A Tourist’s Guide to Domestic Flights in Nepal

Nepal is a mountainous Himalayan country, which makes roadways difficult to construct, and traveling to different parts of Nepal is time-consuming. There are effectively no railroads. Hence, domestic flights in Nepal are pivotal in exploring Nepali terrain and connecting major cities and remote regions. 

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, there are currently 34 airports in operation in Nepal. Notably, three of them—Tribhuvan International Airport, Gautam Buddha International Airport, and Pokhara International Airport—are designated as international airports. Additionally, there are 18 airports not currently in operation and five airports in different stages of construction.

Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu serves as the central hub, facilitating domestic and international travel. Popular routes from TIA include Kathmandu to Pokhara, Kathmandu to Lukla, Kathmandu to Lumbini, Kathmandu to Biratnagar, and Kathmandu to Bharatpur.

Records show that Tribhuvan International Airport is the busiest airport in Nepal, followed by Pokhara, Biratnagar, and Nepalgunj airports. In 2019, Tenzing-Hillary Airport was the tenth busiest airport in Nepal. 

As a tourist, here are the major routes you might need to know. 

1. Kathmandu to Pokhara
2. Kathmandu to Lukla
3. Kathmandu to Gautam Buddha International Airport (Bhairawa/Siddharthanagar)
4. Kathmandu to Bharatpur
5. Kathmandu to Nepalgunj

1. Kathmandu to Pokhara

PC - Creative Commons


Pokhara is the tourist capital of Nepal, located in a beautiful setting. This gorgeous city sits surrounded by snow-capped mountains and is home to serene lakes and stunning waterfalls. Most foreigners who come to Nepal make sure to visit this city. Precisely, for this reason, you will find a range of hotels serving different palates. 

Kathmandu to Pokhara is the most popular domestic flight route. The flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara lasts about 20 minutes and is a visual spectacle that unfolds before your eyes. As the aircraft ascends, the majestic peaks of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges reveal themselves.

Pokhara is also the starting point of various treks, notably the Annapurna region treks. In addition, Pokhara Airport serves as the connecting point to western and far-western Nepal.  

Here are the most vital routes Pokhara Airport connects to.

Domestic Flights From Pokhara

  1. Pokhara to Jomsom
  2. Pokhara to Bharatpur
  3. Pokhara to Bhairahawa/Siddharthanagar


a. Pokhara to Jomsom 

Jomsom, the headquarters of the Mustang district, is also a commercial hub in Manang. It is the starting point of the Mustang and Manang treks. The Jomsom Airport is the entry point of remote locations like Kagbeni, Lo Manthang, and Muktinath Temple. 

The airport is open throughout the year, but reduced visibility may impact flights. Due to the high wind speeds in the afternoon, the flights are scheduled in the morning. While flying from Pokhara to Jomsom, you will witness several mountains, including Dhaulagiri (8,167m/26,795 ft), Tukuche (6,920m/ 22,703 ft), Nilgiri (6,940m/22,769 ft), and Annapurna (8,091m/26,545 ft). It takes around 20 minutes for planes to reach Jomsom from Pokhara. Jomsom Airport provides the necessary air route to the Annapurna Circuit


b. Pokhara to Bharatpur

Bharatpur is the district headquarters of Chitwan District and one of the fastest-growing cities in Nepal. This airport is crucial for tourists arriving in Bharatpur by flight to visit the much-famed Chitwan National Park. Bharatpur airport is located at 183 m above sea level and has a runway with a length of 1.2km (3,800ft). The airport debuted in 1958. The flight time between Pokhara and Bharatpur is 20 minutes. 


c. Pokhara to Gautam Buddha International Airport (Bhairawa/Siddharthanagar)

Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhirawa/Siddharthanagar is one of the three international airports in Nepal. The airport, named after the founder of modern Buddhism - Gautam Buddha, serves as a gateway for most pilgrims choosing the air route to Lumbini. This airport opened in 1958 and was declared the second international airport in 2022. The flight from Pokhara to Gautam Buddha International Airport is twenty minutes.

