Frequently Asked Questions: Travelling to Nepal
Getting Around in Nepal
Unless you are trekking or hiking, in which case you would of course be
walking, the most common mode of traveling from place to place within
Nepal is by bus. Traveling by bus not only gives you a chance to see the terrific views of rural landscapes and the high Himalaya of the country but also gives you an opportunity to discover the insight of Nepal . After all, isn't that why you are visiting Nepal? You may
also rent a car, but it is quite expensive and generally comes with a driver. You are strictly advised against driving on your own even if you have a proper international driving license: traffic
rules are seldom observed, and roads can be very chaotic and dangerous
even for the most experienced drivers. Domestic flights run between
some towns but may be difficult to get if the towns you want to fly to are
the popular tourist spots such as Lukla, Jomsom, Pokhara, Chitwan etc.
Railroads are practically non-existent for your traveling purposes. Read
further on for more details.
Being a mountainous country, straight roads and highways are few in Nepal.
Except some parts of the southern plains in the Tarai, the roads in
Nepal are few, narrow and serpentine, and very poorly maintained. There are two types of bus services: "Tourist bus" and "Public bus". Tourist bus, run by private bus companies or travel agencies, are little bit expensive than the public buses. Nevertheless, they are more comfortable, faster and less crowded than public buses. You can get tickets at any travel agencies at Thamel in Kathmandu. In Pokhara and Chitwan, just ask your hotel manager. It is a good idea to buy your ticket a day in advance and reserve a seat.
Quite the opposite, public buses are chaotically organized. They are slow and make countless stops along the way. For example, a bus takes about ten hours to cover the distance between Kathmandu to Pokhara which is just 200 km. Average traveling speed of a public bus turns out to be about 30-40 km per hour. The bus fare for any route is normally fixed and in general comes to about $0.30 per hour. You can buy the bus ticket at the GONGABU BUS PARK (located on the Ring Road on the north side of Kathmandu) or get them at travel agencies or the offices of bus companies in Kathmandu. It is recommended that if you want to use the public bus, it would be nicer to ask help from someone (perhaps your hotel manager) who knows about the bus system of Nepal pretty well and then purchase the tickets in advance. You should also be aware that all public buses from Kathmandu leave from the Gongabu Bus Park.
A popular option with many travelers are the "night buses". These are
public or tourist buses that leave the point of origin at dusk and reach
the final destination at dawn. Though you will not get much sleep at night in the night-bus, it can
save your daytime for other better pursuits.
People who are not used to taking bus or car journey in serpentine mountainous road like that of Nepal may get car-sickness problem. So it's always better to carry car-sickeness medicines with you in your bus journey in Nepal.
That can be just as exciting too. Frequent delays and cancellation due to
weather and other reasons can sometimes make a bus the classic tortoise
--slow, but steady enough to win the race. With the introduction of private
airlines like Buddha Air and Necon Air, domestic flights from Kathmandu to places such as
Chitwan, Pokhara, Jomsom, Dolpa, Biratnagar, Bhairawa, Nepalgunj, Bharatpur, Tumlingtar and Similot have become more reliable and available.
Airlines charge tourists inflated dollar prices on all routes. A round
trip ticket between Kathmandu and Pokhara costs about $80.