If you are traveling to Kathmandu,  of course, the first thing every traveler should know is how to reach their hotels from Tribhuvan International Airport? Thamel is the central backpacker’s destination in Nepal, and this is where you would want to start your journey and where your hotel would likely be. It has virtually everything a traveler would be looking for from a one-star (or none at all!) guesthouses to luxurious 5-star hotels, groceries, local food stalls, and restaurants, laundry facilities, local markets, hair salon, spa centers, and many more!

COVID-19 update: With all safety protocols Pre-paid taxis are available at Kathmandu airport. Travel costs may vary from place to place due to the extra work required. 

Below are some ideas on how you can reach Thamel from Kathmandu Airport. If you are a backpacker and want to save some money (and don’t mind a bit of adventure), there are many options available to you, depending on what type of traveler you are. Based on the year 2021, we are here to update you on all new prices and the information you need to know about Kathmandu Tribhuvan International airport.  We believe this article will be helpful for you to plan your next holiday in Nepal. So please read on.

Kathmandu Airport to Thamel Travelling options infographic


BY TAXI – from Kathmandu Airport to Thamel

For those who prefer the most comfortable way and the least hassle, this is for you! Probably the Kathmandu city is one of the smallest towns, and public transportation is not the best in the world. You have the option only of a bus, a mini-bus, or a taxi.  There are no trains or trams here!

If you are traveling from Kathmandu airport to any area in ‘downtown’ Thamel, the easiest way is to take a cab.   From the airport, the city center is only 20 – 30 minutes of driving distance.  When you exit the airport, you will see a lot of taxi outside waiting for clients, or you could also pre-book inside the airport.

How to deal with Taxi in Kathmandu Airport?

As they say, Nepalese are one of the best and kindest people in the world as you can find after your trip, but of course, there might be some exceptions! There is no complete hassle in finding a taxi driver at the airport (they will find you!); the issue is how do you deal with them and agree on cost?

There are two types of taxi in Kathmandu Airport:

  • Prepaid Airport Taxi
  • Local Public Taxi

Prepaid Airport Taxi

Kathmandu International Airport management committee has committed to providing 24-hour prepaid taxi counter in Tribhuvan International Airport.  You could find this just before you exit the airport building, past the tourist information center.   They charge at a fixed rate and will provide a receipt.  As they are government regulated, they are committed and will ensure your safety and anything else that goes with you! Note, however, that they are on a slightly more expensive side than a local public taxi.

Just a heads up, if you are traveling to Kathmandu for the first time and using the prepaid taxi, note that a member of the taxi counter or any of their recommended person might go with you in the same cab.  Likely to see if he could support any travel packages you might be interested in and also provide additional information about the country and what it offers to tourists.  So, it is not bad at all, but this may put off some backpackers who prefer to do it on their own or find their local agency.  If you would like to find out more, they will bring you to a travel company in Thamel.

In a positive sense, you are getting free information about traveling around and where to go to, whether you buy their packages or not.  And this is perfectly understandable for these travel companies. Or simply if you want to avoid them you can tell, I have already booked my tour with someone else. So they will quickly understand you are out of their sights.

How much is the Prepaid Taxi Cost to Thamel?

From Kathmandu Airport to Thamel, or with a distance closeby Thamel (e.g. Durbar Marg, Lazimpat), the pre-paid taxi will charge you 750 Rs, which is around US$ 6.5 per taxi (rate as of January 2021). If you are traveling at night time meaning after 21:30, there is a surcharge of  100 Rs (almost US$ 1). Here is the complete price list in the image below from Kathmandu Airport to any destination, that prepaid taxi provides service. Price list image Kathmandu airport to city centre

Local Public Taxi

Any other taxi you could find when you exit the airport is a local taxi.  You could easily spot them, make sure you exit the airport building, and past the pre-paid taxi counter.  Keep heading outside (about 2-3minutes walk and keep ignoring all the travel agents waiting outside who might try to speak to you), past a roundabout, and until you are sure you are outside the first airport gate, where you could see several Maruti 800 model hatchback car!

For some, it is worth the hassle and could save easily! If you are trained in bargaining, this is probably for you! The average cost to Durbar Marg or Lazimpat is roughly 450 Rs to 550 Rs.  With a bit of persistence, you might be able to bring it down even more!!

You should know about local taxi in Kathmandu

  • Make sure your driver knows your destination address, including the name of the hotel or street name
  • Agree on the rates first.  Often the taxis in Nepal do not run by the meter, especially with tourists. So you will have to agree on the total cost immediately.
  • It is a generally safe country and people are trustworthy, but we would recommend that you remember the taxi number or plate numbers.  This could prove helpful in case of emergencies or if you happen to forget anything inside the car.
  • Be gentle and kind as they are charming people! They may not speak the best English, but they know for sure the best local places! And no problem with basic English.

BY LOCAL BUS:  Kathmandu Airport to Thamel

Still, as many backpackers are used to public transport all the time, they will expect to do the same in Kathmandu.  Many travelers from all around the world try to look for As we can say, Kathmandu City, is still a very classical city in the world, and most of the roads are still under construction.  It seemed to have been frozen and kept from influences for a long time and just opening itself to the world. As expected, transportation here remains underdeveloped!

