Cycling is a good way to explore parts of the Kathmandu Valley and many companies offer bike rentals and tours. You need to be selective about your routes to avoid heavy traffic.
Mountain bikes cost from around Rs 800 per day for simple models. For longer trips around the valley, the major mountain-bike companies such as Dawn Till Dusk and Nepal Mountain Bike Tours hire out high-quality bikes with front suspension and disc brakes for around US$10 to US$15 per day.
If you want to make an early start, most places are happy to give you the bike the evening before. For all bikes, negotiate discounts for rentals of more than a day. You should get a helmet, a lock and a repair kit. Check the brakes before committing and be certain to lock the bike whenever you leave it.
Cycle-rickshaws cost around Rs 80 for short rides around Thamel or the old town, but you can expect to haggle hard. It’s essential to agree on a price before you start.
There are a number of motorcycle-rental operators in Thamel. You will have to leave your passport as a deposit. For Rs 800 per day you’ll get a 150cc Indian-made Hero Honda or a Pulsar road bike, which is generally fine for road trips in the Kathmandu Valley.
Reputable rental companies will require you to have an International Driving Permit to ride a motorbike in Nepal. On the road, this regulation hasn’t been enforced for years, but recent reports suggest traffic police are targeting foreigners on this and other hitherto disregarded traffic violations in an attempt to raise funds. A traffic fine will set you back around Rs 1000.
Motorcycles can be great fun outside town, once you master the traffic. The main problem is getting out of Kathmandu, which can be a stressful, choking and dangerous experience. You will need a pair of goggles and some kind of face mask (available in most pharmacies).
Fuel currently costs Rs 100 per litre; you’ll only need a couple of litres for a day trip. Beyond the ring road petrol stations are few and far between.
Singh Motorbike Centre A reliable place for bike hire. New Indian-made Pulsar 200cc motorbikes (Rs 1500) are most commonly available, though you might find a cheaper Hero Honda (Rs 700) or an Enfield Bullet (Rs 3000).
Pheasant Transportation Service Down a side street off the central Thamel junction, this tiny office has somewhat elastic prices, with a Honda 150cc starting at Rs 800, a Pulsar 220cc around Rs 1200 and an Enfield Bullet 350cc costing Rs 2000.
Taxis are quite reasonably priced, though few taxi drivers use the meters in these days of rising fuel prices. Shorter rides around town (including to the bus station) cost around Rs 200. Night-time rates (between 10pm and 6am) cost 50% more.
Most taxis are tiny Suzuki Marutis, which can just about fit two backpackers and their luggage.
The closest taxi stand to Thamel is on Tridevi Marg, close to the junction with Jyatha Rd. Taxis can be booked in advance on 01-4420987; at night call 01-4224374.
Approximate taxi fares from Thamel include the following:
Bhaktapur Rs 700
Bodhnath Rs 600
Budhanilkantha Rs 700
Changu Narayan Rs 1600
Nagarkot Rs 3000
Pashupatinath Rs 500
Patan Rs 500
Swayambhunath Rs 300