2. Kathmandu to Lukla

Lukla, the gateway to the Everest region, forms the center of the world’s mountaineering, trekking, and other adventurers. This airport, established by Edmund Hillary in 1964 after his successful ascent to Mt. Everest, is the crucial supply route to the Everest region. Back then, it was named Lukla Airport, but in 2008, Lukla Airport was renamed Tenzing Hillary Airport to honor Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Edmund Hillary. This airport was paved in 2001 and is the crucial route to the Everest region. It is one of the busiest airports in Nepal. 

Due to very high traffic in busy trek seasons, the Civil Aviation Aviation Authority diverts the Lukla flights from Kathmandu to Manthali Airport in Ramechhap. Since Lukla Airport lies at an altitude of 2,845 meters, it is susceptible to abrupt weather changes. Hence, most Lukla flights take place in the morning. The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla takes about thirty-five minutes.

Many treks in the Everest region, including the Everest Base Camp, Gokyo Ri, Ama Dablam Base Camp, and Everest View treks, start with a flight to Lukla Airport.

3. Kathmandu to Gautam Buddha International Airport (Bhairawa/Siddharthanagar)

You can fly to Gautam Buddha International Airport from Kathmandu. The flight will take around thirty-five minutes. Most tourists arriving in Kathmandu to visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, take this flight. 

4. Kathmandu to Bharatpur

The direct flight from Kathmandu to Bharatpur takes around twenty-five minutes. The flight distance is 57 miles or 91 (approx) km. This flight is a gateway to Chitwan National Park, a lush protected region inhabited by rhinoceros, tigers, and a myriad of bird species. This aerial journey lets you witness the transitions from the urban hustle to the serene wilderness.


5. Kathmandu to Nepalgunj

The flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj introduces travelers to the Terai region. The airport is 8 km away from Nepalgunj city. This culturally diverse area is known for its vibrant traditions and is a launching point for those venturing into the remote regions of western Nepal. Nepalgunj Airport was opened in 1961 and is among the largest airports in Nepal. This airport is 500km from Kathmandu, and the flight takes around 45 minutes.

Domestic Flights from Nepalgunj

These are the major air routes Nepalgunj connects to are:

a. Nepalgunj to Simikot
b. Nepalgunj to Juphal (Dolpa)

a. Nepalgunj to Simikot

Nepalgunj Airport serves as the gateway for flights to Simikot. Located in western Nepal, it provides essential connectivity to remote far western Nepal. The flight from Nepalgunj to Simikot typically takes around thirty-five minutes.

As you soar above the Himalayan landscapes, you will enjoy breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, picturesque valleys, and the stunning beauty of the Nepalese terrain.

This route is crucial for travelers seeking access to the remote and culturally rich region of Simikot. The airport plays a vital role in facilitating journeys to the heart of the Himalayas.

Simikot is a starting point for various trekking adventures, including the renowned trek to Mount Kailash in Tibet. 


b. Nepalgunj to Juphal (Dolpa)

Nepalgunj Airport facilitates flights to Juphal, acting as a key link to the mesmerizing landscapes of the Dolpa region. The flight duration from Nepalgunj to Juphal is approximately 35 minutes and lets you enjoy panoramic views of the Himalayan range, lush greenery, and the rugged terrains of Dolpa as you make your way to Juphal.

Juphal Airport serves as a gateway to Dolpa, opening doors to several treks in Dolpo. Phoksundo Lake and Shey Phoksundo National Park are top tourist destinations in this region.


If you are a tourist visiting Nepal, these are the most frequented domestic flights in Nepal. As you fly on these domestic flights, each route offers a unique glimpse into Nepal's diverse offerings. Whether it's the soaring peaks of the Himalayas, the spiritual haven of Lumbini, or the untamed wilderness of Chitwan, these flights become more than just a means of transportation—they are the prelude to unforgettable experiences. So, fasten your seatbelt, peer out of the window, and witness the stunning beauty of Nepal unfold beneath you. The adventure begins in the Nepali skies.

Paul Gurung

Paul has an extensive experience in the tourism industry. Through his blogs, he shares his deep knowledge about the stunning trek regions in Nepal, inspiring trekkers worldwide to explore these regions and enrich their lives. In addition to geography, his writings delve into the human side of the trek regions, including culture, traditions, religions, and etiquette, offering a comprehensive and enriching perspective on the Himalayan trekking and expedition experience.