If you are reading this article, we are guessing you are planning to visit Nepal, or you are on the way here. The first thing that will give you a taste of officials of Nepal is the International Airport. Nepal has only one international airport and is located in the capital, Kathmandu. It is definitely different than the international airport back at your home, and preparing yourself for what might come ahead can come in handy. This article provides you the step by step guide to survive your (Tribhuvan International Airport) Nepal Airport encounter.
Expect queues that are disorderly.
Your Nepal Airport experience can be daunting given your already tiresome flight. There will be a lot of people and queues everywhere. Be patient, and ask around if you are not sure about anything. The entry process is frustrating and sometimes a very long wait, more than 30 minutes or so. So make sure that you are at the right counter. The officials might be impolite, but don’t let this get into your nerves. Remember, Nepal is a beautiful country and full of nice people. You are just an airport away to have your best life experiences.
The Visa Processing at Nepal Airport
You are given a visa form and custom declarations during the flight by the flight crew. Fill these in your flight. If you don’t get these on your flight, there are piles of these on the tables where you will find most people doing other paperworks. Incase you don’t find it there, ask them on the immigration counter.
In order to avoid long queues and unnecessary problems, you can submit a complete Online Visa Application form at https://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa. Check out the article What to do for a Nepal Visa for more Visa information.
If you don’t fill the online form back in your country, here’s what you should do,
- After filling the form, head straight to the Visa application terminal located at the far left as one enters the immigration hall.
- The ATM looking like machines asks for ridiculous information like your hotel street addresses, phone number, etc. Fill the following details.
- Street Address: Tinkune Marg (Search any street address in Google Maps)
- Ward Number: 17 (Number between 1-10 is preferrable)
- VDC/Municipality: Kathmandu (You can choose one from: http://topnepal.com/nepal/kathmandu/vdc)
- District: Bagmati (You can choose one from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_districts_of_Nepal)
- Telephone Number: 9812345678 (Any 10 digit number starting with 98 or 97)
- There is a board camera that clicks your photo, but it is better to carry 2-3 passport sizes photos for backup.
- You will get a printout slip that you need to take it to the visa payment counter at the hall’s end. We suggest travellers to carry small bills for your visa. The visa fees for,
- 15 days – US $25 or equivalent convertible currency.
- 30 days – US $40 or equivalent convertible currency.
- 90 days – US $100 or equivalent convertible currency.
There is ATM and currency exchange counter inside the Nepal Airport but the ATMs might not work all the time or might not work with your card. So, we suggest you carry some cash.
Note: US Dollars, Euro, Pound Sterling, Franc, Australian Dollars, Canadian Dollars, Swiss, Singapore Dollar, HongKong Dollar and Japanese Yen. Please note that any other currencies (including Nepali currency and Indian currency) or credit cards are not accepted as a payment for a Nepal Visa fee. Please bring small bills.
After you have passed through the immigration with a visa stamped, you will find no signposts of where to go. But basically, just turn right and head down the escalator for “the process” to collect your luggage.
Collecting Luggage at the Nepal Airport
Tribhuvan International Airport isn’t just any normal airport, though we all Nepalis wish it were. Collecting luggage should never be a hectic process. First, be prepared for the long wait and please do not forget to check which belt your luggage is arriving on. Those with backpacks can just go, but those with more luggages are interrogated (in a manner you won’t like).
Tip: Keep your luggage claim tag handy; you may be asked to show that it matches the tag on your bag.
Note: TIA is a non-automated airport and your luggages are unloaded by hand and thus may take longer sometimes. If incase your luggage does not arrive, check all the belts and floor spaces around them (could have been offloaded). If you still can not find your luggage, find the airport representative.
Nepal Airport officials are not really friendly. As a matter of fact, you might be unnecessarily interrogated and even asked for “souvenirs” as bribes sometimes. Be patient and smile it off.
Interested in Nepalese culture? Take a look at the important festivals of Nepal.
Air travel can be hectic, here’s the travel essentials!
Getting a Sim Card
This is something that can be done both inside and outside the airport, of course. There are two popular telecom operators in Nepal, Nepal Telecom (NTC) and Ncell. Ncell has 4G coverage all over Kathmandu and most places of Lukla onwards. It also has cheap data plans. But the network coverage in Ncell is weaker than NTC. NTC has 4G in only a few places but has a good network coverage in remote places in Nepal. We suggest you to get both the sim cards if you have a double sim card phone.
How to get s Sim Card?
All you need is your passport’s biodata page, passport size photo and Rs. 100 (USD 1) to get sim cards. The activation is immediate and both the sim cards are the same price and already be loaded with around Rs. 50 worth of talk time or more.
Exiting the Nepal Airport
Go downstairs from your luggage collection to exit the airport. There will be a lot of Airport trolleys (which should be free, but is not). Do not fall into your first Kathmandu scam. You will need Nepali cash on you for the airport. There are currency exchange counters, but we ask you not to exchange more than you need to the taxi (Rs. 1000 -> USD 10 max.). You can get your other money out from your card as it is much cheaper. There will be plenty of taxis that will be asking you to come with them. The better option would be getting out of the airport (3 mins walk) for better taxi rates.
Act like you already have been to Nepal before to get better rates. You can get charged upto Rs. 1000 but ask for the price before hand and ask them to drop you in Rs. 500-700 (tell them you are a frequent traveller). If your flight is at night time, the rates can go higher to Rs.1000-1200.
Tip 1: If you already have your hotel booked, negotiate with them to provide airport pickup (they may charge, but many provide pickup as part of their room cost). Call them beforehand to negotiate. You cannot do any negotiation if you booked online, so call! You can Viber/Whatsapp call, most Nepalis have these apps on smartphone.
Tip 2: If incase you buy a Nepali Sim Card, you will have 4G access as soon as you get out of the airport. There are cab services where you can book cabs (much cheaper than you get one without the app). You can also simply call them to ask for a cab if you don’t want to go through the hassle of the app.
Eddy Cab: 01-4414241
Download Eddy Cab for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eddycab.app&hl=en_US
Download Eddy Cab for Iphone: https://itunes.apple.com/np/app/eddy-cab/id1117788877?mt=8
Sarathi Cab: 01-4217171
Since Kathmandu is where you land, it is going to be the first place you visit. Why not look at 10 things you can do in Kathmandu while you are there?