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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Kathmandu Getting Around
Getting Around Kathmandu - TravelPuppy.com
You will probably make most of your trips around Kathmandu on foot, particularly in the old city, even though several transportation options are available.

Taxis, tempos and rickshaws

Taxis are cheap and are the most convenient mean to journey longer distances in Kathmandu and around the valley, although they should be avoided in the packed old city. A selection of companies operate taxis, which can be booked by phone (have your guest house make the call for you). Older freelance cabs wait in designated areas, such as Tridevi Marg, the main Thamel intersection, at the top of Freak Street, along Dharma Path, and at the Jamal end of Durbar Marg. Both have meters and drivers should use them, but will often attempt to quote a fixed price - for certain destinations, such as the airport and Central Immigration, they won't budge on this. For longer trips, especially return journeys with some waiting time, it may be best to negotiate a fixed price. A surcharge is added after 8.00 pm and taxis start getting scarce around then, too. The night taxi service (telephone 224374).

Metered tempos (also known as tuk-tuks or autorikshas) are bumpier, slower and less roomy than taxis, though their meter rates work out to be cheaper. Fixed-route tempos travel various routes throughout the city, following the main radial arteries. Many originate from 2 locations along Kantipath, near the National Theatre and just north of the GPO. On most routes there are choices of exhaust-belching Vikram tempos and battery-powered Safaa clean ones. The latter, which are taking off thanks to a Danish grant, are one of the most tangible signs of development, and they are also a more comfortable ride.

Pedal rickshaws are really only good for short distances on narrow, crowded streets where you will feel every bump. The price should be about the same as for a metered tempo, but the wallahs (drivers) charge whatever they can, so agree on price before setting off.

Local buses

Buses and mini-buses cover the same city routes as the curtain route tempos; however, they are really meant for longer distances around the valley. They are quite cheap (with not more than Rs10), slow and overcrowded, so they are easiest to deal with if you get on at the starting point.

An electric trolley bus service operates to Bhaktapur every 15 minutes during the day. The starting point is Tripureswar Marg close to the National Stadium.

Bicycles

Cycling is still a good mean to travel to a number of interesting places, but Kathmandu's pollution and traffic make it more perilous and less fun than it used to be. Rental bikes are hard to find, particularly in Thamel, where most of the cycle wallahs have been pushed out by redevelopment. Some guesthouses have their own bikes for rent, or can find them.

The old-fashioned one-speed bikes rent for Rs40-75 a day. Mountain bikes, often of poor quality, range from Rs60-80 a day for a 1-speed model to Rs150-200 for an 18-speeder without helmet. Thamel mountain-bike operators may be able find something better for Rs250-500, including helmet. Shop for bikes early in the day, or even the night before, and bargain for a long-term discount. If travelling on the main roads, wear a mask (sold in pharmacies) or a dampened handkerchief.

The lane south of the National Theatre, west of Kantipath, is the place to go to buy a new bike. An Indian-made gear bike will cost anywhere upwards of Rs6,000, depending on the quality.

Motorcycles and vehicles

Riding a motorcycle is not too thrilling inside the Ring Road, but it is an excellent way to travel around the Kathmandu Valley and beyond. Several companies in Thamel and Freak Street rent out 100cc motorcycles for Rs300-400 per day, excluding fuel. Some places rent dirt bikes (about Rs800/day, though these rates should come down as competition increases). You should be able to get a discount for multiple days. You will need to leave a plane ticket or passport as a security deposit, and you are supposed to show a driving licence.

The least expensive way to rent a car is to hire a taxi by the day, which will cost about $20 a day for touring around the valley (petrol included). Rates for longer journeys are based on the distance to be traveled, or are quoted exclusive of petrol. Make sure the taxi has permission to travel where you want to go, since many are restricted. Vans and jeeps can also be hired for about $30 a day (petrol excluded) through certain agents. Renting a car through an official agency is much more expensive: Yeti Travels (telephone 221234) and Gorkha Travels (telephone 224895), both on Durbar Marg, are the agents for Avis and Hertz respectively.

If you are driving your own car or van into Nepal do beware: central Kathmandu is a nightmare for driving. You would have to be very brave or very foolish to enter with a camper or large vehicle. The streets are crowded and narrow, and you would be constantly defeated by the one-way system.
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