Food & Culture

Basic Nepali Words And Phrases For Travelers To Help You Get Around

Nepalese are known for their hospitable nature in the world; you are always welcomed with their warm and friendly smile. The cultural, natural and spiritual beauty of Nepal will definitely leave you awestruck making your time here a total worth. It is very easy to connect with Nepali people. Wave and say ‘hello’, you will for sure get a ‘hello’ back accompanied by a huge smile. When you are in a foreign land, of course, communication becomes a problem but in Nepal, communication barrier won’t be much of a problem.

With a larger number of Nepali people learning to speak English, you won’t have a problem communicating in the city areas and with the younger generation. However, still, a majority of local people including older generation in Nepal don’t understand English. Even if they do understand, they can’t speak English. So if you’re traveling or planning to travel to Nepal, either you need a travel guide during the whole time or else learn to speak the Nepali language. Fortunately, learning Nepali is not a big deal and if you are able to learn few Nepali words/sentences, you are completely okay to go explore the nooks and corners of Nepal. In addition to that, Nepali people will treat you with huge respect when you speak in Nepali or you’ll leave a very good impression even if you just make an effort to speak/learn them.

Here are some of the common Nepali words/phrases/sentences that you will hear most of the times during your stay in Nepal:

nepali kids doing namaste

Namaste – Hello!

Namaste is the most popular Nepali word among the foreigners, which is equivalent to hello, but with an element of respect. Namaste directly translates to as “the divine in me bows to the divine in you”. On a more literal note, Namah translates to “salutation” and te translates “to you” which combines to “salutation to you”.

While saying Namaste, you hold both hands together closer to the heart, close your eyes and bow down your head. That’s how Namaste is done! Spiritually, the word Namaste has a significant importance. It creates vibrations to the one receiving the gesture. It is commonly believed among the Nepali people that when you say Namaste, your heart centers and chakras connect with each other during the divine saying. This also creates a sense of belonging and respect for other people. The first thing you do before starting a conversation with strangers or with elders is to greet them with “Namaste”. If you’re confused what to say next, Namaste might be the perfect way to continue the conversation.

Dhanyabad – Thank You!

Dhanyabad is another common Nepali word, which means thank you. This word; dhanyabad helps you appreciate other people. And it’s sure that with a genuine smile and dhanyabad to the people who helped you, you’re to bring the smile in their faces and sometimes even make their day as well.

Normally local people/guides are very helpful. People are seen helping travelers help find their way helping with direction or carrying luggage. When someone helps you, make sure you smile and say “dhanyabad” with your heart.

Dal Bhat – Rice, Vegetables, and lentils

During your travel to Nepal, you’ll be acquainted (if you are already not) with the world famous “Dal-Bhat” of Nepal within the first few days of your stay here, as it is the staple food of Nepalese. The literal translation of “Dal” is lentils and “Bhat” is steamed rice. Dal Bhat is often served and complimented with vegetables that are called “Tarkari” and spicy pickle, which is called “achar” in Nepali. “Tarkari” is a mixture of available seasonal vegetables generally spinach, beans, potatoes etc.

Kasto chha?- How’s it?/ How are you?

Kasto chha? is a phrase that can be used to ask about both things and people. This phrase can be mostly used to ask about the general health condition and in the situations such as how did you like the food/place or reviewing any other things.

Mitho chha – It’s tasty!

After having the typical Nepali food dal-bhat or any other foods, you will be often asked about the food if it’s tasty or not. And the most of the times, the answer is YES! You’ll need to answer saying “mitho chha” that means it’s tasty. The foods and cuisines differ from communities and ethnic groups like that of Thakalis, Tharus, Newars etc. Don’t forget to compliment with “mitho chha” if you enjoy the foods and in case you find the food very tasty, you can say “dherai mitho chha” in which “dherai” means a lot.

Ramailo bhayo – It was fun

What will be your reply when after traveling some places, eating foods or something else, someone asks you how’s the experience? It was fun, right? So you need to say “ramailo bhayo“. This phrase refers to a review of certain event or activity. This is also an acknowledgment of those activities with a positive response. How was your trip to Nepal? “Dherai ramailo bhayo“, isn’t it?

Maaf pau – Sorry!

During the course of your stay here in Nepal, you might have misunderstandings and cultural differences, which might create problems. At times, you might as well make errors regarding cultural aspects such as getting inside of a room with the shoes on. These kinds of mistakes can be intentional or most of the times unintentional. Regardless of what you did, in such situations, you are supposed to say “Maaf pau” that means you are being sorry! It indicates that you are realizing your mistake and want to be forgiven for that action. Generally, you’ll be forgiven easily as Nepali people are kind by heart.

Feri Bhetaula – See you again!

After a great and memorable trip, you’re about to leave some places and you need to bid farewell to the place and the lovely people over there. So what you need to say is “feri bhetaula“. “Feri bhetaula” is a wish to meet someone again in the course of life. And when someone says “chadai bhetaula“, this means that people wish to meet you pretty soon.

Some other general Nepali words

  • K chha? – What’s up?
  • Sanchai hunu hunchha? – Are you fine?
  • Khana khanu bhayo? – Have you eaten?
  • Tapaiko naam k ho?- What’s your name?
  • Mero naam Sam ho – My name is Sam.
  • Yesko kati paisa ho? – How much does this cost?
  • Khana- Lunch/Dinner
  • Khaja – Afternoon Snacks
  • Paani- Water
  • Didi- Elder Sister
  • Baini – Younger Sister
  • Dai – Elder Brother
  • Bhai – Younger Brother
  • Aama – Mother
  • Buba – Father

All in all, language is and always has been a crucial part of our life. And most importantly, when you are traveling outside of your country, it becomes essential that you know the language of the country you are traveling to. Learning a foreign language is not an easy job. But with consistent effort, it’s not that difficult as what people might present.

How many words/phrases you know from the list? Do you know any other Nepali words? Let us know what they are. 🙂

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