48 responses

  1. Nathan
    January 16, 2012

    *This* is the type of advice people need when arriving at an unfamiliar country. …but, I thought you would have taken the micro-van? Is the walk really far?

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      January 17, 2012

      It’s not so far. However it was 6.30pm by the time I got outside the airport – rush hour. And it would have been for the next hour or so. Those micro vans only drop you at Ratna Park (main bus park) which is then another small micro can to an area just outside Thamel and then an even longer walk to my guesthouse.

      So, for me at least as I stay outside Thamel a taxi for 300 +20 mins was a lot better than 30-50 rupees and 2-3 hours arguing, bargaining, and waiting around.

      • gordon
        July 23, 2013

        Hi, Dave

        Thanks for the info

        Any idea about booking a car to the hotel from the airport prior to arrival?
        I see some websites but will they try to bundle other travels together, or give ‘friends’ a lift?

        I had this experience at Columbo.

        Any advice appreciated.

      • Dave from The Longest Way Home
        July 24, 2013

        Hi Gordon,

        Some hotels offer an airport pickup. If they do, then go with that if it’s included in your overall price. The more expensive the hotel the greater the chance the driver will actually be there. The lesser the hotel price and there’s more a chance the driver might be late etc. And yes, lower budget hotels might include you in a sort of group pick up with another hotel nearby. It’s generally okay. But if they charge for the pick up just make sure it’s not over 800 otherwise it’s probably better just to haggle a taxi at the airport as it will be cheaper. Again, if it’s late at night then prices will go up either way.

        I certainly wouldn’t be booking a hotel that’s offering an airport pickup + tour bundle type thing as they are usually way over priced.

        Hope that helps

  2. Andy
    January 16, 2012

    Great tips. Sounds like the place needs it too. Any tips on where to stay?

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      January 17, 2012

      Thamel is the tourist hub. I stay outside of it for a quiter time. My guide to travel Nepal has a few suggestions. But honestly speaking just knock on a few doors for the first night and then look around the next day. The place is overflowing with accommodation.

  3. Anna’s World
    January 16, 2012

    It’s like walking in your mind to read this post! I can nearly see everything that you went through. Definitely a great read if you are flying into Kathmandu

  4. Cynthia Elan
    January 16, 2012

    Reminds me of a rugby scrum!! Head down, charge all the way to your hotel! :)

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      January 17, 2012

      “rugby scrum” works for the baggage claim :)

  5. Backpacker Girl
    January 16, 2012

    Is it really harder to take the bus than a taxi??

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      January 17, 2012

      I wrote in a comment above the details of why it is. But just to confirm, a taxi is easier than bus from the airport to Thamel at least.

  6. Poppie
    January 17, 2012

    Wow! I must have been unconscious when I went over there a few years ago. It was just a few weeks after the Royal Family had all been murdered and there were guards everywhere. I guess not many tourists made it a very simple process at that time. So this description is amazing! I didn’t notice any much difference from arriving in Vanuatu or Fiji. The mini van description, with tattered upholstery, the multi body odours, the swell of the crowds, all just felt like Fiji or Vanuatu on a larger scale tho’! There is a certain element of excitement, tinged with a hint of “personal danger” tho, one must admit, but fun!

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      January 17, 2012

      Hi Poppie, yes I guess a lot of the above will be dependant on the time of year (off peak or peak season) and the luck of the draw with who you are with when you fly in. 2011 was Nepal’s year of tourism so I’m guessing there were more people around.

  7. Foto Clipping
    January 17, 2012

    What are the main differences between bus and taxis?

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      January 17, 2012

      Taxi takes you directly to your destination. Bus is really a micro-van you have to flag down, take to Ratna park, get out, get another then get dropped outside an area and have to walk in. Both are options, the price difference is about 200 rupees on a good day.

