Roads & Transport in Nepal – How to Travel Safely

Road safety in Nepal is a major challenge and, in some cases, downright dangerous. Find out how to ride safely through the mountainous terrain with these transport tips.

Be prepared to be thrown out of bus seats as the vehicle ploughs through potholes, take note of upturned lorries on hairpin bends, and holy cows that loom out of nowhere. This is a place where travel is definitely not for the faint hearted but an experience in travelling.

Driving and Road Safety in Nepal

There are a few roads in Nepal that are badly maintained with massive potholes and many are constructed round the terrain which includes winding roads, hairpin bends and steep precipices with no safety barriers. Combine this with no street lighting in rural areas and in areas of Kathmandu and there is a cocktail with danger written all over it, particularly at night.

Driving during darkness is particularly dangerous in Nepal and any journey is best done in daylight hours. Hitch hiking is not advisable as the drivers of lorries and some cars are often unqualified, and lorries carry dangerous loads which are poorly loaded. Travel on any road in Nepal and the debris of overloaded trucks, buses that misjudged a bend and wonky vehicles serve as a warning.

Expect to be overtaken by cars and lorries on bends and if you are driving be vigilant. Nepal has frequent bus accidents with fatalities. Do not travel on the roof of a bus as it is not only forbidden but the low strung cables across the streets are likely to either throw you off the top or decapitate you.

There are lots mopeds carrying families or boxes of chickens and crash helmets are unheard of. If you plan to hire one do so from a reputable company and only drive during the day. Pedestrians account for 40% of road fatalities in Nepal. Pavements are either non existent or pedestrians do not have priority.

Road Conditions in Kathmandu Valley

Roads in the Kathmandu Valley are congested with little regard for any kind of traffic legislation. The traffic is very poorly controlled and cows which are considered holy have the run of the road. If you are unfortunate enough to kill a cow whilst driving in Nepal you are likely to have to pay compensation to the owner. Auto rickshaws have been removed from Kathmandu as they contributed heavily to the air pollution. There are cycle rickshaws and buses around the city and traffic jams are common particularly between the hours of 9-17.00.

Air Safety in Nepal

There are air crashes in Nepal largely due to the mountainous terrain. Many trekkers fly to Lukla which is one of the most hazardous airfields in the world surrounded by mountains. It also an incredible sight seeing the volume of aircraft handled here.

Nepal is a wonderful country to visit and the road infrastructure can be overcome by travelling in daylight hours and taking care with transport.

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