How to get from Kathmandu to Pokhara: the ultimate guide
Kathmandu to Pokhara is one of the most popular travel routes in Nepal. Here’s our comprehensive Kathmandu to Pokhara transport guide, including all the practical information you need to get between Nepal’s two largest cities.
The idea of travelling from Kathmandu to Pokhara fills us with dread.
It’s a trip we’ve done many times, and one which we absolutely hate. The bus ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara is long, windy, dusty, precarious, and completely arduous (it’s Nepal… the roads aren’t great here!).
You’ll read online it takes 6 hours, and when buying a ticket you’ll told the journey to Pokhara takes 6-7 hours. WRONG.
At best, you’re in for a 8 hour journey, which seems crazy when the distance between the two cities is just 200kms. That’s Nepal for you (the Himalaya have a lot to do with it, too!).
The alternative is jumping aboard one of Nepal’s notorious airlines for the 30 minute flight, or an expensive private transfer.
Whichever way you chose, the journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara is one of the hardest in Nepal (read our Nepal travel guide here).
That being said, things are improving. On our most recent journey to Nepal in June 2019, the premium bus service had upgraded their coaches, which are now air-conditioned and far more comfortable. While the Prithvi Highway is still poor, parts have been upgraded; the span of highway from Dumre to Pokhara is now actually pretty good.
We believe Pokhara is absolutely worth visiting (it’s actually one of our favourite places in Nepal, and you’ll need to start your Annapurna Circuit hike there too), so getting from Kathmandu to Pokhara is a necessary evil.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to get from Kathmandu to Pokhara (and Pokhara to Kathmandu). It covers everything you could need, including all the options, prices, and tips for travelling in between Nepal’s two major cities.
Oh, and one more thing… good luck (you’ll need it!)
How to get from Kathmandu to Pokhara: tourist bus, flight or jeep
Kathmandu to Pokhara bus (includes Kathmandu to Pokhara tourist bus)
Over our three trips to Nepal, we’ve caught the buses from Kathmandu to Pokhara, and Pokhara to Kathmandu too many times to remember, and in our opinion, catching the ‘tourist’ bus is the easiest and most cost effective way to get from Kathmandu to Pokhara.
We’ve used a number of different services, all of which provide about the same level of quality.
However, there is one standout - Greenline.
Greenline is the safest and best option for the Kathmandu to Pokhara bus route. They offer modern buses with air-conditioning and device charging capabilities, professional (and safe) drivers, as well as lunch on their Kathmandu to Pokhara (and return) route.
Some of the other, cheaper services we used in the past include Prithvi, World Touch and Blue Sky.
These services are fine, however the buses are outdated, aren’t air-conditioned, and are sometimes driven by drivers who’d do better to spend time on a Formula 1 track than driving the winding, dangerous road from Kathmandu to Pokhara at such high speed.
In short, they’re bloody scary.
The bus ride itself slowly makes its way out of Kathmandu, up the mountain roads that surround the city. It’s fairly precarious, especially as you make your way down into the valley; the narrow corners and steep descent are sure to test the nerves.
The route passes a number of small villages, and rural towns, and the scenes from the window are always enough to stay awake and watch this foreign world pass by.
The midway point of Greenline’s Kathmandu to Pokhara bus route is River Side Springs resort, which also doubles as the lunch spot. The food is standard roadside fare - Dahl bat, vegetable noodles, mixed veggie curry, and a chicken curry. Tea and coffee is included.
The road to Pokhara from Kathmandu crosses the Trishuli bridge through Dumre before another windy, slow, two hour drive to Pokhara.
How long does the Kathmandu to Pokhara bus take?
Depending on who you’re talking to, the bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara should take around 6-7 hours, however we’ve never found this to be true.
On average, expect a travel time of at least 8 - 9 hours. We have had instances where the trip has taken upwards of 12 hours (yes, 12 hours!), however there were road works which slowed the journey down.
Either way, expect the unexpected and allocate 12 hours; if you arrive early, it’s a blessing.
How much does the Kathmandu to Pokhara bus cost?
Tickets for the Kathmandu to Pokhara (and Pokhara to Kathmandu bus) cost between the following prices:
| NPR 700 (USD $6.50 - $7) and NPR 2,800 (USD $25)
The discrepancy in price comes down to a multitude of factors, including safety, comfort (air-conditioning), supplied lunch, and a guaranteed seat.
