Traveling in Nepal during the monsoon – what to do & safety

Rice planting in Nepal during the monsoon season
Rain in Thamel Kathmandu
Monsoon season in Nepal means scenes like this in Thamel, Kathmandu for a few hours most days

Traveling Nepal in the Monsoon Season means taking care

I don’t particularity like traveling in Nepal during the monsoon season (late June, July, August), or rainy season as it’s sometimes known as. Not because there’s nothing to do, but because of the bad infrastructure (roads) and communication.

Beware of overzealous tour companies promising everything is possible in Nepal during the off-season (monsoon) – it’s not primarily due to the danger of bad infrastructure

There’s still lots to do in Nepal that’s fun and exciting but you should be aware of the extra things that happen when the seasonal rains come.

Rain waters rush down a street in Pokhara Nepal during monsoon season
Rain waters rush down a street in Pokhara Nepal during monsoon season

There are constant road closures which are never announced which means being stuck on a bus for up to 19 hours. Many activities are stopped due to the rains. Flights are frequently delayed or cancelled. Cities and villages get flooded. It’s also humid and hot.

There’s an element of danger too. Landslides and mudslides are regular occurrences in Nepal during the monsoon season. While generally tourists are safe it’s important to know how to take care and what to avoid.

When is monsoon season in Nepal?

The monsoon rains generally arrive in mid to late June. They continue through July and August. In recent years climate change has meant that the rains have often been delayed as they are in 2019. Then when they come they are either persistent light rains that last all day or torrential heavy downpours that last a couple of hours and cause flooding.

Even though Nepal is a small country monsoon rains change a little throughout the country. The Kathmandu Valley usually remains cooler and less effected with daily downpours that last a few hours -localized flooding occurs but usually clears quite quickly. Pokhara, Lumbini and Chitwan usually remain hot, humid and have heavier downpours.

In the mountains downpours remain constant depending on altitude. You can still get very clear skies above 4,000 meters at certain times of the day. With rains coming at night or during daily bursts. Clouds can roll in though and obscure mountains for days at a time. However, mountain weather is notoriously difficult to predict so airing on the side of caution is best.

Going to Nepal later in the year? Do read about the best time of year to go trekking in Nepal.

Landslide in Nepal during monsoon season
Landslides are common occurrences in Nepal during the monsoon season so avoid overnight buses and stay in stable accommodation

How to take care when traveling to Nepal in the monsoon season

  • Bring good quality breathable rain gear
  • Ensure your footwear is either waterproof or easy to dry
  • Bring waterproof bags for your electronics
  • Be patient

Bus travel during monsoon season: Take recommended tourist buses instead of local ones during the monsoon season. Taking a tourist bus to Chitwan or Pokhara can result in additional delays due to landslides the night before. Most are not “dangerous” per se but roads can be blocked for up to 8+ hours. Do read more about the Kathmandu to Pokhara bus.

Trekkers during monsoon season in Nepal
Trekkers during monsoon season in Nepal

Taking local overnight buses is not advised as monsoon rains often hit hard at night, adding an element of danger to your journey. So travel during the day on tourist buses is a better option.

Flights during monsoon season: Flights are often canceled during the monsoon season in Nepal. Always aim for the first flight of the day. If it’s canceled then there’s a strong likelihood it won’t take off until that afternoon or the next day.

Bad communication skills in Nepal mean that even calling from Kathmandu to a hotel in Pokhara to ask about the weather doesn’t mean you’ll get a straight answer. Don’t let it stop you from asking, but do not expect to find out too much information.

Stay in good accommodation: if you are on an extreme budget monsoon season is not the best time of year to stay in makeshift accommodation on hills or under them. Most don’t have foundations and are not ready for the monsoon rains. Stay in registered accommodation preferably in a town or village that’s not known for landslides. Do check out my accommodation pages starting from hotels in Kathmandu.

Clearing a road in Nepal during monsoon season
Roads are often blocked during monsoon season in Nepal so expect bus delays

Trekking during monsoon season

All treks remain open. However since the 2015 earthquake Langtang treks, in my opinion, are still not safe during the monsoon season. Especially for those who have never been trekking before. It’s a very profitable trek for many trekking companies so there are many reports of it being open, it is. However there were fatal landslides in 2016 and 2 reports of trekker fatalities in 2017 in Langtang. Personally, I would avoid it during monsoon season.

The best trek in Nepal during the monsoon season is without a doubt the Upper Mustang Trek. The arid desert landscape soaks in the rain and fantastic blooms appear in the valley which are often highlighted by the dramatic rustic colors of the mountains and blue sky. The cloud don’t often last long in Upper Mustang and the monsoon is considered lighter there than anywhere else in Nepal. Upper Mustang is one of the rare treks in the world when the monsoon season is actually one of the best times to go!