  8. Jakob
    January 20, 2012

    Very good and usefull info!
    I entered in Nepal 2 times last year and the second time, based on my experiences, I skipped Thamel and went to my guesthouse near Gwarko in Patan with the local bus, felt so much better than the first time I entered Nepal: no need for negotiations with the taxi-drivers, 30 rupees only and it almost felt like I was an inhabitant, part of the local community.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      January 20, 2012

      Hello Jakob,

      Yes, I avoid Thamel too. I used it as a reference as most people arriving might not be familiar with Patan. When in KTM I stay outside, too noisy and annoying for me!

  9. Natalie
    February 1, 2012

    I am planning on going to Nepal for the first time this summer- end of July.
    Do you have any advice for going in summer? I hear it is very wet and rainy. Does it rain all the time, are there dangers with landslides etc.? I will be mostly in Kathmandu visiting a friend. I am not sure I will travel much as I only would have 9 or 10 days total in the country.
    Any tips or advice would be fabulous.
    Thanks!

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      February 1, 2012

      Hi Natalie,

      The end of July is indeed monsoon season in Nepal. It’s certainly not the best time of year to go “trekking in Nepal”, but for visiting Kathmandu, you should have no problems.

      Monsoon weather in Nepal generally means between 1-3 heavy downpours a day. Downpours usually last around an hour. Sometimes there’s a little bit of street flooding in the city, but nothing that doesn’t flow away after an hour or so. Climate change is effecting things and sometimes there’s a day or two of all day light rain.

      There are no landslides in Kathmandu city itself. Landslides really only occur in the mountains or on mountain trails / roads. So again, unless you planning to visit villages in the mountains, you should be fine.

      Bring a light rain jacket, it’s quite warm at that time of year so you don’t need anything heavy. There are also plenty of rain jackets etc for sale in Thamel Kathmandu so again your should have no problems. A good set of hiking boots, or at least something that covers your ankles is a small tip even in the city to avoid splashes and dirt on your feet.

      Day trips to places like Patan, or Bhaktapur are musts if you only have a short time. From Kathmandu you could try a short trek to Nagarkot if the weather is fine. Likewise, if you want to travel further out you can go to the idyllic city of Pokhara. There’s a lake, the world peace stupa (a simple quarter day hill climb). Do take the time to check out the Climbers Museum in Pokhara, there are some fantastic and huge photos on display there.

      Check out my travel guide to Nepal on this site. Also over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing a list of treks, things to do in Nepal etc. So stick around for some tips etc. Or subscribe by email and get them sent to you for free, a good way to keep a list of things to do too. You can always unsubscribe before you head over on your travels ;)

      Hope this helps

      Dave

      • Natalie
        February 2, 2012

        Thank you so much! That is correct I will not be hiking / trekking, but more cultural visit.
        I also wanted to let you know that your photographs are amazing- capturing the true essence of a place as well as the people and culture. Do you have a Flickr site with them up?
        Thank you again for all the tips. I hope your trip is a success in many ways.

  10. Andreas
    March 1, 2012

    This sounds like Jakarta 2.0 ;)
    And maybe not the report the local newspaper was hoping for?

  11. Vicky
    April 18, 2012

    Great post. Very informative. I really find posts like these incredibly helpful and unfortunately so few travel blogs provide such details.

  12. John
    June 28, 2012

    Great post! First timer this year (May 2012) Our trekking company sent a car/driver and we were still besieged by the taxi touts on the way to the car!!

  13. Giao Dang
    August 7, 2012

    Hi Dave,

    Can I go to Pokhara directly from Tribhuvan airport? Because my arrival time just is around 12pm.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      August 7, 2012

      Hello,

      12pm is a bit late to be taking the tourist buses to Pokhara. You could take a mini van. At that time of day though it could be quite a hassle. And the journey will have a lot of stops and possible transfers along the way.

      A better option would be to get a flight to Pokhara they also leave from Tribhuvan airport. Though you’ll be arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport and the domestic flights leave from the other side of the same area called Tribhuvan Domestic Airport. You’ll have to walk outside to it and do battle with the taxi men to walk there.