Below is a breakdown of two services we recommend:
| VVIP/Greenline |
For the higher end bus companies such as Greenline, lunch (Nepali Dal Bhat, noodles etc. at a hygienic restaurant), a bottle of water (we decline these to reduce plastic), onboard wi-fi (which never works) and charging points are included in the ticket price. Air-conditioning is also a feature, which is a blessing during the warmer months, and the seats are also very comfortable.
We recommend paying the NPR 2,800 (USD $25) for a company like Greenline, as you can’t put a price on safety, especially so in Nepal.
The drivers are well trained and always apply a safety first mentality on the roads, which is more than we can say for a number of the cheaper tourist buses which value early arrival times ahead of passengers lives.
BOOK | Book Greenline bus tickets here
| VIP/Tourist Bus |
The cheaper bus companies use older buses to service the Kathmandu to Pokhara route, so don’t expect any air-conditioning, wi-fi or charging points.
The seats are manageable, however make sure you get a seat number as part of your ticket - there are often scams whereby tourists aren’t provided with ticket numbers, and are forced to sit in the rear on the most uncomfortable seats, or stand part of the way.
Most of the cheaper tourist buses stop along the way for lunch, which may or may not be included in the ticket price (check at time of booking).
Bus drivers are often a little more haphazard in their approach to safety, which can lead to some pretty hair-raising encounters on the windy roads towards Pokhara.
Do I need to pre-purchase a bus ticket?
We tend to always book our Kathmandu to Pokhara bus tickets a day or two in advance.
During peak season, the Kathmandu to Pokhara bus route is one of the most popular, so tickets can sell out days in advance.
In the past, it was only possible to book tickets from Kathmandu to Pokhara via a travel agency or through the bus company directly, but you can now purchase online at 12GOAsia.
We recommend buying tickets online here, or from the myriad of local travel agencies in Kathmandu.
BOOK | Book your Kathmandu to Pokhara bus tickets here
Departure time and leaving point for the Kathmandu to Pokhara bus
Greenline departs at 7am in front of the Greenline offices (NorthFace Showroom, Tridevi Sadak) just outside of Thamel.
Tourist buses from Kathmandu to Pokhara depart from Sorhakutte at the tourist bus park at 7am each morning (here’s a map for the Sorhakutte Tourist Bus Park).
Sorhakutte is located about 10-15 mins from Thamel, and costs around NPR 100-200 via taxi. Tourist buses also drop you back at the same point on the return trip from Pokhara to Kathmandu.
This is a recent change, as buses used to depart from Kantipath bus stop, just outside of Thamel (we were almost caught out by this change, as we’d previously caught buses from Kantipath on our previous trips to Nepal).
For both Greenline and regular bus services, it’s important to arrive at least 20 minutes
Read more | The best things to see and do in Pokhara
Arriving into Pokhara
All buses arriving into Pokhara from Kathmandu drop you off at Pokhara Tourist Bus park (map here), around 15mins frown Pokhara Lakeside via taxi (or around a 45 minute walk).
Upon arrival, you’ll be met with literally hundreds of taxi drivers asking for your business. Push through, grab your bags and make your way outside the tourist bus park before committing to a taxi fare.
The fare should cost between NPR 200 - 300 however the Pokhara taxi drivers are known to charge large fares for short rides, so confirm the fare before entering the taxi.
READ | Unsure of what to do and where to stay in Pokhara? Read our complete Pokhara guide
Departure time and leaving point for the Pokhara to Kathmandu bus
Greenline departs from the Greenline offices (map here) in Pokhara Lakeside at 7am each day, and drop you off at Shorakhutte bus station, just outside of Thamel on the return.
Tourist buses depart at 7am from the tourist bus park located around 15mins by taxi from Lakeside (45min walk).
Surviving the Kathmandu to Pokhara bus journey
Having done this bus ride more times than we care to remember, we know a thing or two about surviving it.
Below are a few tips so you can survive it, too:
Podcasts/Netflix | Download/update your favourite Netflix and Podcast shows, and watch/listen away on the journey
Food/snacks | Stock up on a range of snacks for the trip. We generally grab a few kit-kats, some baked goods from some of Thamel’s great bakeries, and some fresh fruits from the street vendors.
Water | We always take at least 2 litres of water on the journey. We don’t buy bottled water, but instead use our the Grayl water filtration and purification system, which allows us to fill up from any water source without fear of getting sick. It’s basically the best invention ever, and you should buy one! Buy here - Grayl water purification bottles
Toilet stops | Always take advantage of these, despite how average the toilets may be (most of the time, they’re not that bad!).
