People who’ve traveled by bus in Nepal just know. Until you’ve experienced it, you can only guess what it’s like. Bus travel in Nepal is part of the adventure and you’re guaranteed to have a story to tell after every single journey. It’s fascinating, scary, incredible and fun all at the same time!
Every driver has a co-pilot (kind of like Batman and Robin). The co-pilot’s job is to drum up business. There’s a lot at stake in this dog-eat-dog world. Each pair must make at least the amount they’ve spent to hire the bus for the day.
In a bid to get customers, people are allowed to carry anything on board. Yes anything! The ‘no baggage in the aisle’ rule does not apply here! Bags of rice, building supplies and large drums of cooking oil are standard. Then there’s the livestock. No bus ride is complete without something to make you laugh. You often see chickens, cats or dogs inside the bus. I’ve even seen goats tied up on top!
Last time I took a bus in Nepal, Krishna nudged me to look up. There above our heads was a cockerel sitting in the overhead compartment. Now that’s traveling in luxury – if you’re a cockerel that is!
There’s no such thing as turning away business. It doesn’t matter how full the bus is. There’s always room to squeeze in more people and everyone cooperates without complaint. As you’d expect, health and safety regulations simply don’t exist.
White Knuckle Ride
If you love theme parks, you’ll love riding buses in Nepal! There’s a huge amount of ongoing construction to improve major roads. But most are still unsealed and full of holes, so expect a very bumpy ride!
If you’re trekking Nepal, you’ve probably got a reasonable head for heights. Yet this might not prepare you for the sheer drop offs. Many of the winding roads cut into the mountainsides are very narrow. Which means that when your bus is on the outside, it’s very close to the edge. Yes, this can be super scary! I’ve been on buses where all the passengers have leaned in the same direction to redistribute weight in an attempt to keep the bus on the road! Yet most of the bus drivers are very experienced and they’re used to this style of 4×4 bus driving.
Competition can be so fierce that as you enter a town, buses will race to overtake each other, to be the first to arrive and pick up the waiting passengers. It’s a real skill and it’s fascinating to watch as the bus drivers pull off seemingly impossible maneuvers!
On Board Entertainment
No long bus ride would be complete without on board entertainment and Nepal is no exception! Loud Nepali music is a given and you might as well enjoy it, as it’s impossible to ignore!
You know you’ve hit the jackpot when the LCD TV comes on (available on some ‘tourist’ and ‘luxury’ buses). Bollywood eat your heart out! In response to a demand from younger Nepali generations to ‘get with the times’, Nepal is doing a fine job of making Bollywood style music videos and they’re very entertaining!
Plenty of things will capture your attention on board, but don’t forget the wonderful world outside! Traveling by bus gives you an incredible opportunity to see the real Nepal. Wave at children, whose faces will light up when you smile! Observe the simplicity of life. In Nepal, people seem happier despite having less.
Bus travel in Nepal introduced me to not one but two new languages! All buses come equipped with not just a horn, but multiple musical horn sounds! The bus drivers use these different horns to communicate with each other.
Bus drivers and their co-pilots also demonstrate a unique language made up of whistles and bangs. Through this communication, they understand each other perfectly – it’s amazing! The driver knows when to stop and when he’s getting too close to the edge of the road. The co-pilot knows exactly when to jump off the still moving bus to start rounding up customers, who jump on when the bus finally stops.
Don’t be in a Hurry!
There are a few things that could well hold you up, so it’s best not to have immediate plans when you take a bus in Nepal. Breakdowns are very common and can leave you waiting at the side of the road for hours whilst your bus is repaired. Occasionally buses get stuck when it’s muddy. But don’t worry! People appear from out of nowhere to help and will soon get you on your way.
Construction work to improve roads doesn’t stop just because vehicles want to get through. Last time I traveled to Kathmandu, we waited nearly three hours whilst a digger finished it’s work and the debris was cleared!
Travel Safely With Nepalorama
Your safety is our top priority. Your guide always travels with you and will do everything possible to make sure your journey is safe and you have fun!
An Adventure You’ll Never Forget!
There’s so much waiting for you in Nepal. Bus travel in Nepal is a highlight, and a story you’ll want to tell over and over again! If you’re thinking about trekking Nepal – don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re ready and waiting to help you organise your amazing adventure, bus trip included!