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Old 16th February 2012, 16:43   #1
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Default Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)

Greetings fellow BHPians, this was a road trip I took last year in the month of October from my current residence, Siliguri West Bengal to the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. There were 3 of us, my cousin sister, her husband and myself and we did the trip in a 2005 Maruti Esteem VXI (44,000kms on the odo).

(Map of Nepal. Click to enlarge. Map source: http://www.ezilon.com/maps/asia/nepal-road-maps.html)
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-nepal.gif

Total distance covered:
Siliguri-Kathamndu: 630kms
Sight seeing in Kathmandu:400kms
Kathmandu-Siliguri: 630
ToTal: 1660

Time:
Siliguri-Kathmandu: 15hrs
kathmandu-Siliguri: 13hrs

Total fuel consumed:
Siliguri- Kathmandu: 33 ltrs Avg 19kmpl with 50% AC
Kathmandu Sight seeing: 28.5 ltrs Avg 14kmpl with 20% AC and hilly terrain.
Kathmandu-Siliguri: 36 ltrs avg 17.5kmpl with 75% AC

Taxes Paid:
Per day Charge for Indian cars: Indian Rs 153 approx. (INR 1,530 for 10 days)
Road taxes along the way: Indian Rs 300 one way.

Journey map:

(W.B) Siliguri-(Nepal) Kakarbhitta-Birtamod-Damak-Koshi Barrage-Bardabas-Amlekhganj-Hetauda-Narayanghat-Mugling-Naubise-Thankot-Kathmandu.

(Please click on image to enlarge)
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-nepalroadmap1a.jpg

Red Line: The route that we took.

Yellow Line: Another route to Kathmandu aka Naubise road. Separation from Hetauda. Though shorter in length than the route we took, the time is approximately the same due to the gradient and condition of the road. Recommended only for MUV's and SUV's.

Green Line: The newest route to Kathmandu but only semi completed. Separation from Hetauda. This route is open now and you can see a lot of Sumo taxis running on this route. A favorite for bikers from Kathmandu. travel time is 30% faster than the route we took. Once the route is fully widened and black topped, it is expected the travel time from Kathmandu to Hetauda will be cut in half. At the present moment, this route is highly inadvisable.


Tax points (underlined):


(W.B) Siliguri-(Nepal) Kakarbhitta-Birtamod-Damak-Koshi Barrage-Bardabas-Amlekhganj-Hetauda-Narayanghat-Mugling-Naubise-Thankot-Kathmandu.

Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-nepalroadmap1ab.jpg

Kakarbhitta: Here is where you will have to pay per day tax for the entire number of days you wish to be inside Nepal. We were planning to to stay for 8 days initially so we had to pay IRS 153x8 days= IRS 1,225. There are hefty penalties for over staying and with not too many points within nepal to extend your stay so count your days carefully and plan ahead. This is applicable to all entry points of Nepal, money has to be paid up front. Exit from Nepal does not have to be from where you entered Nepal. 1 kms down from Kakarbhitta you will come to a small police checkpost from where you pay INRs 35 and you will be given a green coloured Nepali Number plate. This is to be displayed in the front of the car at all times. We had displayed ours on our windscreen from the inside.

Birtamod: 30 kms from kakarbhitta, you have to pay a tax of approx IRs 200. This is a vital tax and you have to look for this office as it is not easily visible from the main road. The direction we got was this place is opposite of the Birtamod eye clinic. The scam of this tax is that if you do not get a tax paid receipt from this office, all the check posts that check your papers from here on till you reach Kathmandu will "fine" you for not paying this tax. So make sure you find this tax office no matter what.

Hetauda: A straight forward road tax of IRs60. No hassle here.

Kathmandu: If you are around Kathmandu and wish to extend your stay inside Nepal further then you are able to do so by going to the Cargo terminal of Kathmandu's International Airport. But this place is a hive of corruption and it cost us almost IRs 360/day to extend our stay as opposed to IRS 153/day in Kakarbhitta. The "official" fees are the same as Kakarbhitta but the unofficial fees tend to add up(wink wink). So we paid over IRs 700 to extend our stay by just 2 days.

Note: Along the way there are about half a dozen toll booths where you are made to pay anything from IRs 5-10 on top of the above mentioned major toll points.

