This is an annual report produced
in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in
Kathmandu, Nepal. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Nepal. For
more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Nepal-specific page
for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some
of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this publication assesses Nepal at Level 2,
indicating travelers should exercise increased caution due to the potential for
isolated political violence. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Kathmandu as being a HIGH-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Much of the criminal activity affecting Nepal is street crime,
such as bag snatching and pickpocketing, particularly in the tourist areas of
Kathmandu’s Thamel, the city of Pokhara, and the Annapurna region. Review
OSAC’s reports, All That You Should
Expatriates are potential targets
due to their perceived wealth and possible lack of area expertise and security
awareness. The welcoming and kind nature of Nepalis can often give people a
false sense of security and make them vulnerable to exploitation by
Burglary and violent crime (e.g.
assault, murder) occasionally occur throughout the country. Firearms are not
common, but used occasionally in criminal acts; the use of edged weapons and
acts of physical assault are more common. While foreigners can be targets of
violent crime, particularly in the common nightlife areas, travelers can manage
most risk through good procedural security.
There appears to have been an
increase in traditional criminal activities by organized criminal gangs, such
as smuggling and targeted assassinations of business or labor leaders. These
activities usually target Nepali citizens and residents.
In 2019, authorities uncovered a
ring of criminals utilizing stolen ATM cards to drain ATMs throughout
Kathmandu. ATM card skimming and other forms of electronic bank fraud do occur
occasionally in the larger cities of Nepal. For more information, review OSAC’s
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and
Other Areas of
Adventure travel such as trekking,
rafting, and climbing in the Himalayas has significant security and safety
concerns due to the nature of the activities, the likelihood of isolation and
the consistent lack of a timely emergency response. Opportunistic crime is also
a concern. Travelers interested in engaging in adventure travel should only do
so through reputable organized groups and/or reliable companies that provide an
experienced guide and porters who can communicate in Nepali and English. Never
Road Safety and Road
Traveling Nepal’s roads remains
one of the country’s greatest risks to the safety of travelers. Many roads
outside Kathmandu are narrow, unpaved mountain lanes. During monsoon season,
rain and mudslides often wash away sections of road. Congested roads strain to
support heavy truck and bus traffic. Many drivers may have little regard for
safety. Serious accidents happen frequently on rural roads due to hazardous
conditions, poor mechanical state of the vehicles, and a lack of adherence to
traffic rules. When accidents occur, they can be catastrophic due to
overcrowding of buses and the lack of guardrails and other safety equipment on
the mountainous roadways.
Driving in Kathmandu can be
dangerous. Motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and animals – all traveling
at different speeds – congest narrow roads. Authorities regulate traffic poorly.
The volume of vehicles on the roads has increased significantly in recent
years. Drivers often ignore traffic lights, signs, and traffic control officers
even in the most congested sections of downtown Kathmandu. Many drivers lack proper
licensure and training, and drive poorly maintained, aged vehicles. Sidewalks
and pedestrian crossings are nonexistent in some areas, resulting in
pedestrians frequently walking in the roadways. Poor lighting can make
nighttime driving particularly dangerous. In general, drivers do not yield the
right of way to pedestrians. Demolished walls and building facades litter many
roadways, forcing pedestrians further into the street and into the flow of
traffic. For more information on self-driving, review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public transportation vehicles
have questionable safety measures. They are often overcrowded and operated
carelessly. Avoid public buses and microbuses. Taxis can be safe, but travelers
should select those that appear in good working condition. Taxis must use
metered fares. However, most drivers prefer to negotiate fares in advance. Travelers
should insist on the use of a meter or negotiate a fare in advance.
For more information, review
OSAC’s Report, Security
in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Weather can often delay domestic
flights, particularly in mountainous areas. Airport security and screening at
some of the domestic terminals can be rudimentary at best.
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Kathmandu as being a MEDIUM-threat
location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government
There are no reports of
transnational terrorist organizations operating in Nepal. However, due to the
open-border policy with India and few immigration controls, terrorists have
used Nepal as a transit point in the past.
Indigenous groups have been
responsible for a number of terrorist acts, many of which have relied on
placements of small-scale improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Not all
incidents have involved functional devices, with some appearing to have failed
to detonate and others clearly built as hoaxes designed to spread fear or send
a message. The 2019 by-elections saw multiple small IEDs used to discourage
voter turnout. The use of explosives is routine to political competition;
however, they are also associated with criminal activity, including workplace
disputes and extortion.
Most IEDs do not appear to target
maximizing deaths or injuries. Rather, the use of IEDs in Nepal is
predominantly to damage property, detonating away from crowds and at off-hours.
