Nepal Travel Warning
Visitors are urged to exercise special caution during demonstrations, avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring or crowds are forming, avoid road travel, and maintain a low profile. Curfews can be announced with little or no advance notice.
WASHINGTON, DC, June 15, 2010 -- The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the potential risks of traveling to Nepal and urges caution when traveling in that country. The Department of State remains concerned about the security situation in Nepal. U.S. citizens are urged to obtain updated security information before traveling and they should be prepared to change their plans on short notice. This replaces the Travel Warning for Nepal dated November 19, 2009, to update information on the security and political situation, and to advise travelers about the continuing possibility of political demonstrations and unrest.
Political violence has occurred sporadically throughout Nepal in the past and may escalate due to recent political tensions. Protests, demonstrations, and disruptions continue to occur, often without advance notice. In a recent indefinite strike imposed by the Unified CPN-Maoist Party on May 3-7, 2010, business and transportation were brought to a standstill. During this strike, large demonstrations were held and incidents of localized violence occurred. During past demonstrations, some protestors forcibly closed businesses, damaged vehicles, threw rocks, and burned tires to block traffic. Given the nature, intensity and unpredictability of past disturbances, you are urged to exercise special caution during announced demonstrations, avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring or crowds are forming, avoid road travel, and maintain a low profile. Curfews can be announced with little or no advance notice. U.S. citizens are urged to consult media sources and register with the Embassy (see instructions below) for current security information. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu continues to monitor the political situation in Nepal closely, and advises U.S. citizens that the potential remains for spontaneous demonstrations and political unrest, which could escalate into violence. You should stay current on media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Crime in the Kathmandu Valley and in the major cities of Nepal continues and includes violent crimes, robberies by armed gangs, and harassment of female travelers. Police resources to combat such crimes are limited. Theft and muggings occasionally occur in popular tourist and trekking areas such as Chitwan, Pokhara, the Annapurna region and the Thamel area of Kathmandu. Trekkers have been robbed by small groups of young men, even on popular trails.
Visitors to Nepal should practice good personal security when moving about and avoid walking alone after dark, carrying large sums of cash, or wearing expensive jewelry. Women are advised to pay attention to local customs and dress appropriately in public. In several reported incidents, tourists have had their belongings stolen from their rooms while they slept. There has been an increase in the number of fraudulent schemes perpetrated against tourists. These schemes involve requesting the traveler's assistance, particularly financial assistance, in establishing shipping routes, or business contacts with the United States or other countries, involving jewelry, antiquities, or carpets, promising huge returns.
The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu strongly recommends that you do not hike alone or become separated from larger traveling parties while on a trail. Solo trekking is dangerous, has contributed to injuries and deaths, and makes an individual more vulnerable to criminals. Foreign trekkers have gone missing while trekking alone. The safest option for trekkers is to join an organized group and/or use a reputable trekking company that provides an experienced guide and porters who communicate in both Nepali and English. Destruction of telephone services in many trekking areas has complicated efforts to locate U.S. citizens and make arrangements for medical evacuations when needed. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for the latest security information and to register their itinerary before undertaking treks outside the Kathmandu Valley (see Registration/Embassy Location section below). Trekkers also are advised to leave their itinerary with family or friends in the United States and to check in at police checkpoints where trekking permits are logged.
Travel via road in areas outside the Kathmandu Valley is hazardous due to erratic drivers, poor road conditions, and frequent road accidents. Public transportation, such as microbuses and tuk tuks, should be avoided because they are often overfilled, driven unsafely, and mechanically unsound. You should use taxis with meters or negotiate a price with the taxi driver before starting a trip. However, there have also been instances of taxi drivers tampering with the meters in order to charge higher fares.
Most U.S. official travel outside the Kathmandu Valley, including by air, requires specific clearance by the U.S. Embassy's Regional Security Officer. Active duty U.S. military and Department of Defense contractors must obtain U.S. Embassy clearance in advance for official and personal travel to Nepal.
The U.S. Government's designation of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" organization under Executive Order 13224, and its inclusion on the "Terrorist Exclusion List" pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, remain in effect. These two designations make Maoists excludable from entry into the United States without a waiver and bar U.S. citizens from contributing funds, goods, or services to, or for the benefit of, the Maoists.
U.S. citizens who choose to visit or remain in Nepal despite this Travel Warning are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Nepal. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy during the hours of 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, when the American Citizens Services section is open to the public. Registering makes it easier for the Embassy to contact U.S. citizens in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Maharajgunj. The Consular Section can be reached at 977-1-400-7200, 400-7201. The number for after-hours emergencies involving U.S. citizens is 977-1-400-7266, 400-7269. The fax number is 977-1-400-7281. The Consulate's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current information on travel and security in Nepal may also be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information for Nepal and the current Worldwide Caution, which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website.