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How to Travel Overland into Nepal?

How I did it. It might help you too!

I traveled from India to Nepal overland, a very easy journey if timed correctly. But still a part of a great overland adventure route...
updated: ( 2013)

(clicking on a heading will take you to that section)

» Introduction

» What do you need? (officially)

» Do I really need a tour company?

» Overland India / Nepal Routes

» How to cross the border into East Nepal overland

» How to cross the border into West Nepal overland

» How to cross the Sunali border into central Nepal overland

» The Tibet Nepal Route

» Tips and FAQ's


Introduction to traveling overland to Nepal

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There are a couple of ways to do this trip. I will stick with the main route focusing on India into Nepal as it's the most commonly crossed, with several options to choose from.

For an easy trip: there are several companies in Delhi offering this route via bus. I've known very few people to actually take this option. Try what I've marked out below, it's well traveled for a reason.


What do you need to travel into Nepal?

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Here's a list of what you need:.
(1) Visas are given to nearly all nationality's at the Nepalese border.
(2) Exit stamp out of India.
(3 ) Passport photos.
(4) Photocopies of your passport (available at the Nepalese office)

What you do not need
(1) An onward ticket.


Do I really need a tour company to travel into Nepal overland?

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There are many Indian companies offering overland bus trips into Nepal. Either delivering you into Pokhara, or Kathmandu.

Most of these buses seem to be frequented by Indian nationals. They usually take about 36 hours from Delhi. Reports have been mixed about these.

Some people have said they had air conditioning and food all the way. Others have said it was miserable trip with lost luggage and no facilities. I cannot recommend any company here as they change every year.


The Overland India Nepal Routes

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Take note that India and Nepal have a relatively open border. And nationals of both sides can cross over freely. This does not mean as a foreigner you can!

There are a few well meaning people that will tell you to follow them to the border. There are also many con men saying the same. Quite often you will get to the border only to find you cannot cross there.

Stick to the main routes unless you are certain you are allowed to cross.

South Nepal: Sunali border (most popular choice)

East Nepal: Panitanki border (coming from Darjeeling) (travel warning-Terai region)

West Nepal: Raxaul/Birganj border (coming from West Bengal)

All of the above borders are subject to change.That said, they've been open for many many years. However, in recent years violence at the Terai region has erupts. Seek information on the current situation before embarking on the border crossing.


How to cross the East Nepal Panitanki border from India overland

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From Darjeeling take a jeep or bus to Bagdogra, India and on to Panitanki. Or if left in Bagdogra you'll need to get a ride to Panitanki which is the border town.

You may need to hunt down the Indian immigration officer here. Generally a rickshaw man can help you out here for a small tip. Then get stamped out of India.

Cross the border: A rickshaw man will again offer to help you cross the no man's land that is the bridge over the Mahikali River.

Once across you'll be pointed to the Nepalese Immigration office. Get you visa here.

Now you can choose either to get a bus direct to Kathmandu, or go to Dharan for the night. It's about 4 hours away. Kathmandu is about 20 + hours.

Please note that in recent years there has been a lot of political unrest along this border.


How to cross the West Nepal Raxaul/Birganj border from India overland

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A train to Raxaul You'll arrive at Raxaul train station and outside a host of Rickshaws will be waiting. They'll all know you need the immigration office and will take you there.

Get your exit stamp out of India.

Cross the bridge either on foot, or on a rickshaw to the Nepalese Immigration office in Birganj. Get stamped in.

On both sides of the border you can expect some mumbles for a little "extra". Ignore as you please.

Getting to Kathmandu: By now someone, or many many people, will have arranged a tour bus to take you all the way to Kathmandu. As always on this side of the border the bus will be leaving "now".

Take your time in choosing a bus. Try to make sure it's actually going all the way to Kathmandu and not changing. Ask some people on the bus via a window.

The journey takes about 8-10 hours.


How to cross the Sunali border (central Nepal) from India overland

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From Varanassi: Take an over night train to Gorakphur. This train leaves Varannasi between midnight and 3am. Getting in around 6am.

Take a rickshaw from the train terminal to the bus terminal or ask him to take you to "Jeep to Sunali"

There are plenty of cheap buses going to Sunali. There are also quite a few morning jeeps going to Sunali. If you are running late, or it's anywhere near 8am, take a jeep for about 100+rupees and save time. It's about 3 hours.

At the Sunali border take a rickshaw to Indian immigration. A desk on the side of the road. Get stamped out.

Take the same rickshaw and re bargain for him to take you to the Nepalese immigration office. Or, you can simply walk, it's only five minutes up the road to the right.

Get stamped into Nepal.

Leave the office and get surrounded by people offering buses to Pokhara, Chitwan or Kathmandu. All leave "now!"

Take you time, and don't get conned into paying extra for an air-conditioned bus. Take the phone number of the man selling you the ticket.

Quite often the bus will change over a few times. The journey to Pokhara can take 9-12 hours.


How to cross into Nepal from Tibet overland

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From Tibet: There is only one official border crossing. It's highly recommend you take this border crossing and not any local route.

Full details are listed in the opposite direction on my guide to How to travel overland into Tibet


Avoiding scams & some tips for traveling from India to Nepal overland (link to top)


What time should I arrive at the borders? Try to get to all the borders as early as possible so you don't have to stay overnight at any of them. None are that nice.

Is transport a problem at the borders? Everything will be rushed on the Nepalese side of the border.Take your time in getting an onward bus and avoid paying high prices for "tourist" buses.

Can I change money at the border? Changing money at the border is a near necessity as Nepalese rupees are very hard to buy anywhere outside Nepal.

Is it true that I can't change Indian Rupees in Nepal? Ignore the pleas that Indian rupees cannot be changed in Nepal. They can.If you have a lot, save them for a better rate in Kathmandu. But buy enough Nepalese rupees to get you there plus a day. Just in case :)

Can I get food along the way? Buy some food and water at the border, or before. The buses stop irregularly along the way. So don't be expecting any nicely cooked meals along this journey.

Will my luggage be safe? Watch your luggage at the borders, and when getting on buses. Never leave it. And, make sure you see it getting put into the bus and strapped in if on the roof.

If in doubt, tip the baggage man a little. And, be friendly to him. He could end up helping you out along the long journey ;)

Did you find this article helpful? Please link to it and help promote this site and the work put into it!

You might also like my following guides:

You might also like my following free guides:
Trekking in Nepal My guide on trekking in Nepal Trekking Equipment Check out my guide on equipment & gear needed for trekking in Nepal
 
List of treks to hike in Nepal Check out my list treks to do in Nepal complete with maps Nepal Mountain range Check out my guide on how to travel overland into Tibet for a lot more!
Trekking in Nepal How to choose a trekking guide in Nepal Record of Mount Everst Base Camp Trek in the Winter My Day by day account of trekking to Everest Base Camp in the off season (winter)
Traveling overland into Nepal Check out my How to travel overland into Nepal guide Guide to traveling Nepal Check out my country Guide to Nepal
 

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Please keep in mind all the above is subject to change. The Indian / Nepali borders have flared up into violence in the past. And, have been shut for long periods. Check before you leave to make sure all is well.

 

 
Dusty rickshaw at the Indian border
Dusty rickshaw at the Indian border
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Indian children playing at the border

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