Delhi to Nepal by road

Delhi to Nepal by road: travel guide

Nepal is a country that left an immense impact on me – maybe that’s why I’m on a mission to share my experience that might help other people to visit this country as well. Moreover, if you are starting your journey from North India, Nepal is easier to reach than you might think.

No doubts flight is one of the fastest and most convenient ways to get there. In addition to the direct flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Kathmandu, you can get connecting flights to these airports from all major cities in India: Varanasi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Indore, Bhopal and many others.

Nevertheless, flights might not be affordable for everyone budget wise. That’s why this post is about a road trip to Nepal on a budget. I’ll also share some tips and tourist scams you might meet on the way, so you can be all prepared!

Ways to reach from India to Nepal by road

India Nepal Border

India Nepal border crossing at Kakarbhitta

Nepal has numerous borders with India which you can cross. If you are a non-Indian citizen going by road, there are the following borders available for you:

  • Northeast India to Nepal via Karkarbhitta
  • Bihar to Nepal via Birgunj
  • Uttar Pradesh to Nepal via Sunauli or Nepalgunj
  • Uttrakhand to Nepal via Bhimdatta

Most of the tourists come through Sunauli or Birgunj border points. In this article, I will be mainly focusing on going from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to Kathmandu.

India to Nepal by train

There is a project in progress that aims to connect East India to Kathmandu by train via Raxaul border. It is expected to launch within a few years.

As of now, if you wish to cover the maximum distance by train, the nearest railway station to Nepal from North-East India is Siliguri, from Bihar – Raxaul and from Uttar Pradesh – Gorakhpur. Nevertheless, it also matters which places you would like to visit in Nepal.

How to reach from Delhi to Nepal by road

If you prefer a direct route, there are two buses from Delhi to Kathmandu: Shina Tours AC and Non-AC seater buses. They cost 2700 INR (~42 USD) and 2275 INR(~35.5 USD) per person accordingly and both take around 30 hours to reach if on time.

For me, bus journeys longer than 10 hours sound like a challenge since there are moving restrictions and time limitations for stops.  If you are willing to commute by bus, I would suggest Varanasi – Kathmandu route, since it’s almost twice faster and cheaper. There is a Kathmandu SEVA AC Volvo bus that takes 21 hours and costs 1500 INR (~23.5 USD).In addition to this, you will get to explore one of the most spiritual cities of India, Varanasi.

Note: You can find tickets at redbus.in or at the station.

Delhi to Nepal by train and bus via Sunauli border

There are several ways you can reach from Delhi to Nepal border, I will be talking about train + bus combination as I find it the most practical. Our itinerary will be the following: Delhi – Gorakhpur – Sunauli – Belahiya. Sunauli also happens to be one of the most popular borders.

Note: Belahiya is the name of the place in Nepal which is also mentioned on my Nepali visa. The border is also sometimes referred as Siddharthnagar (Bhairahawa), which is, in fact, the name of the district. I thought it’s good if you know different names.

Dress tip: Sunauli is a very dusty town, where drivers play Bhojpuri clips in some buses. Dress more conservatively and practically.

Distance from Delhi to Nepal via Sunauli border

Though the nearest Nepal border from Delhi is Gadda Chauki (Bhimdatta), I would suggest rather choosing the route according to the places you wish to visit in Nepal. For instance, if you are planning to go to Pokhara, Kathmandu or Chitwan, it is much better to enter through Sunauli border. For Kathmandu, Birgunj is also a good choice. Overall the distance from Delhi to Nepal via Sunauli:

  • Delhi to Kathmandu distance – 1124 km
  • Delhi to Pokhara distance – 1049 km
  • Delhi to Sunauli border distance – 860 km

Overall, prepare to invest 20-30 hours in this journey.

Delhi to Gorakhpur by train or bus

Train to Kanpur

On the road close to Kanpur

From Delhi to Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) you can reach by train. It starts from NDLS train station (the closest metro station is New Delhi, yellow line). I would suggest going with express train options, where the journey length is around 13 hours.It takes time to understand how to travel by train in India. You can book the train ticket through IRCTC or Cleartrip website/app. For IRCTC registration, you will require Indian or foreign mobile number and a card. Though I travel usually by sleeper, I recommend 3rd AC class if you are a solo woman new to India.

3rd AC costs around 1100 INR (~17 USD) depending on the train. There is a budget sleeper class (SC) option that comes around 400 INR, however, wouldn’t suggest traveling in SC in East of India, especially if you are a solo woman.