Chhusang in Upper Mustang During the monsoon season
Chhusang in Upper Mustang during the monsoon season offers spectacular scenery with little rain

For other treks to consider then look at the Annapurna side for shorter treks. Dhampus, Australian Camp. Even Mardi Himal. I would avoid Annapurna Base Camp due to the slippery nature of the terrain there. Annapurna Circuit is wet, but feasible. Everest Base Camp is also possible but there’s a high chance of cloud coverage.

View of the Annapurna Mountain range from Australian camp during monsoon season
View of the Annapurna Mountain range from Australian camp during monsoon season

The good news is that during monsoon season many of Nepal’s treks start filling up with beautiful flowers making it one of the most unique periods to visit them if flowers, fauna and wildlife are what you want!

In all cases I would recommend taking a guide with you during monsoon season trekking in Nepal for safety reasons. They can call ahead for weather reports, know what to do and where to stay during heavy downpours. I also highly advise anyone who goes trekking during the monsoon season to get good Nepal travel insurance, including the altitude you’ll be going to. Not doing so, is simply crazy!

Things you can do during monsoon season in Nepal

Visit heritage sites throughout the Kathmandu Valley! All heritage sites are open and safe during the monsoon season in Nepal. Visit Kathmandu Durbar Square, take a heritage walk in Kathmandu, or visit Bhaktapur, Patan and visit Panauti, Kritpur or Thimi. It’s all easy and feasible. What’s more if it’s been raining the stone and metal around the temples can make for lovely photos.

Taleju bell in Bandipur
Rainy season can bring out the highlights of many temples throughout Nepal

There’s lots of things to do around Kathmandu city too. Including some lovely heritage walks.

Mountain biking is often touted around the Kathmandu Valley during the monsoon season. But I don’t recommend it until both the traffic and pollution is cleaned up. It’s just not a fun experience in the humid heat and rain mixed in with all that traffic. Try Pokhara or Chitwan instead for mountain biking!

Chitwan and Bardia are possible to visit but it’s very hot there and tigers are usually deep in the jungle then. Rhinos and elephants will be more common in Chitwan. While in Bardia it will be harder to spot rhinos but wild elephants will be around. But bring mosquito repellent and rain gear!

Colorful flowers bloom throughout the monsoon season in Nepal
Colorful flowers bloom throughout the monsoon season in Nepal

Rice planting: the start of the monsoon season sees a local rice planting festival (Ropain) take place in Nepal. Events that invite tourists to plant rice are held in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Alternatively just visit some of the local rice farms to catch a glimpse of Nepal’s staple crop being planted. Check out more festivals in Nepal here.

Spirituality, meditation and Buddhist teachings during monsoon season are all very possible! Visiting monasteries and Lumbini during the monsoon season is very possible. Indeed meditation, yoga and Buddhist centers remain open throughout the country during monsoon season.

Nepal is open during monsoon season … but you will need to plan for it

As you read above there’s plenty to do in Nepal during the monsoon season. But you should plan ahead. Pack well and be prepared for bus or flight delays.

Rice planting in Nepal during monsoon season
Rice planting in Nepal during monsoon season

For those planning to visit during the rainy season do check out my Nepal guidebook below which is filled with things to do during monsoon season.

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19 Replies to “Traveling in Nepal during the monsoon – what to do & safety”

  1. Great information for off season travel in Nepal. I’m surprised more people don’t promote it.

  2. Interesting to know this. I forgot “why” Nepal has so many seasons.

  3. I never thought about traveling to Nepal during monsoon season. Its summer holidays here then so something we need to consider.

  4. I can’t help but be worried about those landslides though!

    1. Yes. And, you should be worried! I tell it like it is here in Nepal. Don’t take overnight buses during the Monsoon season!

      During Peak seasons in Nepal March, April, May and September, November and October there is no rain so no danger of landslides.

  5. Your Nepal section is second to none. We’ve planned out our entire trip here. Thanks so much for being so honest about traveling there.

  6. Where is the best place to visit if we were to visit nepal for a week in mid August?

  7. So much help here. Thanks for thr overnight bus info during off season. We weren’t sure. Now, sticking to day bus. Do you have any information on the current bus to chitwan?

    1. The Mugling Sauraha road is bad in the monsoon season. The buses are leaving at 6.30am to avoid the traffic. Otherwise going to Pokhara first and taking the Jalpa route is a little faster these days!

  8. Nice! We were planning a school holiday restricted time to visit Nepal for a trek. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks

    1. Off season trekking is best in the Annapurna region. It all depends on how long you have to trek? If you have a short time then Australian Camp or Dhampus. If longer, then try the Annapurna Circuit. More information in the post above!

  9. Thank you for your informative guides! I’ve been considering a trip to Nepal and I’m still unsure about whether or not to go. From this post though… I’ll keep reading!

  10. hi,

    We have planned a 17 day tour to visit Nepal/Bhutan starting Oct 24. We heard about the flooding in Nepal at the end of August. Do you think that the flooding aftermath will affect our trip in October? Thanks.


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