Pokhara has a small airport that serves a few domestic destinations including Kathmandu with several flights a day.
You have quite a few nepali airlines operating from Pokhara so there is a little competition.
Prices for domestic flights from Pokhara tend to be around 50 to 100 US dollars for a one way ticket.
Taking the bus to Kathmandu is a lot cheaper, but it´s also a long journey and flying is worth considering if you have limited amount of time in Nepal.
The airport is located very centrally in Pokhara and you can walk to the airport if you don´t feel like paying for a cab or a minibus, but be ware that it will take you around half an hour to walk there from the lakeside.
We had to change our trekking plans around Pokhara (beacause of illness) and grew very fond of this off-road motorbike. (photo) We tried a normal motorbike the first days, it is ok for the short rides, but it was bad for me at the back of the bike, over the speed bumps, holes in the roads and up steep gravel roads. The off-road motorbike was a bit more costly to rent but it brought us up all sorts of roads around Pokhara. And we met some other travellers planning to ride on the new road to Jomsom on off-road motorbikes. There where not many off-road motorbikes for rent in 2009, maybe 3 or 4 at Lakeside.
The trip Pokhara - Sarangkot - Kaskikot - Naudanda was amazing!
The bike made it up the steepest road to Sarangkot with two large norwegian and luggage.
We stayed over night at a guest house in Sarangkot and got a small view of Annapurna, between the clouds, at Sunrise the next morning.
We countinued along the ridge, on gravel road, trough Kaskikot and took a lunch break at Naudanda. All the way people waved and smile at us, it was a great experience! We talked about staying the night in Naudanda, but decided to drive all the way back to Pokhara. Paved road from Naudanda to Pokhara.
To the Peace Pagoda and beyond...
It is possible to drive almost all the way up to the Peace Pagoda/Shanti Stupa. A steep gravel road up from the main paved road (H10). It a small gravel parking lot just some hundred meters from the Pagoda, up hill. You can also continue on the gravel road to Pumdi Village and a few resorts along the rigde.
Only drive on roads, not on trails ment for walking/trekking.
Take care! Use helmet! Even tough my boyfriend doesn't have a helmet on posing in the photo above, we both used helmets while driving.
Tamagi Travels and tours is run by a family hailing from Tamagi village in the hills up from Phewa Tal. These folks are real locals. Especially valuable if you want to head up in the hills around the Pokhara Valley and the surroundings of Phewa Tal. Try them for a tour of Panchase and the Gurung villages here and further away.
They do ticketing, hotel bookings, rafting, trekking arrangements, hire vehicles etc.
They are a friendly crowd, keen to get your business and to know you. Say hello from Saagar from Norway, check for Vijaya Gurung and ask how MDO and DB are doing.
They also work with Pokhara Cyber.
The location is east side at the northern section of Lakeside Road, near Pokhara Cyber Cafe.
Just returned yesterday from a one week trip to Nepal. Weather conditions that are typically ideal at this time of the year were far from it. While it didn't rain, it was unusually hazy and thus visibility was so poor that views of the Himalayas were virtually non existent.. This situation created yet another problem - air pollution. Much of this is the result of exhaust from the thousands of two stroke engine motorbikes, ash and soot from cooking and heating via wood burning stoves, and soot from poorly tuned diesel engines all of which contributed to a pretty desperate soup of air in places in and around Pokhara - a situation more typical of Kathmandu.
As a result there have been the expected delays in flight departures from Pokhara too - ours included. In fact, when we got to the airport we were graciously told that our flight was canceled. We were also told that there would be no problem in having the ticket refunded .. but that it would need to be done from the agency that we purchased it from - in our case .. in Kathmandu. Time? 4:20 pm. This resulted in the need to quickly hire a car to find our way back to Kathmandu to ensure we were there in time to collect our departing flight out of Nepal the next day. We managed to find one easy enough. The rate? 8000 rupees (@$120 US) one way. The estimated time? We were told it could take 6 to 8 hours to do the 210 km route. Without any other option, we jumped on board .. we also managed to find another couple left in the same desperate situation to split the cost of the fare with. So off we went. Surprisingly the pace seemed far greater than we had expected. It had crossed my mind that perhaps we'd get lucky and beat the average 7 hour time given for the journey. We managed to get as far as the half way point (Mugling and the major bridge there) by 6:30 pm... but we had been warned that the Mugling to Kathmandu was far more treacherous. The warnings proved to be true.