Travel tip: I would advise booking train that reaches Gorakhpur between 6 am – 8 am in the morning. In this case, you will be able to reach Nepalese border by noon and take the bus to Pokhara/Kathmandu/Chitwan the same day. All the buses that start from Nepalese border after 3 pm, irrespective of the starting time, reach the final destination by 6 am next morning.

Tip for a woman traveler: If you need, use the washroom in the train before you exit in Gorakhpur. On the train station, women washrooms happen to be closed. I spent a good half an hour asking advice from several locals in Hindi about nearest washrooms. All of them were redirecting me to the station, where it was closed that day. I’m sure you will be able to find options in the city at a distance from the station, however, I don’t think you would like to spend your time this way.

Food tip: there is a budget canteen just in the building of the train station, where I had food. It gave me credibility, because of the 3 factors:

  • Aunty cook was working in the cook hat and was surrounded by clean dishes
  • There were many people eating
  • There were foreigners (many foreigners are quite picky about the places to eat to avoid food issues)

I’ve ordered a great lunch: some fried sabji (vegetables), parantha (Indian bread) and lassi (sweet curd) and it all came for 40 INR (~ 0.60 $) or so. After Delhi prices, it seemed to be almost free.

There is also an option B: you can order your food through an APP like Travel Khana, which caters food from good city cafes to your train seat. They have cash on delivery option, however, you might require an Indian number to place your order.

Place your order at least 1 hour before reaching a certain train station and it will be delivered to you just in time. I’ve used their service several times. They track all the trains by PNR number and send you messages in case your train is delayed.

You can also reach from Delhi to Gorakhpur by bus. The ticket cost starts at 950 INR (~15 USD) and the journey is around 12-15 hours. Honestly, I don’t recommend going by bus for many reasons. The main one is the roads in some parts of the east of Uttar Pradesh state, which your back will remember for a long time.

Indian train

Image credit: Jaaron95, CC-BY-SA

Gorakhpur to Sunauli border

From Gorakhpur train station till Nepalese border you will meet tens of people trying to sell you unnecessary services. Beware of scam! There are several ways to reach to Sunauli: Jeep, taxi, bus. I would suggest taking a simple public bus. They start every 30 min from the bus station which is 5 min walking distance from the train station. The distance from Gorakhpur to Sunauli border is 95km. The price of the ticket is 90 INR (~1.5 USD).  The journey is around 3-3.5 hours.

Travel tip: There will be people approaching you and selling tickets to a super comfortable bus with extra features that will take you directly to Nepal. Some of them are scam. You will not be able to avoid crossing the border. Moreover, after crossing the border you will get much better prices.

Crossing Sunauli border to Belahiya

These are just two border points, Indian and Nepalese accordingly. Once you reach the Indian border parking by bus, you will see plenty of cars, trucks, people, and dusty roads. There will be many rickshaw drivers that will try to capitalize on your confusion and offer you a ride directly to Nepal.

Some will tell, it’s a 2-3 km distance and you might get lost on the road. They will ask 300 to 500 INR. Technically, they ask five times more than the cost of your 3-hr journey to Sunauli. In reality, there are around 500 meters to Indian passport checking office from the bus parking on a straight road. There is just one direction so there is no way, you will get lost. Thus, you can easily reach by foot. 

Travel tip: There will be several people approaching you to change money to Nepalese rupees for a super high commission. There are two ways of dealing with this issue: 1. Exchange money in Gorakhpur for a decent rate. 2. Take out money from ATM in Gorakhpur, 2000- 3000 INR (~30-45 USD) in 100 rupee notes or less. It will suffice till you reach some city in Nepal.

Fried rice Nepal

Fried rice sample from Nepal

Note: After demonetization in India in November 2017, the new notes of 500 and 2000 INR were declared illegal in Nepal. You might use only small Indian notes in Nepal. Carry USD or ATM card to be on the safer side. Both will work in Nepal.Food tip: If you didn’t grab food in Gorakhpur, avoid buying food in Sunauli. In one hour or so you will finish with the document check and you will have several good food options on Nepalese side. 

Nepal Travel Visa at the land border

If you are a foreigner in India on a business visa or you hold other recent long-term Indian visas in your passport, I strongly advise registering in FRRO in the city of your residence. At the Indian border point, officers might ask for registration. There are cases when foreigners travel every half a year to different countries of the Indian subcontinent to avoid registration. To escape unnecessary problems and delays at the Indian side of the border, register in advance, moreover, it’s free.

