Nepal is sometimes referred to as a Backpacker’s or Adventure Seeker’s Heaven because of its unrivaled natural beauty that draws people from vast corners of the world to visit it. But how safe is it to visit?
Nepal ranks as the 3rd safest country in South Asia, ranking above its neighbor India, and is comparatively rated as moderately safe for tourists. Violent crimes are rare, and most crimes are related to bribery, corruption, and minor street crimes.
In 2018 only, over a million tourists from all over the world, JUST LIKE YOU, flooded to the pristine country of Nepal, which is a record of its own! And to facilitate these large numbers of visitors, Nepal has introduced Tourist Police to cope with any difficult situation and do their part to help tourists enjoy their dream holiday.
As a quality Trekking Service provider who, after travelling with numerous tourists in Nepal and sorting out their experience, we have listed some quick tips for you so you can stay safe in Nepal. Let's dive in.
Health - Food & Water
With a healthy tummy, you can do anything - even summit Everest or the K2! However, with an upset stomach, you'll find even driving to the doctor troublesome. You don’t want to be ill on your vacation, and we don’t want that for you either. So the idea is always to eat clean and pure!
“But that's obvious!” we hear you say. “Must I really be warned?”
Typically, every western tourist visiting Nepal is intrigued by the tasty and spicy cuisines offered at over a thousand spots throughout the main city streets. There’s a lot to tempt your senses, with appetizing food that would make your taste buds crave for more and more savory cuisines. But not all vendors are health-conscious, and making an impulsive choice can lead to tummy trouble, so we think it’s worth sharing the reminder with you.
Of course, while you’re travelling with us, we ensure that your place of stay is appropriate and the food you consume along the way is not only good for your taste buds, but for your tummy too!
You’ll have plenty of choices on offer in the cities while you’re enjoying your free time and exploring the streets for yourself.
So how do you keep your tummy out of trouble?
It’s always a good idea to check Google Reviews or Trip Advisor for specific restaurants before visiting so you can get an idea of experience, service, quality, and the cuisines offered at the restaurant or hotel. You’ll probably discover whether or not your favourite dish or something you’ve been looking forward to trying is served there. And where there is no online review to help you, the Lonely Planet guidebook also has great recommendations for you to try.
If you’re not one for researching and want to dive in and try your luck, then head for the most popular restaurant in the city! If it looks busy, it’s probably a good sign. Their reputation obviously is excellent for many reasons unknown to you, and you may be delighted by what you find there. Try to avoid street foods most of the time, as cleanliness isn’t always a consideration and your health is valuable when preparing to head off on a trekking adventure!
But what about the water?
Regardless of whether you’re in the city or trekking, it is always advisable to carry bottled water and avoid using tap water. In almost all of the treks, including Annapurna Circuit, Everest Base Camp, and Langtang Trek, you will find teahouses at short intervals from where you can buy bottled water. We like to promote responsible trekking, including caring for the environment, as rubbish collection and recycling are major issues in Nepal. So we recommend our guests always purify their water, rather than purchase disposable plastic bottles. For this reason, most trekkers like to use Lifestraw Water Bottles because you can collect and drink water straight from the tap in the city, or from the mineral-rich freshwater streams along the trekking trail. And if you can’t find a Lifestraw Bottle before you leave home, never fear, because they are now available in the tourist district of Kathmandu!
Above all, stay HYDRATED!
Drugs & Illegal Activities
You're travelling in a country with people you don't know. It should go without saying, but if a stranger approaches you and offers to sell you drugs...DON'T BUY! Just don’t! Let us tell you before you find out for yourself - Nepalese jails are no place for a fun visit with overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and guards that take joy in beating people. Even a tiny amount of weed can mean paying a good sum of bribes or free accommodation at the jail.
Traveling Alone / Travelling as a Woman
If you're a lone bird or prefer to travel solo, the good news is that Nepal is an excellent country for solo travelers. The people you'll meet are friendly, and they’ll smile and wave at you as you pass by and will warmly reply if you want to communicate.
Nepalese people may also invite you in for a hefty chit-chat over a cup of tea at their place, and would be delighted to host you. Basically, the people are just curious, and they love to see foreigners in their land, which they consider a blessing because tourism is their main source of bread and butter.
As you proceed trekking, you won’t find yourself too lonely because you will meet other foreigner trekkers like you with whom you can share your journey and spend some time with while relaxing after a long day of trekking. And, as you’ll have one of our guides with you, you’ll always have someone for hearty conversation if you need, while you spend more time with yourself and nature. Not only that, but our guides offer you safety on the trail, and someone to ensure you don’t get lost or to take care of you should you fall into ill-health.