However, three IED explosions in Kathmandu in May 2019 did result in several
deaths and numerous injuries.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Kathmandu as being a MEDIUM-threat
location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S.
The 2019 by-elections saw limited
and sporadic violence by groups opposing specific candidates or outcomes. While
small and predominantly peaceful protest marches were most common during the
pre-election period, small IEDs used on Election Day disrupted polling station
While groups will often call bandhs
(large sit-down protests that paralyze traffic intersections) in advance,
protests, demonstrations, and disruptions can occur without notice. These
events have blocked major roads or intersections. Demonstrators have
occasionally attacked vehicles passing nearby. If sufficiently large enough, a bandh
will force the closure of businesses and schools and disrupt vehicular traffic
throughout the area. A bandh will
traditionally last from sunrise to sunset. Some groups enforce the observance
of bandhs through violence and intimidation. Avoid vehicular travel
through a bandh. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
is located in a seismically active area. In 2015, major earthquakes struck the
greater Kathmandu Valley and surrounding regions, resulting in over 8,000
deaths and 20,000 injuries. The damage from these earthquakes remains evident
around Kathmandu Valley. Another large-scale earthquake would further destroy
infrastructure and buildings throughout the country. Emergency services are
inadequate to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.
the annual monsoon season (May-September), heavy rains can cause flooding. In
recent years, the Koshi River in southeast Nepal has been prone to flooding,
resulting in a substantial loss of life and property. Travel by road during the
monsoon season can be hazardous, as many roads in Nepal are unpaved and can
Pollution is a serious
health concern, particularly in cities, with the Kathmandu Valley experiencing
some of the worst pollution in Nepal. Many travelers use air masks capable of
filtering air particulate during the height of the dry season. Find information
on air quality in Kathmandu on Air Now’s website.
Nepal relies on run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities, electricity load
shedding may occur during the dry season (November-April), resulting in rolling
power outages (brownouts). Electricity in Kathmandu has become more reliable of
late; however, daily power outages still occur. Outages outside the Kathmandu
Valley can last 14-16 hours per day during peak season.
Local markets are flooded with
counterfeit goods, and vendors will often claim certain items are made of
high-end materials when they are not. Evaluate carefully the authenticity of
the goods you purchase.
Harassment of female travelers,
particularly when using public transportation or in bars and taverns, has been
While certain portions of the
population may espouse conservative views, Nepal’s constitution guarantees
LGBTI rights and protects the community from discrimination. Nepal’s LGBTI
protections are among the most progressive in the world. However, Nepal remains
a conservative and traditional society. Discrimination exists, and there have
been reports of non-violent harassment of LGBTI persons. Accordingly, LGBTI
travelers may wish to be discreet and avoid public displays of affection. For more
information, Review the State Department’s webpage on security for female
travelers and LGBTI+
Religious conversion and
proselytization are illegal in Nepal. Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
Individuals with disabilities may
find accessibility and accommodation difficult throughout Nepal. Nepali law
prohibits discrimination against persons who have physical and mental
disabilities, including discrimination in employment, education, access to
health care, and in the provision of other state services. The law mandates
access to buildings, transportation, employment, education, and other state
services, but these provisions generally are not enforced. Nepal’s poor
infrastructure makes it impracticable in many cases for a mobility-impaired
traveler to move around the country, including within the Kathmandu Valley. The
government is largely ineffective in implementing or enforcing laws regarding
persons with disabilities. Except for a few clinics and hospitals, Nepal mostly
lacks accessible and appropriate accommodation for individuals with
disabilities. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
strong legal provisions prohibiting drug consumption, possession, and
transport, drugs are available openly in Kathmandu, especially in areas tourists
frequented. Although Nepal is neither a significant producer of nor a major
transit route for narcotic drugs, domestically produced cannabis, hashish, and
heroin traffic through Nepal every year.
not carry or store any packages from a stranger; there have been instances in
which packages concealed contraband material or drugs, and police arrested the
foreigner who accepted the package for possessing the illegal substance.
A lack of resources and training
hinders security and law enforcement agencies, as do varying levels of
professionalism. Response to a crime may take an extended period or may not
occur at all.
U.S. citizens harassed or detained
by local police should contact the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section/American
Citizen Services at +977-1-423-4000. For assistance after-hours, ask for
American Citizen Services when prompted by the Marine Security Guard at Post
One. Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and customary
international law, an arrested U.S. citizen has the option to request that the
police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy, and have
communications forwarded to the U.S. Embassy.
