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Kathmandu Arrival Guide: From Airport To The Sites

In the previous series, you got information about the international journey to Nepal. In this series, you will get information about the airport arrival guide, how to meet the tour escorts, transfer from airport to the hotels, about the hotels and restaurants in Kathmandu, and places to visit in Kathmandu.

The main theme of this series is to make your travel easier after you land at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Hope this is useful for your visit of Nepal. This will be useful for all the travelers. If you want to travel via travel agencies, then you can take those information as a reference before booking the hotels, travel places, etc.

At International Airport

After the flight deplaning, you will get inside to the arrival hall. If you fill-up the disembarkation card in the aircraft itself before disembarking, it saves you time. You don’t need to fill it at the arrival counter. Here is the information about the airport arrival formalities counter of Tribhuvan International Airport of Kathmandu, Nepal, and arrival transfer to the hotel.

Custom Clearance 

There are two channels for customs clearance. Passengers not having any dutiable items can proceed to the Green Channel. If a passenger is in doubt about dutiable or non-dutiable items, he/she can proceed to the Red Channel. If you brought any valuable products on excessive amounts such as gold, silver, etc. or electronic products like laptops, cameras, in large numbers, then you must do customs clearance. Passengers should declare foreign currency if they have more than US $5,000 or its equivalent in any convertible currency.

Immigration Counter 

In this counter, a traveler must submit the visa application and the visa fee payment proof with a valid passport. Click here to get more information about the process of getting a tourist visa for Nepal. You will get Free Wi-Fi Service inside and outside of the airport. There is a telephone booth behind the Immigration Counter. You can make a local call to the tour operator or guide of tour escorts. You need to get your hand baggage examined through the X-ray machine before your exit to the arrival lounge. There are free-baggage trolleys at your disposal.

CIP Lounge

This is available for a Commercially Important Person who on arrival may wish to rest while someone takes care of their formalities i.e. custom, immigration, and collecting of the luggage. You can avail of this room after paying NPR 500 per hour per person including VAT.

Baggage Lounge

After you complete the visa procedure and other formalities with a security check, you will reach to the Baggage Lounge. At the high air traffic time, you have to wait for 30-40 minutes to 1 hour on average. You can get information about their baggage. You can report the problem if you can’t find your luggage. After you collect your all baggage, proceed towards the exit terminal. (Don’t get confused, there is only one exit terminal.)

Nepal Tourism Board Information Counter

While moving towards the exit gate, you will have to show the luggage coupon to the Baggage Checking Lounge. Few steps ahead, you will see the Nepal Tourism Board Information Counter on the left side. You can get information about the tourism of Nepal. You can also get city maps of Kathmandu at this counter. 

Money Exchange Counter

Few steps ahead, you will see the Yeti Money Exchange counter on the left side. You can exchange money here also if you need to pay for a local SIM Card or tips gratitude to the driver or tour escorts. You will see the money exchange counter at the arrival hall too. It’s your wish to exchange currency at the airport or outside. You will find the money exchange counter at the Thamel, Lazimpat, nearby to the world heritage sites, and other places or at the hotel. Please collect the receipt of the amount you have changed.

Hotel Reservation Center and Pre-paid Taxi Service 

Next to it, you will find Hotel Reservation Center and Airport Pre-paid Taxi Service. If you haven’t booked your travel packages or you have booked hotels directly, then you can book the rooms of the hotel at Hotel Reservation Center. Or, it’s your choice you can use the online booking system a few days before your visit. You can hire a taxi from the Airport to the hotel. For this, you can buy a ticket from Airport Pre-paid Taxi Service by paying cash in Nepalese Rupees (NPR). (You can pay the exact amount on NPR than other currencies because you might lose on the convertible rate.)

SIM Card Shop

On the next block, you will find the SIM-Card Shop. You will see, NCELL with purple color and Nepal Telecom with Blue Color. To get the SIM card, you need to submit one passport size photo and photocopy of your passport. Some may need your passport to see the visa stamp of Nepal. It’s better to pay in Nepalese Rupees (NPR) while buying the SIM card.

You may get confused while purchasing the SIM card. If you are traveling for a couple of weeks in Nepal or planning for trekking, then you will need the SIM card to contact the tour operator or vehicle staff or tour/trek guide. Or, you may need internet services frequently. If you will be in Kathmandu, you can use any SIM card. But if you will go away from major cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan, and then you need to think about the SIM card. For the convenient data packages and the uses, the NCELL SIM card is preferred by most of the foreigners. But it is not sure it will act in all parts of the country.

Outside of Airport

Finding the receiver/ tour escort

After you exit the terminal, you will see many people standing with the placard just opposite to the gate. If you booked the services from the travel agencies or tour operator, then they will send you the guide or representative or drivers from the office to receive you. They may be with your name or your company’s name, or the travel agencies’ or tour operator’s name, or the hotel’s name on the placard. If you don’t find your name, you can contact the respective organization.

You will get a free Internet Service inside the International Airport Terminal. It will be easy for you to meet tour escorts or guide or representative or drivers who are at the airport to receive you if you are in contact with them at earlier. This may help the receiver also. As far as my experience, I have seen that when the traveler doesn’t see the representative receive you although they get the arrival transfer service, they go to the hotel by themselves, but the representative waits for them at the airport more than 5 hours.

I have seen most of the international travelers get worried when they don’t find the respective receiver at the airport and they request help inside the airport or in the baggage lounge. Some people may request to help and may charge a certain amount later. Please keep calm and just be away from them. (Please note that you will get help from the representative of Airport Member or Airlines member if you are an old-aged traveler, handicapped, etc.)

