Nepal is undoubtedly one of the best countries for backpackers to visit and there is just so much to see that you promise yourself to come back again. When traveling in Nepal, although most people, in the tourist areas or even locals speak English, here are a few basic Nepali phrases that will be an essential (lifesaver might I add) during your trip in different situations.
Nepali 101: The basic of the basic with guidelines
There are some phrases that the Nepalese use in English as well so lucky you!
Hello - Namaste or hello (Nepalese do not mind if you use hello but saying Namaste is a sweet gesture)
How are you? - Sanchai? [Informal] or Sanchai Hunu-huncha? [Formal] (Use this when you want to start a conversation
Thank You - Dhanyabaad (You can use this to everyone and even as a goodbye)
Sorry - Sorry
Excuse me - Excuse me
Goodbye - Bye or Feri Bhetaula (Surprisingly most of them say bye so don’t sweat the latter one)
There are a lot of situations to use ‘yes’ and every time it’s different but you’ll get used to it in no time -
Yes - Ho (When you’re agreeing)
Yes? - Hajur? [Formal] (If someone calls you or you’re not clear)
Yes- Ah [Informal- pronounced as ‘a’] (When you’re confirming)
No- Nai (When you don’t want to)
No- Hudaina (When you’re disagreeing)
No- Aha [pronounced as a+huh] (When you’re refusing)
Ordering Food/Paying Bills
If you plan to get some local street snacks or a local restaurant, you’ll have a bit of difficulty in communicating with the waiter so here’s how you do it smooth and easy-
This one - Yo (You can say this while gesturing on the food item in the menu and if you’re on the streets, point at the food item)
Bonus Tip - If you want more than one serving show them how many through your fingers. [E.g. “Yo+ fingers (1/2/3/4)”]
Delicious - Mitho
I want to order - You can just raise your hand to gain attention of the waiter or they’ll come to you after a while
Spicy - Piro/ Salty - Nunilo
Bill Please - Once again you can just raise your hand and ask for the bill
How much? - Kati Bhayo? (This applies after a meal only if you’re eating out in the streets)
Honestly if you can bargain, you can have a blast in the local streets (of course if you shop in the tourist area there is already a certain price set)
How much? - Kati Ho? (This applies when you’re asking for the price of the product)
Can I get a fresh piece? - Naya/Fresh dinuhos (na) (Adding ‘na’ at the the end of your sentences is like an appeal and this works in any situation)
This is expensive! - Mahango Bhayo! [Pronounced like mongo]
Bonus Tip - Express shock and agony!
Can you please give me a discount? - Discount gardinuhos (na)
Bonus Tip - Smile at the vendor!
Also don’t forget to say Thank You.
Asking for Directions
Sometimes the maps don’t help or you don’t know where to get off from the local bus, communicate with the locals-
Where is this? - Yo Ka Ho?
Where is XXX? - XXX Kaha Cha?
How do I get here? - Yo Thau Kasari Jane?
How much does it take? - Kati Paisa Lagcha? (In case you’re taking transportation)
How long does it take to get there? - Yaha Pugna Kati Time Lagcha (Yes it time as in the hours, minutes, seconds)
Where is the Restroom/Hospital? - Toilet/Hospital Kaha Cha? (This is the same as asking ‘where is this’)
These are the very essentials that will help you get by but if you really want to have a conversation and go all in, better to invest in getting Nepali lessons or spend time with the locals. Practice makes perfect so are you ready to use these phrases in situations to come? Hopefully this helped you! If you’ve been to Nepal, what are you favorite phrases to use?