| Frequently Asked Questions: Travelling to Nepal
Once I fly into Kathmandu, how can I get from the Tribhuvan International airport to downtown Kathmandu?
The easiest and best option, especially if this is your first time in Nepal, would be to take a taxi run by the Airport Queue Taxi Service Management Committee (AQTSMC). The Airport Queue Taxi Service is on the ground floor foyer immediately after one leaves the arrivals baggage collection and custom section. These taxis have fixed rates.The other option is to take meter taxi, which charges you little bit more than the taxis operated by AQTSMC. These taxis may sometimes tend to cheat you by charging you more money. So you will have to decide on the price before you get in. Other thing that you could do is to ask the taxi driver to put on the meter while you take a ride to your destination. A ride from Tribhuvan International Airport to Thamel,the main tourist area, is about 8km and will cost you approximately $1.60.
The choice for intra-city transportation of many visitors to Kathmandu is the taxi, if they want to travel point to point. There is also a fairly comprehensive local bus routes system. Many also choose to hire a bike or a three-wheeler tricycle called rickshaw. Yet if you just want to see around town, walking is still the best way, especially in the old part of Kathmandu. Read further for details on these options.
There are numerous taxi companies. All kinds of cars/cabs are available in Kathmandu. All cabs have black license plates with white numbers. Most cabs also have a sign on them that says “taxi”. Though quite expensive by local standards, many visitors to Nepal may find a taxi ride in Kathmandu fairly manageable at about $0.20 per km. Though tipping is not necessary while riding taxis, a tip of about 10 percent of the total fare will be greatly appreciated.
For a slightly lower cost, you can also hire metered three-wheeler scooter cabs called tempos. They are black in color. These are not as comfortable as proper taxis and are notorious as one of the main sources of sound and air-pollution in Kathmandu.
Local buses in general are too crowded and slow. However, compared to taxis, they are very cheap. Even the longest bus ride within the three valley cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan will not cost you more than Rs5 (approx. $0.10). You normally pay your fare to the bus conductor when you get off at the end of the ride. Though buses are fairly frequent in the main routes, most bus routes do not have set schedules and stop their service by six or seven in the evening. If you are using a local bus for the first time, you may find it very helpful to ask someone (perhaps at your hotel) who knows the system for help.
Complementing the local buses in many of the routes are the environmentally friendly green and white three-wheeler tempos. They cost about one third more than the bus; carry six to eight passengers, and are more convenient than buses. Besides the local buses and tempoes, you can also find trolley buses. Trolley buses operate only from Tripureswor (near the football stadium) to Bhaktapur.
Riding a bike or a cycle is one of the best ways to tour around Kathmandu. In the old part of Kathmandu and Thamel areas, you can find shops that rent good bikes and cyles ranging from Indian to American in a very reasonable cost. Your name of the hotel will be sufficient to hire the bike or cycle from the bike-owner shop and thus, you will not require to make any deposits. Before you hire the bike/cycle, make sure that the cycle/bike has a bell/horn as it will really help to weave your way through town. If you want get down from your bike/cycle and want to take a walk or visit various spots of interest, you can lock your bike/cycle and park it around well trafficked parks of Kathmandu. If you have to ride your bike/cycle along the main streets of Kathmandu where there are lots of cars and other traffic, be very careful because breaking of traffic laws in Nepal is not uncommon at all.
Riding a rickshaw to tour around the old part of Kathmandu is very popular among tourists. Before you get on a rickshaw, make sure the driver understands where you want to go. It’s because its movement within the city is restricted. Also agree upon the fare before you get on. Though tipping is not necessary while riding rickshaws, a tip of about 10 percent of the total fare will be greatly appreciated.
Most of your tours in Pokhara can be made on foot or on a hired bicycle or motorbike. A good bike costs about $1-2 per day and are available easily along the Lakeside drive. You can also get local buses and taxis. The taxis do not have meters and they ply on fixed routes. The fare is charged on a per-person basis but many of them may not have meters. So you will have to decide on the price before you get in. Under no circumstances, you should pay more than what you would in Kathmandu ($0.20 per km). You can also reserve a taxi to go to destinations that are not on their schedules.
For getting around within other towns elsewhere in the country, walking would be the best option. In most southern towns, the pedal-powered three wheeler tricycles called rickshaws are popular and are very cheap –Rs 2-5 (less than $.10) per km.