Asia and Oceania

Nepal Flag of Nepal

Still current at: 11 June 2008
Updated: 05 June 2008

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Air Travel section.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • There is a general threat from terrorism.  Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.  There have been a number of incidents in the run up to the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly scheduled for 28 May.   See the Terrorism section of this advice for more details.

  • The wider security situation in Nepal remains subject to change due to the political volatility in the country. Civil disorder increased in the run-up to elections and may continue in the wake of the elections.  If you intend to travel to the region you should remain vigilant and remain in close touch with your tour operator.  See the Political Situation and Local Travel sections of this advice for more details.

  • You should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.  Bandhs, rallies and demonstrations can cause widespread disruption and can be called at short notice, leaving transport severely disrupted and blocking roads and major highways.  See the Political Situation and Local Travel sections of this advice for more details.

  • The main types of incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in Nepal in 2007 were generally as a result of either trekking accidents or drug-related incidents.  You are strongly advised to use a reputable travel agent and only trek with an experienced guide and in a group.

  • We also strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check for any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you plan to undertake.  See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and the " Travel Insurance " page for more details.

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a general threat from terrorism.  Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.  Recent significant incidents include:
 
On 28 May two bombs exploded within ten minutes of each other outside the venue of the Constituent Assembly meeting in Kathmandu.  At least four people were reported injured.

On 27 May, one bomb exploded at Ratna Park  Six people were reported injured. On 26 May, three pipe bombs exploded in Kathmandu, two in the New Baneshwor area.  There were no reported injuries.  

On 16 May at 1915, a small bomb exploded outside the Norwegian Embassy in Patan, to the south of Kathmandu.  No one was hurt.
 
On 7 April 2008 a pipe bomb exploded in the New Baneshwor area of Kathmandu.  There are reports that at least eight people were injured.  There were also bombings in Birgunj and in Sunsari district that injured a number of people.
 
On 5 April 2008, there were two pipe bomb attacks in central Kathmandu.  No casualties have been reported.
 
On 4 April 2008, two pipe bombs were thrown from vehicles close to an office of the Election Commission and Armed Police Post in the Patan area of Kathmandu.  No casualties have been reported.

On 30 March 2008 four bombs were thrown at the Choti Mosque in Biratnagar. Two people were killed and others injured.
 
On 14 January 2008, a small bomb was thrown at a moving micro-van (public transport) close to the venue of a mass political gathering in central Kathmandu.  Several people were injured.
 
During 2006 and 2007, there were a significant number of bombings, shootings and armed clashes across Nepal, including in areas frequented by foreigners, resulting in the death and injury of many Nepalese civilians.  Tourists have also been injured.  Violent incidents, including bombings, have continued in 2008 despite the cease-fire announced under the Comprehensive Peace Process.
 
The security situation in Nepal can and does change rapidly.  You should contact the British Embassy for advice on the latest security situation before going to areas not normally visited by tourists.
 
For further information and advice please read Terrorism Abroad.

Crime

Since May 2007, there have been a number of unprovoked attacks on foreigners in the late evening in the Thamel district of Kathmandu.  You should be vigilant in this area after dark and are recommended not to remain in the area alone after late evening.

Incidences of Maoist extortion of money from trekkers and climbers frequently occur on all main trekking routes.  There are reports that tourists have faced demands for "taxes" upwards of 5000 Nepalese rupees.  Trekkers and other individuals who resist extortion demands are threatened and have in the past been physically assaulted.
 
In 2005, there were several incidents of female tourists being attacked, including cases of rape, by bands of criminals.  If you are a female travelling alone, then refer to our Women traveller section section and also Rape, Sexual Assault and Assault.

There have been reports of trekkers being robbed where violence or the direct threat of violence has been used.

If trekking, you are strongly advised to use reputable trekking agencies, to remain on established routes, and to always walk in groups.  We strongly recommend that you do not trek alone and avoid becoming separated from your group at any time.
 
For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad.

Political Situation
 
Nepal Country Profile
 
Following the largely peaceful elections on 10 April 2008, a Constituent Assembly was sworn in on 27 May 2008.  On 28 May 2008 the Constituent Assembly is expected to declare Nepal a republic. Celebratory gatherings are planned by these have the potential to turn violent.  There have been several bombs in Kathmandu in protest of the change to republicanism. You are strongly advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings and to remain vigilant at all times.

