Introducing Sunauli & the Nepal Border
Sunauli is a dusty town that offers little more than a bus stop, a couple of hotels, a few shops and a border post. The border is open 24 hours and the crossing is straightforward so most travellers carry on into Nepal without stopping here. There are more facilities in the Nepali part of Sunauli; Bhairawa, a further 4km north, is a more substantial town.
Buses drop you just a few hundred metres from the Indian immigration office, so you can ignore the cycle-rickshaws.
If you need to bed down here for a night, Hotel Indo-Nepal, by the bus stand, has underwhelming rooms set around a cool courtyard. Its simple restaurant doesn't instill confidence but actually makes a nice lunch stop even if you don’t stay.
If you’re leaving India, the very helpful Nepal Tourism Board information centre is on your right, in no-man’s land.
Regular buses run from Sunauli to Gorakhpur (₹81, three hours, 5am to 7pm) from where you can catch trains to Varanasi. A few morning (4.30am to 10.30am) and afternoon (4.30pm to 7pm) buses run direct to Varanasi (₹242, 11 hours), but it’s a long, bumpy ride. For faster collective jeeps to Gorakhpur, take your second left after Indian immigration down a small side street and walk about 75m past the water tower into a parking lot where they congregate and leave when full (₹150 to ₹200, two hours).
Be wary of buying ‘through’ tickets from Kathmandu or Pokhara to Varanasi. Some travellers report being intimidated into buying another ticket once over the border. Travelling in either direction, it’s better to take a local bus to the border, walk across and take another onward bus (pay the conductor on board). Travellers have also complained about being pressured into paying extra luggage charges for buses out of Sunauli. You shouldn't have to, so politely decline.