Nepal Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Nov 16, 2009
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the 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, and urges American citizens to obtain updated security information before they travel and to be prepared to change their plans on short notice. This replaces the Travel Warning for Nepal dated May 22, 2009 and updates safety and security information.
Political violence remains a problem in Nepal. Protests, demonstrations and disruptions continue to occur, often without advance notice. During demonstrations, protestors have used violence, including forcibly closing businesses, damaging vehicles, throwing rocks, and burning tires to block traffic. Given the nature, intensity, and unpredictability of disturbances, American citizens are urged to exercise special caution during times when demonstrations are announced, 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. American citizens are urged to consult media sources and to register with the Embassy (see instructions below) for current security information.
The Young Communist League (YCL), a Maoist Party affiliate, and several other armed groups continue to engage in extortion, abuse, and threats of violence, particularly in rural areas and the Terai (the border region with India). Youth groups from the other two main political parties, the Nepali Congress (NC) and the United Marxist-Leninist Party (UML), have also formed and clashes continue to take place among these political rivals. In some instances, this has caused local authorities to impose curfews without prior notice. Violent actions by multiple armed splinter groups in the Terai region along the southern border with India remain a significant concern.
Crime in the Kathmandu Valley and in the major cities of Nepal continues and includes violent crime, robberies by armed gangs and the harassment of female travelers. Police resources to combat such crime are limited. Theft and muggings occasionally occur in popular tourist and trekking areas such as Chitwan, Pokhara and 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 help, in establishing shipping routes, or business contacts with the United States or other countries, involving jewelry, antiquities, or carpets, promising huge returns.
Travel via road in areas outside of 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. American citizens 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 transactions such as contribution of funds, goods, or services to, or for the benefit of, the Maoists.
For additional information, please refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad". Americans living or traveling in Nepal are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State State Department's travel registration website or in person at the Consular Section between 1:30 PM and 4:30 PM, Monday to Friday, when the American Citizen Services section is open to the public. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is located at Maharajgunj. The telephone number is 977-1-400-7200, 400-7201. The number for after-hours emergencies is 977-1-400-7266, 400-7269. The fax number is 977-1-400-7281. The Consulate's e-mail address is [email protected] and its Internet web page is http://nepal.usembassy.gov. U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's latest Country Specific Information for Nepal and the Worldwide Caution. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained 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. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).