Nepal 101: Reaching Kathmandu

So you finally made your decision – you will come to Nepal for your holidays (or permanently, or semi-permanently)! How do you actually get here though? Well, it’s not that simple, as you may remember from my article about Turkish Airlines. Here are some options for you (particularly if you are coming from the European side):

1. Turkish Airlines.

Do I even discuss this one? Well, I guess it’s only fair. Only because I am boycotting it, doesn’t mean others shouldn’t try their luck. Anyhow, Turkish Airlines has a rather good connection from Istanbul to a number of major European cities. There is a direct flight from Istanbul to Kathmandu. Simple. Cheap. Best option? Maybe. Read this again and decide whether you’re going to try your chances.

2. Delhi route

Now, this route is relatively good, though you want to make sure your layover in Delhi is not too long. That airport is HOT! And rather small so it can get pretty boring. Kathmandu has several daily flights to Delhi so it’s really easy to get there. Delhi is directly connected to most major European cities. So far, I flew Air India, Austrian Airlines and FinnAir to Delhi, and Jet Airways, Spice Jet and Air India to Kathmandu. Nothing special, but nothing to complain about either. Consistently average route without major surprises or hassles. Clearly takes a bit longer than the Istanbul way, but I’ve never had any problems. If you don’t mind two layovers, this is the way to go. For your flight to Delhi you can choose almost any of the major European airlines, and biggest Indian ones too. There are many daily flights. Apart from the stated airlines flying to Kathmandu, there is also IndiGo, which I hear is good and cheap!

3. Qatar Airways

This is a good airline to fly. Very good. However, goodness comes with a price. I am not always able to afford this route. It’s fairly simple and quick though. Kathmandu to Doha, Doha to Europe. Efficient and comfortable. No complaints, no hassles, no problems. As long as you have the funds, go for it. Oh what the heck, book that business class while you’re at it.

4. Etihad Airways

Never flew this airline myself, though I’ve heard only good things about it. All I can say is that it belongs in the Qatar Airways category. Not for budget travelers I guess.

Austrian Airlines is always fun. They got seat covers and blankets in colors of India!

Austrian Airlines is always fun. They got seat covers and blankets in colors of India!

5. Oman Air

OK, so this is a gem I discovered on my last trip to Croatia. It is NOT the simplest or the fastest route, by any means. It was pretty long and tiring, but Oman Air is wonderful! Their prices to Europe are low (so so low), and their service is amazing. I have no complaints whatsoever, on the contrary, I only have words of praise for their service and fleet. No mater what airline you fly, when you go to a third-world country, service will be at its lowest. I have to say – Oman Air does not do that. From and to Kathmandu the service was superb and I noticed they treated everyone on the plane in the same manner (which was a refreshing and welcoming change in comparison to Turkish Airlines). I got great service with a smile, and so did a poor Nepali worker sitting next to me. That made me very happy, and it boosted Oman Air in my eyes by one million percent. Great job Oman Air!

On the downside, Muscat airport is not the best around (it’s very clean, and air-conditioned, but so very small – not fun for long layovers). However, I saw they are building a huge new airport, which looks more like a city, so I think in a year time Muscat will be THE transfer airport of choice in Middle East.

For everyone traveling to USA, Canada and that part of the world: I’ve heard from others that east-bound flights are usually better and faster than the west-bound ones. Transfer airports usually include Bangkok, Seoul, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur… Airlines flying from Kathmandu to that side are Thai Airways, Air Asia, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, China Southern Airlines, SilkAir…

This is definitely not an extensive list of airlines flying to Kathmandu, just the ones I know about/have heard about/or travelled with. The whole thing is my opinion only, and I am just trying to be helpful, no no hate mail please. If you know of a particularly good/bad route/airline share with everyone in the comment section. There’s never enough of good advice when traveling.

Wishing you all successful plane ticket hunt!

Love,

Ms. Z.

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9 thoughts on “Nepal 101: Reaching Kathmandu

  1. Another great post! If only i had read this when I was spending days searching for plane tickets! I will have to bear this in mind next time when I am coming back and forth to Nepal!

  2. Yes, great post! I’d like to warn people that when we flew on Jet Airways from Delhi, they were pulling some kind of scam (hopefully it’s not still going on) and made everyone going to Kathmandu pay an extra fee (not small) to transfer our luggage! They wanted to take our credit card or ATM card (“We promise we won’t tell anyone your code!”) somewhere where we weren’t allowed to go! Yeah, right! I don’t think so! They didn’t want to take cash, but eventually did when they saw my husband wouldn’t give them our cards. They made us wait two hours while they transferred our luggage! There were a lot of scenes while passengers fought with them. It was quite the experience! Anyway, my husband said he would never fly on Jet Airways again, even if it was free!
    We have had great experiences on Qatar (except we got in to Doha around 1:00 a.m. and left around 4:00 a.m. so the hours weren’t the best) and Etihad, but lately have stuck with Etihad because there is a nice hotel right in the transit area in Abu Dhabi. It’s really convenient and the hours going in and out of Abu Dhabi both ways make it easy to get a good night’s sleep!
    Wouldn’t mind trying Oman Air, but now we’re racking up our miles with Etihad. Oh well! Safe travels to all!

    • Oh wow, that sounds horrible, what happened with Jet Airways. It’s hard to believe something like that could even go on at an airport with a reputable airline. It’s really good to share experiences like this so people know what to expect. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. I just came via Jet, and they were not doing anything like that. I got checked all the way through. Jet has a flight from Delhi that lands at TIA at 0800. the visa and customs was astoundingly serene. No lines whatsoever. I thought Jet was great.

    • Unfortunately, I am not of great help when it comes to tourist visas. I am here on a spouse visa which has a totally different process of obtaining and I wrote about it here.
      I heard recently though that now there is an online application form for the tourist visa that needs to be filled out before reaching Nepal. However, I’ve never done it myself, so not quite sure how it functions.

  4. A short comment regarding Etihad Airways: I recently flew to Kathmandu (March-April 2015) from Manchester via Abu Dhabi. Etihad seem to have very competitive prices compared to Qatar Airways and have regular offers on various routes. When I recently checked the price of a direct connection from Manchester to Doha with Qatar Airways it was only £120 cheaper than my Manchester-Abu Dhabi-Kathmandu return ticket. The Abu Dhabi-Kathmandu leg was actually much more pleasant (we flew an Airbus) than the Manchester-Abu Dhabi leg (a large Boeing). Decent food, service & on-board entertainment. Cheaper connections however can come at a price of a long stopover in Abu Dhabi (3+ hours).

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