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Nepal

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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 emerging security risks.
  • Demonstrations and protests occur in Nepal. Avoid protests and large public gatherings as they can turn violent. Follow the instructions of local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • Small scale improvised explosive device (IED) attacks occur throughout Nepal, including Kathmandu, and have caused deaths and serious injuries. See Safety and security.
  • Earthquakes and tremors are common in Nepal. Major earthquakes can result in deaths, widespread damage and severe disruptions to essential services. Familiarise yourself with earthquake safety procedures. See Natural disasters.
  • Trekking can be dangerous. Condensed treks can cause serious health problems. Use reputable trekking companies with professional guides. Research the time required to safely carry out your trek. Don't trek alone. See Local travel.
  • If you become ill while trekking you may need to be evacuated by helicopter. Ensure your travel insurance will cover this cost. See Local travel.
  • Landslides happen throughout the year, particularly during the monsoon season (June to September). Major roads and trekking areas can be affected. See Local travel.
  • If you plan to volunteer, read our volunteering overseas page to make sure your experience is safe, ethical and worthwhile, especially if you will be working with children.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements. 

Visas - entry

You'll need a visa to enter Nepal.

You can get a tourist visa-on-arrival. A single-entry visa can be for 15, 30 or 90 days. 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 aren't charged a fee. More information: Government of Nepal Department of Immigration

In other circumstances, you'll need to get a visa before you travel.

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.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of Nepal for up-to-date information.

Visas - exit

You must have a valid visa in your passport to leave Nepal. If your visa has expired, extend it at the Department of Immigration before you depart. 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 overstayed.

Passport

Check the expiry date of your Australian passport before you travel. Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.

If your passport is lost or stolen in Nepal, transfer your visa to your new passport before departing the country. To do this, present 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 from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Beware of attempts to access your passport by deception.  If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The local currency is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR). Declare all amounts in excess of US$5,000, or equivalent, on arrival and departure. You can't take more than NPR5,000 in or out of Nepal.

You can exchange foreign currency for NPR at banks and exchange bureaus in major centres. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and commercial establishments. ATMs are not commonly found in remote locations. Carry enough cash to cover your needs.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Small scale improvised explosive device attacks occur throughout Nepal, including Kathmandu, and have caused deaths and serious injuries. Attacks increase during periods of political tension, such as election time. These incidents usually don't target foreigners but you could get caught up in violence directed at others.

  • On 26 May 2019,  a series of bomb blasts took place in Kathmandu, resulting in several injuries and fatalities.
  • In February and March 2019, a number of bomb blasts occurred in Kathmandu, resulted in several injuries and one fatality.

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

Demonstrations and protests can occur. Calls for political protests and strikes occur from time to time. During strikes, curfews can be enforced in areas affected by protests or throughout Nepal at short notice. Violent clashes between protestors and authorities can occur. Avoid visits to government buildings during political unrest.

Illegal roadblocks and enforced national or local strikes can occur without notice and continue for lengthy periods. Road travel (including by taxi) can be dangerous as protestors may forcibly stop vehicles. Travel services, including to trekking areas and outside of Kathmandu Valley, may also be affected.

  • Avoid demonstrations, protests and other public gatherings.
  • Monitor the media and local sources for advice of planned and possible unrest. Avoid affected areas.
  • Obey any curfews.
  • During strikes, be alert and reduce your movements . Make sure you have enough essentials, including water, food, batteries, cash and medications.
  • Be particularly alert to possible threats when political tensions are high.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Crime

Pickpocketing and  petty theft is common, especially at tourist sites, airports, on buses and from hotel rooms. Bag-snatching and "snatch and grab" attacks, by thieves riding motorcycles, occur regularly. Victims are often injured. Police have increased their presence in Thamel and Durbar Marg, in an effort to reduce crime in these areas.

Tourists have been victims of armed robberies and assaults, including sexual assaults. Victims of sexual assault in popular areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara often had their drink 'spiked' before the assault. Women are at particular risk, especially when alone and at night.

  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Carry a copy of the main pages of your passport at all times.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch.
  • Walk on footpaths (where available), away from the curb, with your bag held on the opposite side to the traffic.
  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in crowded areas.
  • Never accept food, drinks, gum or cigarettes from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
  • If you aren't sure if a drink is safe, leave it.
  • Stick with people you trust at parties and in bars, nightclubs and taxis.
  • If you think you or a companion has been the victim of drink spiking, seek urgent medical attention.
  • Avoid travelling alone, especially if you're female.
  • Never trek alone.
  • If you're the victim of attempted fraud report it to local police immediately.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Monsoon season

The monsoon season is from June to September. Expect travel disruptions and have flexible itineraries where possible. Road travel can be hazardous, especially in the low-lying Terai (plains) regions, where there is higher risk of flooding. Mountainous areas including the Kathmandu valley are prone to landslides. Disruption of air travel and airport closures are also possible. You should monitor Nepal weather information for up-to-date information on conditions and be prepared to change your plans at short notice.

