Updated: January 10th 2017 | Nepal travel guides
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» Information about Chitwan National Park
» Chitwan or Sauraha?
» How to get from Kathmandu to Chitwan/Sauraha
» How to get from Pokhara to Chitwan/Sauraha
» How to get from Sunauli to Chitwan/Sauraha
» How to get to Sauraha town from the bus stop
» More on Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park is located in the mid Terai area of Nepal. It's famous for a jungle that has a population of tigers, elephants, Rhinoceros, crocodiles and a host of bird life. Do read my full guide to Chitwan National Park for full details.
Sauraha is a small town located just outside of Chitwan National Park. Sauraha has a large selection of accommodation, tour agencies and restaurants
Chitwan National Park and Sauraha are side by side. Chitwan is the huge jungle where treks and jungle safaris take place. There are also a host of upper scale jungle lodge accommodation inside the jungle for tourists.
Sauraha is the small town directly outside of the National park and serves as its main travel/accommodation hub. In other words to get to Chitwan National Park you must first travel to Sauraha.
When traveling independently transport is more commonly known as going to Sauraha. Saying your destination is Chitwan is perfectly fine. But keep in mind that staying in Sauraha is much cheaper than staying in Chitwan National Park. When booking tours from overseas keep this in mind. A crafty tour agent could easily charge you a lot more for direct transport/accommodation to Chitwan than to Sauraha.
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The nearest airport to Chitwan National Park is Bharatpur Airport, (10km away). A taxi is easily obtainable from the airport. You will need to bargain hard. Prices start at 800rps but vary depending on fuel strikes etc.
Plane tickets to Chitwan are available from nearly all travel agencies in Kathmandu. Flights run daily depending on numbers. Off season flights are frequently postponed until the next day. Prices are approximately USD $150
Bus travel to Chitwan is by far the most preferred method. There are several options. The two most popular are to take a local bus or to take a private tour bus.
The Kathmandu bus to Chitwan is actually to Sauraha. The first bus leaves from Kathmandu from just outside Thamel along Kantipath Road (first right after Garden of dreams and outside the USA Embassy leisure center). There will be buses here for several destination including Pokhara and Chitwan/Sauraha. Most leave at 7am (prompt).
You can buy a ticket to Chitwan/Sauraha in advance from a travel agency or your hotel. Tickets cost 600-800 rupees. 600 approx if you buy in person at the bus stop that morning. You will have to bargain a little.
Journey time to Sauraha is about 4-5 hours. Please read the section further below on getting from Sauraha bus stop into the town as it's important.
Private (air-con) buses vary but the two most popular are Greenline and Rainbow tours. Off season they don't often run. During peak season expect to pay USD $20
Kalanki bus stop has mini buses (micro vans) running to Sauraha. It's cheaper than all of the above but there are many dusty stops along the way ending at Tadi Bazaar Sauraha. You'll then need to take a rickshaw/taxi to the town itself (4km) 200-300rps.
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Again the nearest airport to Chitwan National Park is Bharatpur Airport which is 10km away. Please see Kathmandu to Chitwan above for more details.
Flights from Pokhara to Bharatpur run daily during peak season and only take around 25-30 mins. Prices are usually below USD $150.
Regular buses from Pokhara to Sauraha leave from Pokhara's main bus stop at 7.30am. The journey time is 4-6 hours. Tickets can be bought from travel agents hotels or at the bus park. Buses have been known to fill up so it's advisable to book ahead. Prices start from around 600rps at the bus park or 700-800rps from an agent.
If booking from an agent do confirm the type of bus you expect. There are often much older buses going that agents get for cheaper and then make a profit on. If you came from Kathmandu or elsewhere on a bus that you liked tell the agent this is what you expect.
Private (air-con) buses vary Greenline offer service during peak season. Enquire before making plans as the service is not always running in the off-season due to tourist numbers. Greenline charge between USD$20-23 which includes a meal.
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Sunauli is the border town from Nepal to India
From Sunauli you can take a direct bus to Sauraha. You will likely be pushed around from tout to tout and possibly cheated a little on price which will vary wildly. Aim for 500-600 rupees. However the problem is you more than likely end up having to change buses at Bhairahawa. So ...
A better option is to get a local bus or rickshaw from Sunauli to Bhairahawa (3km) as it's a lot easier. Then take a local bus to Sauraha (3-4hours). The price is approx 350-400 rupees. Make sure to collect your small ticket.
Saying hello to the bus driver helps a lot as the ticket boys often jump on and off along the way. Make sure the driver knows you want to get off at Sauraha.
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I found this to be the hardest/easiest part of the whole journey. From Kathmandu and Pokhara you will be dropped off at a miserable field of a bus park just outside of Sauraha town.
Touts arriving on jeeps and 4x4's wi2ll surround you waving brochures and offering free or 5-10 rupees lifts into town. They will say they are taking guests to a guesthouse and just looking to cover the cost of fuel and are willing to take you. Ignore them!! They will take you to their own guesthouse and leave you there if you decide not to stay.
If you booked ahead then your hotel will have a man waiting for you there with transport.
A sneaky way to grab a free lift is to know the name of a hotel near the Rhino statue (downtown Sauraha) and agree to be taken there. If you don't like the hotel then at least you are near many more and in the town center.
To get to Sauraha town where there's plenty of accommodation simply leave the bus park/field. Turn right and keep walking down the sealed road for about 20 mins. Once you come across the main road with tarmac turn left. You'll soon start to see guesthouses and travel agents. This is the main Sauraha road which will eventually lead you to the river. This method is about 3km. Do check out my full map to Chitwan National park for more details.
If you do then you might meet a rickshaw elephant or taxi along the way offering a lift. If you do make sure you have a destination name. Either your guesthouse, a well known guesthouse name in the center or the Rhino or Elephant statue in Sauraha town.
If coming from Sunauli or via micro van you will likely be dropped at the Tadi Bazaar bus stop. Taking a rickshaw or taxi from there to Sauraha center is the best option.
If you don't like the idea of walking then you can always book a hotel here and have them pick you up. (hint: enter your travel dates to get the best price)
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There is a 1500 rupee daily fee for entry into the national park +13% VAT. There is NO fee for entering Sauraha. Generally those on package tours staying inside the National Park have this fee waived or included in the price.
More information on making the most our of your stay in Chitwan National Park and Sauraha check out my full travel guide to Chitwan National Park. Or, download my PDF guide.
Are you looking to discover more about Chitwan National Park? Look no further as I've written the most comprehensive travel guide to Chitwan!
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