Pokhara is the starting point of treks to the Annapurna. Even if you are not planning to trek, you will probably want to get into the cleaner air and experience the laid-back ambiance of Pokhara after the hectic Kathmandu.
But first, you have to travel 206 km between the two cities. No problem, you say? Well, 206 km in Nepal is no trip down the autobahn!
Traveling by road will take you approximately eight hours through villages, along the Trisuli River, and over winding roads with a steep drop on one side. You might want to stop off at the historic Newari town of Bandipur, situated on a ridge about 700m above the Marsyangdi River Valley, 143 km west of Kathmandu and 80 km east of Pokhara.
You might even want to add more adventure and take a white-water rafting trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara. You cannot raft all the way – the rafting company will organize transport by bus to the put-in point and from the take-out point to Pokhara. You can either make a one-day or two-day trip with overnight camping on the riverbank.
1. KATHMANDU TO POKHARA BY FLIGHT
If you are short of time or just prefer the convenience, Pokhara is a 20-minute flight from Kathmandu.
There are several different airlines, with Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines being the most popular. All the airlines have small propeller aircraft which carry around 20 passengers at a time. Buddha Air, however, does have bigger jets with a larger capacity, which operate during the busy periods.
Prices are more or less the same between the airlines but there are different prices for locals (including Indians), foreign residents and tourists. Tourists are required to pay in US Dollars.
All flights originate from TIA domestic terminal and check-in is one hour in advance. Delays are frequent, however, given the mountain weather conditions, and cancellations are not infrequent, particularly in the monsoon and for morning flights in the winter.
Tip: If you have an international flight, do not book your domestic flight on the same day, or even, if it is possible, for the day before, in case of cancellation.
Kathmandu Pokhara Flight FAQ
What are the most recommended airlines for Kathmandu to Pokhara?
Buddha Air, Yeti Air, and Simrik Air
I am an Indian citizen, what will be my fare?
There is a special fare for Indians, which is just slightly more than the Nepali fare.
I am an expat living in Nepal, what will be my fare?
It will be 1.75 times the Nepali fare, but you should have been in Nepal for a minimum of six months on a non-tourist visa. Also, foreign cockpit crew flying different aircraft in domestic route will get this fare.
I have a child flying with me, what is the cost of a child’s fare?
A child’s fare is applicable for children in between the ages of 2 and 12 years. This is calculated at 33% less than the adult fare.
I have an infant, is there a charge?
If your child is less than 2 years of age, then it is considered an infant and only 10% of the adult fare is charged.
I am a refugee; do I have to pay the full fare?
You will be considered the same nationality as of the country that issues your refugee identification card and pays accordingly.
I am an NRN (Non-Residential Nepali). What do I pay?
If you have an NRN identity card issued by the Government of Nepal, then you can pay the normal Nepali fare. Otherwise, the foreign tourist fare will be applicable.
I am married to a Nepali, do I have to pay the full fare?
You need to have a passport or nationality certificate issued by Nepalese government otherwise USD / Foreign fare is applicable
What document is needed at the time of check-in?
Any valid photo identity.
What is the baggage weight limit?
There are six different fare category, for Y class fare weight limit is 20 kilo, for A & B it is 15 kilo and for C, D & E it is 10 kilo. Please check at the time of booking. There is also a difference in allowance on different route sectors.
Y Class Fare:
This is a normal fare ticket.
10% cancellation charge if you cancel 11 hours before the flight time.
33% cancellation charge if you cancel within 11 hours from the flight time.
You cannot cancel 2 hours before the flight time.
You can reschedule anytime 11 hours before the flight.
A Class Fare:
This is the Apex fare ticket.
25% cancellation charge if you cancel 11 hours before the flight time.
50% cancellation charge if you cancel within 11 hours of the flight time
You cannot cancel 2 hours before the flight time.
One time rescheduling can be done up to 11 hours before the flight and subject to availability of the same class of seat.
An open ticket cannot be issued for Apex fare ticket.
B Class Fare:
This is a Bravo fare ticket.
The only fuel charge is refundable if you cancel 11 hours before the flight.
