Nepal travel advice

Most visitors to Nepal experience a trouble-free stay. But crimes such as assault and theft against foreigners in Kathmandu and throughout the country continue to increase.

Pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are common in Kathmandu, particularly in tourist areas. Airports, buses and hotel rooms are also targeted by criminals. The areas of Thamel, Sanepa and Kupondol in Kathmandu have seen a sharp rise in petty theft and burglary against foreigners. Incidents of bag-snatching by motor-bikers are on the rise, particularly in relatively quieter areas of Kathmandu Valley. There are increasing reports of foreigners being injured in the course of such incidents. Assaults and robberies often occur in the evening in areas that are poorly lit; however, attacks against foreigners have occurred in broad daylight.

You should exercise caution when walking around Kathmandu at night, especially in areas experiencing power cuts. Avoid walking on your own; avoid carrying large sums of cash and keep valuables safe and out of sight. Elsewhere in the Kathmandu Valley, you should avoid walking alone in isolated areas.

Visitors should consider exchanging money only at banks and hotels. Valuables should be stored in hotel safety deposit boxes and should never be left unattended in hotel rooms.

Bars and restaurants are now required to close at midnight as part of a Government crackdown on illegal activities. This means that after this time the streets around the city are poorly lit and relatively few people are about. Foreigners remaining in bars and clubs after hours are known to have been detained by the police.

You should exercise caution when entering ‘dance bars’ as some foreigners have been swindled or harassed in some of these establishments. As elsewhere, you should exercise judgement when accepting drinks from strangers, and should not leave your drinks unattended.

Victims of crime should call the Tourist Police in Kathmandu on 01 4700750 or the Tourist Police headquarters on 01 4247041.

There have been reports of trekkers being robbed where violence or the direct threat of violence has been used. Isolated incidences of rape have also been reported on trekking routes, and female travellers in particular should stay vigilant.

Be aware of the use of date rape drugs. You should exercise judgement when accepting drinks from strangers, and should not leave your drinks unattended. You should avoid walking alone in isolated areas, especially at night. You should avoid splitting up from your friends, and do not go off with people you do not know.

If trekking, use a reputable trekking agency, remain on established routes, and walk in groups. We recommend that you do not trek alone and should avoid becoming separated from your group at any time.

Trekking in Nepal often involves travelling to very remote areas. Treks often take longer than expected, which can worry family and friends. The availability of phone (including mobile phone reception) and Internet services is extremely limited. It is likely that during a trek you will be unable to contact family and friends for a long period of time.

During the winter months from November to January, flights across Nepal, particularly in high mountain areas, can be delayed due to poor weather conditions.

You should keep in close touch with your tour operator or guide. You will have to consider waiting for the weather to clear or arrange to trek down from the mountains and make alternative travel arrangements. You should liaise with your airline should you have to change your onward travel arrangements. Please keep your family informed of your situation and any change to your travel plans. You are required to have a valid visa in your passport to leave Nepal. If your visa has expired you will have to arrange an extension at the Department of Immigration, prior to your departure.

The Government of Nepal has authorised the Trekking Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN) and the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to implement a system for foreign trekkers called the Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS). Trekkers, including those not with organised groups, are required to have a valid TIMS card issued by TAAN, its member agencies, or NTB. In case of an emergency, the system will help authorities ascertain the whereabouts of trekkers. TIMS cards are available through authorised trekking companies, the TAAN office in Kathmandu or Pokhara, and the NTB office. Trekkers travelling through a trekking company will pay $10 and independent trekkers will pay $20 per route.

Advice for Trekkers:

Make sure that your insurance covers you for the altitude you are due to be trekking at. We recommend that you consider including cover for mountain rescue (evacuation by helicopter).

Be aware of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).

Ensure that you, your trekking guide or company has registered your trek with the Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS). Rules state that foreign trekkers will not be allowed access to National Parks without a valid TIMS card.

Independent trekkers are recommended to use a reputable local guide as there have been reports of rogue guides robbing trekkers. Ensure that you and your guide are properly equipped and insured for the trek you intend to undertake. In very remote areas you may wish to consider renting a satellite phone – seek advice from your tour company.

Make sure someone at home has a copy of your itinerary.

Register your route at the entrance to the parks/conservation areas.

If your plans change try and call or email home to let people know you are alright.

Never venture from your planned route or itinerary without leaving someone a message to tell them what route you plan to take.

Local Travel

Major street demonstrations, disturbances and road blockades occur frequently in Kathmandu and elsewhere in the country, in particular in the Terai and Eastern region of Nepal, often at very short notice. In the past, such events have suddenly turned violent. Transport can also be severely disrupted; roads and highways could be blocked. In the event of planned strike action, you should allow extra time to return to Kathmandu if you have an international flight to catch. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings and remain vigilant at all times. You should also take local advice including from tour operators.

Kathmandu Valley-wide transport bans can be called at very short notice. When these bans are in place the Nepal Tourism Board and the Nepal Tourist Police in conjunction with the Himalayan Rescue Association run Shuttle Bus Services between various hotels in Kathmandu and the Domestic and International Airports. The Shuttle bus service phone number is (01) 4442555, mobile 9751044088. The Tourist Police Hotline phone number is (01) 4247041. The Nepal Tourism Board Hotline phone number is (01) 4225709.

