Whenever I tell someone new that I travel for a living, they always seem to wonder if I’m scared. I guess it’s a fair question. Most people won’t go to a restaurant by themselves, so going to a foreign country alone can seem terrifying. Fellow travellers often ask me, “Is Nepal safe for female travellers?” I’ll answer that question below, but I feel like everyone has their own experiences. I decided to ask 8 other female travel bloggers what they thought. Here’s what they said…
Emily from Two Get Lost
“When I visited Nepal as a female traveller I was shown nothing but kindness and respect, by everyone from hostel owners to locals on the bus. One experience that stands out for me was the respect I was shown by a guide while I was trekking. Where the path was undercut by the roots of a tree it had all but washed away underneath, and collapsed as I trod on it. I fell down a vertical mountainside, knowing the drop continued for 4000m and miraculously managed to grab hold of some reeds. With no idea how I would get back up I just held tight, until I saw my guide scaling his way down the mountain after me, with no thought for his own safety. He asked if I was hurt and when I said no, he asked permission to hold my arm so he could help me up. He was putting himself in danger to save my life, and he was asking permission to touch my arm.
This gesture of respect will stick with me forever, and highlights the way I was treated throughout my trip. Not only did he get me safely back onto the path, he also went back down to retrieve my rucksack, even with me begging him not to. He walked right behind me with his hand on my rucksack to make me feel secure on the thin mountain paths, until we reached a guesthouse where he ordered me a hot lemon and honey tea. It’s always the people you meet that make travel special, and the people of Nepal stole my heart.”
Megan Maxwell from Mountains with Megan
“I have made two trips to Nepal, spending a total of eight months there. Most of that time was spent trekking, including an 800-mile hike across the Himalaya range. For the most part, I’ve felt very safe in Nepal. For my second trip to Nepal, I had a male hiking partner which shielded me from a lot of the sexism that exists in rural regions.
While I’m perfectly comfortable traveling in the tourist areas solo, like Everest or the Annapurnas, I don’t think I would want to go to rural regions alone. Women aren’t equal, and I don’t think I would have felt as welcome without a man accompanying me. There was one occasion when I ordered a beer at a restaurant, and the waiter asked my male companion if it was OK with him if I had a beer. There was another time trekking solo in the Lang Tang region when a local man saw me and yelled at me for being by myself.
Overall, I would say go ahead and head to the busy trails alone. For rural regions, give it some serious consideration on if you want to go solo or not.”
Hanna from SolarPoweredBlonde
“I spent 6 weeks in Nepal a few years ago. I went there to work in a hospital as a nurse for four weeks and then had two weeks travelling around at the end of my trip. I lived my life as I would in the UK, and I didn’t feel like I should do anything different, apart from dressing more modestly. Each day, I got the bus to the hospital in the morning and never felt unsafe there. Yes, I got a few stares, but this is to be expected in a lot of Asian countries still.
I actually spent my birthday in Nepal, in Pokhara that year, so we all decided to try out the nightlife. At the time there were power cuts throughout the day, with no street lighting at all after 10pm. We walked back to our hotel in the early hours of the morning after staying late at a bar and felt safe. Our hotel had a security guard who let us in, but the 10-minute walk back with our torches we didn’t feel like we should worry at all.“
Amrita from Tale of 2 Backpackers
“Nepal is mostly known to travellers as an adventure destination. But little did I know that my last trip in Nepal would be full of adventure. It was the last leg of my trip, and I was in Pokhara. I was supposed to leave for Kathmandu the next day. My flight home was scheduled the day after from Kathmandu. During the evening, I came to know that there would be a strike in Nepal the next day called by a political party. In Nepal, the strikes are known as “Banda” and usually, Nepal shuts down on such days. I was in a fix. Changing my flight schedule would cost a bomb. I kept asking the hotel owner and the locals about what should be done. Everyone told me not to travel that day as I was a solo female travelling.
One of the hotel staff informed me that a bus was leaving for Kathmandu. I just took the name of god and boarded the bus. The bus left from Pokhara, but to my dismay, it was stopped midway and we were all asked to debark. There were a few tourists like me who had to make it to Kathmandu. On seeing us, the Nepal police escorted us to the nearest hotel. We waited there for nearly 5 hours before the bus was allowed to travel again. I reached Kathmandu in the evening safe and sound.
I believe Nepal is quite safe for female travellers. The locals are friendly and go out of the way to help the tourists.”
Erika from Erika’s Travelventures
“One of the most popular activities for travellers to do in Nepal is trekking in the Himalayas. After spending 25 days on the Three Passes Trek in the Everest Region and 13 days on the Annapurna Circuit, I can say that as a female, I felt safe. Even when I was trekking alone.
Trekking in the mountains requires a certain level of sharpness, intuition, and confidence to feel safe. I don’t recommend going alone for those who are “directionally challenged,” however women should feel empowered to embark on big adventures like this because it’s easy to make friends with other hikers along the way.
