When planning our recent journey to Nepal, uncertainty loomed large in our minds, accompanied by a touch of anxiety. The aftermath of the recent earthquake and the fuel crisis has left us wondering about the state of the country. We questioned what it would be like to visit Nepal at this moment. Would it be safe? Would transportation be accessible? Were we traveling ‘too soon,’ possibly hindering the recovery process? As we crossed paths with fellow travelers in Nepal, we discovered that these apprehensions were shared by many, but they had chosen to cast them aside and embark on their journeys.
To our pleasant surprise, every one of our concerns proved to be unfounded. Nepal was gradually rebuilding itself, maintaining its timeless beauty and warm hospitality. Not only had Nepal reopened its doors to tourists, but it also relied on their support now more than ever. Their heartfelt desire was for travelers like us to return to Nepal.
After six captivating weeks spent falling in love with this incredible country, we have compiled a list of some of the most common fears we encountered. Join us as we dispel these fears and encourage you to visit Nepal this year!
#1 Concern: Visiting Nepal Soon After the Earthquake
The earthquake of the previous year was an indescribable tragedy, marked by immense loss and devastation. With over 8,000 lives lost, hundreds of thousands injured, and entire buildings and villages reduced to rubble in mere moments, Nepal faced an unprecedented challenge. It’s essential to recognize that time did not stand still for Nepal when this calamity struck. The Nepali people are known for their remarkable resilience and deep spirituality, and they wasted no time in initiating the reconstruction efforts. Surprisingly, many of the key tourist areas, such as Thamel, remained largely untouched by the earthquake’s fury. Even those areas that were affected, such as hiking trails, were swiftly repaired and reopened within a mere four months after the earthquake.
During our six-week stay in Nepal, we were genuinely hard-pressed to find substantial evidence of earthquake-related damage. The only noticeable signs were the ongoing renovations in some of the durbar squares and a few alterations to our hiking routes. Moreover, the locals in Nepal are exceptionally warm, welcoming, and generous, going above and beyond to ensure that visitors feel well-cared for in their homeland. Overall, we found Nepal to be as safe, open, stunning, and hospitable as ever. In fact, due to the relatively slow return of tourism, most tourist areas are quieter than usual, providing a significant advantage for sightseeing.
While the initial earthquake was a devastating blow, the continued lack of tourism one year later represents a second seismic shock for the people of Nepal. We urge you to consider booking those tickets and supporting this resilient nation on its path to recovery!
#2 Concern: Difficulty Getting Around Nepal Due To the High Traffic
Navigating the streets of Nepal can be a daunting prospect for travelers due to the often overwhelming traffic conditions. The bustling streets, crowded intersections, and a variety of vehicles from cars and motorbikes to rickshaws and pedestrians can create a challenging environment for those trying to get from one place to another. Concerns about traffic congestion, road safety, and transportation options are paramount for travelers looking to explore this vibrant country.
#3 Concern: Friends and Family Concerns about Safety in Nepal
At times, the enthusiasm we hold for our travel plans isn’t quite matched by our loved ones, the very people we hope will share in our excitement.
Our wonderful, caring friends and family expressed reservations about our journey to Nepal, especially considering the recent earthquake and fuel crisis. Their concerns regarding our safety, the state of infrastructure, and the potential for another disaster were entirely valid. However, within just a day of being in the country, we discovered that most of these concerns were unfounded. If you weren’t already aware of the challenges Nepal faced in 2015, you might not even realize it when walking around the country today.
It’s worth noting that recent global events have shown that crime can occur anywhere in the world, and unfortunate incidents can happen in various places, whether it’s Paris, London, Thailand, Japan, Belgium, Turkey, Sydney, large cities, or small towns. We used to reside in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, and occasionally, there were late-night alcohol-fueled incidents on the very streets we walked to work each day.
What we want to emphasize is that the risk of danger exists in one’s hometown just as it does when traveling, but it doesn’t mean you should miss out on an incredible experience simply because someone else feels uncomfortable about it!
#4 Concern: Is Nepal Dangerous Based on Experiences in Neighboring Countries?
Every country has its unique characteristics, and no place on Earth can be considered entirely free from risk. As a traveler, you may become more susceptible to those who might try to take advantage of you.
That said, Nepal stands out as a distinctly different place from its neighboring countries, and we found it exceptionally safe. It’s a profoundly spiritual land inhabited by warm, generous, and friendly people. Nepali culture is deeply rooted in the belief in karma, where individuals believe that their actions and thoughts influence the universe’s response to them. Time and time again, we encountered genuine hospitality from the locals, which remains one of our most cherished memories of our time there.
Of course, it’s essential to negotiate prices sensibly, dress conservatively (mainly covering shoulders and knees, ladies), and maintain personal safety awareness. Avoid openly displaying expensive gadgets or jewelry, following the typical safety precautions. Nevertheless, overwhelmingly, our experience indicated that you’re far more likely to be engaged by someone wanting to practice their English or simply have a friendly chat than encountering anyone with harmful intentions!
