Located between Kathmandu city and Dhulikhel, Panauti is often overlooked but easy to get to. Do read my full travel guide to Panauti. It's worth putting aside a full day for Panauti or if you are looking for a night in an authentic Newar city then an overnight stopover is a good choice.
Panauti up until recently has been relatively untouched in terms of tours and tourism - this is one of its charms. In 2017 many travel agents are trying to package it into an overnight "community homestay" often pushing side treks from there. This is fine if you on a tight schedule. But it's highly overpriced and run by a private company. If you are independently traveling with time then it's highly recommended you do everything yourself. Because getting to Panauti is easy. And there are cheaper accommodation options available.
The road to Panauti was recently resurfaced making the journey easier. However, Kathmandu city in 2018 is having a major road building overhaul which has kicked up a lot of dust. Thankfully once you are out of the city the road to Panauti is relatively well kept.
Did you know?
Panauti was founded in 1793 but is said to predate much of Kathmandu city with strong origin links to the Hindu god Shiva.
There are several transportation methods to Panauti depending on your budget and schedule.
Direct buses to Panauti depart from the old bus park (Ratna) in Kathmandu city every 15 minutes or so for 80 rupees (1.5 hours). These buses stop in Banepa but you don't have to transfer. They will continue on to Panauti bus park.
If you are coming from other locations in the Kathmandu Valley like Bhaktapur or Dhulikhel and cannot get a direct bus to Panauti then get one to Banepa. From the small station in Banepa just ask for the next bus to Panauti which is about 20 rupees.
Do be aware that the last buses from Panauti generally finish up around 6pm. However, during the winter they sometimes finish at 5pm. Do ask once you arrive.
Taking a taxi from Kathmandu to Panauti is quite easy but you will have to bargain hard for about 2,500 rupees. Most taxi drivers will be happy to wait for you if you are making the return journey after a few hours. There are taxi's around the bus park in Panauti.
Taking a motor bike from Kathmandu to Panauti is easy. However if you are not used to the virtually ignored traffic rules in Kathmandu it might be a bit stressful. GPS does work well in Nepal but it's unwise to take your eyes off the road. You'll also need to find a safe place to park. For such a short trip a motorbike tends to put too much stress on you compared to other options.
By mountain bike
Until Kathmandu cities roads have been rebuilt taking a mountain bike to Panauti can be a dangerous, polluted and tiring ride. The roads are being rebuilt around the city constantly- the mountain bike tour companies need to make a profit so they keep pushing tourists to rent a Mountain Bike. Save the mountain biking for the next couple of years or do it in Pokhara or anywhere outside the Kathmandu Valley!
By private car or jeep
Hiring your own car or jeep and driver is quite convenient when visiting Panauti. They are generally more comfortable and as most are can be hired for the day it's possible to fit in another site such as Dhulikhel or Bhaktapur on the same day. Private jeeps can be rented with a driver for about USD$80-100 per day. Air-conditioning is usually extra. Though this may seem expensive, you can visit multiple location on the way and drivers often act as tour guides too.
By private tour
Do watch out for over priced tours to Panauti. Especially those promoting "community homestays". Commercial tour companies have tapped into this phrase. See my travel guide to Panauti for better options.
To be honest, the bus is the easiest and most cost effective way to reach Panauti! Since the road was repaired it's no longer the bumpy ride it once was. Leave early from Kathmandu to avoid the traffic and all should be good.
Otherwise if you want something more comfortable then hiring a taxi is the next best option.
Do read my full free online guide to Panauti for more. Meanwhile full directions to Panauti and maps are available in my guidebook below.
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