What to Expect When You Arrive in Kathmandu

What to Expect When You Arrive in Kathmandu
What to expect when you arrive in Kathmandu airport

Updated 17 February 2022

If you’ve never been to Nepal, it can be a bit daunting when you arrive in Kathmandu! After a long journey it’s helpful to know exactly what to expect, so that you can be prepared!

What to expect when you arrive in the city of Kathmandu

Before You Leave Home

Before you leave home, (within 15 days before your arrival in Kathmandu), complete the Online Tourist Visa Form and print it. You can find all the details in this FAQ. This saves you from having to queue at one of the kiosks in the airport when you arrive in Kathmandu. We also recommend making a photocopy of your passport details page. Sometimes Immigration ask for it, sometimes not.

On the Plane

Keep your Boarding Card safe – you’ll need to submit it at the Immigration counter in Kathmandu.

Sit back and relax! Stretch regularly, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Some airlines will give you a Nepal Arrivals Card to complete on the flight. If not don’t worry, you can pick one up at the entrance of the Arrivals Lounge at Kathmandu Airport. You can use our address details:

Nepalorama Trekking, Paknajol Road, Paknajol, Kathmandu.

Also, keep your printed baggage label/tag handy. You’ll have received this when you checked in for your flight.  Usually it will be stuck on the back of your passport or boarding pass. You might need this as you exit the airport.

When You Arrive in Kathmandu, Obtain Your Entry Visa

Pick up an Arrivals Card at the entrance of the Arrivals Lounge and complete it (if you didn’t get one on the plane).

If you’ve completed the Online Tourist Visa Form and have the printed confirmation, walk straight ahead to the counter where you pay your visa fee (USD $30 for 15 days, $50 for 30 days – most major currencies are now accepted). You’ll receive a receipt for your payment.

Now you should have everything you need! Follow the signs for ’15-30 Day Visa’ (unless you’re staying longer) and take the following documents to the Immigration counter:

  • Passport
  • Boarding Pass
  • Photocopy of your passport details page
  • Printed Tourist Visa form, or receipt (if completed at the airport)
  • Visa fee receipt
  • Completed Arrivals Card.

It’s likely that the Immigration Officer will ask you a couple of questions. Be sure to tell them that you’re planning to trek in Nepal and you just can’t wait! Compliments seem to go a long way, and let’s face it – you won’t be lying!

Once you have your entry visa, go straight to Baggage Claim downstairs. Check the monitor to see which belt your bag will come out on. You need to go through a security check and have your cabin baggage scanned on your way to the luggage carousels.

All being well, you won’t be waiting long for your bags, often they’re already there waiting! Now you can exit the airport. An official may check the baggage tag on your bag, and the baggage label you received at check in, to make sure they correspond.

Outside the Airport

You’ll be greeted by an overwhelming number of people and several offers to carry your bag. Don’t accept unless you’re happy to pay for this service, you don’t have far to go. Note that even if you’ve booked a pick-up through your hotel, you’ll still be expected to tip baggage carriers and your driver.

Business representatives wait outside Kathmandu Airport

Once outside the airport, immediately across the road you’ll see a shelter full of people. Take a deep breath, and look for our representative who will be waiting for you with a ‘Nepalorama Trekking’ sign with your name on. Look for this sign when you arrive in KathmanduNow you’re in safe hands! Our representative will have transport waiting to take you to your hotel. If you’re flying straight to Pokhara, follow the same process and our representative (likely your trekking guide) will give you further instructions.

Traffic is increasing in Kathmandu. Depending on the time of day, it may take a while to get to the hotel. Enjoy the assault on your senses, as you take everything in. It’s quite amazing!