Originally, we were told a bus drive from Panauti to Chitwan National Park would be approximately 6.5 hours… Traveling Nepal, I’ve not to listen to anyone’s quote on time.
Here’s road trip tips to make your Nepali road trip experience smoother.
The Nepali Roadtrip
As I was traveling to a lot of cities in Nepal, this trip had a lot of road trips with an average of two hours for day trips from Kathmandu (ie. Panauti, Bhaktapur, Kathmandu Valley) and six hours or more for longer distances.
Getting from Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park was a day spent with bumpy roads, rest stops, roadside food, and your unexpected toilets, which generally accompany road trips through the countryside.
1. Be prepared for unforeseen road detours, traffic, etc…
Nepali quote travel time, but I feel like they ballpark it. You never know the condition of the roads, traffic or bus you’re in. Due to some roads in Nepal being under reconstruction/construction, we had to take a route which took more like twelve hours.
Additionally, it was a hot day and the bus air conditioning didn’t work whenever the bus drove uphill, which was a good portion of the trip. To add to the stuffiness, my window was jammed shut. This was a bus for international travelers attending a conference, so I imagine the normal bus might keep travelers on their toes as well.
Such is the adventure of road trips!
2. Roads can be bumpy in Nepal
Did I say bumpy? Let me say it again, because my butt remembers this well. As I mentioned above some of the roads in Nepal are under construction, so potholes exist. Tip: Avoid sitting at the back seat of the bus, if you’re prone to motion sickness. If you get motion sickness easily, bring motion sickness tablets or opt to fly. Domestic flights from Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park can be relatively inexpensive.
3. Rest stop toilets
By now, traveling Asia and Southeast Asia, I don’t have high expectations. Rest stop toilets can be in good condition or bad. In Nepal, most are squat toilets in a wooden outhouse. I show it in my video. Some outhouses do not have waste baskets to throw your tissue. You can have to be creative in those times, but generally folks throw them out around the back of the outhouse. Littering is a common problem in Nepal and sometimes, you have no choice; unless you prefer to carry it back with you to the bus.
Tip: Always bring a tiny pocket bag of tissues and hand sanitizer. For squeamish ladies, I’d invest in a feminine urinary device.
Watch my Nepal road trip experience below
4. Roadside entertainment
Along the way, we met up with some Nepali sarangi players. If you ever have the luck to cross their path, the sarangi is a stringed instrument that’s a cross between a violin and fiddle. The bow he uses has bells on it that jingle as it strums the strings.The sarangi singer sings ballads about Nepali life, history and events.
Other stops were random pullovers where there were local cafes or gas stations. One stop we made was a small mechanic shop tucked into the crease of a roadside turn. It had a running stream along the slope of the hill and a rudimentary outhouse.
5. Roadside food options are dependent upon where your bus lands
Don’t expect your road trip to have a lot of food options. I would bring snacks to tide you over as you don’t know where your bus driver may stop for a rest/toilet break. Nepali roadside food can be simple and minimal but provide just enough sustenance to endure your road trip. The first stop was a local rest stop for buses. They sold Nepali snacks and there was a vendor serving Chinese noodles, chickpeas and deep fried pakora. I love exploring these options but it’s not for everyone.
Our second rest station was closer to Chitwan and we stopped at a restaurant for a buffet lunch.
6. Breathtaking hilly landscapes
Once you leave Kathmandu, driving through the hilly ranges to Chitwan make the drive scenic. Being in a busload of bloggers, journalists and travel agents, we eventually got rather familiar with each other and what else can you do on a twelve-hour bus drive but take to chatting about travel and entertain ourselves with road trip games.
7. Don’t choose a seat with a smutzy window
You’ll be spending a lot of time looking out at the scenery, so pick a seat with a clean window, especially if you want to photograph the passing landscape. I sat on the left side of the bus, so for this longer route it served me well as I was mostly on the scenic side when passing through the mountain ranges.
Getting from Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park
I was on a private bus. But directions for travelers are here:
Getting to Chitwan from Kathmandu takes around 5-6 hours by bus (via Kantipath Road near The Garden of Dreams). During season (non monsoon season), you can take the Greenline VIP bus, one of the private bus companies often used by tourists for its comfort and space.
Sauraha is the main transportation hub to Chitwan National Park. It is the village town bordering Chitwan and there are hotels and restaurants there for travelers. If you’re not staying at a resort lodge in Chitwan, Sauraha is the next best hub for accommodations, transportation and booking safaris.
Read my Guide to Chitwan National Park
Flights: You can take Buddha or Yeti (yes, they have small domestic aircraft carriers names like this). The nearest airport to Chitwan National Park is Bharatpur Airport. Flights from Pokhara to Bharatpur Airport run daily, only during peak season. Flights are generally under an hour. Prices are usually below USD $100.
What did you think of my roadtrip tips for a Nepali roadtrip? Share your travel tips for Nepal roadtrips?
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