On the way from Airport to Hotel

When you exit the International Airport area, you will reach to the Ring-Road of Kathmandu Valley. In Nepal, all the drivers use the left lane while driving, so the steering wheel of most small and heavy vehicles is on the right side. While looking outside, you may see many two-wheeler vehicles like bikes and scooters in the road than the other vehicle. These are the most used vehicle in Nepal, especially by young age people. You will see many girls ride the scooter. If you look at the number plate of a vehicle, you may see mostly 6 types of number plates. 

  1. Red license plates with white letters: Private Vehicle
  2. Black license plates with white letters: Public Vehicle
  3. White license plates with red letters: Government Vehicle
  4. Yellow number plates with blue letter: National Corporation vehicle
  5. Green plates with white letters: Tourist Vehicle
  6. Blue plates with white letters: Diplomatic Vehicle

Nowadays you can see the number of plates with embossed system and province wise. 

You might stock at the Traffic Jam during the day and evening time (From 9 am to 9 pm) at the different main junction. Saturday is the public holiday in Nepal. So Saturday will be less in comparison to other days. That’s why the tour escort reaches the airport by considering your flight landing time.

About hotels in Kathmandu

There are plenty of hotels you will find a different area of Kathmandu valley if you search using the search engine. Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur are commonly known as Kathmandu Valley. Mostly, tourists prefer to stay inside the Thamel Area or nearby to it which depends upon their purpose of stay. Major places to stay in Kathmandu Valley are Thamel, Lazimpat, Bouddha, Godawari, Nagarkot, around world heritage sites, or the closer to the areas which are closer to the Airport also. You have many choices to stay in different hotels. Mainly you can get budget hotels. And, the category of the hotels in Kathmandu ranges from 1-Star Hotels to 5-Star Luxury Hotels.

If you need support to find the hotels, please text on Whatsapp or send an email. Also note that, when you fill the online visa application, you need the address in Nepal where you are going to stay. So, you can either contact the hotel or text me on Whatsapp. Booking the room of hotels through travel agencies or tour operators is cheaper in comparison though the online.

Restaurants in Kathmandu

There are many restaurants in Kathmandu Valley offering the good services and facilities. Mainly, you will find the restaurants in those destinations where you travel and nearby to your hotels such as in Thamel, Lazimpat, Durbarmarg, and around the heritage sites, you will travel. When you are in the restaurants in Kathmandu, you can try Momo. You can visit the Bar in Thamel, where you can enjoy the meals and drinks with the live music.  

The most interesting facts about the restaurants in Kathmandu is the live music and cultural dances. Many tour operator wants to offer you welcome dinner at typical Nepali Restaurants with the cultural programs. In such restaurants, you can experience Nepalese local wine called ‘Raksi’. If you visit in Newari Restaurant, you can try Aila. It’s also a local homemade wine. If you want to try local food in Kathmandu, Dal Bhat set is the meals offered by most of the tourist. If you want to try extra, you can try, Newari Khaja Set in Patan and Bhaktapur. While you are in Bhaktapur, don’t miss the king of yoghurt, ‘Ju Ju Dhau’.

Places to visit in Kathmandu valley

When you are planning to visit Nepal, you collect information about the places where you want to visit. Or you get some places on your itinerary for a sightseeing tour.

At first, let’s be clear about the duration of the sightseeing tour in Nepal. Here, you will hear about a half-day sightseeing tour and a full-day sightseeing tour which goes for 4 hours and 8 hours. It depends upon the time only. During the half-day sightseeing tour, you will cover about three tourist destinations. Full day sightseeing tour covers about five to six tourist destinations which are also varying with the location. This is also followed by a tourist vehicle. Following the regular sites for sightseeing used by the travel agencies, you may miss the places that meet your thirst and demands. So, before choosing the destinations, you must have a plan to get information at first.

For more information, you can click on the link below:

FYI, Kathmandu Tourism Area consists of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur of Kathmandu Valley, and Kavrepalanchok, the neighboring district of Kathmandu valley which is just 20 km on the southern part. If you have less time to visit in Nepal or you are in Nepal after the post-visit of Tibet or you are here in conferences or meetings, you can choose the destinations from these sectors.

  • To see the ancient art and architecture, stupas, temples, you can visit the world heritage site.
  • To see mountain ranges, you can drive to either Dhulikhel or Nagarkot. These places are popular to see the sunrise view and spend time in nature.
  • To experience local community, you can visit Bungmati, Khokhana, Kirtipur, Bhaktapur, etc.
  • For homestay experience, you can visit Panauti, Dhulikhel, etc.
  • For the overnight stay in the monastery and have lunch and dinner with monks, you can choose either the Pharping area, Kapan, or Namobuddha monastery.
  • If you are interested in hiking or birdwatching tour, then you can choose, Shivapuri Height (2,762 m), Phulchoki (2,700 m), Champadevi (2,285 m), Jamacho Height (1,500 m). Shivapuri National Park is the smallest national park in Nepal which is closer to Kathmandu.

To get more information about these places, please visit the link above.

It will be better if you hire a tour guide and a tourist vehicle while visiting any destinations although you have to pay a few more amounts. Because you will get detailed information about the places. And you will get a comfortable vehicle and you don’t have to worry if you leave any things in the car or any problems in the car. And they will be more flexible too. You can hire a cab to go for a short distance.

If you have any queries or need any support, please comment here. If you are planning to make your trip to Nepal, I shall be grateful to help you to organize your trip to Nepal. Please connect via Whatsapp, +977-9860804860.

Click here to access on next series: Domestic Airports and Airlines of Nepal

Suraj Bhattarai

I discovered my passion on travel and Tourism Sector and had started to write travel blogs since 2018 with the aim to promote the Tourism of Nepal in national and international level of tourism market. I am also a government certified Trekking Guide of Nepal.

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