      Unfortunately none of the domestic airlines offer online tickets. So you’ll have to pay on the spot for a ticket and hope there’s a seat available, or try to book a flight through an agency before you arrive.

      Hope this helps.

  14. Mike
    August 31, 2012

    Hi Dave
    I’m due to go to Nepal for the first time at the end of september. I had heard Kathmandhu Airport was a bit of a scrum. Very useful post and advice- Thanks

    Mike

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      September 5, 2012

      Hi Mike,

      No problems, glad the post was of help to you. Enjoy your trip to Nepal!

  15. Annie Johnson
    September 12, 2012

    Hi, first went to Nepal in 1990 – no baggage belts then!! It appears it is just as chaotic now!! Back for my sixth trip in October – yes I fell in love with the country, people etc – taking friend with me for his first time so your info is so useful. We have visas already but will we still need to fill in forms? Seven years since I was last there and cannot quite recall! I am counting the days – 23 to go!!

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      September 12, 2012

      Hi Annie,

      I imagine you shouldn’t have to queue in the first line to get visa receipts as you already have one. If I were you I’d enter immigration, grab a form from the table, tuck it under your arm and head straight to the immigration counter with passport open showing your visa.

      Knowing Nepalese bureaucracy you might get a grouch who says you still need to fill a form. But hopefully they’ll just stamp you straight in!

      Glad to hear the site has been helpful to you. Try checking out the links to on the side bar of my Nepal Travel guide. The biggest change are all the entrance prices.

  16. Karen
    January 4, 2013

    This is great info! I will be headed to KTM in March. I don’t suppose the airport has free wifi? My flight arrives late at night (around 10:30 pm). Are there still taxis outside at that time?

    Thanks,
    Karen

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      January 4, 2013

      No free WIFI I’m afraid. But yes, taxi’s will be around at that time of night. They’ll try to charge a higher rate … pay no more than 500 to Thamel, preferably less ;) Enjoy!

  17. Wends of Journeys and Travels
    January 31, 2013

    These are indeed useful and i love to use this when I get mysef to Nepal :) Its on my bucketlist though

  18. Bill Leggott
    February 19, 2013

    Thanks for the info. How long a drive generally is it from the airport to the Thamel area? We arrive apr 4th and fly to Pokhara on the 6th. We return late in the afternoon back to Kathmandu after Paragliding.Is the domestic terminal easy to use?What is the reason these people are grabbing bags on the conveyor. I get they wish to be paid for carrying bags but until they are identified?How do they get behind security? Please forgive if these seem naive questions regards Bill

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      February 19, 2013

      Hi Bill,

      No problems. It’s about 30 mins from the Airport to Thamel in a Taxi depending on traffic, fuel strikes etc. The domestic terminal is fine, a little chaotic at times. Just keep your head about you and you’ll be fine. About the bags. It’s more a Nepalese thing than a thieving thing. People will pick up bags from the conveyor if they look anyway remotely like their own, or if they think there’s a bag behind/under it or even they think it will speed up things. Security … You’ll probably only see them at check in or on the way out. When flying out of Nepal they tend to be overzealous on bag searching.

      Hope this helps!

  19. ViP
    July 1, 2013

    As a Nepali, I feel ashamed to be telling you this, but Kathmandu’s international airport is definitely one of the worst airports in the whole world. From the services, or the lack of it, to the utterly rude middle aged immigration officers, there are MANY things we need improving. I feel especially ashamed to see how tourists are hassled and exploited in such a way. 1000 rupees from the airport to Thamel is plain robbery I say. And as you pointed out, the small as shit excuse of the car we call our taxis is just pathetic. There’s hardly any space to put luggage, and many times I’ve seen Nepalis and foreigners alike having to hire two taxis, which just doubles the amount. It is pathetic how the airport officials cannot even provide a tourist bus service, let alone install facilities for helping tourists like information counters, proper restrooms (you didn’t even talk about that! Didn’t want to scare your readers away from visiting Nepal, did you?), proper money exchange counters, among others.

