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Summary  

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Nepal. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
  • There is an increased risk of demonstrations and protests in Nepal. Monitor local media, exercise vigilance and avoid protests and large public gatherings as they have the potential to turn violent. Follow all instructions issued by local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • The Government of Nepal is holding local level elections in Nepal in three phases. On 18 September 2017, the third phase of local elections will be held in province 2, which includes the Terai and regions bordering India, including the border town of Birganj. The security situation in the lead up to, during and soon after the elections may be unpredictable and there may be disruptions to transport and other services. Be aware of the security and political situation and the potential for strikes or other protests related to the elections. See Safety and security.
  • Nepal is in a highly active earthquake region and earthquakes and tremors are common. In the event of a major earthquake, there is likely to be loss of life, widespread damage and severe disruptions to essential services. Familiarise yourself with earthquake safety procedures.
  • Following major earthquakes in 2015, some trekking routes were badly damaged, including the Langtang Valley and Manaslu trekking regions which were devastated by avalanches and landslides. While some repairs have been made, additional consideration and planning should be undertaken when considering trekking in these areas.
  • Trekking can be dangerous. If you decide to trek in Nepal, use reputable trekking companies with professional guides. Avoid trekking alone.
  • The monsoon season (June – September) poses a significantly increased landslide risk, including around major roads and in all trekking areas. See Local travel.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Australian citizens are required to obtain a visa for Nepal. Tourist visas are available on arrival. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Nepal for up-to-date information.

If your passport is lost or stolen in Nepal, you will need to obtain a transfer of visa to your new passport before departing the country. This can be done by presenting a police report, two current passport size photographs and a letter from the Australian Embassy advising of your lost or stolen passport to Nepal's Department of Immigration.

Australian citizens travelling to India from Nepal should note that the Indian Government has made changes to tourist visa regulations that may affect Australian travellers. Visit the Indian Government Ministry of Home Affairs website or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of India for up-to-date information.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity.

Safety and security

Civil unrest/Political tension

There is an increased risk of demonstrations and protests in Nepal. Violent political protests and strikes occur from time to time. Monitor local media, exercise vigilance and avoid all protests, demonstrations and large crowds as they may turn violent.

Curfews may be enforced throughout Nepal at short notice. If this occurs, follow the instructions of local authorities and seek advice from your tour company on safety and security issues.

Illegal roadblocks and enforced national or local bandhs (strikes) can occur without notice and continue for lengthy periods. At these times, businesses close and vehicles are not allowed on the roads. Access to the airport can be disrupted and taxis are not usually available. Even when possible, travel (including by taxi) can be dangerous as the bandh organisers may forcibly stop vehicles. Travel services, including to trekking areas and outside of Kathmandu Valley, may also be affected.

During bandhs, minimise your movements and exercise a high degree of caution. Ensure that you have adequate supplies of essentials, including water, food, batteries, cash and medications.

Threats have been made against religious organisations in Nepal, including schools.

Local level elections: The Government of Nepal is holding local level elections in Nepal over three phases. On 18 September 2017, the third phase of local elections will be held in province 2, which includes the Terai and regions bordering India, including the border town of Birganj. The security situation in the lead up to, during and soon after the elections may be unpredictable. Some political actors have indicated intentions to disrupt the elections. Be aware of the security and political situation and the potential for strikes or other protests related to the elections. Avoid taking part in any political or electoral activities in Nepal.

During previous phases of local level elections held in May and June 2017, Nepal authorities restricted vehicle movement in the voting provinces, other than vehicles with official permits. Similar restrictions on vehicle movement should be expected in province 2 on 18 September 2017, and will likely again cover all private vehicles, public transport, taxis, motorcycles and bicycles. The border with India is expected to be closed for 48 hours leading up to and including election day. Travellers needing to move within or across province 2, including travel to/from airports, should contact their accommodation or travel provider to obtain the latest information and make necessary arrangements.

Crime

Crimes against foreigners, such as assault and theft, occur in Nepal. There have been armed robberies and assaults (including sexual assaults) on tourists. Women, in particular, should not travel alone, especially at night.

Petty theft (including pickpocketing and bag snatching) is common, especially at tourist sites, airports, on buses and in hotel rooms. There have been reports of foreigners being injured in the course of these incidents, in particular when bags are pulled from pedestrians by assailants on motorbikes. There has been an increase in crime in Thamel, the main tourist district of Kathmandu.

There have been occasional reports of trekkers being robbed or assaulted. Never trek alone. Tourists visiting the popular sites of Chitwan and Bardiya National Parks have occasionally been victims of crimes such as theft and robbery.

