Delhi, the capital of India, and Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, are about 711 miles (1,144 kilometers) apart and are separated by the Himalayas, the world's highest mountain range and home to Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Despite this great distance and the dangerous peaks between these two countries, Kathmandu is a popular next-stop destination for travelers on a journey through northern India and the highlands.
Although it's not impossible to rent a car and drive to Kathmandu, it's highly recommended that you opt to travel by plane, bus, or train, especially since roads in India can be quite unpredictable and difficult for the uninitiated to navigate. Additionally, the trip requires between 17 and 26 hours on the road.
|Bus||24 hours||from $52||A direct route for budget travelers|
|Train + Bus||17 hours||from $15||Extreme budget travel|
|Flight||1 hour, 45 minutes||from $63||Quickest and easiest route|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Delhi to Kathmandu?
The most economical way to travel from Delhi to Kathmandu is by train to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, then by bus or shared jeep to the border in Sunauli, then another bus or shared jeep to Kathmandu from Bhairahawa on the Nepali side of the border. The train to Gorakphur will take between 13 to 14 hours and the bus journey will take another nine to 12 hours. The combined cost of these cheap tickets may be anywhere between $15 and $25.
There are quite a few trains that run from Delhi to Gorakhpur. Ideally, you'll want one that arrives very early in the morning, because it's around three hours by bus from Gorakhpur to the border, and day buses to Kathmandu stop running by late morning. Overnight buses leave in the late afternoon and evening, but they take longer and you'll miss the stunning scenery on the way.
- 15708 Amrapali Express departs Delhi daily at 3:20 p.m. and reaches Gorakhpur at 5:45 a.m. It's not unusual for it to arrive a couple of hours late.
- 12524 New Delhi/New Jalpaiguri SF Express has slightly earlier departure and arrival times, it only runs on Sundays and Wednesdays, and it's also known to arrive a couple of hours late. Fares run from $5.50 in Sleeper Class up to $21 in the air-conditioned class.
- 12558 Sapt Kranti Superfast Express departs daily from Anand Vihar in Delhi at 3:05 p.m. and arrives in Gorakhpur at 4:40 a.m. It only has a few stops, making it a punctual option.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Delhi to Kathmandu?
If you don't mind spending the money, the quickest and easiest way is to fly. The flight is only 90 minutes long and both low cost and full-service airlines operate on the Delhi to Kathmandu route with departures throughout the day. These airlines include Air India, IndiGo, Vistara, and Nepal Airlines. The route has become very competitive and it's generally cheaper to fly to Kathmandu from Delhi, rather than Varanasi. Expect to pay between $60 and $120 each way, including tax for the cheapest fare.
Is There a Bus That Goes From Delhi to Kathmandu?
The Delhi Transport Corporation offers direct bus service from Delhi to Kathmandu that departs daily at 10 a.m. from Ambedkar Stadium Bus Terminal near Delhi Gate. The bus is a luxury Volvo bus that travels via Agra, Kanpur, and the Sunauli border in Uttar Pradesh. The trip takes approximately 30 hours and the one-way fare is $30. There's no toilet on board, but the driver will make regular stops.
Alternatively, private services such as Speedy Nepal do offer tickets at a higher cost, but with nicer amenities on board. It is also faster and typically arrives in 22 to 26 hours.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Kathmandu?
If you're coming to Nepal for the hiking and trekking opportunities, October and November provide the best conditions with weather that's sunny and warm. However, this good weather also tends to bring along the crowds and it may be hard to lock down a hotel room. Trekking in the winter is difficult, due to snowy mountain conditions, and the summer months coincide with Nepal's monsoon season.
If you hope to catch a special event in Kathmandu, head to the Pashupatinath Temple Temple in late February when thousands of holy men gather for Maha Shivratri, a Hindu festival held in honor of the Lord Shiva. Nepalese New Year, which usually falls in the second week of April, is also a special time to catch the locals out celebrating. And in August, the Nepalese honor their deceased relatives during Gai Jatra, a festival of dancing, singing, and dressing up as cows, a sacred symbol for life.
Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Kathmandu?
According to the State Department, American citizens need a visa for entry into Nepal. Your passport must have six months validity and at least one blank page. The visa can either be obtained at the Nepalese Embassy in your home country or upon arrival at the airport or border crossing, and the application can be completed in advance. Visa fees are dependent on how long you plan to stay in Nepal and can cost between $30 and $125 depending on whether you plan to stay 15 or 90 days. If you plan to purchase your visa at the border crossing, you should be prepared to pay with U.S. dollars.
What Time Is It in Kathmandu?
There is a time difference between New Delhi and Kathmandu, but it is only by a difference of 15 minutes. While India Standard Time (IST) is measured by UTC +5:30, Nepal Standard Time (NPT) is measured by UTC +5:45. Because of this odd time difference, there is a shared joke between both countries that Nepalis are always 15 minutes late and Indians are always 15 minutes early. Neither country recognizes Daylight Savings Time, so you don't have to worry about factoring that into your time calculations.
Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?
Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) is just 4 miles (6 kilometers) from Thamel, Kathmandu's main tourist district. There are no buses that run from the airport, but cab rides to the city center are short and inexpensive—although you may be expected to haggle with the driver for a lower rate. Before deciding on a taxi, check with your hotel to see if they offer a transfer service.
What Is There to Do in Kathmandu?
Kathmandu is the gateway to Nepal and often the first place travelers will stop on their way to Mount Everest and other Nepalese mountains. While you're in Kathmandu, you can walk through the old city from Durbar Square to Thamel while exploring the local cuisine and taking pleasure in the colorful prayer flags that criss-cross over almost every street. Make sure to visit Swayambhunath, a Buddhist temple that is located to the west of the city and sits at the top of a hill only accessible by climbing 365 stone steps. You can also take a tour out to explore the Kathmandu Valley and see the local villages where the traditional way of living is very much intact.