How to get to Pokhara is one sure-shot thought that pops up in a traveler’s head while planning for a tour in Nepal. Getting to Pokhara completely depends on the type of experience travelers wish to experience.
Pokhara is undoubtedly a mirror to the Himalayas as described by many travel enthusiasts. The spectacular lake city has breath-taking scenery, an array of adventure activities, laidback accommodation, and abundant local food choices. There couldn’t be any place better than Pokhara to get rejuvenated after a tiring three-week trek or a horrendous bus ride from elsewhere to this peaceful city.
What are the options to travel to Pokhara?
Here are all the possibilities of reaching Pokhara. One can go by air and get there fast! One can travel by a rented car with a driver and take the time and breaks that they want. Going by the air-conditioned Green Line bus and having lunch at a luxurious restaurant is one more option to reach Pokhara. One can also travel by a tourist bus, have lunch at a good restaurant and explore more of the country and the people. Going by local buses or smaller mini-buses is one last option for a budget-traveler – get ready to be a local! So, plenty of traveling options to Pokhara – you know what is best for you – choose your travel style!
Traveling to Pokhara from Kathmandu
Travelers have the options to either fly from Kathmandu airport or take an overland drive of about 6 to 7 hours to reach Pokhara. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Nepal situated 206 km away from Kathmandu. Some travelers visiting Nepal head directly to Pokhara from Kathmandu and take on with their further travel plans from Pokhara. While some of them do not wish to miss out on some of Nepal’s finer attractions including a visit to the historic town of Bandipur. The picturesque village offers European vibes amidst the elegant Nepalese landscapes. Pokhara is apparently not far from Kathmandu but the mountainous terrain and the road quality contributes in making the drive needlessly longer than expected. As a result, a majority of foreigners opt to make their trip more relaxed by flying there. Listed below are some options for traveling between the two cities, either by flight or a scenic road trip.
Kathmandu to Pokhara by flight
By far, the fastest and most comfortable mode to travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara is by flying. On top of that, it is the only mode recommended for travelers who are short on time. Several flights depart from the Tribhuvan Airport at different timings to Pokhara. It takes only about 25 minutes from Kathmandu to reach Pokhara airport. It is a scenic flight that offers panoramic vistas of the Himalayan peaks. The bird’s eye views of the countryside as well as the glittering peaks can be best viewed from the right hand side of the plane away from the wing.
One advantage to take a flight to Pokhara is that travelers will reach their destination within a short period of time. Thus, they will not feel tired or exhausted on reaching the lake city. It will allow them to participate in some other activities within the city.
Flights from Kathmandu run on a daily basis and there are several reputed national carriers such as Yeti Airlines, Buddha Air, and Simrik Air operating from the capital city to Pokhara. On an average, there are about 13 flights taking off from Kathmandu. The first flight leaves at 8 in the morning from Kathmandu and the last flight leaves from Pokhara at 3.30 pm.
Flight costs vary season wise as well as by the method of purchase. Foreign tourists who wish to buy tickets online can expect to pay around US$ 125 one way. However, most travelers who book their trip in Nepal have their costs covered by their travel agencies. As general information, the airfare rates keep on changing frequently, although the change may be a significant one.
One more drawback of traveling by flight apart from the higher cost is the unpredictable weather condition, which may cause delays in flight timings. We suggest our fellow travelers who have their international flights not to book their domestic flights on the same day to avoid any hassles.
Kathmandu to Pokhara by Road
A road trip to Pokhara is definitely fun, but like any other things, it has its own share of challenges. The whole journey sometimes can be so erratic due to the high-volume traffic at the exit point in Kathmandu. The trip can also be unpredictable during rainy seasons causing random landslides thereby elongating the duration of travel time.
The prominent Prithivi Highway that meanders right from the foothills of the Kathmandu Valley through 206 km of mid-hills and terraced countryside is something more than an ordinary bus ride. Driving that amount of a distance in the plains would not require more than 3 hours time to reach the destination. However, in the mountainous sectors, it is a hectic drive through sharp bends and narrow pot-holed roads that makes the ride a painful one. So as to say, following the mighty Trishuli River alongside the main highway, there are many riverside resorts to cross. Most of these resorts have their own sandy beaches, carefree charm and rafting opportunities.
It is a highly known fact that Pokhara is the major starting point for most of the treks to the Annapurna region of Nepal. Not all tourists want to travel to Pokhara by flights. Some of them are on a tight budget, so they try to save their money for other adventurous activities rather than on domestic flights.