Most of the Local transportation from Kathmandu Airport to Thamel gave up as there is not any such bus that would bring you directly to Thamel. This will involve a combination of walking and maybe several minutes of waiting for the bus! But it exists, and yes, you can reach your destination, but this, not the most comfortable option, but this is the cheapest!  A 20-minute journey to Thamel could easily take you over 60 minutes and likely more, but for a fraction of the price!
Before you ride a local bus, here a couple of tips which might be helpful for you: 

  • Make sure you know your destination and speak to the driver, so you know where you are going and that the bus is heading in that direction!
  • Make sure you carry enough change (in Nepali currency) before you ride the Local bus.  The fare is cheap, and they usually do not have enough change for your 1,000 Rs.
  • Always look after your valuables, such camera, passport, etc.
  • Stay close to the driver if you can, so they could assist you where to get off and request that they inform you if it is already your stop.

How do we find the local bus from Kathmandu airport to Thamel?

Option 1. Airport to Jamal (Best and comfortable) 

There are (Sagha Yatayat) big green public bus available from Kathmandu airport to the city.  Please reminded this bus also doesn’t go straight to Thamel (A tourist hub). However, the stop is close enough to walk to Thamel. If you take the Sanjha Yatayat to Thamel from Kathmandu airport, please make sure you get off in “Jamal” It is the North-East border with Thamel. It is less than a 10-minute walking distance to Thamel. As of 2021, it will cost NPR 20, which is equivalent to USD 0.2.  There are more options available from Sagha Yatayat. Please visit this page to find more routes from Sagha Yatyat.

Option 2: Airport to Ratnapark and walk to Thamel 
Just go outside the Kathmandu Airport gate, again this is past the roundabout and by the main road.  From there, you will see a bus station. Make sure you listen well, as they will only call out their destinations.  Look out for buses calling to “Ratnapark.” Or the easiest would be to ask locals where to find buses to “Ratnapark” and they will quickly give you the bus number and company name.  Just catch the bus to Ratnapark and get off at the last station.
From Ratnapark, it’s just a further less than 10 minutes walking distance to Thamel.  Or can also take another mini-van to Thamel from there.

Option 2. Bus to Narayan Gopal Chok
Instead of taking a bus to Ratnapark, take the bus that goes to “Narayan Gopal Chok.”  From Narayan Gopal Chok, you need to change again to another bus that goes to “Lazimpat,” and from there, you can walk to Thamel for 10 Minutes.

How much does the Local bus cost?
Each destination the cost of a local bus is 15 – 20 Rs. Let’s say if you are traveling from Kathmandu airport to Thamel via Narayan Gopal Chok. It will cost you 30 – 40 Rs. which is less than USD 0.5

Bloggers Related Post

Here are some bloggers post, you may find reading interesting

www.thelongestwayhome.com How to Survive Arriving in Kathmandu Airport 
Trip Advisor forum: Taxi Cost Kathmandu Airport to Thamel
Lonely Planet forumBus from Airport to Thamel Katmandu
www.tripsavvy.com: Guide to Arriving in Kathmandu
Happy Passport: Kathmandu airport to Thamel 

If you are Travel Blogger, who recently traveled to Nepal, have written an article related to this post, please send a link at nestadventure@gmail.com. We are happy to link your thoughts. (only accepts a similar post from a travel blogger, Vlogger, or YouTube artist)

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Rajendra Khanal (Raj)

Born and raised in Gorkha, Nepal, I am proud to call the Manaslu region my home! I have been in the travel business for over a decade from being assistance guide, leader, to being a manager. And finally today I am the founder of NEST Adventure. So you could say I know my way well enough in the Himalayas, especially in some of the off-the-beaten-trails in Nepal like Manaslu, Kanchenjunga and Mustang!

I am passionate about travelling and I strongly believe that seeing the world shouldn't break the bank (at least not too much!). I have backpacked to over 15 countries in Asia, Central America, USA, Canada, one-third of Europe, the Caribbean Islands, and Latin America.

I studied in the UK and moved to the United States. During that period, I had the opportunity of working with multinational companies which taught me how to deliver quality customer service in the business. As a world travelling backpacker myself, and travel expert for the Nepalese Himalayas, I started writing about my own country. Which I would love to share with you. In case you required free information about Nepal or join a group with our existing departure, (particularly If you are a solo hiker for the restricted area) please do not hesitate to visit my office in Thamel. We are located in the centre of Kathmandu called Thamel. I am happy to share a cup of Nepali tea and free information.

Our team at NEST has earned 5/5 star ratings on TripAdvisor. Don't forget to visit our customer feedback page on TripAdvisor. If you believe our expert team can be helpful in planning your next trip to Nepal, then please do not hesitate to contact me at nestadventure@gmail.com. I am also available 24x7 on WhatsApp  +977- 9851052042. If you are interested to know more about my travel journey follow me on  FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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