Traveling in Nepal

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Buses, Vans, Ubers, and Rickshaws?

We have been learning so much about traveling and what you need to do to get from point A to point B.  Unfortunately this means that your best intentions and well laid plans don’t always work out.  It has been an adventure to say the least….. here is some of the fun we have had….

In December we moved from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj to spend our last month in Nepal there.  Flights in country are relatively cheap, we could get a ticket to Nepalgunj for $140 per person.  That is for a 1 hour flight.  With seven of us, it still adds up to a lot of money, so we decided to take a different route.  We booked an overnight bus ride from KTM to NPJ. 

Traveling by Bus

This ride was 16 hours through the mountains.  It was a nice bus, comfort wise, but twisting and turning through the mountains isn’t the most pleasant for motion sickness.  They made several stops along the way for food and restroom breaks.  It was a little weird stopping at around 10:30 PM to eat rice and lentils as your dinner.  We arrived at NPJ at around 8:30 AM and then got settled into our rental flat.  So, would we do it again – YES, but our expectations will be right the next time.  It was worth the $70 total that we spent.

Next plan was to go across the border January 2nd to enter India.  Then take a bus to the city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.  We didn’t have a visa, yet, so we filled out an e-visa application.  An e-visa application is in essence a travel authorization to enter the country and you will receive your visa and stamp in your passport on arrival.  As we started looking more closely at the e-visa requirements AND one big thing we overlooked was the requirement of e-visas needing to be processed at the 20+ AIRPORTS within India.  In other words our e-visa couldn’t be processed at the land crossing near NPJ.  So we now needed to book plane tickets back to Kathmandu, then to New Delhi, then to Lucknow.  The morning fog in November December on the plains can get quite thick and it can cancel flights.  We booked our flight to KTM on a Thursday morning so if we go cancelled we could still make our flight to Delhi on Friday afternoon from KTM. 

Plane to Kathmandu

Our flight on Thursday went well, we then got to spend a night with our friends in KTM before our Friday afternoon flight.  We got to the airport on time and got everything checked in and set.  Interesting thing about airports in south Asia.  Men/boys and women/girls have separate security lines.  So when we entered the airport to get to the gate, we had separate lines.  The metal detectors and frisking lines were separate.  It is fine, just different.  After we spent some time in the International departure area of the KTM airport, it became clear that our plane to Delhi was going to be late leaving.  It was rather confusing actually.  They kept you in this outer area until the plane was ready, then you had to go through security to board.  They announced that our flight was ready to board and there was a huge line (both men and women’s).  When I say “line”, you can think of a very loose line.  People were kind of making their own path, cutting under the ropes.  We weren’t moving and were in jeopardy of missing our flight.  So we got out of line, then went to the side and talked with a security guard who let us cut through to get to the x-ray machines.  We were now at the front removing our shoes, laptops, belts, etc, but my wife and daughters were way back in their security line.  I asked the security guard to contact my wife and he told me to go get her, I managed to get her attention and tell her to cut to the front of the line to get through.  We made it to our flight in time. 

One other thing is the extreme level of checking and security you need to go through to get on a plane here.  Some smaller airports it is really lax.  Bigger airports flying Internationally, really strict.  Let me explain.  In the US you go through security at the beginning, remove your shoes etc, then get to the gate.  I will now explain the steps for going to India.  I do realize there are always extra steps for immigration and visas, but there were even more here.  1st step: you go through an xray scanner and pat down just to enter the International Airport, then you go and get your boarding passes/visa check etc.  Then comes the immigration desk which needs to see the visa and then they exit stamp your passport.  Then you have the security to get to the gates with shoes off, laptops etc.  Once you get to the gate they take your ticket, now you you walk out onto the tarmac.  One more bag check and pat down, on the tarmac, before you get on the plane.

We were very thankful to be in our seats, on the plane.  I might mention the late afternoon views from the air were spectacular.

Himalayas from the Air

When we arrived there were airline employees standing by to get us through customs and immigration so we could catch our flight.  We were so thankful for their help, but our plane had already left….  It was now late on Friday night and the airline was getting us accomodations at a local hotel.  We finally arrived at the hotel and got situated in our rooms.  We even had a meal voucher for a buffet in the hotel lobby.  I think it was about 9 PM when we finally got our bags to the room and then made our way to the lobby.