Traveling by road will take 6 to 7 hours approximately along the Trishuli River passing several terraced villages and winding road to reach Pokhara. Those road-trippers traveling on private vehicles or through a travel agency have the option to add a little more adventure to their trip. They may take up a white water rafting trip, somewhere in between during their journey. They may either do a one day trip or even a two day trip by camping overnight on the riverbank before arriving at Pokhara.
Due to the mountainous terrains of Nepal, there are no train services in the country. So, for traveling overland to Pokhara, the only medium to travel is by tourist buses, private cars, mini-buses, microbuses (Hi-Ace vans), or local buses. The mode of transport chosen by a traveler, whether by bus, car or micro-bus, also affects the traveling experience. To sum up, the road trip to Pokhara along the postcard-ideal scenes along the river side is every bit worth it.
By Tourist Bus
The majority of tourist buses depart from Kathmandu with a starting point at Kantipath, near Thamel. Several private companies operate their tourist bus service from this point and the cost of the tickets varies according to the facilities they provide to the passengers. All the buses begin to depart at 7 am in the morning and by 7.30, all the buses will have vanished from the temporary depot. Tourist buses are not necessarily any faster or slower than other vehicles plying on the same route and the same destination. However, it is a slightly safer option as compared to other public transportation system in the country. The standard of driving is much higher and so much better than other average drivers. There is no overcrowding and these buses stop more often, of course, at places with better restaurants and rest rooms.
Tourist bus ranges from standard to super deluxe and the ticket costs from US$ 8 and goes up to US$ 30. Travelers usually book their seats from local travel agents and sometimes their hotels do the reservations for them. It is however, not always necessary to buy bus tickets in advance as there are plenty of tourist buses plying to Pokhara. Nonetheless, during peak seasons it may be difficult to get seats in the front row, or may not get seats at all. In spite of several companies offering same services with the same level of comfort, the all buses ply on the same road. The services include a free bottle of water, air conditioning, onboard WiFi and reasonably frequent rests and food stops en route.
The popular companies Blue Sky Travels and Greenline, both of which have been recommended in Lonely Planet, are the favourite choices amongst tourists. Pokhara Jagadamba Travels is another company besides the two mentioned earlier that provide a more comfortable ride and with lunch included. The cost for one way ride in these buses is about US$ 25 to US$ 30. Greenline leaves Kathmandu at 7.30 am from its own premises in Thamel while Jagadamba also leaves at 7.30 am from Annapurna Hotel Durbar Marg. the price includes a buffet lunch and travel insurance. In addition, these companies have an indoor waiting room at the bus park unlike other tourist bus services. The drivers of these buses will generally not drive too fast and calmly weave in and out of the meandering roads on their own pace. In conclusion, it can only be ascertained that owing to the problems with the roads in the rainy season, flying could make more sense rather than driving.
Mentioned below is a list of some popular companies providing bus service to Pokhara. However, the prices are subject to change without prior information)
Standard Tourist Bus Company (US$ 8 to US$ 10)
- Blue Sky Travels and Tours
- Global Vacation Tours & Travels
- Loyal Travel
- Holiday Nepal
Deluxe Tourist Bus Company (US$ 15 to US$ 25)
- Baba Adventure
- Greenline Travel & Tours
- Mountain Overland Tours
- Golden Travel & Tours
Super Deluxe Tourist Bus Service (US$ 25 to US$ 30)
- Jagadamba Travels
- Travel Nepal Bus
By Public Bus
Traveling to Pokhara by a local bus is not recommended to tourists who cannot afford to encounter surprises during the journey. It costs around US$ 4 to US$ 6 for a one way ride. The dust and pollution on the roads is one terrible experience travelers will come across. Likewise, the bus stops every now and then to pick any one who raises a hand on the way. The drivers of these public buses are rather reckless and compete with every vehicle in front of them. Although they are the cheapest option to travel to Pokhara, it becomes a nightmare for travelers who aren’t uses to reckless driving with overloaded passengers. The public buses include a full-sized bus or a smaller microbus (hi-ace vans) which leave Kathmandu almost throughout the day, roughly in every half an hour interval. The boarding points of these public buses are either at Gongabu Bus Park or at Kalanki junction.
As a matter of fact, public buses are not slower than the tourist buses. They indeed run at a much higher speed but the countless stops they make throughout the entire journey seem to increase the travel time. Overall, these public buses are less comfortable than other tourist buses, with no air conditioning, old worn-out seats, very loud music and usually filled with people and luggage on the aisles. It is an option only if you are on a tight budget or if the early morning departure of tourist bus is a problem for you.
