Getting around Nepal is easy with the right planning

Despite being solely a smidge greater than New York state, Nepal generally is a difficult place to discover due to the mountainous terrain, the poor situation of many roads and automobiles and the difficult and unpredictable climate, significantly throughout monsoon season.

Although a variety of low-cost transport choices can be found, delays and cancellations are widespread, so it is best to construct some flexibility into your itinerary. Whether you select to journey by bus or bike, motorcycle or airplane, right here’s our information to navigating Nepal.

Buses are the least expensive option to journey around Nepal

Buses are by far the least expensive and hottest option to journey lengthy distances in Nepal. As a draw back, they’re additionally comparatively sluggish and uncomfortable, and schedules and the journey instances recommended by operators needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Buses normally depart from the predominant bus stand or bus park, which might usually be discovered on the fringe of city. In smaller villages, the bus may cease on the roadside – ask locals the place the bus pulls in. Kathmandu has separate bus stands for native companies around the Kathmandu Valley and long-distance buses to locations similar to Pokhara and border crossings to India.

As nicely as full-sized buses, small minibuses run on some shorter routes to cities around Kathmandu and Pokhara. The nation has lately began electrical minibus companies, an indication of rising environmental consciousness in a nation significantly uncovered to the dangers from local weather change.

Breakdowns are widespread, however points are usually fastened by the roadside inside a couple of hours; in case you do not need to wait, you may usually flag down one other bus heading in the similar course. Landslides may block roads throughout the monsoon, resulting in delays lasting a number of days.

How protected are the buses in Nepal?

Road security is a critical concern in Nepal and accidents involving buses usually are not unusual – pre-pandemic, there have been around 13,000 highway accidents per 12 months, of which 19% concerned fatalities. It’s greatest to keep away from touring by bus at night time, when many accidents happen.

Also word that buses in Nepal will be extraordinarily crowded, with passengers sitting on the ground and even on the roof. Getting on at the begin of the route affords the greatest probability of getting a seat; begin transferring in the direction of the doorways earlier than the bus will get to the place you need to get off. For extra private area, keep on with vacationer buses.

Bus courses in Nepal

Several courses of buses function in Nepal – here is a information.

  • Local buses These usually make brief hops, linking villages to bigger cities; they cease repeatedly and squeeze in as many passengers as potential.
  • Ordinary These buses are the spine of native transport, they usually provide restricted consolation however discount costs, making frequent stops alongside the approach.
  • Express These companies are sometimes faster, extra snug, and make fewer stops on long-distance routes.
  • Deluxe Posher specific buses, which come with extra perks like air-conditioning, curtains, and generally loud music or TVs screening native films.
  • Tourist Buses These fashionable buses shuttle between common locations similar to Kathmandu and Pokhara and are sooner, however dearer; ebook tickets prematurely.

Bus tickets

For most courses of bus, you should purchase tickets straight from the driver if you board, or from reserving counters at the bus stand. To discover the class of bus you are after, ask at ticket counters or examine with the bus firm employees shouting out the names of locations at the bus stand. For vacationer buses and deluxe buses, you should purchase tickets from journey brokers or by way of lodges.

At busy instances, ebook tickets for deluxe and vacationer buses a couple of days prematurely, significantly throughout the peak season (October and November) and around main non secular festivals. Travel businesses can do that for you for a small price. Prices for bus journey are very pocket-friendly – you may pay Rs 600 (US$5) from Kathmandu to Pokhara on an bizarre bus, or Rs 700–1000 (US$5.20–7.50) on a vacationer bus.

Luggage 

Large items of baggage are typically saved on the roof – padlock your luggage shut, climb up onto the bus roof and safe your luggage to the railings earlier than the bus units off, and hold a beady eye out at any time when the bus stops, as thefts usually are not unusual.


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Buses are the predominant type of public transportation in Nepal however anticipate a bone-shaking trip © Emad aljumah / Getty Images

Hiring a automotive and driver brings extra freedom

Hiring your individual set of wheels provides you rather more freedom to discover independently and get off the overwhelmed monitor, particularly in distant areas the place public transport is restricted or rare. Although there are not any self-drive rental vehicles in Nepal, journey businesses throughout the nation can set up a automotive (or jeep) with a neighborhood driver.

Day charges are considerably decrease than in North America or Europe, and break up between a number of folks, this generally is a surprisingly economical option to get around. Expect to pay between US$60 and US$100 per day, together with gasoline.

It is typically cheaper, although additionally much less snug, to rent a taxi for a day – haggle straight with the driver to agree on a value. If you need to drive your self, you’ll have to carry your individual automotive into Nepal by way of one in all the border crossings from India, with all the related purple tape.

Rent a motorcycle for a Nepali highway journey

One common option to self-drive is to rent a motorcycle in Kathmandu or Pokhara. You’ll want a world driving allow or a nationwide driving license that permits you to trip bikes – an everyday automotive license is not enough. Rental businesses will ask you to depart your passport behind as a deposit. Make certain your journey insurance coverage covers you for driving a motorcycle – few rental shops present insurance coverage, which leaves you totally chargeable for accidents and harm.

Nepal is not a spot for inexperienced motorcyclists: the roads are perilous and accidents are widespread. Use your horn on blind corners and at all times give option to any bigger automobile, significantly buses and vehicles.

