This 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 were most people will start from 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). Siliguri to Kakarvitta is an easy route. The overland border crossing is quiet, simple and immigration on both sides is also easy, although make sure you follow the customs and requirements of both countries.
What's in This Article?
- Siliguri to Kakarvitta: Indian to Nepal Border Crossing
- Indian Immigration: leaving India at Panitanki
- No Mans Land: Panitanki to Kakarvitta
- Nepal Immigration – Panitanki to Kakarvitta Border Crossing
- Arriving in Kakarvitta – Things to Know
Siliguri to Kakarvitta: Indian to Nepal Border Crossing
There are three options when it comes to getting from Siliguri to Panitanki, the Indian township across from the border at Kakarvitta.
- Shared Jeep
The bus is easy to catch if you have arrived in Siliguri by train or are staying near the NJP Siliguri Train station. If you have arrived from Darjeeling in a shared jeep, then we advise taking a shared jeep to Panitanki. The distance from Siliguri to Panitanki is around 30 kilometres. The journey time is around 45 minutes.
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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. Cost 40 INR. You’ll see the buses at the end of the parking lot by the station.
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 you have travelled down from Darjeeling to Siliguri, then you’ll be left close to the shared jeep and taxi stations which go to the India – Nepal border. You can check out how to get from Darjeeling to Siliguri. (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.
Shared Jeep Siliguri to Panitanki
The shared jeep from Siliguri to the Nepal Border cost us 100 INR each. We had 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 through).
Indian Immigration: leaving India at Panitanki
The Indian – Nepal border at Panitanki is open for foreigners (ie Non-Indian/Nepali) from 7am to 6pm as of March 2018. (thanks to a reader for the update) The border here between Panitanki and Kakarbhitta is delineated by a river. The bridge that connects both countries is no mans 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’s no visa requirements for Indians crossing into Nepal, so Indian travellers 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, another checkpoint that seems neither official nor interested.
No Mans Land: Panitanki to Kakarvitta
This bridge is no mans 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 interested either as we walk up the slight hill and find, on the right hand side Nepal immigration.
Nepal Immigration – Panitanki to Kakarvitta Border Crossing
Nepal Visa on Arrival at Kakarvitta
Most folks who come through here at 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 travelled India with an Indian SIM card it will NOT work here 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 (check out other Travel Apps we use when on the road).
Nepal Bank has a currency exchange around half a kilometre on from the border. It is easy to see on the main road as its pink and has a big sign.
Kakarvitta Bus Station
After you leave Nepal Immigration continues 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 centre 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. Wifi may be a little harder to come by, but you’ll have more than enough of that when you get to Kathmandu.