It is also recommended to the tourists not to travel by public buses during the festival time. It isn’t very surprising to observe that the price of a ticket will almost be doubled during festivals. Moreover, locals will be visiting to their home town during festivals and the tickets will be sold out much earlier. Shortage of public transport and increase in the number of travelers will result in over-crowdedness and traveling by standing inside the vehicle all the way. Furthermore, these buses stops almost anywhere to accommodate a passenger, even where there is no room inside the bus.
By Private Vehicle
Traveling to Pokhara on a private vehicle is probably the best option for an overland driving experience. The major advantage of hiring a private vehicle (jeep or car) is that travelers can ask the driver to stop whenever and wherever they wish. Unlike the bigger buses, smaller vehicles tend to move through the traffic a little faster. Besides, most of the private vehicles are owned by the drivers so it is obvious that they are not reckless while driving.
Jeeps normally have 7 to 8 seats and are larger than cars. Tourists may expect to pay around US$ 180 to US$ 240 for a one way ride to Pokhara. There are numerous travel agents and transport companies in Thamel area who provide these services. Using air conditioned vehicles will cost you some extra dollars. A car, on the other hand, can carry up to 3 people comfortably, or four, if you compromise to adjust accordingly. Prices may vary depending on the type of car as well as the time of the year that you travel. They will charge you somewhere between US$ 100 to US$ 150.
To sum up, traveling to Pokhara on a private vehicle is a very comfortable way to reach your destination. Travelers can stop en route for taking pictures, linger over lunch, stop by the river side for a chilled beer or grab a quick bite for snacks. They can command the driver to drive slow or fast as they wish. It is a perfect experience for those who wish to enjoy throughout the drive to Pokhara as well as for those who can afford those extra bucks.
Traveling to Pokhara from other parts of Nepal
Travelling to Pokhara from other parts of the country is not a problem at all. On the contrary, besides Kathmandu, it is possible to fly directly into Pokhara from Bharatpur and Bhairahawa only. Travelers who wish to avoid the road trip to Pokhara but wish to start from other parts of the country other than Kathmandu have to first fly to the capital and then catch a flight to Pokhara. As such, there are no tourist buses or standard deluxe buses from the extreme eastern and western parts of Nepal to Pokhara. There are several regular night and day buses from Kakarvitta, Dharan, and Biratnagar heading out to Pokhara. Similarly, buses are also available from the border town of Sunauli, Butwal, Birgunj and several other major cities of Nepal.
No matter how a tourist travels to Pokhara, it is only after arrival that the real adventure begins. The lake city of Pokhara is the starting point for most of the treks in the Annapurna region, including the famous Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Annapurna Circuit Trek or the Mardi Himal Trek.
We have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions by our clients with their relevant answers. We are sure it will help you to create an imaginary vision about your travel schedule with all encounters during your journey – no matter which mode you travel.
Kathmandu Pokhara Flight FAQs
How do I connect my International flight with a domestic flight in Kathmandu airport?
If you are arriving from abroad and need to connect your flight within a short difference in time, you are advised not to exit the airport. The international airport and the domestic airport in Kathmandu are very nearby and accessible by walking for a mere 8 to 10 minutes. After exiting from the international airport’s main gate, one needs to head towards the north. You will pass coffee shops, ATMs and a Western Union Booth and walking further ahead towards a red building, you will reach the domestic terminal.
What are the most recommended flight carriers from Kathmandu to Pokhara?
As of today, the major airlines operating in the Pokhara sector are Yeti airlines, Buddha airlines, and Simrik airlines. Flight costs are different for Nepali people and foreign tourists. Nepalese pay in the local currency while the tourists are required to pay in US dollars or its equivalent in Nepali currency. There is a special airfare for Indian nationalities, which maybe slightly higher than the Nepali fare.
How much does a flight ticket cost from Kathmandu to Pokhara?
The cost of a flight ticket from Kathmandu to Pokhara is different for Nepali people and foreign tourists. Unlike in other countries, the domestic flight charge does not fluctuate on a daily basis; it is almost unchanged throughout the year unless there is a hike in petroleum cost. Also, it is true that the cost may slightly vary depending with whom you purchase the ticket. Travel companies and ticketing agencies have a different price that what is offered at the airlines counter. It may cost you something different when you make an online purchase. However, the difference is not vast. In general, the one-way fare from Kathmandu to Pokhara will cost a Nepali citizen around US$ 45 per person. The same ticket will cost around US$ 125 per person for foreign nationals.
