Getting Around Nepal: Planes, Trains, and Buses

From bumpy mountain roads to landslides, roadblocks, and the scariest airport runway in the world, Cassie Wilkins shares her tips for getting around Nepal.


Photo © Cassie WIlkins

They say that the best things never come easy, and the same can definitely be said about traveling around Nepal!

Although the distances are not especially far, given the mountainous terrain, unpredictable weather, and old vehicles, getting around Nepal can be quite the challenge.

But, with some of the world’s most incredible scenery and breathtaking mountain vistas on offer, your efforts will always be well rewarded!

The biggest rule about getting around in Nepal is to play it safe, whether you choose to fly, travel by bus, taxi, motorbike, or even hitch-hike.

It’s always worth planning your route before you travel and allowing yourself extra days on either side of flights, treks, or tours.

Roadblocks, breakdowns, and landslides are not uncommon, and these can all result in unexpectedly long journeys.

Air travel in Nepal

Flying is the transport of choice for a lot of visitors. It’s certainly the fastest way to travel across Nepal.

When faced with the prospect of a cramped 24-hour bus ride, shelling out USD $100 for an internal flight certainly seems like a small price to pay!

Although, as flights are especially weather-dependent, they can often be cancelled, rearranged, or redirected at the last minute, so it’s always worth bearing this in mind if you are planning a tour or a trek.

Bus travel in Nepal

Loading onto a minibus in Kathmandu. Photo credit: Cassie Wilkins

The most popular form of transport in Nepal, the humble bus ride can quickly turn into a rollercoaster of epic proportions.

Take your pick of minibus, local bus, or tourist bus, squeeze into a seat or climb up top and settle in for an often sweaty and uncomfortable but incredibly scenic ride.

Prices vary hugely, but for the 210km long journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara (6- 11 hours), you can expect to pay anywhere from USD $5 for a local bus to USD $30 for a luxury tourist bus with air conditioning and Wi-Fi.

Private cars in Nepal

Hitchhiking a ride! We managed to wave down this sweet Tata Scorpion on our way from Bandipur all the way to Thamel Kathmandu for only USD10. Photo credit: Cassie Wilkins

A private car is considerably faster than a bus and a lot more comfortable and convenient. If you’re traveling with family or a group of friends, this might be the better option. The drivers are often very friendly too and willing to share a part of their culture with travelers.

It’s also possible to hire cars for multi-day trips around Nepal from USD $60/day including fuel and a driver.

Top tip: If you are trying to get from a smaller village to a main city, you can always try and flag down a private car.

Passengers usually have to pay the return fare even if they are only going one-way so the drivers are often more than willing to pick you up for a heavily-discounted rate.

Landslides can mean that your journey is set back several hours, so it’s always worth leaving extra time. Photo credit: Cassie Wilkins

Motorcycles in Nepal

If motorbikes aren't your thing, bicycles are the perfect alternative. Photo credit: Cassie Wilkins

Nepal’s stunning mountain roads are ideal for experienced motor biking enthusiasts, with rates normally starting at around 500 Rupees a day for a scooter.

Just be sure to check that your insurance covers you for riding motorcycles before you head off into the hills.

Taxis and rickshaws in Nepal

Mostly found in bigger cities such as Kathmandu and Pokhara, Nepali taxis can be hired for local or long-distance journeys and are ideal for exploring the Kathmandu Valley.

Although most taxis have meters, drivers are generally reluctant to use them and you will have to negotiate for the lowest rates.

These days, rickshaws are only really found in Kathmandu and the Terai. A pleasant and scenic way to travel through the winding streets, a ride in a rickshaw is often a tourist attraction in itself!

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