Generally, Nepal is a very safe place to travel when it comes to crime, violent crime and theft. However, there have been instances of petty crime such as pickpockets and scammers. Our travel safety expert shares her advice on how to stay safe while traveling Nepal.
Nepalese people are generally very honest and hospitable towards visitors to the country. However, in recent years, there have been a number of crime-related scams that are targeted at tourists. These are the things you need to know.
There are a number of checkpoints run by the police in Kathmandu and throughout Nepal. Sometimes, attempts are made close to these border posts to extort money from foreigners. Another increasing problem are the attempts to set up partnerships with foreign visitors. These typically involve financial assistance exporting goods or establishing shipping routes and promise large returns which never materialize.
Travelers should be vigilant and avoid offering to carry jewelry to a business contact overseas. This has resulted in some getting heavy fines at the border. The local police should be informed about requests to carry items, however, the reality is that the authorities are under-resourced and many crimes go unresolved.
Drugs and drug smuggling is taken very seriously with heavy fines and custodial sentences if caught. Even small amounts of marijuana can result in a five-year jail sentence. Never get involved in drugs in Nepal.
It is also important to thoroughly research any voluntary or charitable organization that you are considering, as several organizations have taken money from well-meaning volunteers. The Social Service Council of Nepal has a list of bona fide organizations.
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Theft is becoming a big problem in Nepal, and there have been incidents of trekkers being confronted by groups of men demanding money, as well as muggings and robbery in the cities. When in Nepal, visitors should be vigilant as to where their belongings are and not have valuables on display. It's highly unlikely this will happen to you, and the risk is even lower if you are trekking in groups. Hiking in the mountains alone isn't a smart thing to do, so always go with a reputable guide.
Festival season, which falls between October and November, sees a proportionate increase of crime in Nepal. Keep your belongings out of sight when you're in large crowds, and try to only carry enough cash (hidden somewhere it can't be stolen) that you need for the day.
It's very important that parents don't leave children with people they don't know. There have been occasional cases of molestation and a report of non-investigation by the authorities. Nepal still has some challenges with child labour, where small children can be seen on building sites and factories.
Nepal is a beautiful country, but also one of the poorest in the world. In general, visitors are made very welcome; however, it pays to exercise some vigilance. While the people are some of the friendliest in the world, you should always be careful and not trust the first person you meet on the street.
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