time-consuming & fascinating
Traveling in Nepal
Getting around in Nepal can be a challenging business. Because of the terrain, the weather conditions and the condition of the vehicles, few trips go according to plan. Nepali ingenuity will usually get you to your destination, but build plenty of time into your itinerary and treat the delays and mishaps as part of the rich tapestry that is Nepal.
Buses are the main form of public transport in Nepal. Local buses run pretty much everywhere and will stop for anyone. Tourist buses connect popular places and are more comfortable and less crowded. Public buses are incredibly cheap. Often they're also incredibly uncomfortable. They're slow, noisy (music blaring at full volume) and breakdowns are almost guaranteed. Tourist buses cost a little more, but you'll be guaranteed a seat. Most of them have AC and soft or no music. Sometimes you are even provided with a bottle of water along the way.
Metered taxis are found in larger towns such as Kathmandu and Pokhara, and these can be hired for both local and long-distance journeys. Metered taxis have a black licence plates; private cars that operate as taxis for long-distance routes have red plates. On some routes, taxi drivers refuse to use the meter - this often is an attempt to overcharge travelers, but it may also reflect rising fuel costs and traffic delays. If a driver refuses to use the meter, try another taxi. If no taxi is willing to use the meter, haggle down to reach a reasonable price.
Considering the nature of the landscape, Nepal has an excellent network of domestic flights. Engineers have created runways deep in the jungle and high in the mountains, clinging to the side of Himalayan peaks. However, pilots must still find their way to these airstrips using visual navigation. Because flights are dependant on clear weather, services rarely leave on time and many flights are cancelled last minute because of poort visibility. It is essential to keep extra time in your itinerary.
Cycle-rikshaws are common in the old town of Kathmandu and in towns in the Terai (low-lands in the south of Nepal). They provide and atmospheric way to explore the crowded and narrow streets. Before you hop on a rikshaw, make sure that you and the driver have agreed on the fare.
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