My child is flying with me, what will be the ticket cost for my child?
A child’s fare is applicable to all children who are in between the ages of 2 and 12 years. Children discounted fare is calculated according to the norms, which is, 33 % less than the adult fare. So, for an example, if your fare is US$ 125, then your child’s fare will be US$ 58.75.
Are there any charges for infants?
Any child who is less than 2 years in age is considered to be an infant. Infants onboard will be charged with a nominal fee of 10% of the adult fare.
I am a refugee; will I be charged the full amount of the air fare?
As a refugee, you will be considered as a nationality of the country that issued your refugee identification card. Hence, you will be charged accordingly. There is no discount or waiver for refugees on air fares.
As a Non Residential Nepali (NRN), what air fare will be charged to me?
If you possess your NRN identity card issued by the Government of Nepal, then your air fare will be as normal as other Nepalese citizens. If not, then you will be charged with the foreign tourist fare.
I am a foreigner, but married to a Nepali citizen. What fare will I pay?
Unless a person has a valid passport or a nationality certificate issued by the Government of Nepal, USD fare or foreign fare will be charged for your ticket.
How can I purchase a flight ticket to Pokhara?
There was a time when flight tickets were not issued online and had to be purchased at the ticket counters or travel agents. It is now easier to get your ticket. If you are already in Kathmandu, then you can visit a travel agency and purchase your ticket. If you are still in your country, then you can visit the website of the major airlines in Nepal and purchase your flight tickets by paying with your credit or debit card.
What documents should I carry with me at the time of check-in at the airport?
No documents are required as long as you have your valid offline ticket with you. If you possess an online ticket, then you must produce any of your valid photo identity which may be your driving licence, passport or a national identity card.
Are there any baggage limits for my Pokhara flight?
Baggage limits depend on the class of ticket you have purchased. Generally, there are six categories of tickets classified according to the weight limits allowed. For a Y-class ticket, the baggage limit allowed is 20 kg, for A & B-class, the limit is 15 kg and for C, D & E-class, the baggage limit allowed is only 10 kg. The more the baggage limit allowed, the higher will be the ticket cost.
What is the check-in time for domestic flights?
The check-in time for domestic flights is one hour. Having your baggage security checked and acquiring a boarding pass asks you to stand in a queue for a few minutes.
What is the provision if I have to cancel my flight or reschedule it to a later time?
Each private airline has its own cancellation policy. Each flight class has its own terms and conditions. You are kindly requested to read the cancellation policies mentioned in the tickets either offline or online.
What happens if my flight gets cancelled by the airlines?
For all domestic flights in Nepal, if a flight gets cancelled due to any reason, the airline will not provide any food or accommodation compensations. However, officials of the airlines will assist you in getting the earliest available flight to your destination. Passengers of Y & B-class fare will be given first priority.
Is my domestic flight ticket transferable to my friend or a relative?
No. Domestic air tickets are non-transferable. Once the ticket has been issued in your name, it cannot be passed on to any other person. If you are unable to travel, the only option for you is to cancel your ticket. (Some classes of tickets are non-refundable and cannot be cancelled as well). So be sure to purchase your tickets accordingly while planning your trip. If you are unsure about your travel program, we advise you to purchase a refundable ticket, which will cost you some extra bucks.
Kathmandu Pokhara Local & Tourist Bus FAQs
From where can I get a bus in Kathmandu?
Normally, tourist buses are queued up in the mornings in Kantipath area, Thamel and Jamal. Street names may confuse a tourist, so you can request your hotel or guesthouse for a free city map. If you have booked through your agent or your hotel, they will escort you to the unofficial bus depot before departure time. However, if you wish to travel economic way, public buses can be boarded at the Gongabu bus park or at Kalanki junction. These local buses and microbuses depart quite frequently almost throughout the day.
How far is the hotel area located from the bus station in Pokhara?
Majority of the hotels in Pokhara are situated in Lakeside while few others may be found elsewhere. The local buses arriving from Kathmandu will stop at the bus station in Prithvi Chowk while tourist buses stop a bit further ahead towards the lakeside. From the local bus station, it is a 10 – minute taxi ride to the hotel in Lakeside or a thirty-minute brisk walk. The taxi may charge tourists Rs. 200 to 300 to drop you off to your hotel.
How long does it take to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu on a bus?
For most of the tourist buses, it will take around 7 to 8 hours to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu. For other public buses, it will take about 6 to 7 hours for the same.
Where can I purchase my tourist bus ticket?
