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Country Description: Nepal is a developing country with extensive facilities for tourists; facilities vary in quality according to price and location.

For the past year, Nepal has experienced a rural Maoist insurgency which has resulted in the deaths of at least 67 people. To date, attacks have not occurred in traditional tourist destinations, nor have American citizens specifically been targeted. Because of the potential for violence, the U.S. Embassy restricts the official travel of government employees to affected areas, and has evacuated U.S. Peace Corps volunteers from several districts. The Department of State advises all American citizens traveling to Nepal to check with the U.S. Embassy upon arrival, to receive the latest security information concerning Nepal.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: Travelers can obtain information on entry requirements by contacting the Royal Nepalese Embassy at 2131 Leroy Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 667-4550 or the Consulate General in New York at (212) 370-4188.

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Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Since February 1996, Nepal has experienced a rural Maoist insurgency which has resulted in the deaths of at least 75 people. To date, attacks have not occurred in traditional tourist destinations, nor have American citizens been specifically targeted or injured. Because of the potential for violence, the U.S. Embassy restricts official travel of government employees to affected areas, and has evacuated U.S. Peace Corps volunteers from several districts. The Department of State suggests that American citizens traveling to Nepal check with the U.S. Embassy upon arrival to receive the latest information about the security situation.

Public demonstrations and strikes are popular forms of political expression in Nepal and may occur from time to time on short notice. These demonstrations are usually nonviolent and not directed towards foreigners. On occasion, however, vehicles have been targeted by rock throwers, and acts of intimidation by strike supporters have been reported. During general strikes {bandhs}, many businesses are closed, and transportation and city services are sometimes disrupted.

Medical Facilities: Medical care is extremely limited. Any serious illness may require evacuation to the nearest adequate medical facility (usually Bangkok). Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services. In general, U.S. medical insurance is not valid in Nepal. Supplemental health insurance which specifically covers overseas treatment and evacuation to the nearest adequate medical facility is useful. The U.S. Embassy in Nepal warns Embassy employees that some locally bottled water may be unsafe and suggests drinking only boiled water or bottled water that has been disinfected (with iodine, chlorine, etc.). Additional information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559 or visit the CDC home page on the Internet at

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Petty crime, especially theft of personal property, is common. While acts of violent crime in Nepal are rare, several attacks against lone foreign trekkers have been reported. Women traveling in Nepal can be vulnerable to sexual harassment and verbal abuse. Inappropriate dress should be avoided, particularly in remote villages.

Sensible precautions to avoid becoming a victim of crime include the following: travel in a group; do not carry large sums of cash or leave valuable articles unattended; change money only at government-sanctioned exchanges; be alert near major tourist sites and attractions where most pickpocketing incidents occur; and carry passports and cash in a protected neck pouch. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to South Asia." They are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws and legal practices of the countries in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: American citizens should be extremely cautious when traveling overland in Nepal. In general, roads are in very poor condition and lack basic safety features. Many mountain and hill roads are impassable during monsoon season (June - September) due to landslides, and can be considered very hazardous even in the best weather. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that citizens not take buses that travel at night. Fatal accidents are frequent. In the Kathmandu Valley, roads are congested. Not only is traffic badly regulated, it is increasing by 15 percent a year. Many drivers are neither properly licensed nor trained. Vehicles are poorly maintained. Sidewalks and pedestrian crossings are non-existent in most areas and drivers do not yield pedestrians the right of way. Of the 4,500 traffic-related deaths in the past year, two-thirds were pedestrians.

Information for Trekkers: Severe storms have caused avalanches and landslides that killed foreign trekkers and their Nepalese guides and stranded hundreds of others. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu strongly advises all American citizens to exercise extreme care when trekking at higher altitudes. Although trails may be clear, trekkers should be alert to the possibility of avalanches from slopes above.

Many popular trekking routes in Nepal cross passes as high as 18,000 feet. Trekkers hoping to tackle the Himalaya must have adequate clothing and equipment (not always available locally) and should be experienced mountain travelers. It is not prudent to trek alone. Trekking alone has contributed, more than any other factor, to injuries and deaths. An increase in violent assaults and robbery on popular trails has made this more important than ever. The safest option is to join an organized group and/or use a reputable firm to provide an experienced guide and porter who can communicate in both Nepali and English.

Keep in mind there are no telephones in most trekking areas of Nepal. Make sure others (especially family and friends in the United States) know your itinerary and, for your own safety, check in at police checkposts where trekking permits are logged. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy upon arrival in the country. A registration file at the U.S. Embassy with your passport information, emergency numbers and travel itinerary is important if anyone from home needs to contact you in case of emergency or if the U.S. Embassy needs to locate you in case of a natural disaster or evacuation. A lost or stolen passport can also be replaced more quickly if you have registered.

Checking on conditions in the high country before leaving Kathmandu can help to reduce risks. Both the U.S. Embassy and the Himalayan Rescue Association are good sources of information about trail conditions and possible hazards.

Border Areas: There have been sporadic reports of difficulties in crossing the border from Nepal to Tibet by land. U.S. citizens planning to travel into Tibet overland from Nepal may contact the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for current information on the status of the border crossing points.

Embassy Location and Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Nepal. The U.S. Embassy is located at Pani Pokhari in Kathmandu, telephone (977) (1) 411179; fax (977) (1) 419963.

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