    I don’t know when the government and the airport officials realize this that we want our first and last impression to be something positive, not the present universal distaste, hatred, and ridicule that the airport gets.

  20. Ciaran
    December 10, 2013

    Just some current info,

    Flew into KMT at 8pm, airport was nearly empty, no line for 30 day visa, also 90 day visa line was empty, but the 15 day visa line was very long and everyone there looked confused (i wne t for the 30 day visa).

    Of the two forms you need to fill out on arrival, one was available on the plane (Air Asia X) and the other was available on the big old brown desk in the hall of the arrivals building.

    Only the FOREX booth BEFORE the visa section was open at this time of night, the ones outside near the taxi office were both closed.

    Again maybe due to the late arrival time, but there was no problems with baggage, no one offered to carry the bags or to get a trolly. There was still the airport security guy wanting to match you luggage tags to the ones on your bags.

    I was staying at a place near the British Consulate, about 20 minutes walk from Thamel and the price given at the official taxi office inside the airport was 750nr, then the first line of taxis right outside the exit doors of the airport said it cost 1000, kept walking back towards the rear of the parking lot and the next row of taxis were 800 (because of the taxi being a new car) the last row of taxis in the airport parking lot said 600, i offered 400 and we met in the middle at 500 and this included a phone call to the guest house for directions along the way (yes the taxi looked like it was about to fall apart too and it took a couple of goes to get the rear door closed! HA!)

  21. CindyVazzy
    March 19, 2014

    Hello!

    I’m heading to Nepal next week. Was just researching on as much tips as I possibly can for Kathmandu and Nagarkot. On this link: http://www.nepalembassy.com.my/en/services_visa.html, there is a downloadable Visa form. Is this the same form as the ones handed out within the arrival hall? I was thinking of preparing them in advance so I can save on some time.

    We’ve also arranged for an airport pickup by the hostel that we’re staying at for $5. :) What would you say would be an average per day spent in KTM?

    Thanks for all your help!

    C

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      March 19, 2014

      Hello,

      No that’s not the same form. That looks like a visa application form from the Nepalese Embassy in Malaysia. The one on arrival is different. Just make sure you have a passport photo and pen ready. More information on Nepalese visas here.

      Yes USD$500 for hotel pickup is good :)

      Average budget depesds on what you do. Considering KTM Durbar Square is $7.50 to enter, Patan $5 etc a low budget would be $15-20 pp not including accommodation for a day of sightseeing in KTM which included one entrance fee and food. Bhaktapur is $15 to enter so again it depends on where you want to go. Taxi fees are 200-300 around the city. While Patan is $4-$5, Bhaktapur over $10.

      Enjoy your stay

  22. Agata
    May 22, 2014

    Hi,
    Thank you for a very useful info. My friend and I we’re going to Nepal in 2 weeks time. I wonder if the taxi price will be counted double as there will be 2 passengers? Also do you know anything about Lumbini accommodation? I’ve heard that the Korean monastery doesn’t take the tourists any more and we’re worried that we’d stuck there without place to sleep. Thank you.

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      May 22, 2014

      Hi,

      No taxi fares are for the whole taxi and not per person.

      As of last month the Korean monastery still takes people for small donations. Otherwise the small road in Lumbini village has several guesthouses.

  23. Bhabendra
    June 16, 2014

    I am a Nepalese. Very kinetic description, I laughed my head off while reading this article. A true visual discreption upon arrival at the TIA.
    Being Nepalese still got confused with the chaos while arriving at airport, I really felt sorry for all the tourists and visitors who come to visit Nepal.

  24. Sole of Missy
    June 22, 2014

    This has provided all the info we need for our Nepal trip scheduled next week. Kudos!

  25. greg torr
    June 22, 2014

    Hey do you guys know if there are any facilities for leaving luggage at Kathmandu airport

    • Dave from The Longest Way Home
      June 23, 2014

      Hi Greg,

      I’ve not seen any there. However all guest houses in Kathmandu offer free luggage storage!

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