This India Nepal Border Crossing is an easy overland border crossing, undertaken mainly by Indians and Nepalese. We spotted only one other Western tourist taking this crossing. This article is for you if you’re looking for how to reach Kakarvitta from Siliguri. This is our route, as we cross from India to Nepal, is part of our journey to go from Darjeeling to Kathmandu.
The main town where most people will start the journey from India to Nepal in India is Siliguri. From there it’s necessary to get to the Indian border town of Panitanki in order to go to Kakarvitta (sometimes Kakarbhitta). The Siliguri to Nepal border town of Kakarvitta is an easy route. The overland border crossing from India to Nepal is quiet and simple and immigration on both sides is also easy, although make sure you follow the customs and requirements of both countries.
**** Note that the border is currently STILL closed here CONFIRMED AS OF AUGUST 17th 2023- because of the Pandemic – and you must cross the border at Raxaul**** Let us know if you have further updates and we’ll keep everyone informed. ****
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Note that the border is currently closed here (AUGUST 17th 2023) – because of the Pandemic – and you much cross the border at Raxaul**** Let us know if you have further updates and we’ll keep everyone informed.
Confirming Panitanki-Kakarvitta is still closed for foreigners as of April 2023.
We’ve actually asked the jeep drivers in Siliguri about this, and they told us it’s been just reopened recently. Clearly those guys have an incentive to add passengers to their vehicles. Perhaps asking at the bus station would have been more reliable.
There are several night buses from Siliguri to Motihari (~12 hrs); and from there buses to Raxaul-Birganj.
Siliguri to Kakarvitta: India to Nepal Border Crossing
This is the most frequented of the India Nepal Border crossings for those coming from Darjeeling or the North East of India.
There are three options when it comes to getting from Siliguri to Panitanki Nepal, the Indian township across from the border at Kakarvitta.
- Shared Jeep
To get to the Nepal border from Siliguri you should ensure that you’re getting there before the border closes. The India border opening time is until 10 pm. The Nepal order opening time is until 10 pm.
The bus is easy to catch if you have arrived in Siliguri by train or are staying near the NJP Siliguri Train station. This border is the closest Nepal border near Darjeeling. If you have arrived from Darjeeling in a shared jeep, then we advise taking a shared jeep to the Panitanki border crossing. The Siliguri to Panitanki distance is around 30 kilometers. The journey time is around 45 minutes to an hour. The Siliguri to Panitanki bus fare is 20 INR.
Siliguri NJP Railway to Panitanki
Local buses go past the Tenzing Norgay central bus station on Hill Cart Road. They go approximately every 30 minutes and take an hour to get to Panitanki. The NJP to Panitanki fare is 40 INR. You’ll see the buses at the end of the parking lot by the station.
USING TRAINS IN INDIA
A shared jeep from this road will cost 100-125 INR. They are quicker, taking 35-45 minutes, but only go when full.
Darjeeling to Siliguri to Panitanki
If your route is from Darjeeling to Nepal, then your route from Darjeeling to the Nepal border will be via Siliguri. You’ll be left close to the shared jeep and taxi stations which go to the India – Nepal border. Walk out of where you’ve been dropped off, turn left, and down the road a short way. You’ll find the Nepal border jeep stand, the Siliguri – Panitanki Jeep stand is on Hill Cart Road.
From here there are two options to get to the border. A taxi or a shared jeep. From here you can take a taxi to Panitanki, at an approximate cost of 300 INR. A shared jeep will cost 100-125 INR per person.
The shared jeep from Siliguri to the Nepal Border cost us 100 INR each. We were in the back this time. At home, we’d call it the boot or the trunk and there were four of us in there. That was definitely uncomfortable and airless.
We’re dropped off at Indian immigration (the rest of our jeep are all either Indian or Nepalese and just carry on straight through).