Documentation Check Point (Underlined):

(W.B) Siliguri-(Nepal) Kakarbhitta-Birtamod-Damak-Koshi Barrage-Bardabas-Amlekhganj-Hetauda-Narayanghat-Mugling-Naubise-Thankot-Kathmandu.

Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-nepalroadmap1abc.jpg

Note: Some document check posts require you to register your vehicle at the checkpost and some dont, so please keep your eyes open.

ROAD CONDITION

The road condition inside Nepal is quite acceptable. There were some bad patches, namely Near Koshi Barrage and 20 kms before Mugling. Apart from that Nothing to bad but not great either. The road from Kakarbhitta till Narayanghat is pretty straight, with only gradual inclines here and there. From there till Naubise is wide but twisty with medium gradient. From Naubise to Thankot its twisty and steep with very slow moving uphill traffic (Load carrying trucks). Since this is the only highway into Kathmandu valley it gets quite busy at times.

Last edited by amrisharm : 16th February 2012 at 23:22.
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Old 17th February 2012, 12:10   #2
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Default Re: Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)

Journey from Siliguri to Kathmandu:

The sun came up and it was time to get up. We had a looong journey ahead of us in unknown territory.
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My driving partner and his Maruti Esteem VXI 2005. All packed and all ready.
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The last village before leaving India.
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We got to the border at 5:45an and there was already a fair few cars/trucks ahead of us. Border opens at 6am Indian time. Closes 9pm every day.
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Finally the border is open and we cross the mechi river to enter Nepal.
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From the bridge you can see a small glimpse of Mt. Kanchenjunga.
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Welcome to Nepal! The road tax office is on the right side of this welcome bridge.
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Our first break. 2 hrs into the drive, we stop for breakfast.
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A unique character.
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few hours later another break. Checking to see how far we have covered and how much more to go.The first 150kms was slow going because of densely populated area.
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The flood ravaged landscape as we neared the koshi barrage. the same flood that overflowed and caused Havoc in Bihar a few years ago.
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Temporary accomodation for the refugees of the flood. They said temporary, but no permanent rehabilitation plan has been put in place.
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The landscape used to be like this in the above pictures before the flooding
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The Koshi barrage built by the Govt. of India. Due to heavy rain in 2008, the river changed its course 25 kms north of this barrage and the water flooded many parts of Bihar.
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Checking out the view
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The roads were fairly ok. you could easily do 80kmph+. But there was always the danger of unexpected potholes. Also some bridges were not wide enough to fit two passing vehicles. So good judgement was required while crossing bridges. and by god there were a fair few, I lost count after my 25th bridge.
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The setting sun. Though we were nearing our destination, driving at night in unknown territory was going to be a challenge.
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The last 140kms of the journey is twisty with the gradient increasing the closer you get to kathmandu. You have the rock face on one side with the Mighty Trishuli river on the other. Cautious driving is recommended. All the road is single laned, so beware of fast Busses and cars overtaking slow moving traffic in blind corners.
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It was around 10pm by the time we got to Kathmandu. A long journey it was. Elongated by the fact that we underestimated the length of the journey. But we reached safely and gained a lot of experience from the drive. Sorry I was too tired and it was too dark, so no pictures of our approach into Kathmandu. 15hrs, 630kms complete.

Last edited by amrisharm : 17th February 2012 at 13:36.
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Old 17th February 2012, 14:34   #3
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Default Re: Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)

Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu city is a valley nestled in between the hills. It has an approximate circumference of 55kms with an urban population of over 1.8 million. Average altitude is 1,300m (4,265 ft). The Kathmandu valley is divided into 3 sub divisions of Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu. These three are ancient cities and at one time each of these sub-divisions had a ruling king. Therefore you will find 3 palaces, three ancient cities and 3 historical sites within the valley. I managed to visit all three.

(Map of kathmandu valley: Map source:Destination Nepal Tours & Travels, Nepal Tourism Year 2011, Visit Nepal 2011, Visit Thamel, Best Travel Agency in Nepal, Travel Agency in Nepal, Kathmandu Tour Package, Nepal Tour Package, Discover Nepal, Mount Everest. )
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(1)Old Bhaktapur Palace Square

the least developed of the 3 sub divisions, Bhaktapur is 20kms from the heart of Kathmandu valley. The old section of this city is the biggest and the most unadulterated of the three.


