Want to take a side trip from India to Nepal? It's a popular thing to do and there are a number of ways to go about it, depending on how much money you're prepared to spend. This guide outlines the best options for travel.
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If you want to fly (and get some awesome Himalayan views), Delhi to Kathmandu is the least expensive route by air to Nepal. Otherwise, the best option is to take a train and then a bus. Taking the bus all the way has become slightly more appealing since the Delhi Transport Corporation launched a direct service to Kathmandu in late 2014. However, it's still a long hour haul!
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Most people going overland from north India to Nepal pass through the Sunauli border to Bhairahawa in central Nepal, accessible from unappealing Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. This is the biggest and busiest India-Nepal border crossing. There are frequent connections to Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Lumbini from there.
04 of 07
Via the Raxaul Border Crossing
The Raxaul border crossing to Birganj in central Nepal is accessible from Patna in Bihar. It's most convenient for anyone traveling from Bodh Gaya or Kolkata. There are direct trains from Kolkata to rather grim Raxaul (16 hours). From Bodh Gaya, it's quicker to take a bus or car and travel by road (8 hours) as opposed to train (13 hours). From the border, buses take 6-7 hours to reach Kathmandu and 8 hours to Pokhara. Shared jeeps to Kathmandu are a quicker option and only take 4-5 hours.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Via the Panitanki Border Crossing
The Panitanki border crossing, to Kakarbhitta in far eastern Nepal, is accessible from Siliguri in West Bengal. It's most utilized by people traveling from Darjeeling, Kolkata, Sikkim and the rest of northeast India. Buses and shared jeeps run to the border from Siliguri, Kalimpong, and Gangtok in Sikkim. There are regular buses to Kathmandu (14-16 hours) and Pokhara (15 hours) from Kakarbhitta. It's worth stopping at Chitwan National Park on the way to break the journey. Get off the bus at Sauraha (9 hours from Kakarbhitta), which is the closest town and travel hub to the park.
06 of 07
Via the Banbasa Border Crossing
This border crossing, at Banbasa in Uttarakhand, is the most westerly crossing into Nepal from India. It's the quickest, and most rural, route from Delhi to Kathmandu. Yet, it's still a long way from Mahendra Nagar (now officially called Bhimdatta) on the Nepali side of the border to Kathmandu. Buses take about 15-17 hours. Banbasa can be reached from Barielly, Rudrapur, or Haldwani in Uttarakhand (3 hours). It's possible to get buses to Pokhara and Kathmandu from Mahendra Nagar. If you're not short on time, it's worth visiting Bardia National Park on the way (get off at Ambassa, about 5 hours from Mahendra Nagar. Thakurdwara is the closest village to the park and it's about 40 minutes from Ambassa).
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Other Border Crossings
Two other border crossing points (from Jamunaha in Uttar Pradesh to Nepalganj in western Nepal, and Gauriphanta in Uttar Pradesh to Dhanghadi in far western Nepal) are open to tourists. However, they're difficult to reach and rarely used. Non-official border crossings at Janakpur, Biratnagar and Ilam rarely allow foreign tourists.