Travel tip: strikes can carry transport to a standstill

Nepal is liable to political troubles, and bandhs (strikes, referred to as by unions, political events or neighborhood teams) can carry transport to a halt throughout the nation. If there is a strike, it is best to not attempt to journey, as automobiles that try to cross blockades are generally focused by indignant crowds. The authorities normally gives a particular bus service taking passengers to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport.

A small plane on the runway at Lukla in Nepal
The airport at Lukla in the Everest area is reached by one in all the world’s most dramatic flight paths © Vadim Petrakov / Shutterstock

Airplanes can shorten journey instances

Nepal has an intensive assortment of small airstrips, together with many in distant mountainous places. Domestic flights are supplied by a mixture of authorities and personal airways – Nepal Airlines, the nationwide provider, has a variety of home routes, serving in every single place from Simikot in the far west to Taplejung in the far east, utilizing a tiny, ageing fleet.

Its two predominant personal rivals are Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines. Both fly to locations throughout the nation, together with Pokhara and bigger cities in the Terai. The busiest route in the nation is the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, the trailhead for treks to Everest Base Camp.

Most companies originate or terminate in Kathmandu, however the western metropolis of Nepalgunj in the Terai acts as a hub for flights to the northwest. Whoever you fly with, you may get a grandstand view of the Himalayas en route if the skies are clear.

Flights are typically cheaper than in Europe and North America (you may pay around US$120 from Kathmandu to Pokhara) and flying generally is a nice time-saver compared to touring by highway, although this comes with a a lot greater carbon footprint.

Note that delays, cancellations and re-routings are widespread – Nepal Airlines has a fame for being extra unreliable than lots of its privately-owned rivals. Small planes are used for home flights, so baggage allowances will be smaller than for worldwide routes.

Is flying in Nepal protected?

It’s vital to remember Nepal’s patchy air security report. There have been quite a few deadly crashes lately, so weigh up the time saved in opposition to the risks (and do not forget that highway journey comes with its personal dangers). You can obtain the newest security report from the Civil Aviation Association of Nepal.

A male mountain biker has left the village of Manang and is climbing towards Thorong La in a scenery landscape on the Annapurna Circuit, Nepal. On the right side the summits of Annapurna III and Gangapurna
Mountain biking provides you a completely new perspective on Nepal © Saro17 / Getty Images

Cycling is a wonderful option to discover Nepal

Nepal is one in all the world’s nice mountain-biking locations, and cycle touring is additionally an choice in the Terai. Beyond the congested, traffic-snarled heart of the Kathmandu Valley, there are various choices for long-distance and multi-day cycles, together with in lots of trekking areas. One common route is the pleasing five-day trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara by way of the historic Newari city of Gorkha.

Although you may trip many routes by yourself, hiring a information or occurring an organized tour is advisable, significantly in case you’re a comparatively inexperienced rider. Bike rental is easy to prepare in touristy areas – strive specialist mountain biking operators similar to Dawn Till Dusk and Himalayan Single Track in Kathmandu.

Why I like mountain biking in Nepal

Zipping alongside again roads and historic trails on a mountain bike is my favourite option to discover rural Nepal. It provides you the independence to journey at your individual tempo and veer off on impromptu detours and facet journeys everytime you select, whereas additionally offering a rewarding bodily problem.

Moreover, biking has taken me to numerous locations in Nepal I might in any other case have missed – villages surrounded by terraced fields, remoted Himalayan viewpoints, little-visited areas of nationwide parks. Just ensure you take a very good, up-to-date map with you, because it’s easy to get misplaced!

Male hiker enters a stone gate to a Nepalese village on the Annapurna Circuit Trek
Walking Nepal’s trekking trails is by far the most enjoyable option to see the nation © Moroz Nataliya /Shutterstock

Trekking could also be the solely choice in the mountains

Many areas of Nepal can solely be reached on foot, and 1000’s of individuals come to Nepal particularly to go trekking in the Himalayas. The most well-known trekking regions are the Annapurna Massif close to Pokhara, the Langtang Valley close to Syabrubesi, and the Everest area, northeast of Kathmandu. Most trailheads close to Pokhara and the Lantang Valley are accessible by bus; trekkers heading to Everest normally fly into the tiny airstrip at Lukla.

Use rickshaws and taxis to journey around Nepal’s cities

Ubiquitous in Kathmandu and different cities and huge cities, cycle-rickshaws and autorickshaws are low-cost and handy methods to get around city areas. There are not any fastened costs – you’ll need to haggle with the driver. Tempos – giant autorickshaws that comply with fastened routes – are additionally helpful; flag them down on the highway and faucet on the roof if you need to get off.

There are quite a few taxis with meters (and black license plates) in Kathmandu, Pokhara and different cities. They will be flagged down or discovered loitering close to the sights in touristy areas. You’ll need to strongly encourage the driver to make use of the meter (in the event that they refuse, negotiate an affordable fastened value earlier than setting off).

Kathmandu additionally has a motorcycle ride-hailing app, Tootle, which will be helpful when making an attempt to navigate the metropolis site visitors at busy instances. However, security is a consideration; with the chaotic site visitors, you may be safer in a taxi.

Accessible journey

Unfortunately, getting around Nepal generally is a problem for vacationers with disabilities. Pavements and road crossings are uncommon, although a few of the dearer lodges have wheelchair-accessible rooms. You’ll discover few wheelchair services, ramps or lifts. Hiring a automotive and driver is a very good choice for getting around the nation, whereas horses or mules can usually be employed for treks. For extra data, try Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Online Resources.

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