Well, Traveling is a way of relieving the mind’s burden of everyday hectic life, experience, and exploration beyond one’s comfort zone and experience the beauty of nature and nurture and we all know it very well.
But the big question that arises before locking down the final destination, is the safety of one. As advancement in the internet and communication has made this world much smaller, we do get news of violence of some kind each other day and esp. against women some of the underdeveloped third world countries. Thus, I will try to throw some light on this topic contextual to Nepal.
Nepal is a multi-ethnical country having different cultures, religions, more than 80 different spoken languages, a civilization that has existed for thousands of years. There is a well-written proverb in the Nepalese dialect, “Athiti Deva Bhava” which means guests are god. And yes we mean it.
Statistics show that Nepal has a low crime rate compared to other popular destinations. Very few crimes are reported against foreigners regardless of gender. It is a surprising fact that not a single tourist was harmed during the 10-year civil war in Nepal (1996-2006).
Some reports of fundraising and donations were reported with tourists, and travel organizers in remote areas but rather in a peaceful manner.
All the tour guides, porters, guides, and tour and trekking organizing companies have to attend mandatory classes for safety/concern of travelers before going operational. Even now solo female travelers are traversing from East to West of Nepal and are safe and sound.
Having conveyed some of my points here, there are also some parts to play from the traveler’s side which shouldn’t be ignored at any cost. Below I have enlisted some points and if paid attention to, you are less vulnerable and will never find yourself in trouble.
1. Before You Visit Nepal
A good and intelligent approach before planning a visit is to do very good research. There are a few things you ought to think about knowing and having, to spare you from an awful encounter in the incredible and lovely Himalayan realm.
Insurance, while not a prerequisite for traveling to most places here in Nepal, but is something to be grateful for in case something goes wrong, for example, losing your wallet, altitude sickness, or medical conditions.
Decent travel protection does not cost a ton and can spare your life if things turn out bad in Nepal. Health services (hospitals and clinics) in Nepal are not free. Getting proper insurance is the first step towards safety especially if you are a solo traveler.
Insurance should also include helicopter rescue, as this can be an expensive way to get off the mountain if god forbid something bad happens. Many of the trekkers go missing in the Himalayas avoiding the instructions and not hiring a guide which is out next point.
2. Trekking with a guide.
A trekking guide helps you with the route and will help in case of any issues during your trip. You must make sure the guide is a registered guide with the Government of Nepal/Trekking Agents Association of Nepal (TAAN) or employed by an agency registered with TAAN.
Freelancing guides are also available in Nepal but you should think twice before traveling with them. You shall consider your safety, their availability during the peak season, and insurance. According to the Nepal government, there is no insurance policy for a freelancing guide. You shall take the risk and liabilities by own self which will create problems for travelers.
Some solo travelers have gone missing in the past when traveling alone since higher altitude treks in Nepal can be very lonely and losing the track can be dangerous. Another important fact about the trekking guide is he is aware of alternative routes in case of track blockage due to heavy snow, thunderstorms and next is the proficiency of the language.
Thus, it is extremely important to hire a guide or porter, or someone who can act as both. It is not expensive at all to hire someone. If you are a budget travelers, it is a good idea to find a travel group in travel forums who may be traveling to the Himalayas. Or Agencies like us can help you find a group without any cost.
3. Getting a local phone.
Staying connected is the best way of being safe. If you are traveling solo, it is always a good idea to have a local sim card, can be bought for USD 1-3 in all major cities and airports.
It is advisable to have a number of your embassy and consulate in Nepal to be on the safe side.
4. Traveling or Roaming at Night in Nepal.
Some tourist areas of Kathmandu like Thamel and Lakeside in Pokhara are very vibrant and have exciting nightlife. They are safe but walking back to hotels alone can be risky at times, so take a taxi and let the hotel/restaurant/bar or wherever you are at the moment to make a call for you on your behalf. This provides added extra security.
Also, find like-minded people if you are a party person visiting night clubs and bars late at night. It okay to drink up to where you are aware of your surroundings.
Please don’t do drugs. Substance abuse is illegal and has severe consequences from the authority.
5. Things to Avoid
On a solo trip, there are some things to really avoid or be the victim of crime or retaliation. The most important amongst others are flashing around large amounts of cash or letting others know that you are wealthy. A common misconception in parts of Asia is that all westerners are rich, and that is also the case in Nepal. Useless show off is surely a way to invite trouble.
Nepal is a country of religious tolerance and that is entirely a different topic. With the majority of Hindus and other global religions, people are very tolerant and welcoming towards different religions and societies.
We advise you to be careful about your outfit and taking pictures. Please avoid wearing revealing clothes and avoid short skirts or shorts at all costs, especially if you are visiting religious sites and villages. People in the cities are much exposed to western fashion and culture, so it’s okay.
Please do not involve yourself in any political conflict and religious debate. Hurting other's belief systems or trying to convert them to another is illegal in Nepal and invites unwanted trouble. If you feel something isn’t right morally, please go through a proper channel.
7. First Aid Kit
First of all, we advise you a whole-body medical checkup before your endeavor and see if you have any pre-medical conditions.
If you are traveling alone carrying a first aid kit is very essential, especially on the higher altitude trekking trails. There are minimal health facilities available and your first aid kit could be a lifesaver.
Overall, Nepal is a safe destination but if you are traveling solo always make sure you follow the above-mentioned points to have a wonderful time in Nepal. Thank you and Happy journey.