Kathmandu is the capital and also biggest metropolitan area in Nepal. It is home to the only international airport nationwide (as of 2020), hence the gateway to any destinations in the country. Kathmandu is well known as a city of historic and cultural significance.
The second biggest city in Nepal, both population wise and size wise, is Pokhara. Also known as the Lake City, Pokhara is located towards the North West of Kathmandu, approximately 210 km away. Pokhara is a popular visit for tourists. This is not only because of its natural beauty, but also the fact that it is the entrance to all the treks in Annapurna region.
Kathmandu and Pokhara are major connecting hubs for trekkers to Nepal. And there has always been a huge demand for transportation between the two cities. In this article, I am going into details about the options of how to go from Kathmandu to Pokhara.
Kathmandu To Pokhara Flight
This is the most expensive, yet also the easiest and fastest option to travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Flights are available almost on a daily basis with variations in takeoff time between 7 am and 3 pm. It only takes 20 – 25 minutes. Weather and the volume of passengers can affects the frequency and schedule of these flights at times. Generally there are about 15 to 20 flights daily during peak seasons (Spring and autumn).
Major domestic airlines operating this route include Buddha Air, Yeti Air and Shree Air. Airfare is no exception when it comes to price discrimination in Nepal (Between foreigners and locals). For foreign tourists, the tickets range somewhere between USD 100 and USD 120 per person for one way. Yes, you read it right! For a 20 minute flight! This fare comes with 7 kg carry on bag and 20 kg of checked in luggage.
There’s an important note for those choosing flight option. While Tribhuvan Airport is not a busy one, you might still want to consider leaving early for your flight taking the crowded traffic situation into consideration.
Depending on where you stay in Kathmandu and the traffic, it can take from 20 minutes up to an hour to get to the airport.
Kathmandu To Pokhara Tourist Bus
Tourist bus is definitely the most popular choice among tourists. The bus stations in Kathmandu & Pokhara are close to tourist hubs, which makes it a much convenient option. Most of the tourist buses leave around 7 am from Kathmandu and 7:30 am from Pokhara. You need to be at the station at least 30 minutes before departing time. The journey takes around 7 hours with at least 2 breaks along the way.
There are several categories when it comes to tourist bus. The ticket prices vary accordingly, between USD 8 and USD 25
Regular tourist bus comes with seats only, no other amenities. They will have scheduled toilet stops and one lunch stop along the way. Most of these buses leave from Sorakhute near Thamel.
Deluxe tourist bus comes with extra on board toilet and lunch included.
Super Deluxe tourist bus: comfy reclinable seats, on board toilet, wifi, newspaper, coffee, snacks, lunch included.
In the past, Greenline bus company was the only company operating the Super Deluxe option. These days the market is shared with Jagadamba bus company as well. These are also the two bus operators that has stations different to those of regular buses.
If you want to save the time by traveling during the night, Jagadamba is currently the only service provider.
Kathmandu To Pokhara Local Bus
If you want to have a taste of how locals travel, and save some money at the same time, then local bus is the perfect choice. The bus fare is as low as USD 5 and the ride is a bit faster than tourist bus as well. However, the lack of comfort is a big trade off here. Expect to get squeezed up as the bus makes multiple stops to collect & drop passengers en route.
The buses make certain toilet breaks and stop at local eateries for tea and lunch.
There are two main types of local buses small 16 seater mini coaster and 35 seater bus.
All of them leave from Gongabu Bus Station in Kathmandu and Prithivi Chowk Bus Station in Pokhara. They depart every 30 minutes to 1 hour or so all day long. You can find the last buses as late as 4 to 5 pm. Some big buses do run overnight as well.
Kathmandu To Pokhara Private Car
The 210 km journey between Kathmandu and Pokhara takes approximately 6 hour by private vehicles. With this option you’ll get door to door service being picked up and dropped off at locations requested.
Depending the number of people you might want to consider between a car, a jeep or even a mini caster bus.
A car can fit up to 4 people but I personally recommend 3 only for better comfort and more leg room. A jeep can fit up to 7 people but again, recommendable for 6 only. If you’re in a big group and prefer to travel in private vehicles then a mini coaster is recommended. It can fit up to 14 people.
A one way trip by private car would range from USD 120 to USD 150. Normally, the jeep rate x1.5 and mini coaster rate is x2 the car rate. Bear in mind that rates vary according to vehicle types, models of vehicles, whether they come with air conditioning option or not and time of traveling. So check with your agents about these.
One advantage of traveling by private vehicles is you can be flexible and customize your trip. If you are in no rush to get to Pokhara then there are a few places worth exploring along the way.
Siddha Cave In Bimalnagar
This cave is located right on the side of Prithivi Highway, with a 30 minute stair climb. The cave is massive, believed to be the largest in Nepal.
This is a scenic historic town on a hilltop off the main Kathmandu Pokhara route. The town is about 80 km from Pokhara. You can either choose to spend a few hours or an overnight stay to exploring the town and enjoy the Himalayan views from there as well.
While Fewa Lake is so popular for tourists in Pokhara, not many know of Begnas. This lake is much quieter, but not any less beautiful. It is about 18 km before reaching Pokhara Lakeside with a detour from the main highway.