How to use the Sunauli border crossing?
Travellers from far and wide will be using this route at some point. In my post How do you use the Sunauli border crossing, you will find everything you need to know about making this process as painless as possible. This is unquestionably the most popular way to move between India and Nepal. These two great countries have oodles to offer tourists and its small wonder why tourists flock here.
The whole of Nepal’s southern border is dominated by the tiger filled Sal Forests of the Terai. Dripping in Biodiversity and ridiculously beautiful, they are a paradise for any wildlife enthusiast. You can find architectural wonders on either side of the border whose history span back for centuries and from countless empires. You will also find a patchwork of cultures that are as rich and varied as the cuisine to be found here. That’s without heading into the high Himalayas of Nepal. Or the deep and rugged interior of India.
As I said, there is a good reason why this border is so busy. Now I will answer what I hope is all of your questions about using it, from getting there and away to getting your finances in order. If this is not your chosen border crossing, I have a post covering the others called getting from India to Nepal. If the Sanauli is the border crossing is for you, you have come to the right place so read on and soak it all in.
Here is my video on this topic. It will do nicely if you prefer watching a video to reading a post.
Getting there and away – the Sunauli border.
Sunauli is in a dusty, impoverished and downright seedy part of Utter Pradesh. It is a border town with little to offer a tourist. The aim of the game is to leave as fast as you can. It is well connected to other parts of the country, and getting away from the other side is a breeze. Almost as soon as you cross the border to the Nepali side, you can begin to feel things relax a little.
From the Indian side of the border, the fastest way to reach here is by public bus or shared jeep from Gorakpur. This is another town with nothing to keep you from leaving. If you are foreign, it can be tough to find hotels that are happy to let you stay anywhere in Gorakhpur. The bus station is very close to the train station, so it is easy to connect. Try and time being here in the morning to travel to Nepal well before dark.
From Delhi, it is straight forward enough to organise a night train that will drop you in Gorakhpur in the early hours. The Tourist Office in New Delhi train station will know exactly what to give you. The staff are super helpful and have access to the tourist quota. For those who do not understand why this is an advantage when you are booking trains, please check out my post on getting around in India.
Many tourists make their way from Varanasi to Sunauli. Public busses make a long and boring trip to Gorakhpur from Varanasi. The advantage of this is you can time when you arrive so you won’t get stuck in the night. It takes 7 hours so you could get an overnight bus to Gorakhpur and happily travel to Nepal by lunch the next day. Alternatively, there are also a few trains, but they arrive at unhelpful times, and even with the tourist quota they get packed out quickly. There is also a tourist office in Varanasi that can help you book tickets, but it is of little help if this is your chosen route.
I can’t stress enough not to buy Into through busses from Dehli or Varanasi to Katmandu. I have used this border at least half a dozen times, and I have never seen any through busses. Despite agencies advertising this everywhere. It is a scam. Booking one of this is sure to be a mistake. Save yourself the disappointment. You will have to change busses at the border and have to purchase a new ticket every time.
When I am making this journey, I usually stop in the sleepy village of Lumbini. Its the birthplace of the Lord Buddha and today is the epitome of tranquil. It is a far cry from Uttar Pradesh’s hustle. And just a short taxi or bus ride from the border. The most cost-effective way to reach here is travel to Bhairawa from Sunauli and connect from there. It is only 16 minutes to Bhairawa and then one hour from there. Very convenient if you time it right.
Many people cross the border and think they will travel to Chitwan with ease. There are direct buses, but I should tell you in advance it is a lot further than it looks on the map. Even if you cross the border in the early morning, you will be lucky to reach there by nightfall. Buses to Kathmandu run throughout the day, and unless you turn up in the middle of the night, it won’t be hard to find accommodation in the capital.
From the Nepali side, there are many direct buses to Sunauli from all over the country. If you cant find one connect in Butwel or Bhairawa. You can get either public or private busses from just about anywhere, although sometimes it is hard to see the difference in Nepal. Don’t get me wrong sometimes you get super shiny luxurious deals, but some times you just think really? This is what I paid the extra for?
The costs and practicalities of crossing the border at Sunauli.
When you get to the border, you will be met with a wall of potential scams. Just walk towards the border and change your money on the Nepali side. Dont listen to anyone who says you can’t change INR the other side as this simply is not true. There are plenty of places to change your money once you have your visa in your hand. There are a lot of money changers all bunched in together just over the border. Those who do not charge commission will give you a slightly less desirable rate when you change into your NRS. There are also several ATMs around.
When you turn up to collect your visa, make sure you have US dollars ready for payment. If you try and use any other currency, including INR, you will get an awful deal on their exchange rate. The guards seem to be all into making a profit where ever they can. Oh and no you can not use your credit or debit card to pay as they are not excepted.
At the moment, the visa costs for foreigners travellers are as follows:
- 15 days 30 USD
- 30 days 50 USD
- 90 days 125 USD.
This is subject to change at a moment’s notice, So here is the link to the Nepali department of immigration. Check it out for any changes and up to date advise. You can also fill out the online form on the same website and apply for visa 15 days before turning up. Visas will be issued on arrival. Ensure you also have standard sized passport photos, valid identity and a pen that works.
Other than that it should be all smooth sailing. Make sure your passport photo meets the normal criteria from your own country. Your visa will be issued on the spot if everything is in order. Citizens of India do not need a visa, and your pass will be valid for up to 30 days.
Trekkers will have to apply for any extra restricted area permits in Kathmandu as your visa does not cover you for access. Double-check if need one as some of the fees are insane. It depends where you plan on trekking in Nepal.
If you are coming from the Nepali side to India, you will need to apply for your visa well in advance in Kathmandu. You have to fill in your online application and get your correct photos ready. Remember they are a different size for India. You then take your application into the office. A couple of days later, you pick it up. It is simple enough to do, but how much it costs you depends on your country. It’s us British who get the short straw here as it costs us the most. Here is the link for the Indian visa application centre in Kathmandu.
In summary of my post on How to use the Sunauli border crossing?
I wanted to be concise when I wrote this post as it is information many of my readers will need. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think I have most stuff covered. I try and make this as coherent and entertaining as I cannot just because I have so much competition. Dont get me wrong I really have so much competition, so my information must be the best around. However, I try and write the best posts, mostly because I want you to enjoy your time in these wonderful countries.
I hope I have satisfied your curiosity and if there is anything I have missed then feel free to leave your comments in the space provided and you can be sure I will get back to you. So with that said that’s enough out of and you can get back to your day, until the next time my fellow intrepid travellers, happy trails.
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