Let’s start this off by saying, yes Nepal is safe for travelers! Due to what I’m guessing is a combination of what’s covered in the media and a general lack of knowledge about Nepal, many people question the safety in Nepal. I never once felt threatened or in danger while traveling in Nepal. In fact, my experience was the opposite. I was overwhelmed by the friendliness and warm welcomes by locals all throughout Nepal. Of course it’s still important to stay alert and be informed of safety precautions to follow, so use these Nepal safety tips to be prepared for your trip.
Research the Common Scams in Nepal
In different tourist areas in Nepal (especially temples), a local may approach you or a group of tourists and start explaining the background and history of the temple or whatever site you’re visiting. As nice as Nepalese people are, this is not one of those cases of a local being friendly. When they are done, they will then be expecting payment for their services. The best way to handle these encounters is to cut them off and simply tell them you already have a guide.
Another common scam in Nepal is either a child or a mother and child who will approach you to ask to buy some milk for their baby. They insist they don’t want your money and you can go into the store and buy the milk that they need. The store will then charge the tourist an inflated rate and the scammer will go back into the store and return the milk and share in the profits with the shop owner. In these cases, firmly decline and walk away.
Look out for anyone trying to sell you hashish (marijuana) as it is illegal and there are often undercover cops nearby. I didn’t experience this one personally, but my friend Jub from Tiki Touring Kiwi did multiple times… maybe it was his beard? 🙂
These are just a few examples of tourist scams in Nepal, but don’t confuse these scams with thinking Nepal isn’t a safe place to visit. Many places around the world have their own tourist scams. While it is shady behavior, your safety is not compromised in any way. Declining their offer and not showing interest is all you need to do in most cases. Even if you fall for any of the scams, it happens even to the most experienced travelers from time to time. Take it as a lesson learned and know what to do if it happens again.
Travel via Taxi or on the Tourist Buses Whenever Possible
Since many of the roads are unfinished or damaged, traveling Nepal’s roads are one of the biggest risks to travelers. Traffic is also not regulated, so the streets can be chaotic. The public buses are frequently overcrowded and not operated with caution, so it is recommended for tourists to avoid them.
If you’re traveling with a group you will most likely be traveling via a tourist bus, which is one good transportation option. These are not luxurious by any means, but you will be guaranteed a seat and a safer driver. If you’re on your own, you may be better off hiring a driver or a taxi to get around Nepal.
Pack a First Aid Kit for Nepal
It never hurts to be prepared, and a simple first aid kit won’t take up much room in your bag. If you’ve read my other Nepal posts, you’ll know I focused entirely on the culture and wildlife of Nepal — no trekking involved. A few essential items in your travel first aid kit will have you covered for all your Nepal non-trekking adventures:
- Bug spray – This will be especially useful at Chitwan National Park
- Dramamine, or other motion sickness medicine
- I like the Dramamine less drowsy formula for short flights or bumpy car rides where I want to stay awake – you’re going to thank yourself for all the long bus rides along curvy Nepalese mountain roads.
- For longer journeys I use the original formula that doubles as a sleeping pill for me as it puts me right to sleep.
- Vitamin C – An immune system boost is a must after being on the road for so long
- GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier to protect you from pathogens or bacteria in the water
- Imodium to be on the safe side
- Oral rehydration salts in case of dehydration
- Probiotics – I recommend starting to take these one-week prior to departure
- Lip moisturizer
- Travel-sized hand sanitizer
Don’t Trek Alone
Never go trekking by yourself, it’s always best to have an official guide accompany you. Women should avoid trekking solo with a male guide. While this may seem obvious, I still feel is worth mentioning because it’s easy to lose your way, and some of the routes may not be in the best condition and can be more dangerous than they appear. Also be aware of altitude sickness symptoms and take necessary precautions for acclimating safely.
Avoid Political Rallies or Demonstrations
As with any country, it is best to avoid political events as they can be highly unpredictable. While Nepal is currently mostly peaceful, it’s always possible something will change. Monitor the local news just in case any new occurrences arise, and leave participation to the locals.
Despite Nepal being one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, there is no need to fear for your safety. Nepal is an incredibly safe country and I encourage you to visit to experience the warm, friendly nature of Nepal’s people and culture. For tips on planning your trip, use my culture and wildlife Nepal travel guide to lead the way.
Of course, always be sure to check the latest news before you go so you are aware of any new issues that may have occurred recently. But generally, if you follow your instincts and basic safety precautions, there is very little to be concerned about when traveling in Nepal.
Do you have any Nepal safety tips to add to the list? Share them in the comments below!
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