You must have an international driving licence to drive a vehicle in Nepal. Carry your licence with you at all times when driving as well as any documents relating to the vehicle itself.

Traffic in Nepal drives on the left, as in the UK. The general standard of driving throughout the country is poor and badly regulated. Roads in Kathmandu are very congested. Many drivers are not properly licensed, trained or insured and vehicles are poorly maintained. There are few pavements outside central Kathmandu and motorists do not yield right of way to pedestrians.

Other road users often have scant regard for motorbikes and bicycles (which are available for rent in Kathmandu, Pokhara and some other destinations). It is the law to wear a helmet when riding a motorbike. You should also wear a suitable helmet when riding as a passenger, and when riding a bicycle.

Bus travel is particularly hazardous and multiple-fatality accidents are common. Avoid travel on overnight buses. On some routes (e.g. Kathmandu to Pokhara) tourist buses are available.

Road conditions are generally poor and difficult even in the best of conditions. During the Monsoon season (June to September) many roads outside the Kathmandu Valley are prone to landslides and become impassable.

There are several domestic airlines operating in Nepal offering flights across Nepal. Check weather conditions before travelling with domestic airlines. Bad weather conditions in mountainous and hill regions can increase the risk to safety and cause lengthy delays.

Local Laws and Customs

Drugs are a growing problem in Nepal and the authorities are determined to tackle and control the problem. Penalties for drugs related offences are severe. Possession of small amounts of marijuana can lead to a prison sentence in excess of five years, usually after a lengthy and expensive legal process. The availability of Class A drugs such as cocaine and heroin are on the rise and an increasing number of people are being caught smuggling drugs in to and out of the country. Never become involved with illegal drugs of any kind in Nepal.

You should respect local customs. Women should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops in public places where this might be seen as inappropriate. Shoes should be removed before entering certain holy places. Non-Hindus are not permitted in certain temples.

Entry Requirements

Visas are required for travel to Nepal.

Visas are available on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport and at certain land borders. You may pay in pounds at the airport, and should bring two passport-sized photos. If you wish to stay for more than 60 days you can extend your visa up to 30 days by applying to the Nepalese Department of Immigration at Kalikasthan, Kathmandu (Tel: +977 1 4429659); (Fax: +977 14433935).

Overstaying without authority is serious and you can be detained or refused permission to leave until a fine is paid.

You must hold a valid passport to enter Nepal. Your passport must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required. However, it is always sensible to have a short period of extra validity on your passport in case of any unforeseen delays to your departure. You do not have to wait until your old passport expires to apply to renew it. Any time left on your old passport when you apply will be added to your new passport, up to a maximum of nine months.


Medical treatment is expensive at Western travellers' clinics in Nepal. Healthcare is poor in most places outside the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara. You should be aware that it might be difficult to obtain rapid helicopter evacuation if you were to fall ill or suffer a serious accident in a remote area of the country.

Cases of cholera have been reported in Kathmandu and seasonal outbreaks across the country are common during the Monsoon (June to September). If you are travelling to Nepal you should familiarise yourself with precautions needed to avoid cholera, in particular avoiding tap water, ice, raw or undercooked vegetables. If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Nepal seek immediate medical attention.

There are seasonal outbreaks of dengue fever in Nepal which have resulted in a number of deaths.

Japanese encephalitis is known to occur in Nepal. A number of people have died. The WHO advise short-term visitors to Nepal during the rainy season (June-September) and all long-term visitors to Nepal to obtain Japanese encephalitis vaccinations before travelling.

Malaria is relatively rare in the hills, including the Kathmandu Valley. However, you should take adequate precautions, including considering prophylactic medication, for travel in the Terai (which includes Bardiya, Lumbini, Chitwan and Koshi Tappu). Prophylactics are available – but expensive – in Kathmandu.

Rabies is present in Nepal. Stay alert around stray animals (including monkeys) and seek immediate medical advice if bitten or scratched.

Seek medical advice before travelling to Nepal and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.

An outbreak of Avian Influenza (H5N1- Bird Flu) has been confirmed in Kathmandu Valley, the outbreak is amongst poultry only.

The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low. As a precaution you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.


You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Check for any exclusions and that your policy covers you for activities you want to undertake. If you are intending to travel at altitude in Nepal, please check that your insurance policy provides cover. Many policies do not provide cover over 2,500 metres.

You should take out full insurance cover for medical treatment, accidents and evacuation by helicopter. It is advisable to have cover for unexpected losses such as cancelled flights, stolen or lost cash, cards, passport, luggage and any loss damage or liability resulting from terrorist action.

ATMs and exchange facilities are available across the country. Credit cards are also accepted in most major hotels, restaurants and shops. However, you should check first that a particular card is acceptable. Both Euro and US Dollar travellers’ cheques can be cashed relatively easily in most banks and major hotels throughout the country.

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