Attempts by criminals to defraud tourists, including through charities, should be reported to local police immediately. Demands that tourists carry illegal goods should also be reported.

Victims of crime can call the Tourist Police in Kathmandu on +977 1 470 0750 or the Tourist Police headquarters on +977 1 424 7041.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Roadworks in Kathmandu

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. 

Earthquake and landslide risk

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

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.

Flights

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: hra@mail.com.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 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.

Neighbouring Tibet

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.

Airline safety

In recent years, a number of small aircraft travelling domestically have crashed, with some accidents causing multiple fatalities, including international travellers. In February 2016, a Tara Air plane flying from Pokhara to Jomsom crashed, killing all 23 people on board. In February 2014, a Nepal Airlines plane crashed in western Nepal, killing all 18 people on board.

Due to safety concerns, all airlines certified by Nepalese regulatory authorities have been banned from operating in European airspace.

Nepal's only international airport, Tribhuvan International Airport, has a single runway that services both domestic and international flights. Domestic flight cancellations and delays occur frequently, especially during the tourist season when the airport is crowded, and have caused travellers to miss international connections.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the Nepal.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Nepal, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for drug offences are severe in Nepal. Tourists caught in possession of even small quantities could be convicted and imprisoned. See our Drugs page.

Surrogacy in Nepal:  On 25 August 2015, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued an immediate halt to commercial surrogacy services in Nepal. For further important information on international surrogacy in Nepal see our International Surrogacy bulletin and our Overseas births, adoptions and surrogacies page.

In response to increased crime in Thamel, the main tourist district of Kathmandu, bars and restaurants are required by law to close at 11pm. Travellers should take care of their belongings and observe closing times.

It is illegal to take photographs or video images of army barracks, check points and military personnel.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Nepal, but incidents of harassment of LGBTI people have been reported. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Local customs

Dress codes are relaxed in tourist areas of Kathmandu, but more modest attire is recommended when travelling in other parts of the country. Take care not to offend. if in doubt, seek local advice.

Information for dual nationals

Nepal does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Nepalese dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We strongly recommend that you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in Nepal are very limited, particularly outside Kathmandu. In Kathmandu, treatment at international clinics is expensive and up-front cash payment for services is generally required. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs would be considerable. If you are trekking or mountaineering, ensure your travel insurance covers you for helicopter evacuation from mountainous regions.

Health risks

Air quality in Nepal varies considerably, especially in winter, with some towns, including Kathmandu, experiencing very high levels of seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution. Seek medical advice if concerned about the effects of air pollution. See information on pollution levels in Kathmandu.

Malaria is a risk in Nepal's Terai and Hill districts and Chitwan National Park. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis) also occur, including in some areas of Kathmandu. Consult your doctor before travelling about malaria prophylaxis and vaccination against Japanese encephalitis. Take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, leptospirosis and rabies) are common, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. HIV/AIDS is also prevalent. Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Travellers who ascend to altitudes greater than 2,500m, particularly if the ascent is rapid, are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be life threatening and can affect anyone, even the physically fit. Those at greater risk include people who have had altitude sickness before, who exercise or drink alcohol before adjusting to the altitude, or who have health problems that affect breathing. If you plan to travel to altitude, see your doctor beforehand for advice specific to you and your situation.

Highly contagious eye problems such as conjunctivitis are common after the monsoon season.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

For criminal issues, contact the Tourist Police in Kathmandu on +977 1 470 0750, or the Tourist Police headquarters on +977 1 424 7041. You should obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly. You may also lodge a complaint with the Nepal Tourism Board.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below.

Australian Embassy, Kathmandu

500 metres north of Narayan Gopal Chowk
Bansbari, Kathmandu
Telephone: (+977 1) 437 1678
Facsimile: (+977 1) 437 1533
Website: nepal.embassy.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural Disasters, Severe Weather and Climate

Nepal is in a highly active earthquake region and earthquakes and tremors are common. In the event of a major earthquake, there is likely to be loss of life, widespread damage and severe disruptions to essential services. Australians travelling and residing in Nepal are encouraged to be prepared for an earthquake by ensuring they have emergency stocks, including water, on hand. See our earthquakes bulletin for advice on travelling to and living in an earthquake-prone region.

The monsoon season (June – September) poses a significantly increased risk of landslides and floods, including around major roads and all trekking areas. Landslides and floods resulting in deaths occur regularly in Nepal.  Road travel anywhere during the monsoon season can be hazardous, particularly in rural areas. Avalanches can also occur.

In the event of major natural disasters, there are likely to be severe disruptions to transport, damage to essential infrastructure, food shortages and health issues. Australian travellers should avoid unnecessary travel to the affected regions.

Further information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources