayings when you go to any country. At the minimum, “Hello” “Thank you” and “Delicious” will get you a long way. Those simple things help you connect with locals in Nepal. Even though many people speak English, Nepali people are so appreciative when you try to speak their language. If you plan to stay longer and want to know even more, you can learn quite a bit on these apps! Simply Learn Nepali is my favorite as the categories are great for tourists, and it tells you how to pronounce each word. English-Nepali allows you to search for specific words.
Check out my post about Nepali words every tourist should know!
Nepali Restaurant & Food Apps
If you’re unsure where to eat and you don’t want to rely on Tripadvisor, then I highly recommend FYMO. FYMO stands for “Food You’re Missing Out” and shows you what restaurants are around you. This is a Nepali app, so the recommendations are from locals as opposed to other sites which are mostly tourist reviews. This makes it easier to find local gems and you can also see what locals recommend there!
Foodmandu is the Nepali app similar to Seamless in America. It’s an app for food delivery. While most tourists won’t need this, you may find it comes in handy now and then. I was sick on my first visit to Nepal and could barely get out of bed. Luckily, some sweet girls in my dorm went and bought me bread and bananas to eat, but without them I would have been lost. Ordering takeout would have made it a lot easier for me to stay in my room all day and just rest.
Safety Apps in Nepal
If you’re visiting a new country for the first time, safety may be of concern. While I find Nepal to be a safe place to travel, it’s always good to know who to call in an emergency. The Nepal Police app is great because it gives emergency numbers as well as a list of all the police stations in Nepal. You can also report incidents on it. If you ever find yourself in a bind, this is an easy way to know where to go for help.
The second safety app I recommend is a VPN. The first two times I came to Nepal, I didn’t even know what a VPN was. It’s a virtual privacy network that protects your information while you’re browsing the web on public networks like WiFi. Unfortunately, I had my credit card number stolen two times in Nepal prior to discovering VPNs. I check my bank accounts and book flights/hotels on my phone while traveling, so I access sensitive info on my phone and computer. ExpressVPN came highly recommended. It’s inexpensive and easy to use. Monthly plans are $12 and annual plans are $8 a month. I have an annual plan with them.
Check out ExpressVPN
If you’re from America like me, you may find converting things a little tricky. Naptaul is a converting app that can convert almost anything in Nepal. I find it useful for the temperature, weight, date, and length. If a trekking agent says it’s going to be -25 degrees Celsius, I honestly have no idea what that means. It’s -13F if you’re wondering. Or, if they say you have about 2k left of walking for the day then that’s 1.25 miles. Also, Nepal has its own calendar. It’s 2077 here. So even the date can be converted.
You may also need a currency converter. For Americans, it’s easy because 100 rupees is close to $1 USD, however that’s not the case for all countries, so you may need help figuring out what things cost.
Popular Game Apps in Nepal
While trekking, I discovered that many locals play games on their phones. Two of the most popular are Ludo and Goats and Tigers. Ludo is fun to play when you get to a teahouse early and have nothing to do for hours. It’s also easy to play at a high altitude as it doesn’t require a ton of thinking. Goats and Tigers requires a little more brain power and is a bit like Nepali chess. I love playing this when I’m up for a challenge.
Know of any Nepali apps I missed? Or any apps that were helpful while traveling in Nepal? Let me know in the comments!
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Michelle Della Giovanna
Writer at Full Time Explorer
I’m just your average New Yorker who quit her job in the fashion industry to explore the world. Come find out what it’s like to trade in five-inch heels for squat toilets.