• The political situation in Nepal is changeable. There are frequent bandhs (shutdowns), rallies and demonstrations, which can be violent and cause widespread disruption. If you are travelling in Nepal, you should remain vigilant, avoid demonstrations, and stay in close touch with your tour operator. See Safety and Security - Political Situation and Safety and Security - Local Travel.
• Most visits to Nepal are trouble-free. 28 British nationals required consular assistance in Nepal in the period 01 April 2010 - 31 March 2011. See General - Consular Assistance.
• On 25 September 2011 a Buddha Air flight crashed in the Lalitpur district, south of Kathmandu. 19 people died in the accident. See Safety and Security - Air Travel.
• Nepal is considered to be at high risk of a major earthquake. See Natural Disasters - Earthquakes.
• You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See General - Insurance.
Safety and security
All travellers to Nepal are advised to register with the Consular Section at the British Embassy via the FCO's LOCATE page. In addition travellers should inform their family and friends in the UK of their itinerary.
Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks can be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. There continue to be isolated incidents of bomb attacks (small improvised explosive devices), shootings and political violence across Nepal, including in Kathmandu. These incidents have resulted in the death and injury of Nepalese civilians. Tourists have only very occasionally been injured. These actions are carried out by a variety of political and criminal groups, especially in the Terai (southern plains). You should exercise caution in public places and take local advice.
Recent significant incidents include:
• A bomb exploded at the entrance to the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) in Kathmandu on 27 February, close to the offices of the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister and other parts of government. According to local reports, three people have been killed and seven injured.
• Four explosive devices were detonated between 25 to 28 March 2011on public buses operating in the Terai region. One person died and 44 people were injured.
Safety and Security - Crime
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.
British nationals 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.
If you are a female travelling alone, then see our Women Travellers pages.
There have been a number of incidents of sexual assault against foreigners in Nepal. Three separate incidents of foreign nationals being sexually assaulted in the Thamel area of Kathmandu have been reported to date in 2011. Be aware of the use of date rape drugs. You should avoid walking alone in isolated areas, especially at night and do not go off with people you do not know. See: Rape and Sexual Assault Overseas.
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 (see section on Trekking in Nepal below).
See our Victims of Crime Abroad page.
Safety and Security - Trekking in Nepal
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.
In November 2010 flights from Lukla were delayed for over one week. The Nepalese Army coordinated a rescue of more than 1,500 people from the area.
In November 2011, domestic flights across Nepal were cancelled or delayed due to seasonal 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 Meteorological Forecasting Division provides weather updates (in English): http://www.mfd.gov.np/.
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. For further information please visit Trekking Nepal, TAAN or Naturally Nepal.
Safety and Security - Trekking in Nepal - 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). For further information on AMS please check: http://www.himalayanrescue.org/hra/altitude_sickness.php
• 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.
Safety and Security - 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.
If you are concerned about the areas you are travelling to, please keep a close watch on the local media, seek advice from your hotel or guesthouse, or contact the British Embassy in Kathmandu on arrival for up-to-date advice on the security situation, which can change rapidly.
Safety and Security - Road Travel
You must have an International Driving Permit 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.
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.
Safety and Security - Air Travel
There have been several recent airline accidents in Nepal.
On 25 September 2011 a Buddha Air flight crashed in the Lalitpur district, south of Kathmandu. 19 people died in the accident.
On 15 December 2010 a Tara Air flight crashed in the Okhaldhunga region, east of Kathmandu. 22 people died in the accident.
On 24 August 2010 an Agni Air flight crashed in the Makwanpur region, southwest of Kathmandu. 14 people died in the accident.
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.
Information on global airline safety is available through the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s audit of aviation safety oversight and also the Aviation Safety network.
The British Embassy cannot offer advice about which domestic airlines are safer than others.
Safety and Security - Political Situation
Tensions between political parties in Nepal remain significant, with the potential for violent clashes or extremely disruptive strike action. These clashes have, in some cases, resulted in injuries and deaths of party activists. The situation in the Terai and Eastern region remains difficult, with political tensions over the regions' demand for significantly increased autonomy and serious problems in upholding law and order, although these do not generally affect tourists. There are a number of militant groups operating in the Terai and the eastern hills, as well as the tensions between political parties found in other parts of the country.
On 28 August 2011 Dr Baburam Bhattarai became Prime Minister. The political parties concluded an important agreement on 1 November. As they continue their efforts to conclude the peace process, there may be some street protests and disruptions over the next few months.
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 are on the rise and an increasing number of people are being caught smuggling drugs in to and out of the country.
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.
For further information on Local laws, customs and travellers tips you should check the website of the Nepalese Embassy in the United Kingdom: www.nepembassy.org.uk.
Entry Requirements - Visas
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.
Entry Requirements - Passport validity
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. For passport applications in the UK, you should apply to the Identity and Passport Service.
Contact your GP around eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.
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. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 60,000 adults aged 15 or over in Nepal were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage is estimated at around 0.4% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. Exercise the normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 102 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Health - Avian Influenza (H5N1)
Outbreaks of avian influenza amongst birds have been identified on 26 March in the Kathmandu Valley, Lalitpur and Bagmati provinces. We advise British nationals to avoid any direct contact with birds or bird faeces. No human cases of avian influenza have been reported. Local authorities are working to contain the outbreak.
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.
Natural Disasters - Flooding and landslides
Travel in the rural areas during the Monsoon season (June - September) can be hazardous and care should be taken. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days at a time. You should check access routes before setting off on a journey. The Government of Nepal Meteorological Forecasting Division provides weather updates (in English): http://www.mfd.gov.np/.
Natural Disasters - Earthquakes
On 18 September 2011, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale struck the north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim, which borders Nepal. It caused damage and a number of deaths in Nepal. On 13 November 2011 an earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale struck the Gorkha district. There was a further small tremor in the region around Biratnagar on 28 March 2012. There were no reported deaths or major damage on either occasion. On 11 April tremors were felt in Nepal after an earthquake with an initial magnitude of 8.7 struck off the coast of Indonesia.
Nepal lies in a seismically active region and is considered high risk. Earth tremors are common across Nepal. Lack of adequate emergency preparedness, medical facilities and emergency equipment will increase the impact that an earthquake could have in Nepal and the Kathmandu Valley in particular. The British Embassy would only be able to offer limited Consular assistance in the days immediately following a severe earthquake in Kathmandu Valley due to the likely impact on local infrastructure and inaccessibility of many places.
If you are travelling to Nepal you may wish to consider checking with your tour operator what contingency plans the operator may have in place in the event of an earthquake.
The National Society of Earthquake Technology – Nepal (NSET) provides information of what actions you should take in the event of an earthquake in Nepal: http://www.nset.org.np/nset/php/english.php.
General - Insurance
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. See our Travel Insurance page.
You should take out full insurance cover for medical treatment, accidents and evacuation by helicopter (presently costing between 1000 and 2000 pounds per flying hour). 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.
General - Money
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.
General - Indian currency in Nepal
The Government of Nepal has banned the use, import or export of 1,000 Indian rupee and 500 Indian rupee notes. British nationals should ensure that they do not enter or leave Nepal with either 1,000 or 500 Indian rupee notes. The Revenue Investigation Department will confiscate any notes and also impose a fine of the amount seized, payable in local currency. Lower denomination notes from India are accepted in Nepal.