New Delhi Hotel Lobby

It was a delicious meal and we ate our fill.  It was about 10 o’clock and the thought dawned on me “hey, we could take a hot shower!”  We hadn’t had a hot shower in many, many months.  Most places don’t have hot water and the buildings don’t have heat.  So you need to be strategic on when you bath.  But here – unlimited hot water….. and heated rooms, what a luxury.  We hurried back to our rooms and enjoyed the showers.  I don’t think we were all finished until midnight.  Our flight the next morning was at 7 AM which meant a very early start the next day..


Our flight departed Delhi with no problems and we arrived in Lucknow just fine.  We spent a week there while I spent a few days in the area visiting one of our teams.  I needed to take a bus from the Lucknow station to this city so I called an Uber.  The Uber couldn’t get to me because of the gated community we were staying in, so I had to call another one.  When I finally got to the bus station a little before 5 AM, what little Hindi I could understand, told me the bus had already left.  So I called Uber to see if I could hire a car to take me two hours away.  Success and about $30 later….  The bus back to Lucknow was way cheaper…only 105 Rupees, or $1.47.  

Our place in Lucknow was nice.  They even had this place called Best Price Warehouse – and it is run by Walmart – who knew.  Hello Sam’s Club!

Best Price

Our next leg of the journey was to take a train from Lucknow to the state of Bihar to the east.  We could take a train from Lucknow to a city south called Kanpur.  Kanpur then connects east to our destination.  The Indian rail system goes everywhere.  The rail system website isn’t the easiest to navigate, let alone network coverage to actually use the internet made it a challenge.  Needless to say it took many, many hours too book our train tickets.  We paid for them and received our confirmation.  Yeah!  We decided to take a car to Kanpur instead of going a 1/2 hour north to take a 1 hour train south.  It seemed easier to hire a couple of Ubers to take us to Kanpur.  Tight fit!  No joke as we were coming into Kanpur we saw a man riding an elephant on the road.

Packed Car
Not Much Room

We were traveling to Bihar with a friend from Nepal.  We sent him the ticket information so he could catch the train before Kanpur.  He said our reservations for the sleeper car were WL.  WL stands for waitlist.  Well that was ok, we thought.  We didn’t have a reservation for the sleeper car which would have been nice for a 16 hour journey.  So we got to the train station in Kanpur and waited for our friend to arrive. 

When he arrived we got some more details – turns out we were on a waitlist for the train.  Not just the sleeper car.  When you book a ticket you are booking a seat.  We could have gotten an unreserved spot, which means standing room, but no seat.  No thank you.  We went to the ticket counter and they didn’t have any tickets for the next few days, so we were stuck.  After spending the afternoon at the train station we needed a place for a place to stay that night.  I booked a few rooms online and we proceeded via rickshaw to our destination.  The rickshaws are more narrow than a golf cart and putting our luggage in and on top was some work.  We arrived at our hotel and when we went to check in they informed us that they don’t accept foreigners.  I India only certain hotels are registered with the govt. to be able to accept foreigners.  We contacted another hotel and they said yes, no problem.  We have rooms and we accept foreigners.  We loaded up the rickshaws again on we went on our way.  Got unloaded, went into the hotel that we just called 15 minutes earlier and now they don’t accept foreigners.  Hmm?  We were now approaching 7 PM and we were getting tired of being outside.  I called one more place, a more expensive, fancier place and they assured me they had rooms and would have no problem with US citizens staying with them.  We loaded up one more time and headed over to this 5 star place.  If this were in the US it would be a pretty spendy hotel.  I mean really a Holiday Inn Express in the US is $200 a night.  The rooms here were $70 each instead of the $75 total we were hoping to spend.

We didn’t want to wait in Kanpur for several days waiting for a train so we needed to find another way to get to Bihar.  We worked with the hotel to find a driver and van to drive us to Bihar.  The van was a Toyota Innova.  On their website they don’t even call it a van.  It seats 8? I think, but there were 9 of us including the driver.  There wasn’t much trunk space at all, nor much room for us.  I am also sure the luggage provided some nice drag for the 16 hour drive.

Car Ride to Bihar

We made it, we survived.  We had a few stretch breaks, food breaks, and bathroom breaks along the way.  We arrived at our destination around 11 PM and got into our hotel.  Phew…that was exhausting just writing that all out!

Other Recent Newsletters/Stories

CPM Training

Church Planting Movements CPM Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 I wrote about some initial CPM (Church Planting Movement) training events earlier this year. Those initial activator training sessions were preparing our teams for now. These new training events are happening now across all of our teams in India…

Read More


…a man yelling and praising Satan at the top of his lungs?… at least he’s not lukewarm…
Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *