Nepal — Airports
Tribhuvan International Airport
Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport is the country’s only international air hub, located in the Kathmandu Valley six kilometers from the city center. Two terminals deal separately with domestic and international flights, and its passenger throughput averages 3.6 million people a year. The landing strip can be an interesting experience depending on the weather, and the facilities are somewhat eccentric in typical Nepalese fashion. The complex can get very crowded during the climbing season so don’t be surprised if you get edged around a bit.
Nepal Airlines is the main carrier, offering flights to London Heathrow, Bangkok, Moscow, Singapore, Tokyo, and a swathe of Indian cities including Mumbai and Chennai, as well as domestic flights to Nepal’s 10 regional airports. Other full-service carriers include Qatar Airlines, Air India, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and Malaysia Airlines. Gulf Air Flies to Bahrain, which is a convenient connection for Western travelers. A welcome arrival on the scene is Buddha Air, offering a comprehensive selection of routes to Lhasa, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Hanoi, Macau and Shanghai. US visitors need to connect through a major Asian airport such as Hong Kong, Singapore or Bangkok.
Facilities at the terminal are basic and include a restaurant, public pay phone, emergency clinic, currency exchange, duty-free shop, and general store. Chaos is normal for departures although arrivals are better handled as redevelopment is taking place to improve the airport’s reputation for cleanliness and poor service over recent years. The view of the Himalayas on landing and take-off is more than worth the hassle, and onward transportation is by taxi or hotel shuttle.
The major tourist destination outside Kathmandu, Pokhara is set in a valley overlooked by soaring snow-covered peaks with an airport set just outside the city.
Currently being developed as Nepal’s second international airport, it offers flights to Kathmandu, Jomsom and Manang with Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines and several other small carriers.
Nepal has a surprising number of tiny airports nestling in the mountains with Lukla Tensing-Hillary airport the busiest, hosting flights from Kathmandu on Yeti Airlines using small regional carriers. It’s the gateway city to Mount Everest, and is rated the world’s most dangerous airport for its location halfway up a mountain surrounded by high peaks and often dense fog.