Official advice:
High degree of caution

Map of Nepal

Warnings by area

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Advice levels

Nepal overall, exercise a high degree of caution ↓

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks.

Districts of Kailali, Bardiya, Banke, Dang, Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Parsa, and Bara, reconsider your need to travel ↓

Think seriously about whether you need to travel here due to the high level of risk. If you do travel, do your research and take a range of extra safety precautions, including having contingency plans. Check that your travel insurer will cover you.

Districts of Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusa, Siraha, Saptari, Sunsari and Morang, reconsider your need to travel ↓

Think seriously about whether you need to travel here due to the high level of risk. If you do travel, do your research and take a range of extra safety precautions, including having contingency plans. Check that your travel insurer will cover you.

Langtang Valley and Manaslu trekking areas, reconsider your need to travel ↓

Think seriously about whether you need to travel here due to the high level of risk. If you do travel, do your research and take a range of extra safety precautions, including having contingency plans. Check that your travel insurer will cover you.

Conditions can change suddenly

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Latest advice, 02 Mar 2016

This advice has revised information on civil unrest in Nepal. The level of advice has not changed. We continue to advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Nepal. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in most areas of Nepal. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to most of the areas of Nepal bordering India, including travel on the East/West Highway, due to widespread violent protests. See Safety and security.
  • Protests in Nepal’s southern provinces bordering India have resulted in a shortage of fuel and other essential supplies throughout Nepal. If you are planning on travelling to Nepal we suggest you contact your tour provider to assess if your tour will be affected by the fuel shortages.
  • 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. You should familiarise yourself with earthquake safety procedures.
  • Following major earthquakes in 2015, we continue to advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Langtang Valley and Manaslu trekking regions which were devastated by avalanches and landslides. These areas remain unsafe. See Additional information.
  • Trekking can be dangerous. If you choose to trek in Nepal, you should only use reputable trekking companies with professional guides. You should not trek alone.
  • The monsoon season (June – August) poses a significantly increased landslide risk, including around major roads and in all trekking areas, given the loose soil from the earthquake combined with monsoonal rains. See Local travel.
  • On 25 August 2015, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued an interim order to immediately halt commercial surrogacy services in Nepal. The Australian Government strongly recommends that commissioning parents not consider surrogacy in Nepal. See our International Surrogacy bulletin and our Overseas births, adoptions and surrogacies page for further information.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
    • organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
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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. You should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Nepal for the most 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 the most up-to-date information.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity.

Safety and security

Civil unrest/Political tension

Since mid 2015, protests in Nepal's southern provinces bordering India resulted in shortages of fuel and other essential supplies throughout Nepal with resupply trucks from India unable to cross into Nepal. The situation has eased with all border points now reopened. However, petroleum products and cooking gas are still being rationed and private vehicles often have to queue to purchase fuel. Hotels and restaurants have cut down on some services. Road transport has been affected and aviation fuel supplies are decreasing and domestic flights will be affected if the situation persists. If you are planning on travelling to Nepal we suggest you contact your tour provider to assess if your tour will be affected by the fuel shortages.

Violent protests and strikes over Nepal's new draft constitution have occurred in parts of the country. It is possible these protests could reoccur continue over coming months.

We recommend that you reconsider your need to travel in most of the areas of Nepal bordering India (the Terai region) as this is where most of the violent protests are occurring. This includes the districts of Kailali, Bardiya, Banke, Dang, Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi, Parsa, Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusa, Siraha, Saptari, Sunsari and Morang.

Australians in Nepal should avoid all protests, demonstrations and large crowds as they may turn violent. If a demonstration or political rally occurs, you should avoid the area, minimise your movements and exercise a high degree of caution.

We also recommend that you reconsider your need to travel on the East/West Highway, which has been specifically targeted by protestors aiming to disrupt travel along this route.

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

A number of violent incidents, including bomb attacks, have occurred at crowded locations and on public transport throughout the country. In 2013, an explosion at a Government office in the Sarlahi district near the border with India, injured 12 people.

