Do not be surprised if Yeti Airlines and other Nepali domestic airlines will be delayed or cancelled as this is very common in Nepal.
I have an experience that European security rules are not respected in Nepal. There is no proper equipment to scan bags and passengers. You can take on the board practically everything what you want what can be worrying.
When you fly from KTM to Pokhara sit on the right side of the plane. Flying back - on the left - otherwise you'll miss amazing views of the Himalaya peaks!
Be careful with you bag weight - there are good scales on the airports so know your limits :)
It is possible to buy a ticket with short notice, even in the same day and even during the strike (checked by myself!)
Next you go through custom’s, this is really nothing more than a formality.
Next you go to the baggage hall, and with luck your bags (Maybe safely inside a Pro-Tector) will be on the carrousel awaiting you.
Then you walk through the airport doors and outside into pandemonium !!
BUT Don’t worry about this, The Nepalese are a Really Friendly people, However walking outside Tribuvan Airport can be a bit overwhelming, especially the first time and if you are traveling alone. Lots of hotel touts try and persuade you to go in Their Free taxi to Their Hotel. If you haven’t got a fixed plan then sometimes this isn’t such a bad thing, But Personally I just say to a taxi driver, will you take be into Thamel for $5 and usually they say yes.
If you have arranged a pick up from your hotel, the guys with names on a board usually either stand just inside or just outside the main door, If the taxi drivers still pester you just tell them you are meeting someone and already have a reservation – That Usually Works
I Hope the above helps you, Good Luck and Enjoy your visit to Nepal – I am Sure that you will !!
Most travellers tick off Thai Airways for this sector, and I fully agree. There is a new airline that has popped up, Air Nepal International - don't travel with them. Their advertised prices are dirt cheap, but the last I heard was that they are no longer flying according to their route plans. They have one - 1 - plane. Likewise, Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation (RNAC = Royal Nepal Always Cancels) is best avoidable. Last time I tried them from BKK their plane was missing near Singapore, so I quickly changed to another airline... Last time I saw their desk at the BKK terminal its KTM flight was announced to be 22 hrs late....
There are rumors that Cosmic Air will start flying their Fokker 70ies KTM-BKK, too, but wait and see if it works first...
For adventure, the Biman route is good for two things apart from the price. They serve the best curry in the air, and Dhaka is an interesting city if you are a hardy soul... Do go with a visa. Another interesting trip is by Druk Air via Thimpu. Don't know the price and doubt they have a functioning internet booking, but why not throw in a stint in Bhutan?
But from BKK to KTM straight? Thai Airways TG 319 10:30 every morning, no nonsense. Cheapest it isn't, but they will also bail you out of Nepal every day if other airlines via Delhi or the Gulf are stuck, on strike, cancelled or too scered to fly... Opportunistic Thai Airways will send in bigger and more aircraft if there is a chance to make a buck at the expense of other airlines.
Update April 2010:
Cosmic Air and Air Nepal International are both bust. RNAC is renamed Nepal Airlines (republic, now, not royal anylonger!). Nepal Airlines still does not pose real competition to Thai despite Thai's stiff pricing on this near-monopoly route. Instead Thai puts in extra flights in the high season.
On your flights to either Pokhara in the central-western part of the country, ot to Bhadrapur in the far eastern part, you will have a chance to see the Himalayas unrolling besides the plane.
If you travel by other airlines than Yeti and Buddha Air whioch flies very high, the chances of not seeing much due to haze and clouds is there. Buddha flies so high that they nearly always come above any cloud cover. Therefore you may have views like this photo shows from the KTM-Pokhara flight. The mountains are of the Manaslu-Himalchuli massif.
Once travelling from Bharatpur to Kathmandu our landing in KTM was delayed by the KTM tower and the pilots took the plane along the Himalayas all the way from east of Makalu - a mountain flight as bonus!
The last three seats on the plane's right side are the best on Buddha Air Beechcraft 1900s for views during travels to Pokhara - no wings or propellers disturb the view.
Some of the very best default mountain flights are of course with tiny aircraft that fly to mountain destinations, especially Jomsom, Gamgadhi, Simikot, Dolpa and Lukla.
I fly this strech often, and Thai is the best option. However, they are expensive, since Nepal Air offers limited real competition due to their abysmal delay and cancellation record. The other ways you can get to KTM are via Delhi (probably expensive and incoveninent) and Dhaka by GMG and/or Biman (cheap and slightly inconvenient), or even Druk Air via Bhutan. You may get a layover in Bhutan and that will set you back some 200-300 usd.
With Thai you should absolutely book well ahead of time as the cheaper seats get eaten up by travel agencies' block bookings and generally early individual bookings. Flying Thai BKK-KTM rtn will set you back 500-600 USD economy class unless you find some promotional deal or a travel agent buring with unspent block bookings.
Both Biman and Thai can do online ticketing.
Website: http://www.thaiairways.comRelated to:
1) You could book online with airlines such as Yeti, however online booking of domestic airlines in Nepal isn’t as straight forward as you might think as there is no proper booking system, so what you have to do is send your credit card details to the airline by open email and a Lot of people are understandably worried about doing this. However I have heard quite a few reports from people who have used the system without problems
2) Reserve your flights through a reputable agent, if you do this, be careful only to use a recommended agent, preferably one that you have either had previous dealings with or had a personal recommendation from someone you know and trust, then Only send a Small deposit as an act of good faith
3) Wait until you get there, If you have a few days flexibility, you should still be able to secure tickets, especially if you aren’t trekking in the height of the main trekking season. Airlines sometimes put on extra flights to cope with extra demand.
Personally I would recommend option 2
I would also book a return ticket for about 14 days (Assuming you are doing the standard Lukla – EBC – Lukla trek), then if you are running ahead of schedule you can ring the airline office from Namche bazaar and try and bring your flight forwards and if you are running late you can ring the airline office from Namche bazaar and re-book your flight for a later date.
At least then you have your seat reserved and even if you are running ahead you could do a couple of day walks from Namche which is a Lot Nicer than hanging around Lukla !!
I have found the cheapest way of travelling to Nepal from the UK is to fly to Delhi and then get a separate connection to Kathmandu. I have done this twice and it can make a very long journey.
My advice would be to check travelsupermarket.com and cheapticket.co.uk for flights to Delhi. Currently from as little as £268 return. (last year I paid £280)
I am only aware of a few flights daily between Delhi and Kathmandu you can try jetairways.com and jetlite.com, these generally cost around £70 each-way.
So this method could cost as little as £408.
I travel out to west Nepal on my visits and so I take a bus from west Nepal direct to Delhi - very cheap but long and rough, but that’s what I go for!
This option also means you get to see a bit of Delhi if you delay your connecting flights.
I haven't booked my flights for April 2010 yet as I'm still watching the prices, I expect I'll book towards the end of November. If I see anything better I'll let you know - likewise if you find anything better I'd really appreciate knowing about.
If you do fly to Delhi and then on to Kathmandu I would strongly recommend that you check the duration of the flights, you can get some 5 hours stopovers in the middle east and then if you can't get directly out of Delhi it can effectively take two days from end to end. It is possible however to get direct flights to Delhi and then a quick connection onto Kathmandu (I think the flights on to ktm go at around 7am and again at midday) this way you can get London to Kathmandu in half a day (obviously you lose time with the time zones and that though).
I'm assuming you're flying from London but if not I believe you can fly Manchester direct to Delhi also.
Hope this is useful. Any thing else drop me a mail.
I miss this place often. It was like our home during a long trip. We came in and out too many times, so I can tell you more about it than the Ataturk Airport in my home city.
Kathmandu Airport is a small model of Kathmandu. We had our training tours here to be prepared to real Kathmandu. First lesson was about waiting without complaint. Since we were a crowded group and travel with group visa, our paper work took longer. The poor lads behind us suffered more.
It is obligatory to fill some papers called “Nepal Immigration Arrival and Departure Cards”. You can find them on the counters in the airport building. Fill them while waiting on queue. The officers take arrival part of the paper and you have to keep the departure part. But before the officers start to work, you’ll have to wait aimlessly for a while. We have some families around us and young children started to sleep on the ground while we were waiting. There is no certain time for these officers to start their job, so have some books to spend the time more efficiently.
After the paper work, you’ll have go to downstairs to collect your luggage. And the exit is there, too.
There are several small duty free shops. Usually we were either so tired or in a hurry and I was never able to check their products or prices.
We flied to Pokhara from Kathmandu. The part of the airport for domestic flights was a complete chaos. We managed to control the luggage and passed the security controls (separate for men and women). We’ve been told that it is a small plane but we couldn’t help ourselves not to get excited when we saw it. It was a white and green cutie. We all started to take pictures, instead getting into it.
Stewardess brought us peanuts, candy, juice and cotton balls. I lately realized that cotton balls were for the loud noise of the engines. It did not take long to reach Pokhara. I like to fly, but this was a completely different experience: Exciting but somehow horrifying. Yet, it is recommendable. Because, even if it isn’t a long distance, reaching somewhere on the land takes so much time in Nepal.