 

Travel from Nepal to India

You need a visa to enter India, including through land border crossings from Nepal. Visas must be arranged before arrival. Visit the Indian Government's Ministry of Home Affairs website or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of India for up-to-date information. See the travel advice for India for more information.

Travel from Nepal to Tibet

Only travellers in organised tour groups get visas and permits for the Tibetan region of China. If you're planning travel to Tibet, first check the travel advice for China and contact an Embassy or Consulate of the People's Republic of China for up-to-date information. If you're in Nepal, contact the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Kathmandu.

Tours and adventure activities

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators are not always met, including for adventure activities such as trekking, paragliding, rafting or kayaking. There may not be enough life jackets or effective safety equipment. Recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be met. Paragliding accidents have caused serious injuries and deaths. Rivers can be unpredictable and dangerous, even for experienced kayakers and rafters.

If you are planning adventure activities, talk to your travel insurer first to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. Carefully check the operator's credentials and safety equipment before booking. Don't be afraid to ask about or insist on safety requirements. Always use safety equipment, even if others don't. If suitable safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.

Trekking and mountaineering

The Trekking Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN) and the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) manage a Trekkers' Information Management System (TIMS). All foreign trekkers, including those not travelling with organised groups, must have a valid TIMS card. The TIMS helps authorities locate trekkers in case of emergency. TIMS cards are available through authorised trekking companies, TAAN offices in Kathmandu or Pokhara and the NTB office in Kathmandu.

Mountaineering can be dangerous. Some mountaineering expedition companies may hire inexperienced guides and save other costs in order to offer cheaper prices, including to climb Mount Everest. Carefully check a company's credentials and experience before book.

Special regulations apply to mountaineering expeditions and all expedition members must have permits.

Some trekking companies or guides may offer condensed treks to attract travellers with time or budget concerns. Shorter treks may not giveenough time to get used to high altitude and may cause excessive physical strain, leading to significant health problems or death. See Health.

Before trekking or mountaineering in Nepal:

  • make sure you have travel and medical insurance that covers the altitude you'll reach, altitude sickness and emergency evacuation by helicopter or other means – see Health
  • research and comply with any regulations that apply to trekking in the area, such as permit or registration requirements - confirm requirements through reputable companies in Nepal or Australia, or through an Embassy or Consulate of Nepal
  • research the timeframe needed to safely carry out your trek, especially to areas of high altitude. A trek to Everest Base Camp should take at least 12 days from Lukla, the start and end points of treks in the Everest region.  
  • engage a reputable trekking company with professional guides - don't trek alone
  • check the security situation, route conditions, and likely weather in the area and be ready to change your plans – more information (trail conditions): Himalayan Rescue Association
  • advise family or friends about your plans, including approximate time frames and trek route.

Some trekkers have been pressured into taking expensive helicopter evacuations at the first mild signs of ill health, without having had a proper medical consultation or assessment. In such cases, insurance companies have declined to pay for the evacuation, leaving the trekker to pay the cost. There are also reports of some dishonest trekking guides or companies deliberately serving contaminated food or water to make tourists sick in order to justify evacuation. Individuals or agents arranging helicopter evacuations have falsely claimed to have confirmed eligibility with a trekker's insurance company. Some travellers have been encouraged to provide false or misleading information to insurance companies regarding the circumstances of an evacuation.

  • If you become ill while trekking, confirm your insurance company's position on evacuation costs (directly if possible), before you agree to being evacuated by helicopter.

Telecommunications

Telecommunications facilities are limited and can be unreliable, particularly outside major cities and towns. Mobile phone coverage doesn't exist in many rural and remote areas.  

Essential supplies

Electricity supplies can be unreliable, including in Kathmandu, 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

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. Roads are crowded and poorly maintained. Driving standards are poor and traffic laws are often ignored. Drivers can be aggressive. Road travel is dangerous at night, particularly in rural areas. Landslides and flooding can damage or block rural roads, particularly during the monsoon season (June to September), often cutting off access to towns or areas for days at a time.

Roadworks and other major infrastructure projects can go on for lengthy periods, causing significant delays on major roads within cities and towns, as well as on highways. Open drains and uncovered manholes are a risk to pedestrians and cyclists. Road travel can be disrupted due to demonstrations and strikes, often called at short notice.

Foreigners are often assumed to be at fault in car accidents, regardless of the circumstances. Locals may demand money. 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.

Landslides and other disruptions can occur in Mugling-Narayanghat highway, a section of the road between Kathmandu and Chitwan National Park.

  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • Monitor the media for road closures.
  • Keep your car windows and doors closed and locked at all times.
  • Avoid travel between cities after dark.
  • 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 (phone 103) to arrive.

Driver's licence 

You'll need an international driving permit (IDP) along with your current Australian driver's licence to drive a vehicle. Driving without an IDP could void your travel and vehicle insurance. If you stay for longer than 6 months you will need to get a Nepali driver's licence. The minimum driving age is 18.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet. Helemts bought in Nepal may not meet Australian safety standards.

Taxis

Use only registered taxis and authorised limousines, which can be arranged through your hotel or resort. Taxi drivers often refuse to use meters and charge foreigners rates well above the usual meter cost. Fuel shortages can reduce the availability of local taxis and other forms of transport. Negotiate the fare with the driver prior to travel.  

