Getting to Nepal

Travelling By Air

Nepal’s only international airport is Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport. If you want to see the mountains as you fly into Kathmandu, make sure you sit on the right-hand side of the plane.
You can fly directly to Kathmandu from London, Paris, Frankfurt, Vienna, Amsterdam, Doha, Dubai, Dhaka, Karachi, Munich, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Paro, Lhasa, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Calcutta and Varanasi. Charter flights can also be arranged for large movements. All flights feature business class and amenities of international standards. Many a time, the Captain offers guided sightseeing of the Himalayas for no extra charge!

Nepal Airlines, Thai Airways, Qatar Airways, Indian Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, Biman Bangladesh, Gulf Air, Indian Airlines, Air Sahara, Jet Airways, Austrian Air, Martinair, Air China, and Druk Air fly to Nepal regularly.

Airfares fluctuate with the changes in exchange rates and are to be paid in foreign currency by foreign nationals. Only Nepalese and Indian nationals are permitted to pay in rupees for air passage between Nepal and India. Departure flight tickets should be reconfirmed three days in advance to avoid inconveniences by possible flight cancellation or changes in the flight schedule. Overweight luggage charges are levied in foreign exchange.

Customs: All baggage must be declared and cleared through customs on arrival at the port of entry. Passengers arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) without any dutiable goods can proceed through the Green Channel for quick clearance without a baggage check. If you are carrying dutiable articles, you have to pass through the Red Channel for detailed customs clearance.

Import: Apart from used personal belongings, visitors are allowed to bring to Nepal free of duty cigarettes (200) or cigars (50), distilled liquor (one 1.15 liter bottle), and film (15 rolls). You can also bring in the following articles free of duty on condition that you take them out with you when you leave: binoculars, movie or video camera, still camera, laptop computer, and portable music system.

Export: It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old (sacred images, paintings, manuscripts) that are valued for cultural and religious reasons. Visitors are advised not to purchase such items as they are Nepal’s cultural heritage and belong here. The Department of Archaeology (tel: 4213701, 4213702) at Ramshah Path near Singha Durbar has to certify all metal statues, sacred paintings, and similar objects before they are allowed to be sent or carried out of the country. Handicraft dealers and travel agents can assist you in this process. For more information on customs matters, contact the Chief Customs Administrator, TIA Customs Office; tel: 4470110, 4472266. The departure tax for international flights is US$15, or US$10 to destinations on the Indian subcontinent.

Travelling by road

The classic overland routes between Nepal and India are still popular. Buses are usually the quickest and easiest form of transport between Nepal and India. There are three main crossing points: Sunauli-Bhairawa, Birganj-Raxaul Bazaar and Kakarbhitta-Siliguri. The Sunauli border crossing is the best one from Varanasi, the Birganj crossing is the easiest from Kolkata, and Kakarbhitta is the obvious choice from Darjeeling. A trickle of travelers enter Nepal at the Mahendrenagar-Banbassa border crossing in the extreme west of Nepal, which is handy for travelers coming overland from Delhi who do not want to visit Varanasi. 

The crossing between Nepal and Tibet via Kodari is open to organised groups but not to individual travelers heading north. Be prepared with alternative plans if you’re thinking about using this route, because landslides regularly make it impassable during the monsoon. All visitors entering Nepal by land must use no other entry points other than:

1.Nepal-India border:
Kakarbhitta, Birgunj, Belhiya, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Dhangadi, Mahendra Nagar

2. Nepal-China border

Visa Information

All foreigners (except Indian nationals) require visas, which can be obtained in advance or on arrival with one passport photo and payment in cash (US dollars are best). Single-entry tourist visas cost US $30.00 for up to 60 days, or US $80.00 if you require multiple entry. You can extend tourist visas up to a maximum stay of 150 days (each additional 30-day period costs US $30.00) at the immigration offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Note that the final extension from 120 days to 150 days is only possible in Kathmandu. Visas allow travel to most parts of Nepal, with the exception of certain remote trekking areas, which may require an additional permit. Visitors to national parks must also pay national park entry fees – typically 500.00 to 1000.00 Rs. 

This includes trekkers visiting the Annapurna Conservation Area, Langtang National Park and Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park. Permits can be obtained in Kathmandu or through trekking agencies, while national park fees can be paid in Kathmandu or Pokhara, or sometimes at the entry checkpoints for the national parks. Your paperwork will be checked along the route and there’s a hefty fine if you get caught without the necessary permits. Trekking permits are included!

Getting Around

We strongly advise you to allow us to pre-book internal flights. Whoever you fly with, be aware that flights are routinely canceled due to bad weather, security problems, or industrial action. It’s advisable to book domestic flights a week in advance and keep re-confirming your ticket just to make sure you don’t slip off the passenger list if the flight is full. Also, airlines only accept payment in hard currency from visitors.

Tourist buses are by far the safest way to travel by road, as the local buses, although incredibly cheap, are incredibly uncomfortable and tediously slow. You cannot hire self-drive cars, but you can hire a car with a local driver, which is probably safer anyway. Small motorcycles can be rented in Kathmandu and Pokhara but the roads can be deadly. Bike-riding is quickly gaining popularity with visitors for short jaunts; mountain bikes can be rented in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini and cycling can be quicker than getting around by local buses, especially in the Kathmandu Valley.

Walking is still the most important and most reliable method of getting from A to B and for moving cargo. In most of Nepal, walking is the only option. More goods are carried by human porters than by every other form of transport combined.