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How to Navigate Kathmandu International airport (KTM), Nepal

Kathmandu International Airport (KTM), Nepal  -  Everything about the process of landing and connecting through this airport can be confusing (at least it was to me) so I will try to straighten out any questions you may have.  Feel free to ask questions below, and I will add them to the page.  
If I don't respond here, try me at my Facebook page

Step 1:  Land

  • Get off the plane
  • Wait on the tarmac for a little bus to transport you to the airport building. 

I flew through India (that's a whole different story involving me having to bribe TSA agents...)

If you wanna get off first, be near the doors, not in the back like me...

Step 2:  Get inside and fill out your paperwork. 

Tip: Bring a pen.  You will need to fill out your entry visa form, and some other entrance/customs form.  Fill out your forms and hop to the front of the line quick, this process is pretty slow.  You get the visa upon entry, you don't need to do anything prior to your trip.  You do however, need to bring a 2 inch by 2 inch picture of your face and about 25-50 USD cash depending on the length of stay.  (Don't forget your picture and your cash, I have no idea what would happen to you in the event you forget these things.)  Here is my page about the Kathmandu entrance visa.

entrance visa/customs line
Remember your cash and your picture (they accept USD)

Step 3:  Get your luggage if you have any.  

Unless you are climbing Everest and need a ton of gear, avoid bringing luggage at all costs.  They pretty much just throw everything in a pile, and there is no system in place for any problems you might have locating it.  Not many people speak English, and if you are looking for help, this airport is probably the last place you'll find it.  If you are doing Everest Base Camp Trek, try to jam everything you need in your backpacking pack, and carry it on the plane with you.  The pack I brought for EBC:  http://amzn.to/1HlDBpZ

The luggage dog-pile, and the sad people who can't find theirs

Other Information

IMPORTANT: 

Have ALL of your flight itinerary planned out and documented before you get here, especially for your flight home.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to simply buy a ticket on an airline to fly home without getting completely ripped off at every corner!  This really pissed me off and was extremely problematic.  I tried to buy a ticket from a few different airlines.  Some straight up said no, not possible.  Others gave me prices 200 dollars above what they should be (what I saw on Google).  Some agents I would talk to would come up to me later and say things like, "I know a guy, my uncle who can get you a good deal if you pay cash, $600..."  like 300 above what it should be.  I asked a taxi guy to drive me to a place where I could use wifi, where I ran into problems purchasing anything on google.  Eventually I went back to the airport, found some travel agent company run by two strange kids through a laptop who would only accept cash.  They wanted 200 above normal price, but at this point I didn't have much choice.   You can't really trust many people at this airport.

Don't let this speak for the rest of the people of Nepal though!! I can't stress this enough.  Sherpa and other Nepalese people are literally the best and most kind people I have ever met in my life.  Very selfless and genuine.  I was helped out by the people of Nepal countless times on my journey, and truly consider them friends, minutes after meeting them. 

 

Kathmandu International Airport FAQ

Is there an ATM at Kathmandu International Airport? 

  • For money, go to the ATM downstairs and outside the airport in a phone booth type thing in a corner.  No one will tell you where this is located (I asked several employees/guards), so you'll have to look for a while.  There is a 3 dollar withdraw fee, but Definitely your cheapest and easiest option to get cash.   For those of you new to international travel, yes you can put your american debit card into an ATM in Nepal or most countries and withdraw directly in their currency.  Many ATMs in Europe require the new 'chip' cards, but not the ones in Nepal, at least not yet. 

How to get a Taxi outside Kathmandu International Airport?

  • These guys are sharks.  You must be extremely verbally harsh/aggressive, or some of these guys will eat you alive / take advantage of your kindness.  It is best to look angry and mean when you are walking around hah!  Before you get in a cab, talk to the driver though the window and agree on a price before you even get in.  example: "I'll give you 50 rupees to take me to _________."    The taxi guys in the city are much kinder and nicer than the guys that vulture the airport. 

How much is a taxi ride from Kathmandu international airport to downtown Kathmandu?

  • You should be able to get a ride downtown for the equivalent of $5 USD.  This is where all the hostels/hotels are located.  Downtown is about three miles from the airport but takes a while because there aren't really traffic laws and it always seems to be rush hour...

How much is a hostel/hotel in Kathmandu.

  • I actually found a pretty nice taxi dude, and told him my hostel budget, and we agreed he would take me to his "friends" hotel/hostel.  I told him I could only pay 10 bucks, and he's like "okay, okay" and nodded.  this place was actually really nice for 10 bucks and I think I under-payed. 

Is there WIFI at Kathmandu International Airport? 

No there is not.  This was a pretty huge problem for me when I didn't have my homeward flights planned out.. (because I didn't know how long it would take me to get back from Everest)  So, have everything you can possibly plan ahead of time, planned out ahead of time... 

 What about Lukla (LUK) Airport?

  • Click here to learn from my Lukla airport experience.

Do you have an 'Everest Base Camp Trek' page or packing list?

  • Yes I do!  Click here

What camera did you use? 

 

-Ask me more questions and I will add them to this list.

 

View from my room in downtown Kathmandu
My private room with shower for 10 bucks a night