Planning a budget trip to South Asia? Then this article is for you.
When traveling to this corner of the world we often think about swimming pools, relaxing hotels and beach bars. Therefore wild camping doesn’t often come to mind when planning a trip to South Asia – but it should!
Endless beaches, wild nature and friendly locals can make wild camping in South Asia an adventure that you will never forget – and of course it can help you save a few cents at the same time.
But what are the rules around camping in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other countries in the region?
Luckily we’ve done the hard work and looked into the rules for wild camping throughout South Asia – and it might just inspire you.
Camping in Bangladesh
Wild camping in Bangladesh appears to be legal, although it’s very rare. Seek out permission of any landowner, if you can find one, and avoid camping on cultivated land.
Camping in Bhutan
Wild camping in Bhutan is illegal and discouraged by the government in an attempt to protect the country’s countryside. This is why tourists are often expected to produce confirmation of a hotel stay when arriving in Bhutan.
Camping is possible through licensed tour groups however, and hiking groups that are licensed by Bhutan.
Camping in India
Wild camping in India (free camping) can be done pretty much throughout the country as it is legal to camp here, with the usual caveats – respecting private property etc. It’s advised by travelers to warn any local police of your stay and whereabouts (for your own safety, they shouldn’t give you any trouble).
If land looks private and you set up a tent, expect a local to come and ask you about it – however this will probably be a very friendly chat, and may even result in an invitation for tea.
Camping in the Maldives
Wild camping in the Maldives is possible, however you must make sure to ask permission when pitching your tent, either from a landowner or if on one of the many small islands, from the island chief.
However camping in the Maldives is generally discouraged by the government – and tourists are expected to show hotel stays when they arrive – and so police may ask you to pack up and go to hotel.
Practically speaking, most of the land in the Maldives is owned or used by someone, so wild camping could be difficult. Sleeping in a hammock may be a less intrusive, but also less private way, to free camp.
Camping in Nepal
Wild camping in Nepal is legal, but be aware that many suitable spots (even in very remote areas) may belong to a farmer and as such you should seek permission first. The only areas that are completely off-limits are Nepal’s restricted areas.
Some campers have reported that camping near villages will often end up in receiving a lot of friendly attention, particularly from local kids, so if you wish to avoid people all together, it’s best to camp very remote.
Camping in Pakistan
It’s definitely possible to wild camp in Pakistan, and you shouldn’t be breaking any local rules by doing so.
People will, however, be rather curious. So if you wish to go camping in Pakistan and don’t want to be disturbed, it’s best to find a very rural spot away from any villages.
Camping in Sri Lanka
Wild camping in Sri Lanka is possible, but rules as to where and where not to camp appear to change from area to area and are not easily available.
It’s therefore best to identify what region or national park you would like to camp in, and get in contact with officials in charge to find out specific information. For example, it is illegal to camp in some national parks apart from a few designated camping spots.
Camping on private land is not allowed, but you can seek permission if you can locate a landowner – they may ask for a fee.