Arriving at Kathmandu Tribuvan Airport, especially for a first time visitor to Nepal can be a bit of a shock to the system – So this “Tip” is to try to help people to get safely from the airport to their chosen hotel.
Once you have collected you baggage from the carousel, make your way along a long corridor to the main exit door – Once you pass though this you will be met with a huge group of locals all vying for your business, hotel and taxi touts as well as Luggage “Helpers”
Go through the door ignoring all this and keeping a good tight hold of your bags, cross the road into the car park opposite – Here you will find plenty of taxis with drivers sitting in them, just ask any of them if they would like to take you to Thamel (Most of the Kathmandu tourist hotels are located in Thamel) for $5 – If your chosen taxi driver says No, then move onto the next one, I would be very surprised if you have to also more than 2 or 3 taxi drivers before one accepts as $5 is slightly more than the going rate)
So, make sure that you have a $5 bill handy – (If you have NPR then a 500NPR note is more or less the same value) as this saves you changing money at the airport which tends to be a poorer exchange rate than you will get in Thamel.
If all this sounds a bit too much then another method is to book your first night’s accommodation with a hotel that offers a free airport pick-up – Then if you like the hotel you can renegotiate your room price the next day and if you don’t like it, then you can move to another hotel. – If you book a hotel with a free airport pick-up then there will be a guy with your name on a board waiting for you just outside the airport door – But Do Make Sure that you aren’t duped by another hotel tout and sidelined to another hotel !!
There is also a “Fixed Price” Taxi stand inside the airport, this is more expensive than negotiating your own taxi but some people prefer it.
On your return journey to the airport, you should be able to find a taxi to take you there for around 300 to 400 NPR – Just negotiate with a few and agree a price
It's a good idea to check with at least a couple of tour operators before fixing a vehicle to move around in Kathmandu. I would recommend the use of an AC vehicle at least during the month of May, as it gets pretty hot. However one may not need an AC vehicle if you are planning to visit Nagarkot, as it's quite pleasant there.
It's surprisingly quite expensive travelling in Nepal. We ended up spending Rs. 8000.00 (INR) for hiring a vehicle for 2 days ( 7 Hrs. per day). Maybe it was because of the political instability in the region, with strikes being declared any time by the local political parties, that we were over charged. But it is always better to check with a few tour operators and strongly negotiate with them.
The rate includes the guide services, entrance tickets to touristy points. Just confirm if the guide covers all the points. They took us to Patan Darbar Square (for e.g) but on reaching there, were conveniently trying to avoid taking us to the Patan museum, within the same premises. When we insisted, they did take us inside, but did not take any interest in telling us about the significance of the beautiful artifacts within.
At times it gets very irritating, as the guide accompanying you, keeps pushing you to return quickly, as the 7 hrs slot for the day is coming to an end. Its best to talk to the tour operator not to bind you by the time limit, as one would have to really hurry up to see the places around, which is not fun.
Bhaktapur and Nagarkot are close to Khatmandu and I recommend you to visit these places.
Bhaktur has the old world charm, as the town was established somewhere in the year 1500 AD.
Nagarkot is like a hill station near Khatmandu, from where one can see the Himalayan peaks. We could not, as it was quite cloudy when we visited there, last week. But it's still very beautiful and worth the visit. Best time to visit Nagarkot, as per locals, is between September to October.
When you arrive at Tribhuvan Airport, whether at the international or domestic arrivals, you face numerous taxi touts with a somewhat limited understanding of where you are going, but who will charge for your custom with great enthusiasm. If you are not prepared for this and you also have a limited understanding of where you are going, opt for the pre-paid taxi service available at the exit of the airport doors (international) and past the luggage pick-up (domestic). It's a government authorised taxi syndicate sort of enterprise that operates with fixed prices to the various districts in town. A chart will be shown to you if you ask. They will take you to the door for that fixed price and won't ask for more. They'll even give you a receipt. If you're good at haggling you may beat the price (also if you run by meter, you will win a little), but if you do not know exactly where you're going and which streets are the quickest/shortest/currently demonstration-free make use of the pre-paid service. There is nothing luxurious about this service, you are likely to end up in a very run-down car whether you choos this service og haggle your way through the crowds.