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 bandh organisers may forcibly stop vehicles. Travel services, including to trekking areas and outside of Kathmandu Valley, may also be affected.

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

Threats have been made against Christian organisations in Nepal, including schools. A bomb exploded in the Assumption Church in Kathmandu in May 2009. In 2013 Muslim owned houses were burnt in the far east of the country during community unrest.

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. You should 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

The Government of Nepal has banned the import, export and use of 500 and 1,000 Indian rupee notes in Nepal. You should ensure you are not carrying these notes on arrival in Nepal as they will be confiscated and you may be fined.

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

Aftershock and landslide risk

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.

Following these earthquakes, we continue to advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Langtang Valley and Manaslu trekking regions which were devastated by avalanches and landslides. While most other areas have improved, these areas remain unsafe.

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, given the loose soil from the earthquake combined with monsoonal rains. On 11 June 2015, a landslide at Taplejung in north eastern Nepal swept away a village and killed a number of residents.

Australians wishing to support the recovery in Nepal are urged to do so by donating to aid organisations with a presence in Nepal and not to consider travelling to Nepal. These organisations are best-placed to effectively deliver assistance on the ground in what are challenging and variable circumstances.

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. 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 on public buses and vans, which are generally overcrowded and poorly maintained, is dangerous. There are frequent accidents with multiple fatalities. One Australian was killed and four others injured in a bus crash in 2013. Roads are crowded and not well maintained. Driving standards are poor and traffic laws are often not adhered to. For safety and security reasons, travel between cities after dark should be avoided.

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

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

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, you should only use reputable trekking companies with professional guides. You should 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 the Nepalese Embassy (Canberra) or Consulates-General in Australia (Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney).

Before departing on a trek you should seek an update from your trekking company on the security situation and likely climatic conditions in the area you intend to visit. You should 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 remain a danger in many parts of Nepal, including some trekking areas. You should seek advice from local authorities before trekking, observe all warning signs and follow clearly identified tracks.

When planning a trek, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance to cover emergency evacuation by helicopter or other means.

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, you should 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 of the People's Republic of China before travelling to the Tibetan region of China. If you are in Nepal, you should contact the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Kathmandu.

Airline safety

In February 2014, a Nepal Airlines plane crashed in western Nepal, killing all 18 people on board. In recent years, a number of small aircraft travelling domestically have crashed, with some accidents causing multiple fatalities, including international travellers. These crashes have occurred on a number of domestic carriers.

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 instead 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 ones 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: The Nepalese Government has revised its rules for Australians undertaking travel to Nepal for the purpose of surrogacy. On 25 August 2015, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued an interim order to immediately halt commercial surrogacy services in Nepal. The Australian Government strongly recommends that commissioning parents do not consider surrogacy in Nepal. Australians should seek independent legal advice regarding these matters. See our International Surrogacy bulletin and our Overseas births, adoptions and surrogacies page for further information.

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, however 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. You should take care not to offend.

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

We strongly recommend that you 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. We encourage you to 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 page also provides 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, you should ensure your travel insurance covers you for helicopter evacuation from mountainous regions.

Health risks

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. We recommend you consult your doctor before travelling about malaria prophylaxis and vaccination against Japanese encephalitis. You should 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. It is advisable to 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 2500m, 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, you should 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: www.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

On 25 April 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. The epicentre was 80kms west of Kathmandu. Extensive damage was sustained by buildings, including in the capital, Kathmandu, and avalanches occurred in the Solukhumbu (Everest) and Langtang regions. For more information see Local travel.

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 Dolakha District.

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.

On 18 September 2011, an earthquake measuring 6.8 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 and affected transportation routes, telecommunications, and power water, and food supplies.

Landslides and flooding can occur throughout the year, but are more frequent during the monsoon season (June to September). 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

Warnings by area

Map of Nepal