The Big Lion (Simha) welcomes you to The ancient city of Bhaktapur
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-aimg_2426.jpg

The Old courtyard. Unchanged for hundreds of years. The city dates back to around 1200's
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-bimg_2427.jpg

The 55 window temple
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A stone temple
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The Old Palace square
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-eimg_2453.jpg

The most famous temple in Bhaktapur
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Myself and my then to be wife. We are married now .
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Bhaktapur is famous for pottery
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-himg_2456.jpg

Beautifully created. And so easily. he made this in less than a minute.
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-iimg_2458.jpg

Metal work skills
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Favourite time pass
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-jimg_2455.jpg

A lady farmer. Nepal is after all one of the poorest countries in the world.
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-kimg_2474.jpg

In Bhaktapur due to the high land prices, Chicken farms go upwards instead of spreading on the ground. 5 floors full of chicken.
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-limg_2476.jpg

The view of Kathmandu valley from Bhaktapur.
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Last edited by amrisharm : 17th February 2012 at 19:25.
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Old 17th February 2012, 15:32   #4
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Default Re: Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)

(2)Old Kathmandu Palace square

Walking towards the ancient city
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The old palace square. the red brick area belongs to the malla kings that ruled until the 17th century. The white buildings were built by the Shah dynasty that ruled until 2008.
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the above building is now a museum, so entering it through here. A guard dressed in the ancient army uniform.
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View from the courtyard inside the palace/museum
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The tallest structure of ancient kathmandu. I think I can count 8 floors.
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The Palace square from the outside.
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Holy idols everywhere
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The most holy temple here. the doors open only once every 12 years
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Antique Fire trucks i found
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-kimg_2310.jpg

Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-limg_2311.jpg

Last edited by amrisharm : 17th February 2012 at 16:42.
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Old 17th February 2012, 16:19   #5
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Dhulikhel Hill top
About 30kms to the north-east of the centre of kathmandu vally lies a hill top tourist destination called Dhulikhel. This lies on the way to the Nepal-China broder. We were advised to go visit this place on a clear weather day to view the Great himalayas as this what we saw.

Half way to Dhulikhel we got our first unhindered view of the Himalayan range
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We reached Dhulikhel around lunch so we went into this resort to have lunch, the MiraBelle Resort.
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-aimg_2415.jpg

View from the terrace restaurant. Food was ok, but view was priceless!
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-bimg_2357.jpg

Mountains as far as the eye can see. No picture can recreate the beauty my eyes saw that day.
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-cdsc06177.jpg


Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-dimg_2349.jpg

Cloud cover setting in, it was time to head back
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At an altitude of 1,700 m, the vegetation looks like this, full of pine trees.
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-fimg_2412.jpg

A new tourist spot on the way back to kathmandu valley from Dhulikhel.
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-gimg_2417.jpg

Last edited by amrisharm : 17th February 2012 at 16:23.
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Old 17th February 2012, 16:34   #6
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(3)Old Patan Palace Square

The last of the 3 historic palace squares. Situated in the heart of the city. it feels like life is going on here as it did back in ancient times. The most accessible as well of the three.

The magnificent palace square, looking from north towards south.
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Myself on the left with my cousin.
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Holy men!
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The Patan Palace Museum.
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We went to a roof top restaurant and clicked this picture looking towards the north of the Palace square
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A touristy shot of myself and my Mrs.
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A unique temple different from all others in terms of design
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Inside the above temple.
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There are many rest houses like these scattered all over the 3 old cities. A great place to rest relax and catch up with friends. Now a tourist attraction.
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A Thanka painting. Buddhism inspired and taking months to complete. A painting of this size costs approx. IRs 4000.
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-jimg_2454.jpg

Last edited by amrisharm : 17th February 2012 at 16:43.
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Old 17th February 2012, 16:48   #7
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Default Re: Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)

Miscellaneous Pictures

Buddhism is also present in Kathmandu valley and they were present along side Hinduism since the beginning of civilization in Kathmandu valley.