Unless it is peak season or a festival period in Nepal, it is generally not necessary to book your ticket in advance. However, if you wish to purchase your ticket with good front window seat, then you have several options to do that. You can walk into the tourist bus office counter and directly purchase with them. There are several other tour operators in Thamel who provide you with the bus tickets upon payment. Another option to get your ticket is to talk to your hotel manager and ask him to arrange for your ticket.
Can I travel to Pokhara on an overnight bus?
Traveling to Pokhara on an overnight bus is only possible in semi-deluxe buses. Tourist buses do not ply on the roads during night time. These semi-tourist buses are something better than the day local buses. The seats are comfortable and it accommodates people without overcrowding. However, the bus is not air conditioned and do not provide services which are provided by the tourist buses.
Where do local buses depart from in Kathmandu and Pokhara?
There are two major points from where the local buses depart in Kathmandu. They are Gongabu Bus Park and Kalanki junction. However, the microbuses depart only from Kalanki area. In Pokhara, the local buses depart to Kathmandu from Prithvi Chowk.
Are the arrival and departure stations the same in Kathmandu as well as in Pokhara?
For local buses, the station of arrival and departure are the same in both the cities. Although the arrival and departure station for tourist buses in Pokhara is the same, they are different for Kathmandu. The departure point in Kathmandu is either in Kantipath, Thamel or Jamal while the arrival point is in Sorakhutte, which lies towards northwest from Thamel, a bare 10-minute walk from Thamel indeed.
How frequently do the tourist and the local buses depart from Kathmandu and Pokhara?
Tourist buses normally depart from Kathmandu and Pokhara between 7 and 8 o’clock in the morning. However, local buses depart at frequent intervals starting from 6 o’clock in the morning. The quicker mini-buses and micro-vans depart from Kalanki junction almost every hour or so.
Kathmandu Pokhara Private Vehicle
What are the options of traveling to Pokhara on a private vehicle?
The availability of private vehicles to travel to Pokhara totally depends on your preference, your budget limit, and your group size. For a larger group of 10 to 14 people, traveling on a Toyota Hi-Ace (Van) is a good option, while for a group of 5 to 7 people, private jeeps such as Mahindra Bolero, Scorpio or SUVs are the best. For a small group of 3 to 4, it is best suggested to drive on cars such as Swift Desire, Fiat Linea, Ford Classic, Skoda Rapid, and Volkswagen.
How long does it take to reach Pokhara on a private vehicle?
It is very obvious that private transport system is quicker than the public vehicles. At the most, when there is no traffic hassles, it will take about 6 hours from Kathmandu to reach Pokhara on a private vehicle. The merit of traveling on a private vehicle is that you have the privilege to make as many stops as you want during the journey. Tourists may stop to take photographs, eat snacks or just enjoy nature and riverside resorts. So traveling time on a private vehicle entirely depends on the travelers.
Is it possible for me to hire a car without a driver so that I can drive myself?
Unfortunately No! Unlike several western countries, there is no provision to hire a car and drive it yourself in Nepal. Rent-a-car or ‘car hire’ in Nepal always includes a driver and his costs as well.
Are all private vehicles air conditioned?
Unless you demand for an air-conditioned vehicle while booking your car, the driver won’t turn on the AC during the journey. Almost all vehicles are air-conditioned, but the cost of using the air-conditioning system during the drive will incur extra charge. It is very important to mention about your requirement prior to your travel program. Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned vehicle costs are always different.
How much money should I expect to pay for using the AC system in the private car?
Making use of the AC system for a car will cost an additional 25% of the cost of the vehicle hire. For SUVs, transport companies will charge an extra 15% and 10% for a 14-seater Toyota Hi-Ace Vans over their hiring charges.
What if I wish to stop at various places on private vehicles?
You can ask your driver stop the vehicle anywhere you like as long as the stops are brief. However, it is not desirable from tourists to engage the vehicle for a considerably longer time than expected. If you have pre-plans to make longer stops at places to visit the temples or do rafting for an hour or so, you must inform the agency beforehand to avoid unnecessary grumblings from the driver. You will be asked to pay extra charges for the additional hours that you wish to spend on the way, which in a way, is perfectly fair enough.
How much extra charge should I pay if I wish to return from Pokhara in the same car on the next day?
If you wish to hold the car overnight and return to Kathmandu the next day after a short tour, you will need to pay the overnight charges only. After paying the overnight charges, you are allowed to come back via the same route without any extra cost. However, this facility may not be offered by all the travel agencies in Kathmandu. So, it is better to check and confirm what your travel agency has to offer!