In many of the trekking areas in Nepal, local men work as guides or porters who carry goods up and down to the mountain villages. This leaves many women at home to look after the teahouses, where trekkers stay and eat each night. I always felt well-looked after by the Nepali women running the teahouses, who are often the chef, accountant, caretaker, and head-of-household all in one.”
Sophie Lenoir from Bitten By The Bug
“When my sister moved to Nepal for a 3-month internship in physiotherapy, I went over to visit and do some traveling with her. She was staying in Kathmandu, a busy city that drove me crazy because of the uncoordinated traffic situation and the regular begging disguised as conversation-making. We were looking forward to our trip to Pokhara and Begnas lake where we’d enjoy more peace and quiet. Or so we thought.
Very often when we were out visiting, we were approached by Nepalese boys and men who wanted to make conversation with us. As opposed to our encounters in Kathmandu, they had no intentions of begging, they just wanted to practice their English. Although in the beginning we thought it was cute and friendly, we got tired of always receiving the same questions, over and over again. Although generally we didn’t feel threatened or unsafe in Nepal, after a while we did ignore people approaching us because it became quite annoying in the end.”
Charlotte Hockin from Our Taste for Life
“When my partner and I decided to attempt a multi-day trek in Nepal, we wanted to do so on a budget. We scrolled the internet for hours researching how we could keep costs down. And it was clear that we would need to consider trekking independently if we wanted to save cash.
I have to admit, being two females, the idea was a daunting prospect. We had no experience of multi-day trekking in the past and had little idea of what to expect. We knew that if we were to do this, it would have to be a reasonably safe and accessible trail.
Upon further research and enquiries, the Annapurna Base Camp trek came up repeatedly. The trail is in great condition from start to finish, there is little chance of getting lost, and mountain villages are abundant. With this in mind, there were few concerns with completing the trek independently.
We went on to complete the trek in just 7-days. It was a moderately difficult route; however, not once did we feel uneasy or concerned for our safety. The local villagers, guides, porters, and other travellers always greeted us warmly. And the trail was safe and easy to follow. For female travellers considering trekking independently in Nepal, the Annapurna Base Camp trek is the perfect choice.”
Inma from A World to Travel
“I could not have felt safer during my almost three weeks exploring Nepal. From the 5 days I spent walking the Annapurna eco-community trek to my stay in little towns like Panauti and cities like Pokhara and Kathmandu; everyone I met in this country welcomed me as warmly as they could. I would recommend it to any woman traveling alone, it is wonderful.
Walking the streets of downtown Kathmandu along with another female traveller, we were struck by the beautiful sarees of two students. So we asked them where they had bought them. To our surprise, it was their school uniforms. Seeing that we loved them, they offered to accompany us to the store where they had bought them so that we could also have our own sarees. After that, they invited us to go with them to taste some incredible momos (Nepali dumplings) in a small food stand. I will cherish this memory as long as I live. Not only did we have a great time but their extreme friendliness and confidence in foreign travellers made us understand that we could also feel comfortable and safe in their country. “
A World to Travel has an article full of safety tips for solo female travel in Sri Lanka. Check it out!
Michelle from Full Time Explorer
“After living in New York City for several years, I sometimes think my view of safety is a bit skewed. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt in danger in Nepal because I am a woman. One time, I was walking down a street in Kathmandu at night and a young man was walking behind me while pushing his bicycle. We were the only two people on the block, and he began to talk to me. I never felt threatened and my gut feeling told me he was harmless. After a few minutes of chit chat, he asked if I’d like him to walk me home since it was dark outside. He was genuinely concerned for my safety, and didn’t mind going out of his way to help me.
On another occasion, buses had stopped running, and I was slightly stranded coming home from the gym at 9pm. A taxi had stopped and was charging me four times the normal rate which I refused to pay. A man driving by on a motorbike pulled over when he saw me arguing with the taxi driver and asked if I was okay. I explained my predicament and that I wasn’t going to pay that much for a taxi. The man on the bike was going in the same direction and offered to give me a ride home since he didn’t want me to walk by myself at night.
Something I love about Nepal is how people refer to each other as brother and sister even when they are strangers. It builds a form of respect between people and men tend to look out for women as if they were their siblings. I can’t even say how many times I’ve been helped by strangers who just wanted to do the right thing. In the 8 years I lived in NYC, I was never helped simply because someone was worried about me.
On the other hand, there are bad people everywhere and Nepal is no exception. I’ve had men lie to me and try to hit on me regularly. Sometimes people are genuinely kind and others are kind because they want something in return. I’m always skeptical when I meet new people, but the numerous good experiences in Nepal have always outweighed the few bad experiences I’ve had.”
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This post was written by Michelle Della Giovanna along with quotes from the bloggers mentioned above. It originally appeared on www.fulltimeexplorer.com