Indian Immigration: Leaving India at Panitanki
The Indian – Nepal border at Panitanki is open for foreigners (ie non-Indian/Nepali) from 7 am to 10 pm. The border here between Panitanki and Kakarbhitta is delineated by a river. The bridge that connects both countries is no man’s land. From where your taxi or bus drops you it’s perhaps 10 minutes walking to the Indian Immigration office, which is on the left-hand side. It is signposted. If you miss it the guards at the border will send you back.
You can walk, or take a rickshaw for around 20 INR. We walked.
There are no visa requirements for Indians crossing into Nepal, so Indian travelers do not need to report here.
How to Exit India at Panitanki – Kakarvitta Border Crossing
- You will need to hand over your passport (and sometimes a photocopy of your passport)
- Show your Indian Visa (and a photocopy of it)
- Your passport will be stamped.
This is a quick process. The only delay we encountered was because India was losing to Australia in the World Cup semi-finals in cricket and it was televised, so we had to wait until the end of an over to be processed!
Successfully stamped out, we started walking towards Nepal, past a few shacks and shops, and another checkpoint that seemed neither official nor interested.
No Mans Land: Panitanki to Kakarvitta Nepal
This bridge is no man’s land. It’s a short walk, there’s no shade and no one to bother you. At the other side of the bridge, we’re in Kakarvitta, the Nepalese border town.
The officials here aren’t particularly interested either, as we walk up the slight hill and find, on the right-hand side Nepal immigration.
Going trekking in Nepal? Read our post on Travel Insurance in Nepal here
Nepal Immigration – Panitanki to Kakarvitta Border Crossing
Nepal Visa on Arrival at Kakarvitta
Most folks who come through here are Indian or Nepalese and need no visa, so this Nepali Immigration office is very quiet.
In order to obtain your Nepal visa on arrival, you will need
- Your passport
- 1 passport photo
- To complete the two forms that you’ll be given here
- The forms ask where you are staying (no evidence is required)
- Passport details
- How long you want to stay (15/30/90 days)
- Cash to pay the visa fee
- You can pay in Indian Rupees, Nepali Rupees, Euros or US Dollars
- Try and have the exact change if paying in US Dollars as change is rarely available. If you do not have enough you can pay in a combination of currencies.
- Visa Costs:
- 15 Day – US$25
- 30 Day – US$40
- 90 Day – US$100
The immigration officers that we dealt with were most concerned with how long we wanted to stay and therefore how much we would be paying. We paid in US dollars, exact change. A fellow Brit who we bumped into crossing the border paid in Indian rupees.
And that was it. The process took 10 minutes. There was no bag check or anything like that and now there’s a new stamp in our passports.
Arriving in Kakarvitta – Things to Know
- Nepal is 15 minutes ahead of India Standard Time. Or four and three-quarter hours ahead of GMT).
- If you have traveled to India with an Indian SIM card it will NOT work in Nepal unless you’ve bought an international option.
ATMs in Kakarvitta
There are two ATMs in Kakarvitta. Do not rely on them having money. We found one that did and one that did not. We used the Sunrise Bank ATM, which is through the bus station, two streets over and to the right. You’ll find it on maps.me or Google.
Currency Exchange in Kakarvitta
You’ll easily find currency exchanges in Kakarvitta. This is, after all, a border town. Be sure to check the exchange rate on an app like xe.com.
Nepal Bank has a currency exchange around half a kilometer from the border. It is easy to see on the main road as it’s pink and has a big sign.
Kakarvitta Bus Station
After you leave Nepal Immigration continue walking along the road and you’ll easily find the bus station. There are lots of touts, lots of windows to book your bus tickets, and places to eat around here.
This is a border town. The center of everything is the bus station and you’ll find shops and places to eat around here. You will be able to find somewhere to grab something to eat and wait until your bus departs. Wi-Fi may be a little harder to come by, but you’ll have more than enough of that when you get to Kathmandu.
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Final Words on Crossing from India to Nepal
This is an easy border crossing, when it’s open. It’s a very laidback crossing here, you’ll need to have money for the Nepal visa, if you don’t already have one and while there are transport options (rickshaws) to take you between the immigration offices and across the bridge, its an easy and flat walk.
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