Kathmandu to Pokhara

Traveling from Kathmandu to Pokhara ranks among Nepal’s most favored routes. Below, you’ll find an extensive transport guide for the journey, encompassing all the essential information for navigating between Nepal’s two largest urban centers.

The prospect of embarking on a journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara is enough to send shivers down our spines.

It’s a trip we’ve undertaken on numerous occasions and one that we absolutely dread. The bus voyage from Kathmandu to Pokhara is an ordeal characterized by its length, winding roads, swirling dust, treacherous conditions, and sheer hardship (it’s Nepal after all, and the roads leave much to be desired!).

You might come across information online suggesting a 6-hour travel time, and when purchasing a ticket, you’ll be informed that the journey to Pokhara takes 6-7 hours. That, my friends, is incorrect.

In the best-case scenario, you’re looking at an 8-hour expedition, which may seem absurd considering the mere 200-kilometer gap between the two cities. But that’s Nepal for you, with the Himalayas playing their part in the equation.

Alternatively, you can opt for a quick 30-minute flight with one of Nepal’s renowned airlines or a costly private transfer.

Regardless of your choice, the trek from Kathmandu to Pokhara ranks among the most grueling in Nepal (you can read more in our Nepal travel guide).

Having said that, there is light at the end of the tunnel. During our most recent visit to Nepal in June 2019, the premium bus service had upgraded their coaches, which now boast air-conditioning and considerably greater comfort. While the Prithvi Highway still leaves much to be desired, certain sections have received improvements; the stretch of highway from Dumre to Pokhara is actually quite decent now.

We firmly believe that Pokhara is well worth a visit (it happens to be one of our favorite destinations in Nepal, and it’s also the starting point for your Annapurna Circuit hike), so enduring the journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara becomes a necessary evil.

That’s precisely why we’ve crafted this comprehensive guide on how to make the journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara (and vice versa). It encompasses every conceivable detail, including all available options, prices, and invaluable tips for navigating between Nepal’s two major urban hubs.

Oh, and one last thing… best of luck (you’ll definitely need it!).

KATHMANDU TO POKHARA BUS (INCLUDING TOURIST BUS)

TOURIST BUS

Having traversed the Kathmandu to Pokhara route and back multiple times during our three trips to Nepal, we’ve found that taking the “tourist” bus is the most convenient and budget-friendly option for this journey.

We’ve sampled several different bus services, and for the most part, they offer a similar level of service. However, one stands out among the rest – Greenline.

Greenline emerges as the safest and top choice for the Kathmandu to Pokhara bus voyage. They boast modern buses equipped with air conditioning and device charging facilities, employ professional and safety-conscious drivers, and even provide lunch on both the Kathmandu to Pokhara and return routes.

In a nutshell, Greenline offers the most comfortable and secure travel experience from Kathmandu to Pokhara that we’ve encountered.

Among the other more budget-friendly options we’ve used in the past are Prithvi, World Touch, and Blue Sky.

While these services serve their purpose, it’s important to note that their buses tend to be outdated, lack air conditioning, and are occasionally piloted by drivers who might be better suited for a Formula 1 track than navigating the winding and perilous Kathmandu-to-Pokhara route at breakneck speeds.

In short, they can be rather hair-raising.

The bus journey begins by gradually winding its way out of Kathmandu, ascending the mountain roads that envelop the city. This part of the journey can be quite nerve-wracking, particularly as you descend into the valley; the narrow bends and steep descents are sure to test your nerves.

As the route unfolds, it passes through several small villages and rural towns, offering captivating views from the bus window that will keep you wide awake, observing this foreign world pass by.

Greenline’s Kathmandu to Pokhara bus route reaches its midway point at Riverside Springs Resort, which also serves as the lunch stop. The food here is standard roadside fare, including Dahl bat, vegetable noodles, mixed vegetable curry, and chicken curry. Tea and coffee are included in the meal.

The road from Kathmandu to Pokhara proceeds by crossing the Trishuli Bridge through Dumre, followed by another two hours of winding, leisurely driving before reaching Pokhara.

HOW LONG DOES THE KATHMANDU TO POKHARA BUS TAKE?