Read more about How safe is Nepal for tourists or travelers.
#5 Concern: Disliking Nepalese Food
Few things can be as disappointing as arriving in a new country with the anticipation of savoring local cuisine, only to discover that you really can’t stand the food. Interestingly, this exact scenario happened to us in Myanmar. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t quite develop a taste for dishes loaded with fermented shrimp paste and mustard leaf, which seemed to feature in nearly every meal.
Thanks to our Myanmar experience, we approached Nepalese cuisine with a touch of caution. Looking back now, it’s rather amusing, because the food in Nepal turned out to be exceptional, whether it was local dishes or Western offerings!
Tourism plays a significant role in Nepal, which translates to a strong emphasis on providing high-quality meals. We eagerly sampled and fell in love with a wide array of local foods, including Dal Bhat, momos, tomato pickles, various curries, samosas, and pakora, to name just a few. And as a delightful surprise, we indulged in more delicious Cordon Bleu and apple strudel in Thamel than either of us has probably ever had in our lives!
#6 Concern: The Culture Shock of Kathmandu
When you search for Kathmandu on Google, chances are you’ll stumble upon articles describing the colossal culture shock that this vibrant, chaotic city can deliver. It’s true; Kathmandu is a bustling metropolis that can overwhelm your senses with its size, odors, noise, and constant activity.
However, beneath the surface of all this commotion lies the delicate scent of incense, the exquisite flavors of local cuisine, the warm smiles of passersby, and the breathtaking sight of countless temples. Nepal is inherently spiritual, and the city has a unique atmosphere that you must experience to grasp.
Kathmandu is a sensory overload that can both amaze and occasionally overwhelm you. It’s advisable to explore at a pace that suits your comfort level, tries to embrace the chaos, and remain open to whatever surprises it may bring. If it ever becomes too much to handle, consider retreating to a serene destination like the relaxed lakeside resort town of Pokhara for a few days to recharge.
#7 Concern: Limited Electricity and Wi-Fi in Nepal
Certainly, electricity can be a precious commodity in Nepal. The country’s high population density, ongoing political tensions, and various natural disasters like landslides and floods since 2006 have resulted in electricity availability falling short of the demand. This has led to daily scheduled rolling power outages.
As travel bloggers who rely heavily on various electronic devices such as phones, cameras, laptops, and power packs, we initially encountered challenges with electricity and Wi-Fi. In the beginning, we had about 5 hours of intermittent charging and limited access to Wi-Fi during the day, which was barely sufficient to keep our laptops running and our batteries fully charged before the power would abruptly cut off again. Fortunately, we discovered some workarounds that proved to be lifesavers.
Most hotels in Nepal provide schedules for their planned power outages, allowing you to plug in your devices while you’re out exploring so they can charge in your absence. Typically, power is available at night, which may seem a bit counterintuitive, but it provides an opportunity to charge most of your devices overnight. It’s also wise to carry spare rechargeable battery packs for emergencies.
Some hotels and restaurants in Nepal have backup generators that may permit you to charge your devices on their premises. Additionally, there are some hidden gems in Thamel, like the Himalayan Java Cafe and Mahabir Centre for Nepal Connection (both located on Mandala Street in Thamel), which offer all-day charging stations and high-speed internet. Plus, the frappes and chicken salads at Himalayan Java Cafe are truly worth trying.
Ultimately, you’ll find that the limited availability of electricity and Wi-Fi isn’t a major concern. You’ll quickly adapt to the local way of life, which emphasizes getting on with things, and you’ll likely spend more time exploring Nepal’s wonders than staring at your Facebook feed.
#8 Concern: Traveling After Covid-19
In a post-COVID world, many travelers are understandably concerned about the potential risks and challenges associated with international travel. Questions about safety, health precautions, quarantine regulations, and the overall travel experience have become paramount. Navigating through the new normal of travel, including vaccination requirements, health certificates, and changing entry restrictions, can be daunting. Travelers are eager for guidance on how to adapt to this evolving landscape, ensuring both their well-being and the enjoyment of their journeys.
Read more about: Nepal Entry Protocol June 7, 2023: for International Visitors
#Bonus Concern: Language Barrier in Nepal
We completely understand that facing a language barrier while traveling can be a daunting and challenging aspect of your journey. Worried about visiting Nepal without knowing a word of Nepalese? You’re not alone – we were in the same boat! Even after spending six weeks traveling there, we had only managed to pick up the most essential phrases and words. So how did we manage?
The good news is that most Nepali people have a basic command of English, and almost everyone working in the tourism industry has a strong understanding of the language. Communicating with people didn’t pose any major difficulties for us. However, making an effort to learn a few key phrases can go a long way in breaking the ice with the locals. They genuinely appreciated our attempts to speak a little Nepalese, and it added a special touch to our interactions with them!