Making Your Way From India to Nepal by Bus

With stunning mountain ranges, delicious food, and exhilarating adventures, Nepal offers enticing excursions for everyone. The cheapest way to get there from India is overland. You can take a direct bus from Varanasi, India to Kathmandu, Nepal for a fraction of the flight cost. In this guide we’ll help you plan your journey over the Sunauli border crossing, provide a packing list, and prepare you for an adventure in Nepal.

Kathmandu

Kathmandu


Bus Route:

Varanasi — Kathmandu

Going through Azamgarh, Gorakhpur and Sunauli, and Bhairahawa.

The bus is offered every other day departing from 10pm and arriving in Kathmandu anywhere from 4:30pm - 7pm.

Buying Tickets:

Buying any tickets online you have to have an India SIM card. If you don’t have one, you can have hotel or hostel reception hep.

Use Redbus app https://www.redbus.in/ or UPSTRC website https://www.upsrtconline.co.in/#

Yes, you can buy tickets on the bus or at the bus station

At our time of purchase (29/3/19) tickets cost 1240 NPR/each

Bus Company:

Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (USPTRC) which runs this route. The service is called the KATHMANDU SEVA or better known as the Friendship bus from Kathmandu to Varanasi.

*To be honest, the bus was not in the best condition (there are multiple that are new and nicer - we just didn’t luck out in that way) and the driver was a typical bus driver in Asia: fast, reckless and overly confident. It was nice to see that they at least had 2 drivers which allowed them to switch off driving.


Things to know about the journey:

  • Bus station in Varanasi is the Singh Cantt Bus Station near the Cantt Railway Station, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221002

  • The journey will last anywhere from 16-22 hours from Varanasi—Kathmandu and differs due to immigration lines and traffic in the mountains

  • Small unpaved dirt roads on the Indian side making it a difficult journey for drivers with lots of unexpected bumps and urgent braking

  • Nepal side is smoother roads through the mountains until you get to Kathmandu then it’s dirt roads and potholes

  • Two standard breaks: one break for the border and another for lunch the on the second next day 

  • No bathrooms on the bus

  • No overhead lights on the bus

  • Bus has A/C

Advised packing list for the journey:

  • Sweater or blanket as the A/C is very cold

  • Ear plugs or ear buds

  • Face mask because the air in the bus may be stale and dusty

  • Something to cover your eyes from the light of oncoming traffic

  • Socks to keep your feet warm

  • Hand sanitizer or hand wipes

  • Plastic bag for trash

  • Portable charger

  • Water bottle

  • Toilet paper

  • Snacks

  • USD for the visa fee (can NOT be ripped or torn)

  • Reading light/head torch

  • Travel pillow (the one they provided was pretty gross)

Friendship Bus from India to Nepal

Friendship Bus from India to Nepal

Foreign exchange office on the  Nepal side . They didn’t charge any fees (unlike on the India side) and gave an  exact  exchange rate from INR to NPR

Foreign exchange office on the Nepal side. They didn’t charge any fees (unlike on the India side) and gave an exact exchange rate from INR to NPR


Border Crossing Information:

Our post details the border crossing at Sunauli from India into Nepal

  • The common route from Varanasi—Kathmandu leaves at 10pm (more like 11pm when everyone has boarded) and arrives at the border as it opens at 5am. 

  • Between the two immigration offices (India and Nepal) you have to walk roughly 600 meters to which you’ll probably feel lost as you walk through a small town, rather a street, that is a “no-mans-land” between the two countries. Don’t worry, the immigration office is at the end of the street, just keep walking.

  • Visas for Nepal are visa on arrival.

  • Visas for India are not visa on arrival and you must apply for the visa online at least 4 days before your planned date of entry into the country. The visa application is extensive, and you should give yourself 45 mins to fill in all the information.

  • At the border for the Nepal visa on arrival, you need USD to pay the visa fee. The Immigration Office is very picky about the notes you give and will inspect each one for rips and tares. You can exchange any ripped USD at either side of the border. 

  • You need a passport size photo for the Nepalese visa on arrival.

  • If you don’t have a copy of your passport photo handy, there are photocopy shops on either side of the border. The shops will make a copy of your passport that is accepted by the immigration office. 

  • Due to a high volume of traffic and people crossing, expect exit/entry processing to take up to three hours.

  • If you need to exchange currencies, there are money exchange places open early in the morning on both sides of the border that will exchange your money. The border is unlike most we’ve seen and you can freely walk between the two countries to find the best exchange offices on either side.

