Kathmandu- Pokhara via Flight vs Bus vs taxi

Almost everyone who visits Nepal heads to Pokhara-at least on their first visit. Compared to crowded and dusty Kathmandu, Pokhara is a pure bliss and a must visit. However Pokhara airport has no international flights yet, so everyone needs to land in Kathmandu and then proceed to other parts of Nepal.

What are your options to reach Pokhara from Nepal? You can take a flight, hire a cab or take a seat in a public transport bus. Each of these options have their pros and cons. This post helps you assess these transport options and decide.
This post compares your travel options between Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and second most popular town, Pokhara.

Flight
Taxi
Bus
Cost
4500 INR return onwards

20000 NPR for 3 days (Alto- 4 people max)
30000 NPR for Scorpio 6-7 pax)
2000 per person (Deluxe bus)
1000 per person (ordinary bus)
Duration
25-30 mins flight
90 mins airport formalities
6-7 hours non stop,
More in case of road block, stop enroute
7-8 hours appox

Pros
Quickest
Ideal for large group
Can stop enroute
Can be used for Pokhara local commute
Cheapest mode, ideal for one or two on budget
Overnight bus available-saves day time
Cons
Subject to weather conditions,
Fares are dynamic

Will still need transport for Pokhara local
Road blocks, breakdowns are very common- travel time can easily double
Not very convenient, flexible or time saving

Will still need transport for Pokhara local
Ideal for
If you get decent fares
If time is precious
For small groups
To enjoy nice view from top
If you're group of 4-10 pax,
If you wish to stop enroute
Extreme budget travelers
If you prefer overnight journey to save day time





Option 1: Flight between Kathmandu and Pokhara
There’re multiple flights between Kathmandu and Pokhara, usually operated by Buddha air, Yeti airlines, Hans Air etc using smaller turbo prob or even smaller airplanes. This is quickest mode and might make sense if you can get a ticket at reasonable price. Ticket prices are dynamic and could be expensive during peak seasons or if not planned in advance. Flight is also subject to weather being favorable. Expect delays and cancellations in case of adverse weather. Including airport formalities expect about 2 hours total time to reach Pokhara, more if there’s a delay.
I notice that prices are cheaper for next few days, compared to booking 2-4 months in advance- this is probably due to low demand at present and may not be true all the time. 4000-6000 INR is a reasonable price given that it can save lots of precious time (2 hours total compared to 6-8 hours by road) and stress of road travel. You can also enjoy view from the above.


Once you reach Pokhara you can rent a bike and explore on your own, or hire a taxi locally.

Option 2: Taxi: 
This is what we availed, as we were a group of 5 people and wanted to stop enroute as well. If we were four, we could have availed a smaller car- Alto, for which the quote was NPR 20000 for 3 days/2 nights- Kathmandu to Pokhara, Pokhara local, Return to Kathmandu. As we were 5 pax, we opted for a bigger car- Mahindra Scorpio for which quote was NPR 30000. We could negotiate a bit and get 10% off.

The cab journey took about 7 hours- we left very early at 6 AM, reached Pokhara by about 1 PM, with only few small breaks. On the day of our journey there was no road block/accidents, no significant traffic. Otherwise the journey could take more time, sometimes even full day if there’s a major accident/breakdown and roadblock.

Advantage of having a cab at disposal is we can use it for local exploration, some minor deviation enroute (we visited Manokamana temple, Begnas lake, stopped at Vyas cave etc on our way back.)

Taxi at disposal is ideal if you're a large group and the plan is for 3-4 days only. In case of longer duration visit, flying in or taking a bus and then hiring a taxi locally will be more economical.

Option 3: Bus
There're many buses that ply between Kathmandu and Pokhara- you can board a big deluxe bus which promises to offer TV, WiFi etc (but not guaranteed), or board a Toyota Hiace like vehicles that ferry people between cities or board a cheaper ordinary buses. Ticket will cost you between 1000-2500 NPR (9 to 25 USD). Be prepared to spend lots of time inside as buses are slow, take time to pick up as many passengers as possible and stop at various towns enroute. Ideal if you need cheapest option, or can travel overnight. Roads are bad at many stretches and road journey can be really stressful.
Option 4: Own vehicle
You can enter Nepal with an Indian vehicle. Will be cheaper and convenient if this option is viable for you.

Similar: Nepal on budget * Copenhagen-Berlin by bus *  Brunei public transportation * Gurugram-Jaipur by bus * City buses around the world

5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Having travelled on bus in Nepal few times, I can tell that they are not suited for family. But it is very ideal for backpackers. The "experience" is priceless!! Even today, I cherish those memories.

    Thanks for the nice article.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your views. yes, bus journey is not the best option for family..

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  3. Quite a helpful and comprehensive post for travellers headed to Nepal.

    ReplyDelete

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