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Nepal Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In Nepal
You need an International Driving permit plus your own licence to drive in Nepal. There is no time limit on use of the IDP. In Nepal, vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road. Roads are often in poor condition during the monsoon and in moutainous areas. There is still some damage  to roads structures from the 2015 earthquakes. The main road in Nepal is the Mahendra Highway also called East-West which runs the length of the country across the Terai region of Nepal, from Mechinagar in the east to Bhim Datta in the west, passing the settlements of Mechinagar, Bhadrapur, Itahari, Janakpur, Bharatpur, Butwal, Siddharthanagar, Nepalganj, and Bhim Dutta.The highway most used by international tourists is the 174km Privthi highway which links Kathmandu and Pokhara.This road is paved but single lane and usually heavily congested so bank on 5 hours to get between the two towns.

About 60% of the Nepali roads are hard-surface roads, and most of them connect the cities in the Kathmandu Valley. Road building is a key focus for the Nepal government and they have an ambitious aim to build a road to every village – they added 7500km of paved roads in 2017+ 2018.

Driving in areas outside the Kathmandu Valley remains dangerous. Roads in Nepal are generally in poor condition and lack basic safety features and drivers are often poorly trained and lack road sense. Vehicles are also often in a poor state of repair .Political groups frequently blockade roads in certain districts of Nepal including main roads to Tibet, India, Chitwan, Pokhara, and Jiri. This can go on for several days so you should check the local situation before setting off. In the monsoon season, heavy rains cause flooding and landslides and can wash out roads or make road travel difficult.

Driving style is typical of Southern Asia with frequent overtaking on blind bends, especially by lorries and buses. Approach corners and hills with caution -always expect the unexpected and prepare to take evasive action. Avoid driving at night when badly lit vehicles and wandering livestock present additional hazards to the often challenging terrain.

A particular quirk of driving in Nepal is that the vehicle in front may indicate right for no apparent reason. This is generally a signal to you that it’s okay to overtake, but you should never accept this as being true. Always use your own judgement and don’t proceed until you’re sure it’s safe to do so.

In Kathmandu there is an ongoing programme of road improvements which often lead to large traffic jams, so you should check your route and factor in extra time if likely to be impacted.

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Nepal Car Rental –
Sixt have an office in Kathmandu and after years of offering chauffeur drive only, they do now seem to offer self drive.

We currently have no local car rental partners in Nepal. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on

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