  • The 500 INR and the 1,000 INR are both “illegal” in Nepal because the economy can’t support big notes. This means that while you’re on the Indian side of the border, change any big notes to smaller ones (200, 100, etc.). BUT for the best exchange rate, wait to exchange your currency on the appropriate side of the border. For example, if you want Nepalese Rupee change on the Nepal side of the border and vice versa. 

Kathmandu

Kathmandu


Travel Tips & Helpful Hints For Nepal

Do I need a visa? Pretty much every country needs a visa for Nepal. Most countries are all visa on arrival except for twelve countries: Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria, Palestine, Somalia, Swaziland, Syria, and Zimbabwe. The visa on arrival fee varies by country and you can find out more information on the fee from their official website.

What is the power voltage? The voltage is 220v whereas the US is 110V - so your devices may get a little warm while charging.

What about smoking weed or drinking in the streets? Weed is illegal but it is still prevalent in the tourist areas. It’s often easy to find and most commonly sold as hash rather than as the grass. Most hostels accept and allow guests to smoke on the premise, but be sure to ask and understand the customs before you light up a joint.
As far as drinking goes, it is not permissible to drink in public and the police will fine you. So have a good time at the bars.

What is the currency and its value? The currency used in Nepal is called the Nepalese Rupee (NPR). The current value (at the time writing) is NPR 110 = $1 USD.

When to visit? Nepal has a nice cycle of seasons throughout the year. With months of monsoon rains and cloudy skies, you’ll want to be sure to visit during good weather. Peak times to visit Nepal when it’s dry and clear views of the mountains are from late September to early November. Research the weather for every location you plan to visit before you leave.

Are there tuk-tuks in Nepal? Nepal isn’t known for having tuk-tuks and the main form of transportation is either taxi or motorbike. There are taxis readily available all over Kathmandu. You can ask the price of your journey and negotiate with drivers OR you can insist that they use the meter. A lot of drivers seemed to want to avoid the meter and may deny you a ride if you ask, but you can always find another cab if they refuse.

Is it easy to get money in Nepal? ATMs are readily available and well stocked in Nepal. Because Kathmandu is quite touristy it’s very easy to use your credit card in Nepal although they do often charge a %3-%5 extra surcharge when you use a card.

Travel Tips & Helpful Hints For India

Do I need a visa? Pretty much every country needs a visa for India. However, 140+ countries are eligible for an E-Visa. The application is long and the fee $100US (for Americans at least) but it makes arriving and getting into India a breeze. Apply and learn more here.

What is the power voltage? The voltage is 220v whereas the US is 110V - so your devices may get a little warm while charging.

What about smoking weed or drinking in the streets? Weed is illegal but is not a huge deal. In Udaipur it is especially relaxed and every tuk tuk driver will offer to sell you a joint. We really recommend this travel bloggers post about weed in India. She breaks down the legality of it all, where you can buy it, when and who you can buy it from and what to do if you get caught.
As far as drinking goes, it is not permissible to drink in public and the police will fine you. So have a good time at the bars.
*Note: A lot of restaurants here sell beer illegally (it is an expensive license) - therefore it will not be on their menu. Ask the price of their beer first, otherwise you will be charged 1.5x - 2x what you should - and there is nothing you can do about it (yes, I learned this the hard way).

What is the currency and its value? The currency used in India is called the Indian Rupee (INR). The current value (at the time writing) is INR 70 = $1 USD.

What is the weather like? Always hot!? The weather in India substantially differs depending what part of the country you are in. The monsoon seasons are different for different regions of this massive country. Believe it or not, India can be brutally cold certain times of the year. Research the weather for every location you plan to visit before you leave.

Are cows really just roaming the streets? Yes, goats and pigs too! And it’s awesome! Don’t touch them though.

“You talk a lot about haggling with the locals - isn’t that rude”? Fair question, but no. As told to us by our local Indian friend, Raj, Indians like to haggle, its like a game, it lets them know you are interested. If you ask the price and say “too high” and walk away, they will say nothing back to you, assuming you are not interested at all. If you come back with a price (50% of what they offered) it lets them know you are interested in maybe buying something. They will be excited at this prospect and negotiate with you until you both find a happy price.

Is it easy to get money in India? India is very much a cash culture, but unfortunately it can be very difficult to find an ATM that is working. Machines either break down or simply run out of money often so be sure to pull out a good amount when you go.

Kathmandu

Kathmandu


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