While we made pretty good progress after Mugling, we saw an ever growing number of trucks broken down "on" the road. The usual suspect was often perched with nothing more than a few rocks to "lock" a wheel into place and with a small boulder ritualistically placed only a few meters behind it - typically far too late to really serve as any sort of warning to vehicles approaching. Of course it was the thought that counts. The state of tires also showed the level of vehicle maintenance - often with little or no tread visible. Yet as a saloon car, we managed a slalom between slower trucks in our lane and those coming on in the approaching lane. Also noticed was a remarkably simple but effective exchange of signals between vehicles to help one another negotiate the narrow road that was erroneously labeled a "highway" in guidebooks. Road conditions seemed to deteriorate in proportion to the increasing sharpness and frequency of turns. Despite our driver's best efforts, the car would often bottom out as he miss calculated or missed seeing completely a bump or rut in the road. Still I noticed we were making pretty good time. It was now 8:30 and we were only about 20 km from Kathmandu.
THEN it happened. We came around a corner and suddenly saw a stream of taillights that appeared stalled on the side of the mountain, and we quickly came to an immediate halt ourselves to join them. Amazing! We were in a traffic tie up in the middle of no where. Just a stream of vehicles made up largely of trucks and the odd saloon car like ours ... It was made even stranger by the fact that the tie up was in both directions. A steep drop in the darkness to one side of us, a steep rise of the mountain on the other side of the road, and no shoulder at all to speak of. Already nervous about road conditions, and this now this new situation, we were then informed by the driver that the road might be closed at 9:00 pm. What did this mean? Sleeping in the car for the night? We didn't get an answer. There seemed to be no sense of when and how we might get out of this. Just a stop in the middle of nowhere. Then some hope emerged. We lurched forward and moved about 100 meters. .. then stopped again. Only to wait and wait and wait. 9:00 pm rolled by but without incident. Some signs that we had some sort of organization party in charge of "rescuing" us emerged when we saw a policeman walk down the middle of the traffic... only to disappear and not return. At one point I got out of the car out of boredom and went for a walk forward on the line. On a curve I found two buses, each poised to go in opposite directions but separated by a gap of less than 20 cm. Another wait.. then suddenly another lurch forward. This went on for over two hours .. yet as a testament to Nepal patience I never once heard a horn blow or an angry voice. We eventually covered about 5 km when we seemed to break loose .. but not without at least a few casualties - our lungs, sinuses and eyes were shot from breathing a slew of dust, and exhaust fumes .. something I'm still nursing 48 hours later.
We finally arrived in Kathmandu at 11pm - six and a half hours after our departure from Pokhara. Be warned - we heard that this was "pretty typical". A Nepali friend of ours told us that on one occasion the traffic jam was so severe that it took 18 hours to clear it up. After waiting 2 hours, I can't imagine how that's possible.
So yes.. driving from Pokhara to Kathmandu can typically take 6 to 7 hours.
Vardan (company name) rents out various vehicles with drivers; microbus, bus, 4x4s, jeeps, landcruisers, sedans, small cars. Reasonable prices but quick to note that you drove veeery long, sir and took much time, sir...!
There used to be air links from several places to and from Pokhara. It's become reduced to the following:
6) Light aircraft (micro) sightseeing around Pokhara valley.
There is talk of adding international flights to Pokhara by Buddha Air: Lucknow and Patna. Also airlines are contemplating flights to Nepalgunj and Surkhet from pokhara. For travellers the real deal would be Pokhara-Dolpo/Jumla/Mugu/Simkot, but probably fuel restrictions (long journeys except to Dolpo) would hinder this, and perhaps powerful people who like to see all traffic diverted to the Nepalgunj hub...
In the "old days" at the heyday of airlines privatisation, a reasonable operational RNAC, and prior to Mao's forced entry on the scene there were flights to Baglung, Bhairawa, Jumla and Nepalgunj as well, and mountain sightseeing flights.
Scooters can be hired for a few hundred rupees per day, the best place to find them is at the crossroads in lakeside - the arm leading away from the lake has a cluster of shops with bikes outside, enquire within for prices.
We hired a scooter, and the guy we hired it from said it wouldn't make it up to Sarangkot, but it did with no problems apart from me having to get off and walk a couple of times while my partner gunned it up a particularly steep bit!
Driving around Pokhara old town takes a bit of getting used to and we did get a little bit lost, but we found our way eventually thanks to some friendly and helpful locals! Don't expect any signposts, and the map in the LP guidebook isn't really detailed enough.
