Kathmandu authorities are currently undertaking major roadwork projects, limiting access to available roads and causing a deterioration in the quality of over utilised roads, including major arterial roads, throughout the city. Explore alternate routes and anticipate delays. The city's air pollution problem has worsened due dust resulting from these works (see under Health). Roadworks are expected to continue throughout 2017.
Nepal is in a highly active earthquake region and earthquakes and tremors are common. See our earthquakes page for advice on travelling to and living in an earthquake-prone region.
On 25 April 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. The epicentre was 80kms west of Kathmandu. Extensive damage was sustained to buildings, including in the capital, Kathmandu. Avalanches occurred in the Solukhumbu (Everest) and Langtang regions.
A further major earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck on 12 May 2015, followed by a number of aftershocks of magnitude 5 and above. The epicentre was located 76km north-east of Kathmandu in the Sindhupalchok District.
Some trekking routes were badly damaged in the earthquakes, including in the Langtang Valley and Manaslu trekking regions. While some repairs have been made, additional consideration and planning should be undertaken when considering trekking in these areas. Verify your travel plans with your tour company or local authorities. Advise family or friends about your plans, including approximate time frames and trek route.
Australians wishing to support the recovery in Nepal are urged to do so by donating to aid organisations with a presence in Nepal. These organisations are able to effectively deliver assistance on the ground in challenging and variable circumstances.
Travellers should be aware that the monsoon season (June - August) poses a significantly increased landslide risk, including around major roads and in all trekking areas. On 11 June 2015, a landslide at Taplejung in north eastern Nepal swept away a village and killed a number of residents.
Other local travel information
Telecommunications facilities in Nepal are limited and can be unreliable. Mobile phone services may be suspended without notice.
Electricity supplies are unreliable and there is frequent load-shedding during the winter months and in the lead up to the monsoon season. Shortages of essential supplies (including food, water, fuel, gas and kerosene) can occur with limited notice. Businesses, including hotels and guesthouses, can be affected.
Road travel can be disrupted due to demonstrations and strikes (bandhs), often called at short notice.
Taxi drivers frequently refuse to use meters and charge foreigners rates well above the usual meter cost. Refusal to pay has been met with threats against the customer. Fuel shortages can reduce the availability of local taxis and other forms of transport.
Road travel is dangerous at night, particularly in rural areas. Travel between cities after dark should be avoided. Travel on public buses and vans, which are generally overcrowded and poorly maintained, is dangerous. There are frequent accidents with multiple fatalities.
Roads are crowded and not well maintained. Driving standards are poor and traffic laws are often not adhered to. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you are three times as likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Nepal than in Australia.
In the event of an accident, foreigners may be assumed to be at fault and expected to make financial restitution to all other parties. Car accidents resulting in injuries often lead to confrontations, including violence against drivers, and road closures. For further advice, see our road travel page.
Inclement weather conditions may result in flight delays and cancellations. Tourists have been stranded for up to 10 days in locations such as Lukla, the starting place for treks in the Everest region.
Trekking and Tours
Trekking can be dangerous. If you choose to trek in Nepal, only use reputable trekking companies with professional guides. Do not trek alone.
Special regulations apply to mountaineering expeditions and all expedition members are required to have permits. Australians wishing to climb in Nepal should seek information either through reputable trekking companies in Nepal or Australia or from your nearest Embassy or Consulate of Nepal.
Before departing on a trek, seek an update from your trekking company on the security situation and likely climatic conditions in the area you intend to visit. Register on the Smartraveller website and advise family or friends where you intend to trek. Information about trail conditions and possible hazards in the northern regions can be obtained from the Himalayan Rescue Association. Telephone +977 1 444 0292 or +977 1 444 0293. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 travelling 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, TAAN offices in Kathmandu or Pokhara and the NTB office in Kathmandu.
Landmines and improvised explosive devices are a danger in many parts of Nepal, including some trekking areas. Seek advice from local authorities before trekking, observe all warning signs and follow clearly identified tracks.
When planning a trek, ensure you have adequate travel insurance to cover emergency evacuation by helicopter or other means. Ensure you have adequate cover for altitude sickness if you plan to undertake treks into mountainous regions.
The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as rafting, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Carefully check the operator's credentials beforehand and ensure that your insurance policy covers you for all activities that you undertake. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if the locals don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.
Generally, only travellers in organised tour groups are issued visas and permits for the Tibetan region of China. Australians considering travel to Tibet should check the travel advice for China for up-to-date information. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the People's Republic of China before travelling to the Tibetan region of China. If you are in Nepal, contact the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Kathmandu.