How to go to Thamel from Kathmandu Airport?

It is a known fact that Kathmandu is home to the only International Airport in Nepal.

If you’re travelling to Nepal, there’s no doubt that you won’t land in Kathmandu because you will.

And after you land here, the first thing every traveller should know is how to reach their hotels until the jetlag wears off.

When we say hotels, we automatically assume Thamel is the right place to find exquisite hotels with amazing facilities.

Thamel is widely considered as the traveller’s destination in Nepal meaning this is probably where you want to start your journey from by booking a nice hotel of your choice.

This place has practically everything a traveler would be looking for from one-star guesthouses to 5-star luxury hotels, grocery shops, local food stalls, authentic restaurants, laundry facilities, hair salon, spa centers and many more.

If you are tourist who wants to save some money and experience what locals experience each day, there are many options available to you for reaching to Thamel from the airport.

Going Kathmandu Airport to Thamel?

Here are some means that will help you reach Thamel from the Kathmandu Airport.

1.       Using Taxi

Taxi/Cab facilities are for those who want an easy way out and prefer less hustling.

Being one of the smallest cities, Kathmandu doesn’t offer the best public transportation facility in the world but that doesn’t mean it’s the worst too.

The only options you have are a bus, a mini-bus, or a taxi.

Given the fact that there are zero facilities of trains or trams, if you’re trying to reach any area in Thamel, the easiest way is to take a cab.

From the airport, the city center is only 20 – 30 minutes of driving distance.

After you come out of the airport premises, chances are you’ll see a lot of taxis outside waiting for their clients. You can also pre-book them inside the airport.

There are mainly two types of taxi in the airport:

a.         Prepaid Airport Taxi

Kathmandu International Airport management committee has sworn to provide a 24-hour prepaid taxi for tourists as well as the locals.

Kathmandu International Airport management committee has sworn to provide a 24-hour prepaid taxi for tourists as well as the locals.

Just before you exit the airport building, you’ll find this just past the tourist information center. They charge at a fixed rate and will provide you a receipt.

Being regulated by the government, they are devoted and they will ensure your safety.

However, they can cost slightly more expensive than a local public taxi.

It is to be noted that if you are travelling to Kathmandu for the first time and using the prepaid taxi, a member of the taxi counter or any of their recommended person might travel with you in the same taxi.

Just see if he could recommend you any travel packages you might be interested in. Also, see if he could provide additional information about the country and what it offers to tourist.

So, it is not bad at all and you are safe with these travel agents, but this may put off some backpackers who prefer to do it on their own, or find their own local agency.

If you wish to find out more about this, they will surely bring you to a travel company in Thamel.

If you think about it, you are actually getting free information about travelling around and where to go to, whether you buy their packages or not.

And this is perfectly understandable for these travel companies.

From the Kathmandu Airport to Thamel, or any area close to Thamel (e.g. Durbar Marg, Lazimpat), the prepaid paid taxi will probably charge you Rs. 750, which is around US$7.5 per taxi.

If you are travelling at night time especially after 09:30pm, there is a surcharge of 100 Rs (almost US$ 1).

b.        Local Public Taxi

Any other type of taxi you could find when you exit the airport is a local taxi.

It’s not that hard to spot them but just make sure you exit the airport building and head past the pre-paid taxi counter.

You should keep heading outside for about 2-3 minutes and its okay to ignore all the travel agents waiting outside who might try to speak to you.

Keep going and you’ll encounter a roundabout, and the only way you’ll be sure you’re outside of the airport gate is when you could see many Maruti 800 model cars.

It won’t be as comfortable but so worth the irritation because it could save you Rs. 200 – Rs. 300 easily.

If bargaining is your thing, then you’ll be quite stoked.

The average cost to Durbar Marg or Lazimpat is roughly Rs. 400 to Rs. 500. If you’re someone who can bargain more, you might be able to bring it down even more.

Some things you should know about local taxi in Kathmandu:

   i.                  You should make sure your driver knows almost every destination especially your address, including name of hotel or street name.

  ii.                  You have to settle for the rates first. Most taxis in Nepal do not run by the meter, even though a new policy was recently implemented. You will have to agree the total cost as soon as possible.

iii.                  The safety of every tourist here is considered and people are very honest. But we would still recommend that you note the taxi number or plate numbers. This could be very helpful in case of emergency or if you forget anything inside the taxi.

iv.                  You have to be very gentle and nice because taxi drivers are very outgoing and cheerful. They may not speak the best English but they know for sure the best local places.

2. Using Public Transport

BusThere’s a chance that many backpackers are used to travelling in public transport, they will probably expect to do the same while their stay in Kathmandu.

There’s a chance that many backpackers are used to travelling in public transport, they will probably expect to do the same while their stay in Kathmandu.

Many travelers from all around the globe will try to look for exquisite experiences in this city.

Kathmandu City is still a very classical city. However, most of the roads are still under construction.

The city is not as developed as other cities of other countries.

There’s no surprise that transportation here still remains underdeveloped especially the local transportation from Kathmandu Airport to Thamel.

Most of the tourists won’t be happy with the fact that they won’t be able to get on a bus that will directly take them to Thamel.

You will have to walk for several hours before you reach the place where local people wait for the bus.

It’s very unlikely that you won’t reach your destination. However, this may not be the easiest option, but this is the cheapest.

A 20 minute journey to Thamel could easily take you over 60 minutes and likely more, but for fraction of the price.

For the directions, just head outside the Kathmandu Airport gate, again this is past the roundabout and just by the main roads.

From there, you will probably see a bus station. You should pay attention to the conductor as they will only shout out their destinations.

Make sure you look out for the buses screaming “Ratna Park”.

In addition, the easiest way would be to simply ask locals where to find buses to “Ratnapark” and they will easily give you the bus number and company name.

You are suggested to just catch the bus to Ratnapark and get off at the last station.

And from Ratnapark, it’s just at a little more walking distance less than 10 minutes to Thamel.  Or you might as well take another mini-van to Thamel from there.

The cost of each destination of the local bus is 15 – 20 Rs (0.1-.02 USD).

If you are travelling from Kathmandu airport to Thamel through Narayan Gopal Chowk, it will cost you Rs. 30 – 40 which is less than 0.5 USD.

Before you ride a local bus, here a couple of tips which might be helpful for you:

i.                  You need to make sure that you know your destination and speak to the driver in order to know where you’re headed and that the bus is heading in the same direction.

ii.                  You got to make sure you carry enough change in Nepali currency before you get on the local bus. The fare is usually cheap and they usually do not have enough change for your Rs. 1,000.

iii.                  Always look after your valuables, such camera, passport etc. because there’s a high possibility of you getting pickpocketing.

iv.                  You are suggested to stay close to the driver so they could help you where to get off and request that they inform you if it is already in your stop.


It really is up to your personal choice as to what your means of transportation should be while you’re stay in Kathmandu city.

If you’re someone who seeks comfort, or if you’re someone who can adjust in any situations, you have your options.

The important thing is to make sure your get to your hotel safe, and have a wonderful time.