We caught a bus from the border at Sunauli, which I think should take about 8-10 hours, but because of the not infrequent road blocks it will almost certainly take longer. The roads are often blockaded due to road accidents - trucks and buses hit people, and locals close off the road until an agreement about compensation has been reached. It took us about 12 hours.
The views are great though - green paddy fields, beautiful river gorges filled with deep turquoise water, trees with glorious red blossoms in the spring... wonderful!
There are a lot of small guest houses along this route for those who want to enjoy the full rural experience, so if you are carriying a big backpack the best way to reach these hostels are by bus, there are some basic buses with irregular services along the road.
All buses to Pokhara leave Kathmandu in the early morning and the journey will take a good 8 hours with lunch break.
Because the roads in Nepal are in such a poor state the buses like to get to there destinations in the daytime where it is safe because they can see where they are going.
There are no lights on the roads between Kathmandu or Pokhara or anywhere else for that matter and nothing on the side of the roads to stop the bus going over the edge, Nepal has a bad reputation for buses going over the edge but I have never hear any buses carrying foreign tourist going over, so don't let this put you off from going to Nepal.
This company has a comfortable daily air conditioning bus to Kathmandu leaving at 8,00am, the journey takes from six to eight hours (we spent nine hours due to an accident). The bus leaves from Green Line bus station in south lakeside Pokhara. The cost is about $12 and includes a lunch in the beautiful River Side Resort (an old colonial hotel). It´s a good option fo flight from Kathmandu (as i did) and return by bus, the views of the mountains really worth the time.
The trendy bars/shops and restaurants in Lakeside can only entertain for so long. If you like a bit of independence and have some time, hiring a motorbike/scooter is a great way to see the extremities of Pokhara, from Devi Falls in the south west, to the Gurkha Museum and Mahendra Bat Caves in the north.
There are a range of places hiring bikes, with the majority at the end of Manswara road which starts at the cross roads to the north end of Lakeside.
The most common bike is a Pulsar 180 which, if in good condition handles the road conditions well. The older ones can have clapped out gearboxes which cause them to drop out of gear so try and get a newish one (look for digital speedometers) They ride ok with a passenger and reach fast enough speeds for round town. c. 350NP (you will need to leave your passport or a deposit but no license is required)
Most of the smaller cc bikes use very little fuel and the rental places may try to convince you you need to buy more than necessary from them. Its cheaper to fill up at the garages in any case.
If you are a seasoned biker you may wish to check out Hearts and Tears (www.heartsandtears.com) next to the Busy Bee bar, who rent bigger bikes (they will want to see your license to provide proper insurance). There are also a few places renting Honda XL's and copies which would be my preference, particularly for longer journeys.
Watch out on the roads and take your time, fast filtering (or driving) is not expected, cows roam freely, the driving standards are sub par and road conditions are variable (bumpy). On the other hand there's few better ways to cool down on a hot day while taking in the sights, sounds and smells.
Pokhara Airport is located on the outskirts of Pokhara, but only a few minutes from the Lakeside or Pokhara Central. It is a small airport, but does have a rooftop restaurant to enjoy before departure.
As is the case with Kathmandu, flight delays are common, mostly due to fog or other weather conditions.
A taxi from Pokhara Airport to the hotel at the Lakeside, was NRs250.
Yeti Air is one of the many domestic airlines offering flights to different destinations in Nepal, and also offers ‘Mountain Flights’.
We flew to Pokhara with Yeti Airlines. The flight to Pokhara is only 22minutes (opposed to the 6-8 hours by bus).
If you do take this option, try to sit on the R side (window) for spectacular mountain views! (It is as R side as you are in your seat facing the cockpit). From Pokhara to Kathmandu - on the left side. On our way back, we were pushed and elbowed out of the way by a group of tourists from the East, giving no chance to get a seat. At least we had on the KTM - POK flight.
A return flight was around 90 US$, and flights are quite full
Pokhara airport is small and quite efficient. It has easy access from Lakeside and downtown (10 minutes), you pass two ticket/access checks prior to be let into the check-in counters. Easy to see/ask if your flight is ready to check in/delays etc. If seriously delayed, check in, security check your luggage and go upstairs to the rooftop cafe. Expensive prices for Nepal, but hey, a good way of waiting over a lemon soda or beer and snacks. When you see your plane is landing, proceed to security check and enter the departure hall. A bit confusing regarding what airline is departing, and lots of people pushing to get on what they think may be their flight, but it will sort itself out. It is a good idea to call your airline before your flight to find out if it is worth leaving the hotel or not!