Nepal is a popular destination amongst tourists be it for trekking, sightseeing or low budget retreat. It is the perfect destination for travellers all over the world with a wide range of activities to suit everyone's needs. Flying to Nepal can be exciting and terrifying at the same time.
Standing at the Tribhuvan airport for the first time, the first thing you realize is that it is relatively small and different from the other international airports. Next thing is you don’t know where to go and get your visa on arrival or where to exchange your money. To aid you through the possible dilemma and hassle here are a few tips on surviving your first arrival at the Tribhuvan airport.
Visa On Arrival Nepal
After you reach the arrival building, you may not know where to go. There are various immigration offices for ‘foreigners with visa’, ‘foreigners without visa’, ‘diplomats’ and ‘Nepalese’. You can walk straight to the “foreigners with visa’ desk if you applied for a visa from your home country and have a visa. Read here about tourist visa on arrival.
If you don’t have a visa go ahead and fill up a visa on arrival form and head to the desk with ‘foreigners without visa’. Complete the visa on arrival procedure and payments.
Tip: Most of the airlines provide an immigration form on the aeroplane. Fill up the form before your arrival to save time. Don’t mistake it for a visa form! Even if you have a visa you have to complete this form. Visa forms can only be found inside the airport.
Once you pass through immigration and get stamped into the country you may not know where to head. There aren’t any signposts. Don’t fret just take a right turn and head down the escalator.
After you reach the bottom of the escalator, have your hand luggage scanned, be prepared for a long wait. Check the belt your luggage is arriving on and don’t be surprised if there is only one belt working or your luggage appears on a totally different belt!
You’ll be approached by some porters wanting to carry your bags or “rent” you a trolley. Don’t fall for your very first Kathmandu scam, the airport trolleys are free.
After you get your luggage, you have to submit your customs forms (you will most probably receive them on the plane). Generally, foreign tourists don’t necessarily need to scan their luggage during their arrival.
TIA is mainly a non-automated airport so, it may take longer than usual for it to arrive on the belt. Sometimes, it can take up to 2 hours so remain patient.
In case your luggage does not arrive, check all the belts and the floor space around them. If your luggage is still missing, find the representative from your airline they might be able to help you.
Get some loose change at the money exchange booth in the airport. It might not provide you with the most reasonable price. At least you can change a little money into rupees or use the ATM machine in the airport (before going through immigration or after collecting your luggage).
Inside the airport, past the money exchange to the right are a couple of storefronts. These are for NTC (Nepal Telecom) and NCELL. They are the two major mobile networks in Nepal. You can buy a sim card here in various formats. At times they will try to sell you tourist sim card packages for higher prices. Don’t fall for their convincing talks. Get a normal sim card which costs about NPR100.
Tip: don’t forget to bring extra copies of your passport and passport-sized photos. You will need it while getting a sim card, permits and other instances.
Hotel Transfers – Free transfers are provided by some hotels. Although they charge you $8 to $10 dollars for the service, it is worth it to avoid the crowd taxi drivers at the airport door.
Airport Taxi – Though expensive, it can be booked after customs inside the arrivals hall. Taxis at the airport will generally cost you around $7 in the day time and $8-$10 at night. There is a detailed list of destinations and prices at the airport.
Meter Taxi – These are much cheaper than the airport taxi. Expect to pay around $6 or 700 rupees to Thamel, with some bargaining.