Public transport

Travel on public buses and vans, which are generally overcrowded and poorly maintained, is dangerous. There are frequent accidents with multiple fatalities involving intercity buses.

Accidents involving private hire cars and jeeps travelling between cities regularly coccu and can cause injuries or death. If you are concerened, ask your driver to slow down and drive safely.

Harassment of females (including sexual harassment) on public buses is common.

Air travel

Domestic flight cancellations and delays occur frequently, especially during tourist seasons when the airport is crowded and during rough weather. This can cause travellers to miss international connections or to be stranded. In the past, tourists have been stranded for up to 10 days due to bad weather, including in Lukla. Heavy fog in southern Nepal's Terai (plains) regions during winter can result in significant flight disruptions. Always check flights with your airline or tour operator.

Tribhuvan International Airport will undergo runway upgrade works for from 1 September to 31 December 2019. The airport will be closed between 11:30pm and 6.30am daily. Although airlines have revised flight schedules accordingly, the reduced operating hours may cause travel disruptions.

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

Due to safety concerns, all airlines certified by Nepali regulatory authorities are banned from operating in Europe.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade doesn't 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 all local laws and penalties, including those that seem harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or imprisoned, 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 prison.

Drug laws

In tourist areas, it's common for foreigners to receive offers to buy drugs. Penalties for drug offences are severe. Tourists found in possession of even small quantities can be convicted and imprisoned.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Surrogacy laws

Commercial surrogacy is illegal. In August 2015, the Supreme Court of Nepal banned commercial surrogacy services. 

More information:

Other laws

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

Religious conversion is banned. Punishment can include imprisonment and foreigners suspected of proselytising or trying to convert people will likely be deported and banned from re-entering Nepal for years.

Same-sex relationships are legal and Nepali LGBTI persons actively advocate for their rights. However, Nepal is a conservative and traditional society and harassment and discrimination against LGBTI travellers have been reported.

More information: LGBTI travellers

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

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

Local customs

Dress codes are relaxed in tourist areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara, but more conservative in other parts of the country. Dress modestly. Take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you leave that covers overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes coverage for any pre-existing conditions, as well as altitude sickness (and any altitude limit).

If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you thousands of dollars upfront.

Check:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medication available in Australia is available in other countries. Some may be illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor. Opioid medicines are generally not available.  

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Check with your doctor about alternatives before you travel

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Air pollution

Air quality in Nepal varies considerably, especially in winter. Some towns, including Kathmandu, experience very high levels of seasonal smog and heavy pollution. Seek medical advice if you're concerned about the effects of air pollution.

More information: Pollution levels in Kathmandu

Altitude sickness

Travellers who go to altitudes greater than 2,500m are at risk of developing acute mountain sickness (AMS), commonly known as altitude sickness, particularly if the ascent is rapid. 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 high altitudes, see your doctor for advice specific to you and your situation.

Mosquito-borne illnesses

Malaria is a risk in Nepal's Terai (plains) 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
  • avoid insect bites, including by using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing
  • consider taking anti-malaria medication
  • get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis before you travel.

More information

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is prevalent. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Other infectious diseases

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

  • Maintain good personal hygiene, including regular and thorough handwashing.
  • 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.

If you're bitten by a stray dog, monkey or other mammal:

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

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.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

Natural disasters

Nepal experiences earthquakes, landslides, floods and severe weather. Major natural disasters can lead to injuries and deaths, disruptions to transport and essential services, damage to infrastructure, food shortages and health issues.

Be prepared for a major emergency, including by maintaining a functional emergency kit that includes first aid supplies and water treatment or stocks.

If a natural disaster occurs:

  • keep your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag).
  • closely monitor local media and other sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • avoid unnecessary travel to affected regions.

Earthquakes

Nepal is in a highly active earthquake region. Earthquakes and tremors are common.

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.

More information: Earthquakes

Landslides, floods and avalanches

Landslides and floods resulting in deaths occur regularly in Nepal, especially during the monsoon season (June-September). Major roads and all trekking areas can be affected. Avalanches can occur at any time of year.

Severe weather

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

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, 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.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: 101
  • Medical emergencies: 100 or go direct to the hospital
  • Crime: 100 or visit the nearest police station. Alternatively, call the Tourist Police.
  • Tourist Police: 1144 (headquarters); +977 1 470 0750 (Kathmandu) or +977 6 146 2761 (Pokhara)

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

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

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas. For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Kathmandu.

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
Facebook: Australian Embassy, Nepal
Twitter: @AusAmbNP

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

If you can't contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Volunteering

If you are volunteering in Nepal, ensure your overseas volunteering experience is safe, ethical and worthwhile. Research any organisation offering opportunities to volunteer with children, especially in orphanages. Find out whether the organisation you are working with is registered.

The Australian Government discourages Australians from inadvertently contributing to child exploitation through the practice of orphanage tourism, including by participating in misleading volunteer programs.

More information: Volunteering overseas

Additional resources