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Nepal - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Nepal. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the fragile political and security situation.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty theft is common, especially near tourist sites, on buses and in hotel rooms. Do not leave personal belongings unattended. Armed robberies, particularly of solo trekkers, occur occasionally. Exercise caution in and around Kathmandu and other cities. Take particular care when walking around Thamel, a popular tourist spot in Kathmandu, where pickpocketing is common. Do not travel after dark.
There is a significant increase in crime, including thefts, purse and bag snatchings, pickpocketing and break-ins, during the festival season, which extends from September to November. Maintain a high level of personal security awareness and ensure that your personal belongings and your passports and other travel documents are secure.
Women are vulnerable to harassment and verbal abuse. Dress conservatively, particularly in remote areas. Female tourists travelling alone are more at risk of violent attacks. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
Political protests are common in Nepal and sometimes result in violence. Transport and public services may be disrupted at short notice.
In recent years, politically motivated protests have been particularly volatile in Kathmandu as well as in Nepal’s southern region bordering India, which has at times resulted in supply shortages and affected border crossings. Since January 2016, the situation in Nepal’s southern region has become less volatile and traffic flows along the India-Nepal border are relatively normal. However, demonstrations have still been occurring in Kathmandu and elsewhere in Nepal.
Remain vigilant, monitor local news reports and avoid large crowds and demonstrations.
General strikes (bandhs) are a popular form of political expression and can occur on short notice throughout the country, affecting access to services. While bandhs are usually peaceful, riots and violence are possible. During a bandh, businesses and roads may close and transportation services may be unavailable or severely disrupted. Avoid travelling on public transportation during or immediately preceding bandhs, as tourists have been injured. Transportation to and from airports throughout Nepal could be affected. Army and police checkpoints are frequent, especially at night. Follow the advice of local authorities and respect curfews and roadblocks.
Exercise caution when travelling by road as road conditions and driving standards are poor and traffic laws are not enforced. Traffic drives on the left. Drivers often drive at excessive speed and often do not yield right-of-way to pedestrians. Many mountain and hill roads, which can be hazardous even in the best weather, are intermittently impassable during the monsoon season due to landslides. Traffic is congested in the Kathmandu Valley.
Most public buses are often poorly maintained and accidents involving buses, often causing injuries and fatalities, are common. Avoid travelling on overnight buses. Tourist buses are generally safe.
Boat accidents are not uncommon in Nepal due to the overloading and poor maintenance of vessels. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unfit, especially where there are strong currents.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Trekking and mountain climbing
Emergency services such as evacuations and rescues from remote areas are available but can be hindered by the lack of immediate payment of helicopter rescue services or positive response from clients of their insurance companies, as well as limited access to regular phone service in many trekking areas. There have been reports of helicopter rescue scams in the past; ensure that you are dealing with reputable helicopter companies. Check with your trekking agency for updates on the security situation in the area.
All trekkers must purchase a Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card from the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) or an authorized trekking company. You must obtain a National Park entry permit before entering official trekking regions or routes such as those in the Annapurna, Everest and Langtang regions. Permits may be obtained from the NTB after arrival in Kathmandu or Pokhara. For more information, consult TAAN.
A number of hikers and guides have been stranded, injured or killed while trekking. Many popular trekking trails ascend higher than 5,500 metres. You may experience acute mountain sickness at high altitudes and should be well informed on possible hazards in the high mountains. Drops in temperature, changes in weather conditions (including blizzards) and avalanches can occur suddenly in mountainous regions at any time of year. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, be prepared for varying weather conditions, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.
Before leaving Kathmandu, check with the Himalayan Rescue Association for information about trail conditions and possible hazards in the high country.
If you intend to trek:
a) never practice these activities alone;
b) always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company;
c) buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
d) ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity;
e) ensure that you are properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard;
f) advise a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp;
g) know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal;
h) sign up for the Registration of Canadians abroad service; and
i) obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes.
Organize whitewater rafting excursions through reputable agencies only.
Due to an energy shortage, planned electric power cuts, termed “load shedding,” are a year-round occurrence starting from two hours daily during the June to September monsoon season to more than 12 hours daily toward the end of the dry season.