Rather than trying to bargain with the wild crowd of taxi drivers offering their services outside the airport - when leaving Immigration look for a desk on the right on which should be written 'Taxis into Town' or somesuch. Here you can pre-pay your taxi ride at a set (and fair) fee.
The International and Domestic terminals are in 2 different buildings, about 5 minutes walk from one another.
Be prepared for delays, as the weather (fog) plays a big role in visibility. This is the same situation at Pokhara Airport. Once flights can take off, I was impressed how quick they got flights out o try and make up time.
Taxi fare from Kathmandu Airport can take minutes or more tha an hour. The fare differed everytime we made use of an taxi, anything from NRp 350 to NRs 400.
If you are going to trek the Annapurna Sanctuary then the Best way to get to the Trail-Head at Phedi from Pokhara is by Taxi -- We organised ours the night before, we agreed on a price of $4 for the half hour ride and at the pre-arranged pick-up time the taxi was waiting for us outside our hotel !! Then on the way out of Pokhara don't forget to stop at the check-point and show your trekking permit -- this is one of the Very Few times that you will have to actually produce this permit during the whole trek !!!! Just a Nice way to start the trek without the hassles of the local bus !!!!
2008 -- Petrol has gone up quite a lot in Nepal this last year or so, So I can't guarantee what price you will have to pay your taxi driver now, That's down to you and your negotiation skills.
It is also possible to catch a local bus to Phidi, But by the time you have got a taxi to the bus station and waited around for a bus then the small savings that you would make just wouldn’t be worth the hassle !!
If you are going to any of the sights around Kathmandu its easy to get a Taxi. You can negotiate a return journey rate and the driver will wait for you until you are finished. Taxis are incredibly cheap and the drivers will wait for hours. Not exactly the same experience you would have in London!
Much of the history of Nepal took place around the Kathmandu Valley, so the more sights you see, the broader picture you get. There are some public transport options for destinations around the Kathmandu Valley, but I generally opted for taxis to save time.
Below is a summary of destinations, prices and duration:
- Thamel – Pashupatinath – 120 Nr by rickshaw, 20 minutes
- Pashupatinath – Bodhnath – walk through park and across the Bagmati river, 1 hour
- Bodhnath – Swayambhunath – 220 Nr by taxi, 40 minutes in rush hour
- Swayambhunath – Durbar sq. – walk downhill, 30 minutes
- Durbar sq. – Patan – 80 Nr by taxi, 10 minutes
- Durbar sq. – Bhaktapur – 300 Nr by taxi, 40-50 minutes
After a long flight nobody is in mood to argue and negotiate with airport taxi touts, so I was glad to read about the “pre-paid taxi” option.
But be careful, as once you exit the area designed for passport & luggage control (there’re no such activities performed there, however) and after you get Nepali Rupees (Nr) in your hand, the first desk on the right is not the real pre-paid cab one, but some noisy touts pretending as such. The real pre-paid cab desk is the second one, and you manage to see it only after you refuse the touts offers.
Insist to go to the hotel of your choice, and do not accept "better alternatives", as they'll surely prove otherwise.
There are fixed fares from the airport to Kathamdu, depending on the destination in the city. A ride to Durbar square is 300 Nr, while one to Thamel is 350 Nr. Notwithstanding the above, you’ll probably end up giving a large tip to the driver (50 – 100 Nr), after having heard all his stories about his family, children, relatives and heavy traffic.
Taxis are all over Kathmandu, Patan, Dhulikhel, Pokhara, and every city in Nepal. Taxi drivers work in clusters, sometimes that is good and other times that is bad. If there is no meter you have to work out a price before you take off in one, so always shoot lower than what the guy says, but do not get into the taxi before a price is established (or else they've got you). However, try to use the meter at all costs, and just about every taxi really does have a working meter, and if they say it is broken threaten to go in a different taxi. During high tourist seasons they may try to get you to concede in doubling the meter price, don’t go for it; bargain hard. Also remember to keep small bills (Rs 10, 20 and 50) because drivers are notorious for not having any change.
How much is the fare: bhaadaa kati parchha?
Drive slowly: Bistaarai haanknus!
Hurry: Chito chito garnus.
Be careful: hos garnus!!
Please wait here: Yahaan parkhanus.