Common Scams And Crimes In NepalNepalese people are generally very honest and hospitable towards visitors to the country however in recent years there have been a number of crime related scams that are targeted at tourists.
Bribes and corruption
There are a number of checkpoints run by the police in Kathmandu and throughout Nepal. Sometimes attempts are made close to these border posts to extort money from foreigners. Another increasing problem are the attempts to set up partnerships with foreign visitors. These typically involve financial assistance exporting goods or establishing shipping routes and promise large returns which never materialise.
Travellers should be vigilant and avoid offering to carry jewellery to a business contact overseas. This has resulted in some getting heavy fines at the border. The local police should be informed about requests to carry items however the reality is that the authorities are under resourced and many crimes go unresolved.
Drugs and drug smuggling is taken very seriously with heavy fines and custodial sentences if caught. Even small amounts of marijuana can result in a 5 year jail sentence. Never get involved in drugs in Nepal.
It is also important to thoroughly research any voluntary or charitable organisation that you are considering as several organisations have taken money from well meaning volunteers. The Social Service Council of Nepal has a list of bona fide organizations.
Always keep your credit card with you and do not let it out of your sight when making purchases. Travellers have returned to find thousands of dollars of internet porn charges on their cards after it had been skimmed. When taking a taxi ask the driver to use the meter. Many refuse and then try and charge exorbitant rates so agree the fare before you get into the cab.
Another common scam in Nepal is that a child approaches tourists and asks them to buy some milk for a baby. When the tourist goes to the shop they are charged an inflated sum of money and the milk is then returned by the scammer to the shop where both share in the profits. One way of breaking the scam is to open the bottle for the child which will then benefit the children.
There are some dance bars in Nepal, particularly in Kathmandu where tourists are charged large amounts for drinks and harassed. It is also advisable not to leave any drinks unattended because drink spiking, leading to robbery, does happen.
Theft is becoming a big problem in Nepal and there have been incidents of trekkers being confronted by groups of men demanding money, as well as muggings and robbery in the cities. When in Nepal visitors should be vigilant as to where their belongings are and not have valuables on display.
Festival season between October and November sees a proportionate increase in crime in Nepal.
It is very important that parents do not leave a child with people they do not know. There have been occasional cases of molestation and a report of non investigation by the authorities. Nepal still has some challenges with child labour where small children can be seen on building sites and factories.
Nepal is a beautiful country but also one of the poorest in the world. In general visitors are made very welcome; however it pays to exercise some vigilance.
Author: Phil Sylvester
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