Nepal has 54 airports across the country but, only 43 of them are in operational condition. Among them, only one is an international airport. Tribhuvan international airport is the only international airport in Nepal while two more international airports that are under construction in Pokhara and Bhairahawa. The airport in Pokhara is named as Pokhara international airport and Gautam Buddha airport in Bhairahawa. If you are entering Nepal through flight then you will surely be passing through Tribhuvan international airport. So, it will be easier if you found about it before you arrive in Nepal. The domestic airports, however, are smaller and require the lesser procedure.
Tribhuvan international airport is located in Kathmandu valley and is only 5 km far from the center of the city. Kathmandu is not that large in terms of another capital city of the world so, you will easily find your way around the city. Now more than 30 international airlines provide the flight service from the different destination of Asia and the middle east. The Tribhuvan international airport accounts for more than 400 takeoffs and landings every day including both domestic and international flights. Tribhuvan international airport recently extended its service from 6 am to 3 am the next day to meet the increasing flow of tourist to Nepal. 20 domestic carrier including helicopter services operated from Tribhuvan international airport. Nepal’s international airport is not as big as other more developed airports from around the way. You might feel its little congested but it has its unique charm. But basic knowledge of the airport will make you feel at ease when you land in Nepal.
1. When arriving you are likely to receive a visa form on the plane which you can fill on the plane itself. Even if you are not provided one, you can get at the entrance of the airport building. Take your time and fill all the necessary information. The best tip for this step is your queue in line for the correct duration of visa you are applying for. It will be much easier if you fill out the online visa application form. Dollar is common currency you can pay for getting the visa. Get your passport stamped and go down the escalator to get your luggage.
2. You might find it a bit hassle but some people find it fun while they are looking for their luggage in the conveyer belt. The monitor will show which flight luggage is coming on which conveyer belt. There are very few so it is easier to find the conveyer belt. You might need to work little hard while trying to locate your bag and don’t try to mind the hassle and go with the flow. It’s more fun that way and the trolley is free to get one for yourself and load your luggage yourself. There is a information desk with English speaking staff to help you with any trouble you have.
3. After getting your luggage match the tag with the number you have it you. Both the tags will be checked before leaving the arrival section. Just after leaving the arrival section there are a currency exchange counters. Exchange some of them now that you might need for the transport fare. It is not necessary to exchange all at once. You can later exchange as you need in the tourist areas.
4. There is cool and traditional looking booth set up by tourism board. You can get all the information regarding your travel in the booth. Just next to the booth there is booth of HAN (hotel association of Nepal). So, you can book any hotel from here and collect pamphlets and brochures on tourism from this booth. Take your voucher and exit the terminal.
5. Just outside the terminal door you can find a prepaid taxi service. There is no shuttle service in Tribhuvan international airport. The common choice is to take a taxi to your hotel. You can take a taxi at a fix price without any hassle. If you want more cheaper price you can bargain outside in the parking area where there are lot of taxi driver waiting to bargain for the price. It is fun and experience to have to bargain for the price. It does not need to be cheap, just bargain so you learn little on bargaining touring Nepal. If you are already booked the hotel before you arrive, they can send their private vehicle to pick you at airport. But this service are only provided by high end or more luxurious hotels. If you are travelling in package, you can ask for airport pick up and drop off while booking the tour package.
6. There is also a few ATM’s outside the airport where you can draw money from. You can also get SIMcards from the shop just outside the terminal. There are two major cell services. You can take pictures there but carry copies of your document so you can easily get the sim card from there. SIMcard can be easily purchased in Nepal so you can get later if you change your mind to get one.
You don’t really need to worry about traveling to Nepal. People are friendly and the trip is worthwhile. You just need too be patient sometimes and go with the flow like locals. This way you can get the maximum experience Nepal. And I wish you have a wonderful travel and memories in Nepal.