A peace agreement between the Government of Nepal and the Maoists was signed in Kathmandu on 21 November 2006 thereby ending 11 years of conflict in Nepal. Both sides have agreed a permanent ceasefire, which is being monitored by the UN. 

On 22 and 23 January 2008 there were widespread demonstrations in Kathmandu and a number of other cities against recent government increases in fuel prices.  Many of these demonstrations became violent, with tyres burnt and vehicles, including those of foreigners, attacked.  Although the government has now withdrawn the fuel price increase, the situation on the ground remains unpredictable with fuel, cooking gas and other essential supplies at a critically low level.
 
Tensions remain high between rival political groups and occasional clashes have broken out.  In March 2007 at least 28 Maoists were killed during a clash with the Madhesis People’s Rights Forum (MJF) cadres in Gaur, central Terai.  The security situation in general throughout the Terai appears to be steadily deteriorating.  Elsewhere in the country clashes have resulted in injuries and deaths of party activists and candidates.
 
Local Travel
 
Major street demonstrations, disturbances and road blockades occur frequently in Kathmandu and elsewhere in the country, often at very short notice.  In the past, such events have suddenly turned violent.  Transport can also be severely disrupted; roads and highways could be blocked.  You are therefore strongly advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings and remain vigilent at all times.

Since January 2007, at least 170 people have been killed in violent riots in the Terai.  The riots and roadblocks in the Terai caused severe unrest and spread rapidly.  Transport has been severely disrupted and passengers have been stranded throughout Nepal.  The riots and roadblocks in the Terai prevented fuel, cooking gas and other essential supplies reaching the rest of the country. 

Transport usually operates freely in the Kathmandu valley, except during times of major demonstrations.  Traffic in Kathmandu normally flows reasonably well though there are sometimes major jams during rush-hour in the city.  Access to the valley from the Pokhara direction has improved with the widening of the road at the major checkpoint entering Kathmandu.
 
As stated above, the situation outside the Kathmandu valley remains unpredictable.  It is therefore important that you keep a close watch on the local media for advance notice of upcoming developments.  A good source of local up-to-date information can be found at British Embassy Kathmandu.  Your hotel or guesthouse will also be able to advise you and the British Embassy website carries up-dated local security advice.
 
If you are concerned about the areas you are travelling to, please contact the British Embassy in Kathmandu on arrival for up-to-date adviceon the security situation, which can change rapidly.
 
Road Travel

You must have an international driving licence to drive a vehicle in Nepal.  You are strongly advised to carry your licence with you at all times when driving as well as any documents relating to the vehicle itself.

Traffic in Nepal drives on the left, as in the UK.  The general standard of driving throughout the country is poor and badly regulated.  Roads in Kathmandu are very congested.  Many drivers are not properly licensed, trained or insured and vehicles are poorly maintained.  There are few pavements outside central Kathmandu and motorists do not yield right of way to pedestrians.

Bus travel is particularly hazardous and multiple-fatality accidents are common.  You should avoid travel on overnight buses.

Road conditions are generally poor and difficult even in the best of conditions.  During the monsoon season (June to September) many roads outside the Kathmandu valley are prone to landslides and become impassable.
 
For further information see Driving Abroad.
 
Air Travel
 
There are several internal airlines operating in Nepal offering internal flights across Nepal.  You are strongly advised to check weather conditions before travelling with internal airlines.  Bad weather conditions in mountainous and hill regions can increase the risk to safety.

You can research the safety and standards of a particular airline or aircraft through the International Civil Aviation Organisation www.icao.int and the UK Civil Aviation Authority www.caa.co.uk.

Local laws and customs

You should not become involved with drugs.  As recent examples have shown, possession of even very small quantities will almost certainly lead to imprisonment.

You should respect local customs.  Women should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops in public places where this might be seen as inappropriate.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You.

Entry requirements

Visas

Visas are required for travel to Nepal.  If you wish to stay for more than 60 days you can extend your visa up to 30 days by applying to the Nepalese Department of Immigration at Bhrikuti Mandap (adjacent to the Tourism Development Board and opposite City Hall) (Tel:  +977 1 4222453 or 4223590); (Fax:  +977 1 4223127).