When inquiring about the duration of the bus journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara, you may receive varying estimates. Typically, you’ll hear that the trip should take around 6-7 hours. However, based on our extensive experience, we’ve rarely found this to be accurate.

On average, you should prepare for a travel time of at least 8 to 9 hours. There have been instances where the journey stretched to more than 12 hours (yes, a full 12 hours!), although this was due to road construction causing delays.

In any case, it’s advisable to anticipate the unexpected and allocate a generous 12-hour window for the journey. If you happen to arrive earlier, consider it a stroke of good fortune.

HOW MUCH DOES THE KATHMANDU TO POKHARA BUS COST?

Tickets for the Kathmandu to Pokhara (and vice versa) bus route typically range between NPR 700 (USD $6.50 – $7) and NPR 2,800 (USD $25). The price variance is influenced by several factors, including safety measures, comfort amenities like air conditioning, provided meals, and guaranteed seating.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of two recommended services:

VVIP/GREENLINE

For premium bus companies such as Greenline, the ticket price covers lunch (featuring Nepali Dal Bhat, noodles, etc. at a hygienic restaurant), a bottle of water (although some travelers decline this to reduce plastic waste), onboard Wi-Fi (which often doesn’t work reliably), and charging points. Additionally, these buses are equipped with air conditioning, a blessing during warmer months, and boast highly comfortable seats.

We strongly recommend opting for the NPR 2,800 (USD $25) ticket with a company like Greenline because safety should be paramount, especially in Nepal. The drivers are well-trained and prioritize safety on the roads, which can’t always be said for some of the cheaper tourist buses that prioritize punctuality over passenger well-being.

VIP/TOURIST BUS

The more economical bus companies utilize older buses for the Kathmandu to Pokhara route. You shouldn’t expect any amenities like air conditioning, Wi-Fi, or charging points. While the seats are manageable, it’s crucial to ensure that your ticket includes a seat number. There have been instances of tourists not receiving seat numbers and being compelled to sit in uncomfortable rear seats or even stand part of the way.

Most of the budget-friendly tourist buses make stops along the route for lunch, although whether it’s included in the ticket price can vary (verify at the time of booking). Bus drivers for these services can sometimes take a more haphazard approach to safety, resulting in hair-raising encounters on the winding roads to Pokhara.

DO I NEED TO PRE-PURCHASE A BUS TICKET?

It’s advisable to pre-purchase your Kathmandu to Pokhara bus tickets, preferably a day or two in advance. Here’s why:

Peak Season Demand: During the peak tourist season, the Kathmandu to Pokhara bus route experiences exceptionally high demand. Consequently, tickets can sell out well in advance.

Online Booking: In the past, the primary methods of purchasing tickets were through travel agencies or directly from bus companies. However, in recent times, you can conveniently buy tickets online.

We recommend taking advantage of the online booking option, which you can find here, or you can also explore the numerous local travel agencies in Kathmandu to secure your bus tickets.

DEPARTURE TIME AND LEAVING POINT FOR THE KATHMANDU TO POKHARA BUS

If you’re planning to take the Greenline bus, it departs at 7 am from the Greenline offices, conveniently located just outside Thamel. The office is situated opposite the NorthFace Showroom on Tridevi Sadak.

For those opting for tourist buses from Kathmandu to Pokhara, they typically depart from Sorhakutte at the tourist bus park at 7 am every morning. You can find a map of the Sorhakutte Tourist Bus Park here.

Sorhakutte is approximately a 10-15 minute taxi ride away from Thamel, and the fare should cost around NPR 100-200. It’s worth noting that tourist buses also drop you off at the same location on the return trip from Pokhara to Kathmandu.

Please be aware that this is a recent change; buses used to depart from the Kantipath bus stop, located just outside Thamel. It’s important to stay updated on these details, as it can be easy to miss this change, especially if you’ve used the Kantipath departure point on previous trips to Nepal.

Regardless of whether you’re taking Greenline or a regular bus service, it’s essential to arrive at least 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

ARRIVING INTO POKHARA

All buses arriving in Pokhara from Kathmandu will drop you off at the Pokhara Tourist Bus Park, which you can locate on this map. It’s situated approximately 15 minutes away from Pokhara Lakeside via taxi, or you can opt for a leisurely 45-minute walk.

