Our travels in Nepal
Whilst we were travelling in Nepal, we utilised a number of different modes of transport. Below is a summary of where we went, the mode of transport used, the length of time the journey took, and how far it was.
|Journey||Mode of transport||Distance (miles)||Time taken||Cost per person (Rupees)|
|Secunderabad to Pokhara||Plane/bus/ mini bus||903||11.75||6104|
|Pokhara to Chitwan||Tourist bus||90||5.5||800|
|Chitwan to Kathmandu||Tourist bus||102||7.0||800|
|Kathmandu to Ilam||Delux bus||436||21||1400|
|Ilam to Darjeeling||Shared jeep||107||7.25||180|
Finding accommodation in Nepal is never a problem. Established tourist centres offer a greater choice in the type of accommodation available. Generally somewhere to stay is available to suit all budgets. Our experience is that you get what you pay for.
We stayed in a number of different places on our travels throughout the country. Using Booking.com to book the accommodation. From our experience, the hotels and guest houses that we stayed in were basically furnished but clean.
Don’t expect tea/coffee making facilities in all guest houses, but this facility is provided in most hotels. Bathrooms are western style, with bath and/or shower. The provision of hot water can be a bit hit and miss.
We experienced having an electric hot water geyser, with a 3 litre hot water storage tank providing hot water for our shower. To the extreme of having a gas boiler, located in an internal bathroom, where the boiler fumes were vented straight into the bathroom. Neither particularly desirable, but both acceptable in Nepal.
WiFi may be advertised as being available, generally, it is, but the signal strength can vary, depending on where you are staying.
Getting around Nepal can be challenging and frustrating. There is no railway network covering the country. Understandable, when you consider that Nepal is considered to be the “ceiling of the world’’, being home to eight of the ten world’s highest mountains.
Options are therefore limited. The bus being the main mode of public transport used throughout the country. Travelling by bus is incredibly cheap and can be dangerous. The road infrastructure is poor. Many roads are still damaged from the 2015 earthquake.
The unreliable and poor condition of the vehicles, together with non-existent safety regulations, mean accidents are commonplace. Buses run pretty much everywhere and will stop for anyone. They are also incredibly uncomfortable, even more so if you are a tall European, over 6 ft tall. It is much easier to get a seat if you get a bus at its source, rather than during its route.
We chose to walk 15 minutes to a bus terminal, rather than take the risk of not being able to get on a full bus. Even though the bus passed right outside our accommodation. We got a seat, but it was still uncomfortable, with serious overcrowding. Reduce the risk by using tourist buses where possible, as these seem to be in better condition.
The terrain and the weather conditions don’t help, few journeys will go according to plan. Be travel wise and avoid going anywhere during major festivals, when buses will be busy and fully booked.
The fast, frequent and phenomenally crowded local buses serve shorter routes and are handy for day trips. They are ancient, battered beasts that get extremely cramped inside. Getting on board a local bus with any form of luggage will be impossible.
Departing from a separate bus park, tickets are bought on board. As a foreigner, expect the ticket price to be bumped up by the conductors on these buses. We had first hand experience of this when we got a local bus from Kathmandu to Bandipur on a day out.
Tourist buses connect the main tourist destinations in Nepal. The vehicles are usually in better condition than the regular buses. The journey is quicker as they don’t stop everywhere. Book seats at least one or two days in advance. Tickets can be booked through your hotel or ticket agencies.
Long-distance public bus services generally operate as an express bus service. They stop at scheduled points only. They are quicker and more comfortable than local buses. We purchased our tickets directly at the bus terminal.
Express buses will either run as a day bus, which usually sets off in the morning or as a night bus, which usually departs in the afternoon or early evening. Night buses are generally more comfortable. Don’t expect to sleep on a night bus. With all the lurching, horn blasting, food/rest stops, and the oh so loud music blaring out. All you will get is a headache. This is from the voice of experience.
Without wanting to be morbid, night bus drivers take advantage of the quiet roads. Driving far faster than is safe. Accidents and fatalities are depressingly common. In fact, you are 30 times more likely to die in a road accident in Nepal than in any developed country. The driver of our night bus experience drove for 21 hours, with only short breaks during that time. He was still at the wheel when we got off the bus.
The driver encouraged us to put our bags on board the bus. We insisted that they go in the luggage space under the bus. Thank goodness we insisted on that. Other passenger bags and goods were lined up all down the aisle on the bus. Every time the bus stopped, people were climbing over all of their bags.
Some parts of Nepal are not suitable for buses, for example, the mountainous regions around Ilam. In these situations, transportation is by shared jeeps. These are 4WD vehicles that are better suited to the road conditions. They do get full and overcrowded. Most of the shared jeeps that we used were designed to seat 8 passengers and the driver. Not in Nepal.
The 8 seater vehicles will have 11 passengers in them, plus the driver. This makes it a bit of a squeeze and uncomfortable for westerners on long journeys. Most peoples solution to this problem is to purchase an additional seat. Again they are not expensive and if you would like to be able to walk when you get to your destination, we would recommend doing this. Another thing with shared jeeps, is they don’t have a timetable. Leaving when full. This can mean an hours wait prior to departing.
Shared jeep tickets are usually purchased directly from the driver. In some towns and cities, there is a central booth for ticket purchases. Always ask the price before committing to travel in a shared jeep. The drivers are just as bad as taxi drivers, putting the fare up for tourists.
With so many people in the jeep, there is definitely no space for any luggage. This is put on the roof rack. Ensure that you clip your backpack onto the roof rack yourself. You will watch it bounce off the bonnet and onto the road in front of you, as we did on one occasion if you trust the driver to tie it on. Luckily nothing was broken or damaged.
Tips for travelling by shared jeep
- Allow plenty of time to get to your next destination, it could be up to an hour after your arrival before it leaves.
- Tie your luggage onto the roof rack yourself. You could otherwise watch it fly off at some time during the journey.
- Purchase an additional seat between two of you if you want any sort of comfort during the journey.
- Don’t be surprised if there are passengers travelling on the roof.