Landmines and unexploded ordnance constitute a risk in parts of the country, including in some trekking areas. Follow the advice of local authorities, and only travel on well-used roads and paths.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Nepalese authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Nepal or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Nepal, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Canadians must possess a tourist visa to visit Nepal. Tourist visas may be purchased at a Nepalese embassy or consulate, at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu or some border crossings upon arrival. You will need to supply one recent passport-size photo. Ensure that you have the necessary amount of funds (Canadian and U.S. dollars are accepted) with you if you wish to obtain a visa upon arrival.
Tourist visa: Required (valid for up to 60 days)
Business visa: Required (only issued in Nepal)
Student visa: Required
Travel to Tibet
If you intend to travel to Tibet from Nepal, contact the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu for current entry regulations and consult the Travel Advice and Advisories for China for more information.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
An airport user fee, included in the price of the ticket, is charged for all domestic flights within Nepal.
- Measles: Global Update - July 28, 2016 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Travellers to countries in South Asia should speak to a health care provider about getting vaccinated.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in South Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in South Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis and malaria.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is caused by filariae (tiny worms) spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause a range of illnesses. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for lymphatic filariasis although drug treatments exist.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Southern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical services and facilities do not meet Canadian standards outside the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara. Most hospitals require up-front payment or confirmation of insurance coverage prior to commencing treatment. Medical evacuation to Bangkok, New Delhi or Singapore is often necessary for serious conditions. Carry medical and first aid kits.
Consult the CIWEC Clinic, a private medical clinic in Kathmandu, for more information for travellers.
Trekkers may experience frostbite and acute mountain sickness (AMS) at high altitudes. AMS can be deadly. Carry travel and health insurance that includes provisions for helicopter rescue, medical evacuation and treatment for accidental injury and medical emergencies.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences, including life imprisonment, and heavy fines.
Any amount over US$5,000 in cash (or equivalent in foreign currencies) must be declared at customs upon arrival in Nepal.
Photography of military installations and personnel is prohibited.
An International Driving Permit is required. There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Helmets are mandatory for motorcycle drivers.
Women should dress conservatively in public.
Public displays of affection are considered to be inappropriate at many of Nepal’s religious sites.
The Supreme Court of Nepal banned commercial surrogacy services for foreigners in Nepal in September 2015. If you have already entered into such an arrangement, you should seek advice from a local lawyer on how this legislation could affect your situation and, in particular, on any exit requirements. You may also wish to contact the consular section of the High Commission of Canada in New Delhi to inform them of your particular situation.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Nepal. If local authorities consider you a Nepalese citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Nepalese passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The currency is the Nepalese rupee (NPR). The economy is largely cash-based; however, credit cards can be used in major stores, hotels and restaurants. Automated banking machines are available in larger cities such as Kathmandu and Pokhara.
The Indian rupee is legal tender in Nepal; however, given the government of India’s announcement that existing 500- and 1,000-rupee bank notes have been withdrawn from circulation in India, those bank notes are no longer accepted in Nepal. Replacement Indian 500- and new 2000-rupee notes are banned in Nepal until the government of India issues an official notification. It is recommended to carry lower denominations (100 rupee notes), especially in more remote locations where banking options are limited.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Nepal is located in an active seismic zone and there is a continued risk of earthquakes, aftershocks and landslides.
On April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck 80 km east of Pokhara, in central Nepal, causing over 9000 deaths and extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure. On May 12, 2015, a 7.4 magnitude aftershock struck near the town of Namche Bazaar and Mount Everest, near the Nepal-China border, killing 29 people and injuring hundreds.
Verify your travel plans with tour operators and/or guide companies and become familiar with earthquake safety procedures. Exercise caution, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from June to September. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides, resulting in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and hampering the provision of essential services.
Consult our Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 100
- tourist police: + 977 1 424 7041
- medical assistance: 102
- firefighters: 101
Kathmandu - Consulate of Canada
New Delhi - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the consulate of Canada in Kathmandu and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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