Nepal is generally considered a safe country for solo female travelers. Much more so than India by many. Nepal's old conservative society along with an openness to all cultures helps this stay true. However, one should not rest easy just to hear this. There are some issues and precautions to be aware of.
Did you know?
In 2015 Nepal elected its first female president Bidhya Devi Bhandari.
Women play an important role in Nepalese society. Culturally one must understand that Nepal is made up of many different cultures. From a majority Hindu population there are also Buddhists and ethnic groups. The Caste system is still very strong in Nepal and plays an important role in how certain families and not just women are treated.
For women tourists you are are likely to be respected whether you are traveling alone, in pairs or as a couple. Nepalese men are mostly respectful and protective of solo women travelers. There will be exceptions of course but for the most part there is no negativity associated with traveling alone as a woman in Nepal.
It would be highly unlikely to have catcalling, whistling or snide remarks made towards you in public. The exception here is if you dress provocatively as Nepal is a conservative country. Hot pants, very short shorts, sleeveless tops etc,. are not commonplace and often regarded as disrespectful (this applies to men as well). Wearing such clothing is likely to attract snide comments.
Nepali women will be particularly open to striking up friendships with solo female travelers once the initial introductions are done. Some Nepali ladies will be suspicious of a lone female traveler they don't know at first but generally this is an exception. For the most part women travelers are welcomed into family lives more so than men.
It is very rare for a solo female traveler to experience physical sexual harassment in Nepal. However it is important to remember that Nepal has a long history of women travelers falling for the charms of their trekking guides or local guides.
Many Nepalese men are known for their "Casanova" or "Lothario" like qualities. While it is the choice of a woman should she want to initiate such a relationship one should keep in mind that things may not be what they seem.
- Unemployment is high in Nepal and many Nepalese men are looking to get out of the country. A romance is often the easiest way out.
- Likewise a quick romance to many Nepali men can often mean a longer trek, an easier sale and many free meals.
- People usually get married in Nepal at a young age. If an older man is showing interest then there's a very good chance he is still married.
- I can also promise you, from many male conversations I've overheard, that there is also a "bedpost notch" mentality among some Nepalese men when it comes to "bedding foreign" women.
- HIV and STD's are very prominent in Nepal but testing for them is not.
As conservative as Nepal is people will respect a person no matter what they wear. This often leads to confusion when it comes to how female tourists dress. Revealing or tight clothing will garner you attention of an unwanted nature. This might come in the form of heckles or the physical attention of men (and women).
While dressing as a Nepali woman will help greatly in terms of social acceptance and conversation pieces there's often no need to go out and buy a sari just to "fit in". If wearing your normal clothing then it's highly recommended to simply cover up breasts, buttocks and upper legs.
If you have never been trekking before then it's important not to lulled into a false sense of security in Nepal. For a woman or man it's advisable to take a guide with you if it is your first trek.
If you have been trekking in Nepal or elsewhere it is still important to remember that every year some solo trekkers go missing. There have been attacks and murders of solo female travelers in Nepal. That said, these do seem to be exceptions. But there have been cases in the past which you should keep in mind.
Choosing the right trekking guide is vitally important as a solo female traveler in Nepal and it's recommended you meet several guides from several agencies before choosing one you feel 100% comfortable with.
Don't be afraid to ask about their background, references and points of contact.
A good tip is to take a photograph of your guides face, their license, your itinerary and tell them you are sending their details to your family and a "friend in Nepal". There's no need to be harsh about all this, make it a friendly conversation but do so in a way that gives you and the guide an understanding that many people know who you are with and where you are going.
If you are going with a trekking agency, make sure you also send their details to your friends and family.
As with all treks in Nepal do make sure you have the right trekking travel insurance.
If you are looking for other female travelers or Nepali women to converse with then you likely have to be quite outgoing. Staying in the right accommodation with a lively social scene helps. Due to the large amount of accommodation in Nepal this is often a problem. But walking around to several guest houses and finding a busy one to your liking can often help.
Bars and clubs in Nepal are youth oriented and it's probably better and safer to go with company than go alone.
Restaurants or cafes are a good place to meet other women travelers though you'll need to strike up a conversation to do so.
Meeting Nepali women is probably easier in a family run guesthouse than out in the workplace. Meeting one lady from a household and striking up a friendship will likely lead to many more within that friendship circle! .
Menstruation in Nepal is not a common topic. In the past Nepali women have hidden their menstruation and often stay inside during it. Many Nepali men are also not comfortable talking about the subject.
Panty liners (pads) are available in most supermarkets in Nepal. They are also available (but not guaranteed) when trekking in Nepal but it's better and cheaper to bring your own. If you are going to remote areas then its advisable to bring your own supply.
Tampons are not not that common at all in Nepal so if you use them it's probably better to bring your own supply.
Nepal's accommodation for tourists is nearly always fairly central to tourist districts and transport hubs. When arriving for the first time in Nepal you may feel safer to book in mid-range or higher recommended hotel. Read the reviews and feel comfortable with its location. Many hotels offer airport pickups. Where to stay in Nepal? The main tourist areas in Kathmandu are Thamel, Paknajol and Freak street. Of these places Thamel and Paknajol are probably easier for solo women when first arriving in Kathmandu. In Pokhara Lakeside is the easier area to stay. In Chitwan it's best to stay along the main road in Sauraha. Here's my list of recommended hotels in Kathmandu.
Some tips for finding safe accommodation for solo traveling women in Nepal:
- Nepal suffers from many electricity black outs. Always carry a torch with you.
- Don't stay anywhere that you don't feel comfortable in - there a plenty of choices.
- Avoid staying in isolated places where you have to walk back to late at night.
- Avoid walking back to your hotel at night with someone you've just met.
- Sign hotel registration books with your title (Mrs./Ms.) leaving out your first name and include your last name.
- Ask someone at reception to help carry your bags upstairs when you check in (elevators don't always work).
- Use your work address on your luggage tags.
- Tell people you are meeting friends and are not alone.
- Wear a fake wedding band.
- Be sure your room door locks well.
- If you come back and your door is open, don't go in. Return to reception and ask for someone to go back and check your room for you.
Use my hotel search to find your ideal accommodation in Nepal
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