The open ticket cannot be issued for Bravo fare ticket.
It will be sold on a first come first serve basis.
C, D & E Class Fares:
These are Charlie, Delta, and Echo Fare tickets.
Open tickets cannot be issued for these fare classes.
It will be sold on a first come first serve basis.
No cancellation and no rescheduling is available.
What if I need to cancel and reschedule my flight?
Please see your options in question 11 above, different class tickets have different cancellation and reschedule policies.
What if the flight is canceled by the airlines?
Airlines will not provide any kind of accommodation or compensation in case of cancellation of the flight. However, they will try to get you on the earliest available flight. Y & B class fare will get first priority.
Can I transfer my ticket to my friend?
No, once issued domestic tickets cannot be transferred to another person.
What is the check-in time for domestic flights?
1 hour before the flight time.
2. KATHMANDU TO POKHARA BY ROAD
If you are traveling by vehicle there are three options, tourist bus, local bus, and private vehicle.
Kathmandu to Pokhara by Tourist Bus
Most tourists and middle-class Nepalis use this option as they are safer than the local buses, and there is no overcrowding. They stop more often and at better restaurants with better toilets!
As with everything, there are different prices for the tourist bus. Most buses are more or less the same, with a one-way ticket of around Rs 800. There are two somewhat more upscale buses, Greenline and Jagadamba.
Greenline leaves at 7.30 am from its own premises on Thamel and costs approximately Rs 2,500, including lunch at Riverside Spring Resort – which is, as its name suggests, a pretty resort on the banks of the river. Jagadamba leaves at 7:30 am from Annapurna Hotel Durbar Marg and costs around Rs 2500. Included in the price are luxury seats, wifi, and steward service.
The rest of the tourist buses leave from Kantipath, near Thamel, every day at 7 is. There will be many buses going to Pokhara and Chitwan lined up simultaneously, so pay attention to the name of your bus company to ensure you get on the right one. Give yourself 15 minutes to find it among the many!
Kathmandu to Pokhara by Local Bus
Some travelers like to feel they have the ‘real taste of Nepal’ by traveling on a local bus or mini-bus. We do not recommend you do this to save a few rupees. These buses are overcrowded and drive too fast, and therefore are frequently involved in fatal accidents. In addition, they stop less frequently and may stop on the side of the road (for the men) and not at a toilet. You will also be entertained by very loud music en route!
If you really do want to take this option, you can catch any bus going to Pokhara from the New Bus Park or at Kalanki (where the road out of the valley junctions with the Ring Road). Listen out for the conductor shouting, “Pokhara, Pokhara.”
Kathmandu Pokhara Bus FAQ
Do local and tourist buses depart from the same station in Kathmandu and Pokhara?
No, there are a different tourist and local bus stations in both Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Where do the tourist buses depart from?
In Kathmandu, the tourist buses depart from Kantipath/ Jamal. 90% of the buses depart from here at 7:00 am. But some bus companies have their own station and leave at a slightly different time.
Please ask your travel agent when buying your tickets. In Pokhara, there is a tourist bus station near Lakeside. Check at the time of buying your ticket.
Where do local buses depart from?
In Kathmandu, they depart from Gongabu New Bus Park or Kalanki. In Pokhara, they depart from Prithvi Chowk. Please check the map for the locations.
How far is the hotel area in Pokhara from the tourist bus station?
It depends on the hotel you choose, but most of the hotels in Pokhara are in Lakeside, and it is around a twenty to thirty minutes walk from the station. There are many taxis at the bus station also. The rate is fixed for Lakeside at Rs200.
How far is the hotel area in Pokhara from the local bus station?
It is slightly far from the tourist bus station. Expect to pay around Rs 300 by taxi to go to Lakeside.
How far is the tourist bus station in Kathmandu from Thamel?
It is very close; from any part of Thamel, it will take 15 minutes to walk there. There are many taxies and rickshaws, so expect to pay approximately Rs 150.
How far is the local bus station in Kathmandu from Thamel?
It is to the north of Thamel. By walk, it will take you 30 minutes. Expect to pay Rs 200 to Rs 250 by taxi.
