|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).
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
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
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.
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.