U.S. victims of crime should dial 100 (the equivalent of 911 in the U.S.). The individual
should also report the incident to the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section/American
Citizen Services. Download the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
the Nepal Police’s Tourist Division at +977-1-424-7041 or just dial 1144.
the Nepal Tourism Board at +977-1-425-6230, +977-1-425-6216, +977-1-425-6229,
Nepal Police Operation Center’s 24-hour line is +977-1-441-1549 or
The Nepal Police (NP) and the
Armed Police Force (APF) are the primary police agencies.
NP wear blue marked uniforms and are routinely seen directing traffic and
patrolling streets. They are the primary criminal investigative agency for law
APF usually wear blue camouflage and are often seen providing security for
government or critical infrastructure facilities. The APF would often be the
responding agency for emergencies. The APF do not have arrest authority and
cannot conduct a criminal investigation. Victims of crime must contact the NP
to file a report.
Medical care is limited and generally not up to Western
standards; medical facilities are often overwhelmed because of insufficient
resources. Local medications are of varying quality, and supply is not always
sufficient. Clinics in Kathmandu can address some routine medical complaints
and can perform basic emergency surgeries. Emergency medical services,
especially in public hospitals, are of poor quality compared to that available
in the United States. Ambulances are available, but often consist only of a van
with stretcher and driver, and do not generally have any medical equipment or
Serious illnesses often require medical evacuation (medevac)
to the nearest adequate medical facility in a neighboring country. Serious
illnesses and injuries suffered while hiking in remote areas may require
evacuation by helicopter to Kathmandu. For more information, refer to OSAC’s
Report, Medical Evacuation: A Primer.
For domestic helicopter rescue
from the mountain regions to Kathmandu, most private hospitals can coordinate
this service, (CIWEC, Grande International Hospital, Mediciti). You may also
contact helicopter companies directly to arrange rescue and they transport to
various hospitals in Kathmandu. These same facilities arrange for medical
evacuation regionally or to the US, but most often it is up to the air
ambulance company to decide where the patient will go. Domestic and
international air medevacs from Nepal only happen during daylight hours. Find
contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance
services on the U.S.
Serious illness or injury may
require international medevac to the nearest adequate medical facility (e.g.
Singapore, Bangkok, or New Delhi), or to the United States. Illnesses and
injuries suffered while trekking often require a helicopter rescue. The cost
for a helicopter rescue from remote areas to Kathmandu is typically
$3,000-$10,000. Medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost in excess of $50,000. If
a patient has medevac insurance, the insurance company will coordinate the air
ambulance. For someone without medevac insurance, the treating hospital in
Kathmandu can help coordinate, but the patient will have to pay cash before the
ambulance will head to Kathmandu; the cost varies from $50,000 to $100,000. Consider
emergency evacuation insurance before any travel to Nepal.
Some clinics and hospitals in
Kathmandu accept credit card payment, but others accept only cash. Prepare to
pay bills in full before treatment, or before discharge from an in-patient
facility. Consult with your medical insurance company prior to travel to Nepal
to confirm whether your policy applies overseas and will cover emergency
The U.S. Department of State
strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling
internationally. Review the State Departments webpage on insurance
Altitude sickness in the Himalayas
can affect even the most seasoned climbers and trekkers. In its most severe
forms, it is a life-threatening illness. Treat it immediately by descending to
a lower altitude and seeking medical assistance. Flying directly to Lukla or
Lhasa (in Tibet) brings travelers to high altitudes with no time for their
bodies to adjust. Physical training or fitness has no impact on altitude
sickness susceptibility. For more info, refer to OSAC’s Report, Traveling
in High Altitude.
Diarrhea and other gastro-intestinal ailments are the most common
health problems for travelers, especially during the summer monsoon months. Diarrhea
is rarely life threatening. However, if symptoms persist or if you have special
health concerns, contact a medical professional. Following the below tips should
help prevent gastro-intestinal problems:
buying food/beverages from street vendors or other unhygienic establishments.
eating raw/undercooked meat/seafood.
eating raw fruits/vegetables, unless they have a thick peel and you have peeled
bottled carbonated beverages or water that you are sure has been boiled/treated
with iodine/chlorine. Be aware that water bottles in remote locations are
sometimes refilled with tap/stream water. Make sure the seal on the bottle is
intact before you open it. For more information, refer to OSAC’s Report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health
guidance for Nepal.
Country Council Information
Nepal’s OSAC Country Council meets
on an irregular basis. Interested private-sector security managers should
contact OSAC’s South
& Central Asia team with any questions.
U.S. Embassy Location Information
Embassy of the United States of
America, Maharajgunj, Kathmandu
Hours of Operation: 0800-1700
Monday - Friday
Marine Security Guard Post One: +977-1-423-4100 or 3100
Before you travel, consider the
OSAC Risk Matrix
OSAC Travelers Toolkit
State Department Traveler’s Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
Nepal Country Information Sheet