Overstaying without authority is serious and you can be detained or refused permission to leave until a fine is paid.  For further information you should check with the Nepalese Embassy, 12A, Kensington Palace Gardens, London, W8 4QU (Tel:  +20 7229 1594 or 6231 or 5352); (Fax:  +20 7792 9861) Website: British Embassy Kathmandu

Passport Validity

Entry to Nepal may be refused, and airlines may not carry you if your passport has less than six months’ validity. 

Health

Medical treatment is expensive at Western travellers' clinics in Nepal.  Healthcare is poor in most places outside Kathmandu valley and Pokhara.  You should be aware that it might be difficult to obtain rapid helicopter evacuation if you were to fall ill or suffer a serious accident in a remote area of the country.

In December 2005, nearly 3000 cases of Japanese encephalitis were reported of which more than 300 people died.  The most affected areas were in the western, mid-western and far-western regions of Nepal.  For further details of areas affected please see the World Health Organisation Regional Office for South East Asia website at:  Japanese Encephalitis.

In the 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 74,000 adults aged 15 or over in Nepal were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 0.5% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%.  You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.
 
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Nepal and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre  National Travel Health Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel  or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
 
For more general health information see Travel Health.
 
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
 
There have been no reported cases of Avian Influenza (also known as Bird Flu) in Nepal during the current series of outbreaks.  But the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed cases elsewhere in the region.
 
You should read this advice in conjunction with Avian and Pandemic Influenza, which gives more detailed advice and information.

Natural Disasters

Flooding/landslides

Travel in the rural areas during the Monsoon season can be hazardous and care should be taken.  Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days at a time.  It is best to check access routes before setting off on a journey.

Earthquakes

Earth tremors are common in this region and can cause landslides and avalanches in hilly and mountainous areas.

On 29 October 2007 an earthquake affected parts of central Nepal, including the Kathmandu Valley.  The earthquake measured 5.0 on the Richter scale and the epicentre, according to the National Seismological Centre, was the Nuwakot district.

General

Insurance
 
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for activities you want to undertake. If you are intending to travel at altitude in Nepal, please check that your insurance policy provides cover. Many policies do not provide cover over 2,500 metres.  See Travel Insurance for more details.
 
You should take out full insurance cover for medical treatment, accidents and evacuation by helicopter (presently costing between 1,500 US Dollars and 2,500 US Dollars per flying hour).  It is advisable to have cover for unexpected losses such as cancelled flights, stolen or lost cash, cards, passport, luggage and any loss damage or liability resulting from terrorist action.
 
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is how we can help.
 
Consular Registration
 
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.  More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.
 
Precautions
 
To make your trip as smooth and as safe as possible, the British Embassy recommends that you take the following precautions.
  • Register with the British Embassy.  This can be done online by clicking the Consular icon above and following the links for online registration.  Alternatively, please register in person with the Embassy on arrival.
  • Carry your passport with you at all times.
  • Leave a photocopy of your passport and your itinerary with a contact in the UK.
  • Enter next of kin details into the back of your passport.
  • Do not enter 'Restricted' areas.  Strict terms and conditions apply.  Check with a reputable trekking company.
  • Remember:  altitude can and does kill.  To avoid acute mountain sickness ascend slowly and acclimatise fully.  Take professional advice.
  • Reconfirm your flights (both internal and international) before departure as they are often cancelled with very little advance warning, particularly during adverse weather conditions.
Poste Restante

For security reasons, the British Embassy in Kathmandu does not operate a Poste Restante facility.  Any such correspondence should be addressed to the Central Post Office, Kathmandu.
 
Money
 
ATMs are available in Kathmandu and Pokhara.  Credit cards are also useful in most major hotels, restaurants and shops.  However, it is always prudent to check first that a particular card is acceptable.  Both Euro and US Dollar travellers’ cheques can be cashed relatively easily in most banks and major hotels throughout the country.

Travel advice for this country

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contacts

Nepal, Kathmandu, British Embassy

Address:

British Embassy
Lainchaur Kathmandu
(P O Box 106)

Telephone:

(977) (1) 4410583
(977) (1) 4411281
(977) (1) 4414588
(977) (1) 4411590

Fax:

(977) (1) 4411789

Email: BEKathmandu@fco.gov.uk

Office hours:

GMT:
Mon-Thurs: 0230-0645/0745-1115
Fri: 0230-0730

Local Time:
Mon-Thurs: 0815-1230/1330-1700
Fri: 0815-1315

Website: http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk/nepal