Major roadwork projects are taking place in Kathmandu, limiting access to 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 to dust from these works (see Health). Roadworks are expected to continue throughout 2018.
The Mugling-Narayanghat highway, a section of the road between Kathmandu and Chitwan National Park, is undergoing extensive roadworks. The road is routinely closed for several hours at a time and travel is otherwise affected by heavy traffic and poor road conditions. Allow additional travel time or consider alternatives.
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, causing a large number of fatalities. Extensive damage was sustained to buildings, including in the capital, Kathmandu. Avalanches and landslides occurred in the Solukhumbu (Everest) and Langtang regions. A number of aftershocks over magnitude 5 followed, including another earthquake of magnitude 7.3 on 12 May 2015.
The monsoon season (June - September) poses a significantly increased landslide risk, including around major roads and in all trekking areas. Landslides and floods resulting in fatalities occur regularly in Nepal. Road travel anywhere during the monsoon season can be hazardous, particularly in rural areas. Avalanches can also occur at any time of year.
Other local travel information
Telecommunications facilities in Nepal are limited and can be unreliable, particularly outside major cities and towns. Mobile phone coverage doesn't exist in many rural and remote areas.
Electricity supplies can be unreliable and load-shedding is common, particularly 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 bandhs (strikes), often called at short notice.
Taxi drivers often refuse to use meters and charge foreigners rates well above the usual meter cost. It's expected the cost of the journey will be negotiated with the driver prior to travel. Fuel shortages can reduce the availability of local taxis and other forms of transport.
Harassment of females, including of a sexual nature, on public buses is common.
Road travel is dangerous at night, particularly in rural areas. Avoid travel between cities after dark. 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. Roadworks and other major infrastructure projects can go on for lengthy periods, often causing significant delays on major roads within cities and towns, as well as on highways. Driving standards are poor and traffic laws are often not adhered to. Drivers can be aggressive. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you're three times more 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, regardless of the circumstances, and expected to make financial restitution to all other parties. Crowds of onlookers can gather quickly following an accident and may turn hostile. Car accidents resulting in injuries often lead to confrontations, including violence against drivers, and road closures. If you're involved in a traffic accident and are concerned for your safety, remain in your locked vehicle and wait for the Traffic Police to arrive. The Traffic Police can be contacted on 103 from any mobile or landline telephone. More information: Road safety and driving.
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. Always confirm flights with your airline or tour operator.
Inclement weather conditions may result in flight delays and cancellations. In the past, 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
If you trek in Nepal, only use reputable trekking companies with professional guides. Don't trek alone. Advise family or friends about your plans, including approximate time frames and trek route.
Some trekking routes were badly damaged in the 2015 earthquakes, including in the Langtang Valley and Manaslu trekking regions. While steps towards recovery have been made and most of the country is now fully open to tourism, additional consideration and planning should be made for these areas. Verify your travel plans with your tour company or local authorities.
Be aware of the appropriate timeframe needed to safely carry out any trek, particularly to areas of high altitude in the Himalayas, such as Everest Base Camp. Some trekking companies or guides may offer condensed treks to attract travellers with limited time. Shorter treks may not allow for sufficient time to acclimatise to high altitude or otherwise cause excessive physical strain, leading to significant health problems or death. See Health.
Special regulations apply to mountaineering expeditions and all expedition members are required to have permits. Confirm up-to-date information either through reputable 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 of your plans, including approximate time frames and trek route. Information about trail conditions and possible hazards in the northern regions can be obtained from the Himalayan Rescue Association.
The Trekking Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN) and the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) manage 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 emergency, the system will help authorities locate trekkers. TIMS cards are available through authorised trekking companies, TAAN offices in Kathmandu or Pokhara and the NTB office in Kathmandu.
When planning a trek, ensure you have adequate travel and medical insurance to cover emergency evacuation by helicopter or other means. If you plan to trek into mountainous regions, ensure you're covered for altitude sickness. Many standard travel insurance policies will only cover trekking up to a defined altitude, which may not cover all popular trekking routes in Nepal.
Trekkers have being pressured into taking expensive helicopter evacuations at the first mild signs of ill health, without having undergone a proper medical consultation or assessment. In such instances, the insurance company may decline to pay for the evacuation, leaving you to meet the cost. Individuals or agents arranging helicopter evacuations have falsely claimed to have confirmed eligibility with a trekker's insurance company. If possible, you should confirm eligibility directly with your insurance company prior to being evacuated from a remote location by helicopter.
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 others don't. If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.