Once you are done with passport check on the Indian border, walk around 200 meters till you reach the gate.

Belahiya (Nepal)

India to Nepal by Road

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Just on the right of the road gates, you will see the passport checkpoint Nepalese visa is the smoothest experience I’ve ever had. You fill in the form on spot, select how long you wish to be in Nepal (2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months), pay and get a stamp. Carry a passport size photo with you if you need a visa.

If you get a 1-month tourist visa, it can be extended in Nepal in Pokhara or Kathmandu for an additional price. As a rule, no one will challenge you with questions what you are going to visit, where you are going to stay, etc.

Tourism is a very important industry for Nepal, thus you will meet many people connected to the hospitality industry who will try to make your stay better. On the border you will hear from the officer a smiling “Welcome to Nepal” and you are free to go.

Visa tip: Carry with you US dollars (30 to 100 depending on the length of stay) to pay for Nepalese visa. If you are an Indian citizen, you don’t require a visa to enter Nepal. You just have to carry a valid ID proof with you.

Note: Citizens of Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Cameroon, Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan need to apply for Nepali visa at their home countries as they can’t be granted visa on arrival in Nepal.

There are 100 meters more from the border to the bus station with nice food options. In one of the cafes, I already had a tasty Nepalese dinner. They can also pack to go if you wish. In Nepal many people, in fact, everyone I met, speaks Hindi. English is not that spread among locals except the hospitality industry workers. If you have a basic Hindi knowledge, you are good to choose any offbeat route.

There is a big bus station at Bhairawa. Nevertheless, you will get offers from the bus station near the border for Chitwan/Pokhara/Kathmandu. I’ve taken a ticket for the local bus to Pokhara from the bus station near the border for 600 NPR (~6 USD). Excluding an odd stay in the bus from 12 am to 3.30 am in the middle of nowhere, it was a nice ride.

Roughly, my overall cost of the trip from Delhi to Pokhara by road was 1800 INR(~25 USD) excluding visa and food. This is the cheapest way to get to Nepal I might think of. At 5 a.m. in the morning, I was in Pokhara.

Welcome to Nepal! You will Love it!

Pokhara Nepal

A few experiences to consider in Nepal:

Comments

  1. Great guide, so helpful how you’ve outlined all the times and costs. Still think I would stick to the plane ride though- sounds like a long trip otherwise! 🙂

  2. Awesome tips!
    Like that you not only share the travel tips to find you way to Nepal but also the visa and food advice, what is really important for travelers.
    Cheers!
    Nat

  3. This is a very specific and detailed post, which is incredibly helpful for those planning to travel to Nepal from Delhi! Your tips on food and finding a bathroom are especially helpful!

  4. Wonderful tips on how to save money, where to eat and getting through checkpoints. You know your stuff! Wish I were going to Nepal tomorrow!

  5. Super helpful! Planning to make our way to India next year. Just bookmarked this in my browser.

  6. I love how complete and detailed this guide is! Sounds like a long, but wonderful trip to reach Nepal. But it looks like and interesting adventure to have.

  7. Thank you, Cristina. Unfortunately there are still issues with public washrooms for women in India.
    Nepal is a wonderful country, I hope you get opportunity to visit it next year)

  8. Awesome Guide Natalia. Kudos! 😀 This article answered a lot of my questions, although i just have to make sure of one thing i.e. I am planning to reach Sonauli at around 1 P.M., will i be able to get a bus to Pokhara from the Sonauli bus station within an hour or so ? Since there is no official time table listed anywhere for buses from Sonauli to Pokhara, i am confused. I need to reach Pokhara before dinner time. Looking forward to your response. Thank you 🙂

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Manish! I was in a similar situation in terms of timings. Sonauli is an Indian territory. You will need to cross the Indian border, the Nepalese border and walk till Belahiya bus station. Belahiya is a Nepalese territory. It shouldn’t take more than half an hour. So if you reach Sonauli by 1 p.m. you should be at Belahiya bus station around 1.30 p.m.

      During my trip, there were hourly buses from Belahiya to Pokhara. There were basically two cases: the buses departing before 12 p.m. from Belahiya were reaching Pokhara in the evening same day and the buses departing after 3 p.m. were reaching Pokhara next day by 5-6 a.m. The road from Belahiya to Pokhara is around 9 hours by bus. If the situation hasn’t changed in the past year, I don’t think in your scenario you can reach Pokhara before dinner. Note, no matter which bus you take after 3 p.m. you will arrive the next day morning. The driver will just stop in the middle of nowhere for the night and the bus will be standing and waiting till 3-4 a.m. in the morning there. Afterward it will start again and reach Pokhara.

