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Getting there & around

When you arrive, just before immigration, there is a bank that’s open for flight arrivals and has decent exchange rates. Next door is the visa counter where you pay for your visa if you haven’t got one already. There is a hotel reservation counter as soon as you get out of customs at the airport.

When departing for an international flight check in at least two hours early, preferably three in the high season, as the check-in desks can be a bit of a scrum. You need to show your ticket as you enter the departure hall, where all baggage is X-rayed and tagged. The X-ray machines that screen cargo baggage are not film safe, so insist that the security officers physically inspect your film.

You pay your departure tax at the airport branch of Nabil Bank. It is possible to re- exchange Nepali rupees into US dollars at the Nabil Bank, if you have your unused foreign-exchange encashment receipts; commission is Rs 50, or 2%. Also here is a sporadically open post office and telephone office.

After immigration there’s a VAT refund booth and a cafe, where you can blow your last rupees. Next comes another X-ray and a manual inspection of luggage, before everyone crams into a hall far too small for the purpose.

Travel documents Tickets:
There are limited flights into Lhasa. The service costs US$70 per person, plus US$60 for three night’s accommodation and a service fee. Foreigners currently aren’t allowed to take the bus due to Chinese visa and permit hassles, but this could change.

Land
Political and weather conditions permitting, there are six main entry points into Nepal by land: five from India, one from Tibet. There are no international bus or train services; everyone changes buses at the borders.

Bring your own vehicle
A steady trickle of people drives their own vehicles overland from Europe, for which an international carnet is required. If you want to abandon your transport in Nepal, you must either pay a prohibitive import duty or surrender it to customs. It is not possible to import cars more than five years old. Make sure you bring an international driving permit.

India
All of the land borders between India and Nepal are in the Terai. The most popular crossing point is Sunauli, near Bhairawa, which provides easy access to Delhi andVaranasi in India.

Sunauli/Bhairawa
The crossing at Sunauli is by far the most popular route between India and Nepal and it’s also the easiest route from Delhi or Varanasi. There are direct buses from Delhi to Sunauli (Rs 405, 24 hours) but many people prefer to do as much of the journey as possible by train – several trains run daily from Delhi to Gorakhpur (22 hours), where you can pick up a bus to Sunauli (Rs 50, three hours). Varanasi also has direct buses to Sunauli (Rs 150, 10 hours). Once you cross the border, day and night buses run regularly to Kathmandu (day/night Rs 230/280, eight hours) and Pokhara (Rs 230/270, eight hours). A more comfortable option to Kathmandu is the air-con service operated by Golden Travels, changing buses in Kalanki.

Mahendranagar
The crossing at Mahendranagar is also used by travellers coming from Delhi. There are daily buses from Delhi’s Anand Vihar bus stand to Banbassa, the nearest Indian village to the border (INRs 156, 10 hours). Banbassa is also connected by bus with most towns in Uttaranchal, as well as Agra and Dharamsala. Slow and inconvenient trains run as far as Barielly, about three hours from the border by bus.

From Mahendranagar, there are slow direct bus services to Kathmandu (Rs 735, 16 hours) but it’s better to do the trip in daylight and break the journey at Royal Bardia National Park, Nepalganj, Butwal or Narayangarh. Note that this route is often blocked during the monsoon. Maoists are active throughout western Nepal – check the security situation before you travel.

Kakarbhitta
At the eastern end of Nepal, Kakarbhitta is the closest border crossing to Darjeelingand Sikkim, and trains from Kolkata to northeast India stop close to the border at Siliguri. Travel agencies in Kathmandu and Darjeeling offer ‘through buses’ across the border, but these involve a change in Siliguri and Kakarbhitta, It’s just as easy to do the journey in stages, which will also allow you to refresh your batteries with an overnight stop along the way.

From Darjeeling, take a morning bus/jeep to Siliguri (INRs 60/70, two hours) then a bus (INRs 15, one hour) to Panitanki on the Indian side of the border. If cross-border traffic is busy, jeeps sometimes go straight to the border from Darjeeling. Jeeps also run to the border from Kalimpong (Rs 90, three hours) and from Gangtok (Rs 140, 4½ hours), in Sikkim. Coming from Kolkata, you can take an overnight train to Siliguri, then a bus to the border.

From Kakarbhitta, there are day/night buses to Kathmandu (Rs 530/607, 17 hours) but it’s more interesting to break the journey at Janakpur, the centre of Mithila culture in Nepal. However, there is Maoist activity in eastern Nepal so you should check things are calm before you travel.

Birganj/Raxaul Bazaar
The border crossing from Birganj to Raxaul Bazaar is handy for Patna (in India’s Biharprovince) and you can also get here easily by train from Kolkata. Buses run from the bus station in Patna straight to Raxaul Bazaar (INRs 90, five hours). From Kolkata, you can take the daily Mithila Express – it leaves Kolkata’s Howrah station at 4pm, arriving into Raxaul at 9.10am the next morning (INRs 276/748/1165 in sleeper class/air-con 3-tier/air-con 2-tier).

From Birganj, there are regular day/night buses to Kathmandu (Rs 225/280, eight hours) and Pokhara (Rs 225/270, seven hours). All buses pass through Narayangarh, where you can change for Royal Chitwan National Park.

Nepalganj
Few people use the crossing at Nepalganj in western Nepal. The nearest town inIndia is Lucknow, where you can pick up slow buses to the border at Jamunaha (INRs 160, seven hours). You might also consider taking a train to Nanpara, 17km from the border.

Over the border in Nepalganj, there are regular day/night buses to Kathmandu (Rs 450/540, 12 hours) and Pokhara (Rs 400/520, 12 hours), passing close to RoyalChitwan National Park. As always, you should check the security situation before crossing at Nepalganj.

Air
In the last couple of years international air connections to Nepal have withered, so don’t expect a great deal of choice of routes or heavily discounted fares.
Airports

Kathmandu is the site of Nepal’s only international airport, Tribhuvan Airport (4472 256). The international terminal is a modern building but security measures are a little bit lax.

Bhairahawa airport is being upgraded to become Lumbini International Airport in 2008.

Airlines
The airline offices listed in this section are all in Kathmandu
Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation
Air China
China Southern
Korean Air
Air Sahara
Biman Bangladesh Airlines
Druk Air
Gulf Air
Ethyiad Airways
Indian Airlines
United Airways
Oman Air
Jet Airways
Pakistan International Airways
Qatar Airways .
Thai Airways International HubBangkok.
Other airlines that don’t fly directly to Nepal but which offer popular routes to the region, and have offices in Kathmandu, include British Airways (4226611), Cathay Pacific (4246155), Austrian Airlines (4223331). Most airline offices are closed Saturdays, though a few (including THAI) open between 10am and 2pm.

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To all Aaradhana Teams! Its been an absolute pleasure to meet you all and I am very greatful for your hospitality and all the help I have received during my stay in Nepal. I hope you will continue this …

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Karen , Norway
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