Crossing Nepal by road from India is one of the favourite activities among budget backpackers. Those who cannot afford flights to reach Kathmandu often take this route to reach Nepal from India. The journey is long and involves changing multiple rides but the whole experience is worth it.
I have been to Nepal thrice, once via Gorakhapur Sunauli Border and twice via Raxaul Birganj border. Out of these, I prefer Raxaul Birganj border but reaching the starting point is tough. Compared to Raxaul, Gorakhpur is easily accessible from Delhi and takes less time.
Ways to reach Nepal via Sunauli Border
You can reach Nepal via Sunauli border in two ways
- Take a direct bus from Delhi, it will drop you in Kathmandu (or Lumbini) next day.
- Take a train from Gorakhapur, reach Sunauli and then take another bus for Kathmandu or Lumbini
The first option is more tiring but saves you from troubles of changing rides multiple times and getting cheated by tourist touts around Gorakhapur or Sunauli.
The second option is a little complex but adventurous. It is also cheaper compared to taking a direct bus to Kathmandu from Delhi.
How to reach Sunauli Border in India
Gorakhapur is connected with Varanasi and Delhi through trains and buses. The trains are cheaper and comfortable. An overnight journey will drop you at Gorakhpur early morning which is recommended because this way, you’ll reach Kathmandu by evening.
The main tourist destinations of Nepal, Kathmandu, Chitwan and Pokhara are further 6 to 10 hours away from Sunauli so you need to make sure about which ride you want to catch.
Total journey from Varanasi to Kathmandu via Sunauli is almost 30 hours. It is very tiring and exhausting. But the bus is comfortable and the roads are not that bad.
If you want to reach Gorakhpur and then cross the border on foot then the process is simple. Get out of Gorakhpur station and ignore all the tuk tuks telling you to drop Sunauli. They’ll charge 300-500 rs for a one way ride and may end up cheating you. These drivers will surround you but you need to ignore and walk straight forward towards main road.
When you cross the road and find a statue of a king on a horse, you’ll find a stop. Enquire about Sunauli and you’ll find a bus going in that direction. It takes 1.5 hours to reach Sunauli from Gorakhpur.
Again, try to reach Gorakhpur in the morning so that you have ample time to wander around the border and not get in trouble or cheated by a tourist tout. If you arrive late then I’d suggest you to find a hotel in Gorakhpur for the night and start your journey next morning.
From the border, you need to walk towards a gate with flags of Nepal printed on it. Ask around and you’ll find Indian immigration gate. Note: Indian citizens don’t need to visit immigration unless told to do so. You can also hire a cycle rickshaw if you have a lot of luggage. It will drop you inside Nepal border.
Once you cross the gate, you’ll find Nepal immigration office. Again, Indian citizens can walk straight. Indian solo travellers entering Nepal may need to get their bags checked if the officials suspect you of carrying drugs or illegal goods inside Nepal.
Currency exchange at Sunali
Sunauli border is a busy town. Backpackers arriving Sunauli will find a lot of shops offering currency exchange. The rates are good but you reach the other side of the border and withdraw money from an ATM in Balahiya.
Remember, the shopkeepers and bus companies don’t accept Indian currency once you have crossed the border so make sure that you keep some Nepali currency in hand.
Immigration at Nepal for Foreigners coming to Sunauli
When you reach near Indian immigration office, all you need to do is to ask for a form, fill it and give your passport. The officer will put an exit stamp and return the passport.
From here, you need to walk to immigration office in Nepal side. There, they’ll give you a form. Fill it, return it along with your passport and fee. The office only accepts Nepali Rupee or USD so make sure that you have money available.
How to go from Sonauli-Belahiya to Kathmandu or Lumbini by bus
Once you are out of the office, you’ll meet a few touts offering bus tickets for Kathmandu and Lumbini. Ignore them because that won’t be the best deal that you’ll find. Right on the opposite side of the office, you’ll find a couple of booking offices from where you can catch a bus for your next destination in Nepal.
Chances are that these travel agents are overcharging you for the ticket so you can also go straight to Bhairahawa Bus Park from where you may get Belahiya – Kathmandu bus for cheaper prices. But the bus park is 7 km away from immigration office and you may have to pay 500 NPR on taxi. There is a bus terminal on the right side of the office from where you’ll find local buses going to Siddharthnagar, this is the village where Bhairahawa bus park is located. The journey is very tiring and I won’t recommend doing this just to save a few bucks.
Your passport may be checked on the route a couple of times but don’t pay any money if they ask you to.
Where to eat at Sonauli-Belahiya Border
Sunauli is a dusty, dirty old town where eating anything is not recommended. Eat something at Gorakhpur station and get a light meal packed. Belahiya has a lot of eateries and restaurants where you can have some good food.
Precautions while crossing Sunauli – Belahiya border
You’ll meet a number of tourist touts that will offer their assistance in crossing border, filling visa forms and booking bus tickets. Don’t listen to them and get everything done by yourself. If you have any inquiry, then reach the uniformed army guys on either side and they’ll help you out.
Taking packaged items to Nepal from India is not allowed. If you have any such thing, such as new clothes, shoes, electronics then provide a valid reason for carrying it.
Hope the details about crossing border from Gorakhpur – Sunauli – Belahiya – Kathmandu helped you. Subscribe to stay updated with my journey.