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Local transportation in Kathmandu
and other towns
The easiest option, especially if this is your first time in Nepal, would be to
take a taxi. A ride from Tribhuvan International Airport to Thamel, the main
tourist area, is about 8km and will cost you approximately $1.50. The airport
transfer bus service will take you to downtown Kathmandu for $0.50. There is
also a local bus service. However it is not recommended to travelers just
arriving in the country particularly because it tends to be very crowded, slow
and inconvenient for someone uninitiated with the system.
The choice for intra-city transportation of many visitors to Kathmandu is the
taxi, if they want to travel point to point. There is also a fairly
comprehensive local bus routes system. Many also choose to hire a bike or a
three-wheeler tricycle called rickshaw. Yet if you just want to see around town,
walking is still the best way, especially in the old part of Kathmandu. Read
further for details on these options.
You bet. There are plenty of cabs in Kathmandu. All cabs have black license
plates with white numbers. Most cabs also have a sign on them that says
"taxi". Though quite expensive by local standards, many visitors to
Nepal may find a taxi ride in Kathmandu fairly manageable. Though tipping is not
necessary while riding taxis, a tip of about 10 percent of the total fare will
be greatly appreciated.
For a slightly lower cost, you can also hire metered three-wheeler scooter
cabs called tempos. They are black and yellow in color. These are not as
comfortable as proper taxis and are notorious as one of the main sources of
sound and air-pollution in Kathmandu.
Local buses in general are too crowded, slow and unreliable to be worthwhile.
However, compared to taxis, they are very cheap. You normally pay your fare to
the bus conductor when you get off at the end of the ride. Though buses are
fairly frequent in the main routes, most bus routes do not have set schedules
and stop their service by six or seven in the evening. If you are using a local
bus for the first time, you may find it very helpful to ask someone (perhaps at
your hotel) who knows the system for help.
Complementing the local buses in many of the routes are the blue
three-wheeler scooters, tempos. They cost about one third more than the bus,
carry six to eight passengers, and are as inconvenient as buses. Like the black
and yellow tempos, these blue ones are also notorious for their contribution to
Kathmandu's air and sound pollution.
Riding a bike is one of the best ways to tour around Kathmandu. In the old part
of Kathmandu and Thamel area, you can get one speed Indian bicycles for hire for
about $0.50 per day (bikes with more speeds may cost about $1-2 per day). There
is no deposit required and the name of your hotel will suffice. Make sure the
bike has a bell, it will be really helpful in weaving your way through town. If
while the bike is in your possession, you want to take a walk or visit various
spots of interest, it is safe to leave your bike unattended around well
trafficked parts of Kathmandu as long as it is locked. If you have to ride your
bike along the main streets of Kathmandu where there are lots of cars and other
traffic, be very careful because breaking of traffic laws in Nepal is not
uncommon at all.
Riding a rickshaws to tour around the old part of Kathmandu is very popular
among tourists. Before you get on a rickshaw, make sure the driver understands
where you want to go because its movement within the city is restricted. Also
agree upon the fare before you get on, expect a lot a bargaining. No matter how
much the driver says, don't pay more than what you would pay a taxi for the same
ride (about $0.20 per km).
Most of your tours in Pokhara can be made on foot or on a hired bicycle. A good
bike costs about $1-2 per day and are available easily along the Lakeside drive.
You can also get cabs but many of them may not have meters. So you will have to
decide on the price before you get in. Under no circumstance should you pay more
than what you would in Kathmandu ($0.20 per km).
For getting around within other towns elsewhere in the country, walking
probably will almost always suffice. In most southern towns, the pedal-powered
three wheeler tricycles called rickshaws are popular and are very cheap --Rs 2-5
(less than $.10) per km.