Swayambhu Nath Stupa in the north of the Kathmandu valley at night.
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This is the Bauddha Stupa Situated in the North East of the valley
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Repainting the Bauddha stupa.
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A beautiful painting hanging in a shop.
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there are small temples in every corner of every street!
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On a clear day, the himalayas are visible from almost any part of kathmandu valley.
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-cimg_2328.jpg

Our indian registered car in the streets of Kathmandu .
Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)-dimg_2327.jpg

My uncles Gypsy in Kathmandu. 1993 MG410W. The reason why I love the Gypsy still.
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Peaceful
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Conclusion

It was a once in a lifetime experience, driving to Kathmandu and back. We look back at this trip with lots of fond memories. We went there during Dassera. And we did that deliberately as Nepal is plagued with political infighting and Strikes are called on a regular basis. But during festival time no disruptions take place for obvious reasons. The weather was perfect, and we got to meet our extended family while there. So all in all it was a very satisfying trip. I would recommend all to do the drive and visit this wonderful city filled with so much history. We left Nepal with a wide grin on our faces, Kathmandu is just one small aspect of Nepal, the country is vast and there many more places to visit. Hoping to do so in the coming years. Thank you for reading ladies and gentlemen. THE END

Last edited by amrisharm : 17th February 2012 at 17:08.
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Old 18th February 2012, 00:42   #8
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Note From Team-BHP Support Team: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 18th February 2012, 05:30   #9
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Default Re: Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)

Wow lovely pictures and TL, Nepal is one of our to-go destinations sometime in distant future. Doing it in car from WB is quiet easy, we southerners have to think many times before going on a trip of North mountains.

Some questions, Did you stayed at a hotel, which one and how much did it cost? On the border what are the formalities to complete, and what documents are needed to painlessly cross the border?

And finally, if one is flying in, then is there visa on arrival?
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Old 18th February 2012, 11:16   #10
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Default Re: Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)

Lovely travelogue @amrish.

Would love to know the costs involved in boarding & other aspects. What is required for driving your car into Nepal? Also not sure if you can provide this detail - but are there multiple entry points into Nepal - I was looking at a route from Kolkata to Nepal - the shortest route seems through (Kolkata - ) Patna - Inarwari - Kathmandu, how are the roads other than the one you opted for?

Also from a TBHPian's view - what are the rates for petrol/diesel out there? Better than Indian prices?
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Old 18th February 2012, 13:00   #11
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Default Re: Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)

@Amrisharm: Nice, detailed and picturesque travelogue enjoyed it.

Note from Team-BHP Support Team: Please do NOT post one-liners that add little or no informational value to the thread. A 'thanks' should do. We need your co-operation to maintain the overall quality of this forum.

Last edited by suhaas307 : 18th February 2012 at 18:03.
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Old 18th February 2012, 13:04   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amrisharm View Post
...Siliguri West Bengal to the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu.
The road condition inside Nepal...
Thank you for an excellent and detailed travelogue covering Nepal and especially the Kathmandu area. Good photography and attention to detail relating to the road, the tolls, as well as the do's & don'ts of driving in Nepal.

5 stars to you!
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Old 18th February 2012, 20:57   #13
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Hi,
Precise delivery of important/ relevant information. Well deserved 5 *s.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 20th February 2012, 11:02   #14
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Default Re: Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)

Hi Amrish,

Thanks for opening up another route for the road trip with all details

Whats are the samll deviations one can take on the route to enjoy rural Nepal?

What are the other places one can drive around making Kathmandu as the base - say within 100 KMs?

I was expecting more pictures of the drive and views around - especially of last 140 KMs through the hills. Please post them if you have more pictures.
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Old 20th February 2012, 15:37   #15
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Default Re: Self driven road trip, Siliguri (W.B) to Kathmandu (Nepal)

My apologies for replying to your questions late. I was a bit busy with family this weekend so was not able to tend to your queries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Wow lovely pictures and TL, Nepal is one of our to-go destinations sometime in distant future. Doing it in car from WB is quiet easy, we southerners have to think many times before going on a trip of North mountains.

Some questions, Did you stayed at a hotel, which one and how much did it cost? On the border what are the formalities to complete, and what documents are needed to painlessly cross the border?

And finally, if one is flying in, then is there visa on arrival?

Hi Mayankjha. Thank you for your kind words. And yes we are fortunate with regards to being able to drive to Nepal and Bhutan quite easily. Hope you muster up the motivation in the future to do an epic drive to kathmandu!

