The major sights of Kathmandu are best explored on foot, with rickshaws good for reaching sights just outside the old town. Bikes are available for hire and are a pleasant way of exploring the Valley's country roads.
Another option if short on time or wanting to see much more of the Kathmandu Valley is to hire a driver/guide for the day. Taxis are easy to find, have fare meters and park in the vicinity of all main roads.
Durbar Square contains beautiful palaces and temples in the heart of the city and is the perfect starting point for a walking tour of the city.
Our Kathmandu transportation guide will give you information on getting to and getting around Kathmandu. To help you see this mysterious city we have many Kathmandu tours on offer. We also have general information if you want to know more about travelling to and within Nepal.
Kathmandu Transportation Guide
Getting to Kathmandu
Kathmandu is well connected to the major cities of Asia and the Gulf by air. However, direct flights to Nepal from some of these destinations are few, and tourists from Australia, North America and Europe may have to make switches of airlines and/or aircraft en route.
Many tourists also fly into Nepal from India. The airport levies a departure tax of Rs.1695 payable in Nepali rupees for international flights, and a tax of Rs.1356 for flights to Indian destinations.
Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu is the only international airport at Nepal. To get the bird's eye view (literally!) of the mountains, sit on the right hand aisle of your aircraft!
For transport from the airport to the city (or from the city to the airport), we recommend Green Path Transfers, who offer eco-friendly airport transfers in hundreds of destinations around the world.
Visit our partner Air Valid for Airline Reviews and Information about Nepal.
Getting Around Kathmandu
The first thing many tourists notice about Kathmandu is the universal lack of street names and address numbers, except for main roads such as Tri Devi and Ring Road.
Mostly directions are given relative to a "chowk" or "tole", which is an intersection, often with a market or square, or a significant landmark such as a temple or a restaurant. The two main landmarks in the tourist district of Thamel are the Kathmandu Guest House and the Hot Breads Bakery.
In spite of all the modes of transport available, walking is still the best and the most reliable way of moving goods and of getting from point to point. Walking is also the only option of getting around in the rest of Nepal. More goods are carted by human porters in Nepal than all other forms of transportation combined.
The public bus transportation system in Kathmandu is very economical but also exceedingly crowded and very few transitory tourists use it.
There are around 40 bus routes around Kathmandu Valley and Kathmandu itself and the frequency of buses are good. However, there is no fixed timetable that is followed. Buses depart only when they are full - from the Old Bus Park towards the eastern side of Tundikhel Parade Ground.
Always check the destination of the bus by asking the driver or his assistant, as most buses do not have the destination written in front of the bus and if they do, it is in Nepali.
Bus services are frequent between 5:30am and 9pm. Our advice is that the best way to move around in the city and see the major sights is still on foot - due to the great possibility of being misunderstood by the bus driver.
Several taxi companies operate in Kathmandu. Many of these only have one or two vehicles in their fleet so they are easy to spot, especially outside major hotels, along Durbar Marg or on the main streets. They can be easily identified due to the "taxi" sign and black number plates.
Taxis have fare meters but tourists are advised to ensure that the meter is switched on, since most taxi drivers are unwilling to use them.
You can only hire a car with a driver, not separately. This is very expensive and it is much more economical to hire a taxi for the whole day and strike a bargain on the price with the driver.
Although cycling is an option in Kathmandu, the traffic and pollution make it an unpleasant experience. Both bicycles and motorbikes can be rented from the numerous shops in Thamel.
Motorbikes are generally old and cause a lot of pollution and therefore it is much better to rent a bicycle. While hiring one, you will have to deposit your passport or a large amount of cash or an international driving licence.
By Tempo or Rickshaw
Auto Rickshaws or "tempos" are electric, have fare meters and are environmentally friendly. Those which ply the roads on a fixed route also have a fixed price.
The tempos which were banned by the government are the older ones which were two-stroke and smelly. Use only the pedal rickshaws for short trips and fix the fare before you set out. Giving tips for good service is expected and this is usually around 10 percent of the fare.
Since these are mostly used by tourists, you will hardly find rickshaws outside the tourist area of Thamel. Bargain for the price before you get in and if it is not suitable, just look for another one. Prices are higher after daylight hours and in less crowded areas.
There are no train services in Kathmandu.