There are no trains in Nepal due to the mountain ranges which pretty much cover the whole country, so if you’re heading here overland buses and private taxis are the only way to travel.
I’ve written a simple guide to bus travel in Nepal that covers all bus routes!
Air conditioned tourist buses will cost you anything from $8 (800 Nepalese rupees) to $35! To be fair, this ‘luxury bus’ had a hostess, fridge, massive seats and drinks and meals included but it’s SO not necessary to pay that much. It will still go the same old route as all the others.
Popular bus companies are Blue Sky Travels and Greenline (both recommended in Lonely Planet). But there are also plenty of other companies too.
I would definitely recommend that you try to get a seat near the front of the bus as the roads are pretty bumpy, winding and sketchy. You’ll be spinning round the corners of mountain ranges at top speed and the drop down is pretty scary to look at!
Typical scenes of goats tied to roofs of cars, poor goats :(
Local buses are around $5 (500 NPR) but I wouldn’t recommend it. The dust pollution on the roads is some of the worst I have come across in my travels in Asia. Depending on the time of year, it will also be HOT. So, you’ll need the window open and you’ll breath in all the dust yuck!
I would also try not to travel over the festival period as when we were here during Dussehra in October all the buses were charging double. All 50 bus companies which were heading to Pokhara were sold out as locals wanted to visit their home towns over the festival period.
In the end as all the A/C tourist buses seem to leave at 7am to Thamel, the traffic on the roads was so bad that it took us 12 hours to get here instead of six. It was a bit of a nightmare.
You can avoid all the above and fly for around $100 but this may be out of the price range of many backpackers and travellers.
From here Pokhara has bus links to Chitwan, Lumbini and Kathmandu. Kathmandu has the only International airport in Nepal, so if you were thinking of heading to a different country, you have to return there.
For more detailed information on bus travel in Nepal, see here.
Waiting for the bus in Thamel, Kathmandu!