Is it the same station for both arrival and departure?
For the local buses, it is the same station in both cities. Tourist buses also arrive and depart at the same place in Pokhara. But in Kathmandu, it is different for tourist buses. Departure is in Kantipath/Jamal, but on arrival in Kathmandu, tourist buses stop in Shorkhutte, northwest of Thamel. It is a 10-minute walk from Shorkhutte to Thamel.
Is there any map that I can follow for the city?
Yes, ask your hotel or travel agency for a free copy of a city map. You can also access an online Kathmandu City Map here.
How frequently does the bus depart?
Tourist buses depart only in the morning between 7 and 8 o’clock. However, local buses depart frequently. Some faster minibusses and some big (40-plus seats) buses depart almost every hour for Kathmandu-Pokhara-Kathmandu.
How long does it take to travel between Kathmandu and Pokhara?
For a tourist bus, it will take in between seven to eight hours, and for the local bus, it will take between six to seven hours. Also, there are 14 seater Toyota jeeps, which go fast, within five to six hours only.
Can I travel overnight by bus?
You can travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara overnight with a local bus, but with the tourist bus, you can travel only in the daytime.
Important Note: While the local buses might look attractive in terms of their price and speed compared to tourist buses, please remember the reason for that is overcrowding (hence lower prices) and high speed (hence shorter travel time). In addition, the tourist buses stop at ‘better’ restaurants/ toilet facilities. But mainly, tourist buses are safer!
Kathmandu to Pokhara by Private Vehicles
Private vehicles can be arranged by your travel or trekking agency. Expect to pay around Rs 9,000 one way, with 25% extra for air conditioning.
However, this is a very comfortable way to travel and you can stop anywhere to take photographs, linger over lunch etc.
Kathmandu Pokhara Car FAQ
What kind of cars is available for traveling in between Kathmandu and Pokhara?
Depending on your budget and group size, different models of private cars are available for Kathmandu to Pokhara. The most common models are Swift Desire, Fiat Linea, Ford Classic, Skoda Rapid, and Volkswagen. Mahindra Scorpio and Avanza are the available SUVs and Toyota Hiace is available if you require 14 seats.
How many people can fit in one car?
Up to four people can fit in a car, whereas an SUV can accommodate up to seven people. The Toyota Hiace can accommodate up to 14 people comfortably.
How long does it take?
Private transport is faster than the bus, it will take approximately six hours to travel by car between Kathmandu and Pokhara. But you are also free to make many stops to take photographs or eat snacks. So the travel time depends on you!
Can I rent a car without a driver?
No, you cannot rent a car without a driver in Nepal. When we talk about ‘car hire’ here, it always includes the driver and his costs.
Do cars come with aircon?
Yes. The majority do. But there will be an additional charge. Please let the travel agent or hotel know when you book your car.
How much does it cost to use an aircon?
For a car, it is an additional 25 % of the cost; for SUV, it is 15 %, and 10% for 14 seaters Toyota.
How much does hiring a car, SUV, and 14 seaters Toyota cost?
For a car, expect to pay between $90 to $100 USD (depending on the model of the car and facilities), and for an SUV, it is around $150. The price triples for a 14-seater Toyota – around $200.
Can I stop along the way when I want in private vehicles?
Yes, you can ask to stop anywhere. However, if you want to stop for a long time, you might need to pay the waiting charge. For example, there is a temple on the highway reached by cable car, or if you have arranged for a couple of hours of whitewater rafting– you will need to ask the car to wait for a few additional hours, and there will be an additional charge. Please let them know at the time of booking, if possible.
What if I want to stay a few days (2 or 3) and want to drive back to another city?
You can do that. Normally to hold the car for a night, you need to pay an overnight charge. After paying the overnight charge, you can return on the same route without additional cost.
For example, you rent a car from Kathmandu to Pokhara; if you pay an overnight charge, you can return to Kathmandu without additional cost! But do check this is indeed the case with the company you are using and check the overnight charge in advance.
If you want to drive, say Kathmandu to Pokhara overnight, then on to Tansen. Then yes, you will have to pay an additional car hire fee.