To keep connected with loved ones back home, or in case you need to contact your guide, you can also purchase and activate a Nepalese SIM Card once you arrive in Kathmandu. You’ll get service in most places, even the mountains, so your phone can be used in most locations if you need.
We understand as a female traveller, you may feel uncertain about travelling with a male guide, however we would like to assure you that our staff is highly professional, and you will not face any issues throughout your journey. We're always there to facilitate, guide, and protect you.
But we understand your need for safety, and to reassure your loved ones back home, so we would like to offer you a couple of suggestions that we are happy to accommodate you with:
Share your itinerary along with our company details with your family or friends back home so that they always know where you are heading and what your plans are. And we will also have backup phone numbers of your close loved ones, to keep them updated in case of an emergency.
Register yourself with your embassy on reaching Kathmandu along with your itinerary details, your length of stay, and the details of our company.
Once you're in the streets of Nepal, you may be approached by people offering fake gemstones, or boasting about their products that you'll need on your trip, which they’ll tell you might not be available on the trek. Some might even try to put a tikka on your forehead in exchange for money. Don't fall for such scams! Long story short, don't buy everything you're offered.
We will provide you information regarding all of the necessary equipment you'll need prior to starting your journey. In fact, we even have a handy Equipment Checklist that you can read up on, and which will also be emailed to you after your booking. All of our itineraries even have time allocated for any last minute shopping that may be needed to prepare for your trek, so that you don't have to worry about anything on the go. Of course, if you like something, you can buy whatever you feel like!
Theft & Pickpockets
Thefts and pickpockets may have a sharp eye on your belongings in transport hubs and lodges. Though not common but also unavoidable, you have to be careful with your luggage and personal equipment.
An outsider who's swinging his cash and has a Go-Pro attached with many bags can be an easy catch. Act modest and be careful of your surroundings.
You can consult your hotel's staff about the insights of the area and avoid going out alone after midnight or into dark areas. Although it is uncommon to get robbed, it’s wise to take precautions.
Keep good care of your personal cash and passports. Nothing gives peace of mind more than having your passport and cash safely secured in a money belt. Try getting yourself an inconspicuous money belt that sits under your shirt before heading off on your trek.
Unfortunately, Nepal lies within an active seismic zone, meaning there's always a danger of an earthquake or landslide. In 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook the country, causing major damage and fatalities in Kathmandu, the Everest region, and within other trekking regions. The entire village of Langtang was buried in a major landslide, killing over 200 people, while the overall death toll was over 10,000 people.
A threat of natural landslides or earthquakes always looms when trekking in Nepal, along with snowdrifts and avalanches. And the rain in the monsoon season can exacerbate these risks from June to September even more. So expect the possibility of delays, have some extra days planned, and we’ll be sure to check the weather forecast before proceeding on your adventure trip. Having adequate Travel insurance is always recommended on any sort of trekking adventure.
Nepal saw a spike in political instability during the Civil War of 1996-2006, along with the massacre of the Royal family in 2001, and the subsequent collapse of the monarchy, but things have settled since then. Civil unrest is often an issue within the country because of increases in tax, increasing poverty, under-representation of marginalised groups, monarchist sympathies, and rising prices of commodities. This can often lead to strikes (bhanda) or protest groups which can cause a temporary shutdown of business and transport routes.
It’s best for you to avoid such crowds and gatherings, or anything that looks like a protest group, as they can quickly get out of hand, and may result in the Nepal riot police becoming involved. However, the dust usually settles as quickly as it arises. The idea is to keep yourself away from any such crowds if you can.
Don't push yourself HARD
Although you're on an adventure trip, that doesn't mean you're competing with yourself or anyone. There will be times when an adrenaline rush will make you go the extra mile or push that little bit harder to reach your destination, but it is always advisable to know your limits to avoid injury, altitude sickness or general ill health.
The routes can be long and tiring, and sometimes you may find you need some extra rest to continue again. Don't rush the process, and move with the pace designed for you to enjoy yourself and get the most from the itinerary. And as we mentioned previously, having an extra day or two planned will allow you the peace of mind to move at your own pace and be able to respond to anything that arises - whether it’s illness or injury, or merely because you’ve fallen in love with a particular place and want to stay and explore a little bit longer!
Having Travel Insurance is vital for trekking in Nepal. Even the finest and robust travellers can get sick on the trail, have their luggage stolen, or struggle to pay medical bills after an injury. We wouldn't want anything such misfortune to happen to you. Find out more about getting yourself covered by reading up on what we have to say about Travel Insurance, to see you continue your days of trekking!