Depending on what day you leave, it can take 20-45 minutes to get to the airport from Thamel. I left at 10am on a Saturday and was at the airport less than 20 minutes later. You know you’re near when you see the crematoriums of Pashupatinath as the airport is just behind it. I paid NR 700 for the car which I booked via my hotel.
1. Upon arriving at the entrance for international flights, if you have a hotel car hire, tell the driver to wait as you get one of the luggage trolleys. I’m not too sure about leaving your stuff with a taxi. If you’re with other people, it won’t be a problem. If someone comes over with a trolley, ignore unless you really want to pay someone to load your luggage and push the trolley.
2. There are 2 entrances, A and B. If taking Thai Airways, entrance is at B. Otherwise, there’s an lcd screen where you can check which entrance to take.
3. Follow the line inside. Present your passpory and PRINTED flight ticket to the guard. The line continues inside to the x-ray machines. Load your luggage. Once cleared, you’re in the departure hall. There’s a money changer where you can change back your Nepalese rupees to your currency. There are toilets, a few convenience stores, and luggage wrapping services.
4. The Thai Airways counter was open 3 hours before the flight. I don’t know with the other airlines.
5. Present your boarding pass to the guard by the escalator and head up to immigrations. There is no need to fill-up any embarkation card. Just present your passport.
6. Past immigrations is a large area. On the left is the final security check point while on the right is a waiting area and a few cafes. The line at security is a bit slow and long so.unless you still have at least an hour before your flight, head to it first. Don’t worry, there’s a food stall with sandwhiches and packed meals and a convenience store inside the departure gates. If you have no Nepalese rupees left, they accept credit cards.
7. After the security checkpoint, you enter the cramped area where all 5 departure gates are. Forget about sitting coffee or doing some nice shopping while waiting to board. Toilets, a water-filling station with plastic cups, a food stall with an atrached convenience store, and wifi are the only amenities you get. The metal seats are old and some are broken.
If your flight has not yet been assigned a gate, there’s an lcd screen indicating departure. In my case, the screen never showed my flight gate. I simply went to Gate 5 where I saw the Thai Airways aircraft parked. Don’t worry, the gates are close to one another and they do make boarding annoumcements. Forget about looking for flight boards at gates, there ain’t any.
For a country that receives so many visitors, Tribuhvan is way too basic to meet the influx of tourists. I can’t imagine how it would be during peak season. That being said, consider your departure experience as part of your entire Nepal experience.
Have a safe flight!