The day we return our homes, a Yeti Airlines plane (Flight 103) crashed in Lukla while approaching Tenzing-Hillary airport. A Turkish mountaineer we met in Kathmandu would be on the following flight for reaching the Everest base camp.
They also have flights just for seeing Everest.
There are many domestic airlines offering flights to different destinations in Nepal, and also ‘Mountain Flights’.
We flew to Pokhara with Yeti Airlines. The flight to Pokhara is only 22minutes (opposed to the 6-8 hours by bus). It was a very pleasant experience. It is best to buy tickets in advance at a travel agent.
As mentioned before, be prepared for delays, which is quite common, mostly due to bad weather.
The domestic terminal is about 5 minutes walk from the Int terminal.
Departure tax needs to be paid at the airport before checking in.
We flew from Johannesburg to Kathmandu via Doha, with Qatar Airways. All flights on all four legs were delayed. The longest delay was about an 2-3 hours.
Food served was good and legroom was very good.
In-flight entertainment was OK.
They did offer the best deals from South Africa to Kathmandu.
No, Syangboche Airport was built to serve The Everest View Hotel, The idea being to fly rich tourists up from Kathmandu so that they could view Everest in Luxury. The trouble was that these Rich Tourists all got sick because of the rapid gain in altitude, so Not a very well thought out idea !!
I looked into Everest View Hotel 10 years ago and it was almost a Ghost hotel back then, since then I believe it has now fell into a state of disrepair and that the airport is now mainly used for helicopter rescues and the occasional charter helicopter. Certainly no commercial flights have ever used it.
This is becoming an increasingly asked question as airfares rise and flying via India becomes more popular, so having travelled this way once, I thought it was time I wrote up how to do it ;-)
This Information is based of flying with a British Passport, Other Passport holders may have different rules, Check before you start your journey !!
You don’t need a transit visa for India, However there is a problem with Delhi and that is that the transit facilities are none Existent, The Big problem being baggage, Check with your airline and see if it is going to be possible to check your luggage all the way through to Kathmandu, This will depend on whether the airlines that you are flying with have a reciprocal baggage handling agreement. If they do fine – if not then potential trouble as the carousel where you would normally re-claim your baggage is on the other side of immigration, so you can’t get to it without a visa !! There is a system in place where if you have a Transit sticker on your luggage, a little man will eventually remove it from the carousel and dump it in the international area – it is then up to you to locate, identify and arrange for it to be put on the aeroplane that you are flying your second leg on !!
Some system !!!!!!!!
I often get asked whether you can you cut down the number of days needed to trek AC by taking a flight to Humde ??
Last I heard (March 2008) there was there are no regular flights from either Katmandu or Pokhara to Humde (Manang) and as far as I know the only airline that operates flights into Humde is Nepal Airlines (Formally Royal Air Nepal) and they don’t have a regular schedule.
However there is a new road being constructed towards Manang and as of Spring this year it was possible to get a jeep up as far as Syange (about 4 days trekking to Manang)
For up-to-date information on flights flying into Humde email Nirmal at HMA - email@example.com
Baring in mind that Nepal is one of the poorest states in Asia and that there are no international transfers here, Kathmandu is really the end of the line and has the facilities to match that. Whilst it would be untrue to say that Nepal was a 'good' airport, it is fair. I have flown many times to ktm and find the staff whilst unprofessional compared to Western standards, superior to most airports in the subcontinent.
You will find that most things are done by person rather than machine, often everything electric is off and somebody carries bags, does hand checks etc (I have even been in there in the pitch black during an electricity cut which was fun!). Be prepared for lots of sitting around staffers that don't seem to be doing anything.
Arrivals are notoriously slow at the immigration counters. You can however download a form on a website so that you can skip the queue! Departures is normal for a conflict-state, there are lots of checks and checks of checks (mainly because the machines don't work!) and everything is manual. Nepali tax is not on your ticket so you must pay it at the counter before you go to check in - it is usually around £10 or $15. The waiting area for boarders is altogether and normally the plane gets shouted - as there are so few planes in a day this is hardly an issue.
For the domestic terminal, it is even more manual and is the next building up the hill from the domestic one. Everything is people-based and again there is a departure tax. Be prepared at most 'airports' in Nepal (bar a couple) to see lots of grass and a shed for check in.
Regarding the touts outside, they are very light compared to most countries and though they may fight to take your bags, there is never any problem and they rarely over charge by much. The standard fare into Thamel (the tourist hotel area) is usually said to be 300 rupees (£2.60), if you walk outside the grounds you can probably go by meter for 150 rupees but its not really worth it - it is just enough to feed their children.