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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 new security risks.
  • Demonstrations and protests occur in Nepal. Monitor local media, exercise vigilance, and avoid protests and large public gatherings as they can turn violent. Follow the instructions of local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • In August 2017, extensive rainfall caused major flooding throughout southern Nepal, including Chitwan National Park. Many roads and bridges are still blocked by landslides and floods causing difficulty for travellers to get to, and from, Bharatpur airport. Follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor the media for further developments. See Additional information.
  • 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 city 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. Provincial and Federal level elections will be held throughout Nepal in two phases on 26 November and 7 December 2017. 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. See Local travel.
  • 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 the recovery process has progressed, additional consideration and planning should be undertaken for trekking in these areas.
  • Trekking can be dangerous. If you trek in Nepal, use reputable trekking companies with professional guides. Don't trek 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 our Guide for all travellers for general advice.

Entry and exit

Australian citizens require a visa for Nepal.

Tourist visas are available on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport and at land borders. A single-entry visa can be obtained for 15, 30 or 90 days and costs US$25, 40 or 100, respectively. At Tribhuvan International Airport, the fee is payable in major currencies. Land borders only accept US dollars. Children under 10 years of age require a visa but are not charged a fee. More information: Government of Nepal Department of Immigration.

You may be able to extend your visa by applying to Nepal's Department of Immigration in Kathmandu. The maximum stay in Nepal on a tourist visa is 150 days per calendar year, regardless of the number of entries made or visa extensions received.

You must have a valid visa in your passport to leave Nepal. If your visa has expired, you must extend this at the Department of Immigration before your departure. If you overstay your visa, you can be detained or refused permission to leave until a fine is paid. The amount of the fine is based on the number of days you have overstayed your visa.

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 need to transfer your 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 the Department of Immigration.

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.

Travel to India

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

Travel to 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.

Safety and security

Civil unrest/Political tension

Demonstrations and protests are common in Nepal. Violent political protests and strikes occur from time to time. Monitor local media, exercise vigilance and avoid protests, demonstrations and large crowds as they can 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. Road travel (including by taxi) can be dangerous as the protestors 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.

Small-scale improvised explosive device attacks have occurred in various locations throughout Nepal, particularly during periods of political tension. These incidents are not usually targeted at foreigners. Be alert as you could get caught up in violence directed at others.

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 city 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 up-to-date information and make necessary arrangements.

Provincial and Federal elections: The Government of Nepal has announced provincial and federal level elections will be held throughout the country in two phases on 26 November and 7 December 2017. Expect restrictions on vehicle movements and border closures for these elections.

Crime

Crimes against foreigners, such as assault and theft, occur in Nepal. Tourists have been victims of armed robberies and assaults, including sexual assaults. 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 from hotel rooms. Foreigners have been injured in the course of these incidents, particularly when bags are pulled from pedestrians by assailants on motorbikes. Police have increased their presence in Thamel and Durbar Marg, popular tourist districts in Kathmandu, in an effort to reduce crime in these areas.

Tourists have been victims of sexual assault in popular areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara, often related to drink-spiking.  

Trekkers have sometimes been 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.

If you are the victim of attempted fraud, including through charities, report it 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, in Pokhara on +977 6 146 2761, or from elsewhere in Nepal, the Tourist Police headquarters on 1144 (from mobile or landline) or +977 1 424 7041. If you are unable to contact the Tourist Police, report the incident to the nearest police station.

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 by contacting the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Roadworks

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 2017. 

The Mugling-Narayanghat highway, a section of the road between Kathmandu and Chitwan National Park, is undergoing extensive roadworks. The road is closed overnight and travel during the day is affected by heavy traffic and poor road conditions. Allow additional travel time or consider alternatives.

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, 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

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 is 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 are 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 are 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.

Flights

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. Do not 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 are 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 is not available, use another provider.

 

Air safety

In recent years, a number of small passenger aircraft travelling domestically have crashed, with some accidents causing multiple fatalities, including international travellers.

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

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.

More information: Air travel.

Laws

You're 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.

In tourist areas throughout Nepal, it's common for foreigners to receive unsolicited offers to buy drugs. Penalties for drug offences are severe in Nepal. Tourists found in possession of even small quantities could be convicted and imprisoned. See Carrying or using drugs.

Surrogacy in Nepal:  In August 2015, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued an immediate halt to commercial surrogacy services in Nepal. 

More information:

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

LGBTI travellers: Homosexuality is not illegal in Nepal and Nepali LGBTI persons actively advocate for their rights. However, Nepal is a conservative and traditional society and  incidents of harassment and discrimination against LGBTI travellers 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 can be prosecuted in Australia.

Local customs

Dress codes are relaxed in tourist areas of Kathmandu and Pohkara, but 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 doesn't recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian-Nepalese dual nationals who are arrested or detained. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.

More information: Dual nationals.

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's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas, especially if you have an existing medical condition. 

  • 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.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

More information:

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in Nepal are very limited, particularly outside Kathmandu. In Kathmandu, treatment at international-standard clinics is expensive and up-front 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 can be considerable. If you are trekking or mountaineering, ensure your travel insurance covers you for helicopter evacuation from mountainous regions. Be aware of any altitude limits included in the policy.  

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.

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 if you are 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.

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.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing
  • take prophylaxis against malaria
  • get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis before you travel 
  • discuss your travel plans and other vaccination needs with your doctor before you travel.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, swine flu, 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.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease found in mammals in Nepal. If you are bitten by a stray dog, monkey or other animal:

  • immediately wash the wound vigorously with soap and water
  • seek urgent medical treatment for potential rabies infection.

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, in Pokhara on +977 6 146 2761, or from elsewhere in Nepal the Tourist Police headquarters on 1144 (from mobile or landline) or +977 1 424 7041. If you are unable to contact the Tourist Police, report the incident to the nearest police station. Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

In an emergency, contact the following authorities from a mobile or landline:

  • Police, including for a medical emergency: 100
  • Fire services: 101

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

300 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.

If you are unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, 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. Be prepared for an earthquake.  Ensure you have emergency stocks, including water, on hand. See our Earthquakes page 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 at any time of year.

Severe weather events, such as storms and blizzards, can occur with little or no warning, particularly in the Himalayas.

In August 2017, extensive rainfall caused major flooding throughout southern Nepal, including the popular tourist destination of Chitwan National Park. Many roads and bridges are still blocked by landslides and floods causing difficulty for travellers to get to, and from, the Bharatpur airport. Follow the instructions issued by local authorities and monitor the media for further developments.

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. 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