Upon your arrival, you’ll find yourself surrounded by numerous taxi drivers vying for your business. To navigate this situation, it’s best to push through the crowd, collect your bags, and head outside the tourist bus park before committing to a taxi fare.

Typically, the fare for a taxi ride to various parts of Pokhara should cost between NPR 200 and 300. However, it’s worth noting that Pokhara taxi drivers are known to charge inflated fares for short rides, so it’s advisable to confirm the fare with the driver before getting into the taxi.

DEPARTURE TIME AND LEAVING POINT FOR THE POKHARA TO KATHMANDU BUS

For travelers planning to take the Greenline bus from Pokhara to Kathmandu, it departs daily at 7 am from the Greenline offices situated in Pokhara Lakeside. On the return journey, it drops you off at the Shorakhutte bus station, which is just outside Thamel.

If you prefer to take a tourist bus for your journey from Pokhara to Kathmandu, these buses also depart at 7 am. However, they leave from the tourist bus park, which is approximately a 15-minute taxi ride away from Lakeside (or a 45-minute walk).

Please note the departure times and locations for your convenience when planning your trip.

KATHMANDU TO POKHARA FLIGHT (AND POKHARA TO KATHMANDU FLIGHT)

For travelers with limited time or a flexible budget, the quickest way to travel between Kathmandu and Pokhara (and vice versa) is by plane.

There are approximately 20 flights per day on this route, with each flight lasting around 25 minutes. This flight offers breathtaking scenic views of the Himalayas, making it not just a quick journey but also an incredible sightseeing experience.

However, it’s important to note that flights in Nepal can often be subject to delays or cancellations due to poor weather conditions or incoming flight delays, so be prepared for potential waiting times.

COSTS AND BOOKING DETAILS FOR THE KATHMANDU TO POKHARA FLIGHT

Flights from Kathmandu to Pokhara (and vice versa) typically cost between USD $100 – $200, depending on availability, especially during peak tourist seasons. Tickets can be booked through any reputable tour agency in Nepal.

Booking well in advance is advisable not only to secure a seat but also to potentially reduce ticket costs. During the off-season, last-minute flights can be available for as low as $50-60 through various tourist agencies in and around Thamel and Kathmandu.

There are three major domestic airlines that operate this route: Nepal Airlines, Buddha Air, and Yeti Airlines. These airlines are considered among the safest options for domestic flights in Nepal.

WHERE DOES THE KATHMANDU TO POKHARA FLIGHT DEPART FROM?

All flights from Kathmandu to Pokhara depart from the domestic terminal of Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu. The domestic terminal is situated to the left of the international terminal as you enter the airport grounds.

During the morning, the departure terminal can be a bit crowded, especially due to flights to Lukla, so listen for announcements regarding your flight.

WHERE DOES THE POKHARA TO KATHMANDU FLIGHT DEPART FROM?

Flights from Pokhara to Kathmandu depart from Pokhara’s domestic airport, which is located about 5 kilometers away from Pokhara Lakeside. Taxi rides from Lakeside to the airport typically cost around NPR 300.

IS FLYING IN NEPAL SAFE?

It’s essential to be aware that air safety in Nepal has been a concern, with an average of one fatal accident occurring each year. To minimize risks, it’s recommended to book morning flights when visibility is generally better, and the likelihood of accidents is lower. Despite safety concerns, flying from Kathmandu to Pokhara offers an incredible experience and a unique perspective of Nepal’s stunning landscapes.

KATHMANDU TO POKHARA BY PRIVATE CAR / JEEP

If you have the luxury of time and money is not a major concern, renting a private jeep for the journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara is a great option.

For approximately USD $250, you can hire an entire jeep with up to eight seats. When the cost is divided among multiple passengers, it becomes a relatively cost-effective solution, particularly if you’re traveling in a group.

This option offers a more comfortable and spacious experience, allowing you to stretch out among your group and have control over when and where you make stops along the way.

To explore this option, it’s best to inquire at one of the tourist agencies in either Kathmandu or Pokhara, as they can help you arrange a private jeep rental for your journey.


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