To answer your questions regarding accomodation. Well we all stayed in our relatives place. But I did ask my cousin in kathmandu this question for you and their answer was that for IRs. 1,000-1,500 we should get good accomodations in guest houses scattered all over the city. I did a quick google search and found the following link the most helpful:

Kathmandu Budget Hotels | Kathmandu Cheap Hotels, Reviews & Ratings | Travellerspoint

Formalities at kakarbhitta, well all you need to do is carry the original car documents including insurance, drivers licence and photocopies of all of them. The person in whose name the car is registered does not really have to there. Its a pretty straight forward procedure. I guess they must get a lot of indian cars coming into nepal so the process takes less than 10 min from registering to paying the tax.

And lastly, about flying into Kathmandu (the only international airport in nepal). As an Indian citizen you are allowed to travel into nepal without a visa and for unlimited periods of time. The only thing you need to have with you is proof that you are an indian citizen. e.g passport, Voter ID, Drivers Licence etc.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
Lovely travelogue @amrish.

Would love to know the costs involved in boarding & other aspects. What is required for driving your car into Nepal? Also not sure if you can provide this detail - but are there multiple entry points into Nepal - I was looking at a route from Kolkata to Nepal - the shortest route seems through (Kolkata - ) Patna - Inarwari - Kathmandu, how are the roads other than the one you opted for?

Also from a TBHPian's view - what are the rates for petrol/diesel out there? Better than Indian prices?
With regards to boarding, please check out the link and little info I have provided in the above paragraphs. Fooding is a little on the higher side as compared to Siliguri, But it is fair to say there are fooding options to fit any budget.

About Driving to Nepal from Kolkata. I am sorry but I am not familiar with Inarwari. I guess the most efficient route would be for you to get to Kolkata-Patna-muzaffarpur-Pipra-Raxaul(Nepal border). The reason I recommend Raxaul is because it is a very big entry point into nepal used by most Indian commercial vehicles. There are also many other smaller crossing points dotted along the Bihar-nepal border, but i cannot say with 100% certainty whether they will let indian cars cross over into nepal through the smaller entry points. From Raxaul, I am guessing it is no more than 380kms to Kathmandu instead of the 600+ kms from Kakarbhitta(the entry point we used).

A very interesting question with regards to the fuel prices. It is cheaper by IRs. 3 even though 100% of petroleum products are imported from India. But you only get normal fuel, no extra premium or speed. And In Nepal, majority of pumps are run by small private owners so quality of fuel can be suspect. We chose to fill in pumps that seemed bustling with activity and only in main cities. We filled up in a place called Hetauda on the journey to and from Kathmandu. But be warned, Fuel shortages are very very common in kathmandu. So beware.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Thank you for an excellent and detailed travelogue covering Nepal and especially the Kathmandu area. Good photography and attention to detail relating to the road, the tolls, as well as the do's & don'ts of driving in Nepal.

5 stars to you!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Hi,
Precise delivery of important/ relevant information. Well deserved 5 *s.

Regards
Sutripta
Thank you very much SS-Traveller and Sutripta Sir's. I tried my best to give all the info one may need in order to drive to kathmandu. Such comments from distinguished members like yourselves has served as a huge encouragement to improve my travelogues in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fauji View Post
Hi Amrish,

Thanks for opening up another route for the road trip with all details

Whats are the samll deviations one can take on the route to enjoy rural Nepal?

What are the other places one can drive around making Kathmandu as the base - say within 100 KMs?

I was expecting more pictures of the drive and views around - especially of last 140 KMs through the hills. Please post them if you have more pictures.
Dear Fauji, since it was dark and I was driving the last 140kms i do not have any pictures of this route. i have asked the other members of this road trip if they have any and they said they will get back to me soon. I have also sent my cousin in Kathmandu an email asking about popular places one can drive outside of kathmandu (but within 100kms). And I shall post what he says as soon as i get an email from him.

The main aim of my trip to Kathmandu was family visit and therefore I was not able to focus too much on the tourist aspect of visiting. But Once i get an email from my cousin I will most definitely put up a post with relevant pictures of places to visit arout kathmandu from the world wide web.
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