Book your tickets from kathmandu to pokhara
Kathmandu to Pokhara flight (and Pokhara to Kathmandu flight)
For those who are time-poor or aren’t on a strict budget, the quickest way to get from Kathmandu to Pokhara (and vice-versa) is via plane.
There are around 20 flights per day, lasting around 25 minutes.
It’s a super scenic flight, with views of the Himalaya throughout, so beyond the quick journey, you’ll have an awesome sightseeing flight, too.
One thing to consider is that flights are often be delayed or cancelled due to poor weather, or because of delays with incoming flights, so be prepared to wait around a little.
Costs and booking details for the Kathmandu to Pokhara flight
Flights from Kathmandu to Pokhara (and Pokhara to Kathmandu) cost between USD $100 - $200 depending on availability during peak season, and can be booked through any tour agency in Nepal.
We recommend booking well in advance to reduce the ticket costs and to guarantee a seat.
Off season, flights can be as little as $50-60 is booked at the last minute, from any of the tourist agencies in and around Thamel and Kathmandu.
There are three major domestic airlines: Nepal Airlines, Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines, all of which are considered the safest to fly.
Where does the Kathmandu to Pokhara flight depart from?
All flights from Kathmandu to Pokhara depart from the domestic terminal of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport.
The domestic terminal is located to the left of the International terminal as you enter the airport grounds (map here).
The departure terminal for the morning flights can be a little chaotic due to the flights to Lukla, so keep an ear out for your departure announcements.
READ | Learn all about Nepal with our Nepal Travel Guide
Where does the Pokhara to Kathmandu flight depart from?
All Pokhara to Kathmandu flights departs from Pokhara domestic airport, located 5kms away from Pokhara lakeside.
The airport is easy to get to, with taxi’s from Lakeside costing around NPR 300.
Is flying in Nepal safe?
Air safety in Nepal is poor to say the least, with an average of one fatal accident occurring each year.
We recommend booking your flight for an early morning departure when the visibility is generally good, and crashes are less likely to occur.
Travel better in Nepal | Our top Nepal travel tips and advice
Kathmandu to Pokhara by private car/jeep
If time and money aren’t an issue, hiring a private jeep for the journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara is a good idea.
For around USD $250, you can hire a whole Jeep (up to eight seats), which when divided by multiple passengers, becomes a fairly cost affective solution
It’s also a more comfortable experience, where you can spread out amongst your group, and control when and where you stop on the way.
If you’re looking into this option, its best to inquire at one of the tourist agencies in Kathmandu or Pokhara.
Crazy Kathmandu | 21 incredible places to visit in Kathmandu
NEPAL BACKPACKING ESSENTIALS
Travelling through Nepal comes with a unique set of needs.
To help you have a comfortable, happy journey, we recommend bringing the following items with you:
Reusable water bottle | THE BEST INVESTMENT WE’VE EVER MADE! We use the Grayl water purification bottles, which allows us to fill up from any water source, anywhere in the world (including train taps!).
Biodegradable Wet Wipes | Keep clean without destroying the planet!
Hand sanitiser | not something we’d actually recommend normally, but in Sri Lanka it can be a bloody great investment.
A spork | to cut down on unnecessary plastic usage at meal times
Power bank | power does drop out… often! Don’t get caught out without power for your devices buy purchasing this power bank
READ | check out our eco-friendly packing guide to travel through Nepal consciously and comfortably
EXPERIENCE MORE OF NEPAL WITH THESE ESSENTIAL POSTS
NEPAL TRAVEL GUIDE | Nepal Travel guide, including what to see, know and do!
NEPAL TRAVEL TIPS | Everything you need to know before you visit Nepal
KATHMANDU CITY GUIDE | Our in depth guide to the chaotic Kathmandu
THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT | Our comprehensive guide to hiking the Annapurna Circuit
TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t leave home without travel insurance (seriously, don’t!). Click here to get the best deals with World Nomads, our trusted travel insurance provider
PHOTOGRAPHY | Love our photography? Wondering what gear we use to get all of our photos around the world?
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL | Responsible travel is important. REALLY IMPORTANT.
Learn our top responsible travel tips to help you, your family and friends travel more consciously around the globe
ECO FRIENDLY PACKING ESSENTIALS | Don’t leave home without our favourite eco-friendly travel essentials