      If you would like to reach before dinner, I would take the earliest train to Gorakhpur(that arrives at 6 a.m.) so you can be in Sonauli by 10 a.m. and take the last bus before 12 p.m. that reaches Pokhara by the evening. Hope this gives an idea 🙂

      1. Awesome Guide Natalia. Kudos! 😀 This article answered a lot of my questions, although i just have to make sure of one thing i.e. I am planning to reach Sonauli at around 1 P.M., will i be able to get a bus to Pokhara from the Sonauli bus station within an hour or so ? Since there is no official time table listed anywhere for buses from Sonauli to Pokhara, i am confused. I need to reach Pokhara before dinner time. Looking forward to your response. Thank you 🙂

        1. Glad this information was useful, Manish! Pokhara is an amazing place to visit – definitely one of my favorite cities 🙂 Wish you a great trip!

  9. Really good article 🙂 I’d like to know the frequency of buses from belahiya to kathmandu post noon

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Adithya! As per situation one year back there were hourly buses before 12 P.M. and after 3 p.m. Between 12 and 3 there were no buses.

  10. IS IT REQUIRED PASSPORT FROM INDIA TO NEPAL BY ROAD OR AIR

    1. I can’t say about Air, Deepak, but last last year Indians in Kasauli were presenting an ID instead of passport. Do consult the Embassy of Nepal in Delhi to know the current situation) Have a nice trip!

  11. This is one of the best detailed travel blog i have read in recent times . Thank you Natalia ! I will visit Nepal soon . How much will it take from kasauli to pokhara ?

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Bashmeet! As per my experience, if you take a bus before 12 p.m. from Kasauli you will reach Pokhara in the evening same day and the buses departing after 3 p.m. from Kausali reach Pokhara next day by 5-6 a.m. as they take a break at night. You might want to check if something has changed during the past year 🙂 Have a great trip!

  12. Natalia – Trust me its a wonderful post by you and while reading i never thought that your not an Indian. The way you have explained how to book ticket in Irctc and which routes you should take. Fabulous . I am planning with my wife for a trip by march this year by driving to attend marriage of one my close friend/client from UK. Will definitely follow your tips specially where to have food and what precautions when in border.
    Take Care ! keep posting ! Cheers !

  13. Very nice description just one correction please don’t mind. After demonetization only note of 2000 INR exist and new note of 500 INR printed by Indian government. One question can we enter with our private vehicle in Nepal from India.
    Regards

    1. Thank you for your comment. I haven’t traveled to Nepal by car, thus I don’t have first-hand information. There are definitely people traveling by car, but I’ve heard there is some type of daily fee for cars with foreign numbers.
      Please advise to which part of the post your comment is referred about 2000 and 500 INR notes as this info is mentioned there 🙂

  14. gr8 article, plz tell me cn i use my debit card der for shopping and also while going by road frm delhi where to exchange INR to NPR

    1. Thank you for your comment, Parul. You can exchange money in Delhi or any major city in Nepal. There are currency exchange points at the border as well, but I wouldn’t recommend using them because of the unfavorable commission. You can use your card for shopping in malls and outlets. At the markets, it’s mostly cash)

  15. The post is really helpful for beginners like me, at least. Thank you for sharing it! Would you have an idea of where I can find Sherpas in Kathmandu and Pokhran? I need to visit Nepal for my research work.

    1. Thank you for reading Medhavi.
      You will find Sherpas both in Kathmandu and Pokhara especially in tourist districts since these are starting points for many trekkers to purchase equipment, make permits, etc. You can as well meet them on long treks

  16. And yes, I also wanted to ask you the shortest and safer route from India to Kathmandu (Boudhanath). Delhi to Nepal appears to take a very long time but if I take a bus from Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh to Kathmandu, how long will it take?

    1. The shortest is definitely taking a flight…. Optimistically thinking, it will take around 2 days from Kasauli to Kathmandu if you choose to go by road. I think entering through Sunauli is the fastest way whether you take direct bus from Delhi or split the journey the way I described in the post. Though there is a border between Uttarakhand and Nepal in Bhimdatta, it might be a longer route till Kathmandu due to road condition and hilly terrain… From Chandigarh to Sunauli the road is plain.

      Regarding safety – Sunali is a very busy border with people, trucks, buses and what not. I didn’t feel unsafe there due to constant crowd, though I recommend taking care of your belongings

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