How to get to Lukla

There are several ways to get to Lukla from Kathmandu. In this blog, we will explore the different transportation methods and alternatives.

Lukla is a small town in the Khumbu PasangLhamu rural municipality, Solukhumbu. It lies in the northeast region of Nepal and serves as a gateway for the Everest Base Camp Trek and other trekking destinations of the Everest region. It is 2860 meters (9383 feet) above sea level.

The town is home to Tenzing Hillary Airport, which is renowned for being one of the most dangerous airports in the world. The airport was given the label for its short, steep runway, unpredictable weather, and high altitude. Despite the name, the airport is safe to travel. On clear weather days, frequent domestic flights between Kathmandu and Lukla occur.

how to get to lukla

In addition to flights connecting Kathmandu to Lukla, there are flights connecting the town with Manthali Airport and Ramechhap. There is also the option of taking a helicopter ride. Since there are no motorized roads to Lukla, visitors must take a jeep to neighboring villages and then trek there.

Traveling to Lukla by any transportation method is a fantastic experience. Flying to Lukla offers one of the most scenic flight experiences in Nepal. Likewise, traveling by ground transportation is also a picturesque and culturally enriching experience. Either way, you will get a taste of rural Nepal and its raw natural beauty.

Let us delve further into how to get to Lukla. We will explain what transportation modes you can take along with alternatives. With the help of this blog, you can then decide how you want to travel to the serene town of Lukla by yourself. Now, without further delay, let us begin!

How to get to Lukla?

You can get to Lukla by flight or by trekking. The most common and popular way is by flight from Kathmandu. No motorized roads connect Kathmandu to Lukla, so jeeps or buses do not take you to Lukla directly. Thus, you must drive to either Phaphlu, Jiri, or Thamedanda and then trek to Lukla.

By Flight

The domestic flight connecting Kathmandu to Lukla takes 30 to 40 minutes. The scenic flight is famous among trekkers who want to access the Everest region. It is quicker and more comfortable than traveling by ground transportation.

The flight takes off from Tribhuvan Airport’s domestic terminal and lands at Tenzing Hillary Airport. The short mountain-side runway operates regular flights when the weather permits. However, the weather is unpredictable and suddenly changes. As a result, there are often flight delays and cancellations in Lukla.

lukla ride

If you are considering flying to Lukla, adding a couple of extra days to your itinerary is best. This way, your itinerary will be flexible in case of flight delays. The weather can change at any time despite the season, so it is best to prepare for it.

The flight cost from Kathmandu to Lukla ranges from USD 180 to USD 300. It varies depending on the season. It tends to be higher during peak tourist season, i.e., spring and autumn. The weight allowance is 15 kg, of which 10 kg is for luggage, and 5 kg is for hand carry. You must pay an additional USD 1 per kg if the luggage is overweight.

By Ground Transportation

As we mentioned, there are no motorized roads from Kathmandu to Lukla. However, you can trek to Lukla. You first have to drive up to the nearby towns or villages connected by road. Ground transportation is a good option for avoiding flight delays or cancellations. Likewise, the scenic drive and trek have recently increased the number of trekkers taking the roadways.

The options for ground transportation are as follows:

Drive to Jiri

Jiri is a small village 190 kilometers from Kathmandu. It is a 9- to 10-hour jeep drive on an off-road. Likewise, it is a scenic drive where you will pass by beautiful villages, terrace farms, hills, valleys, and forests. From Jiri, trekking takes 7 to 8 days to reach Lukla.

Expeditions used the route connecting Jiri to Lukla in the early days before the construction of the Tenzing Hillary Airport. Thus, this route is also referred to as the Pioneer’s Route. Since the airport’s construction, the route has become less crowded. However, Jiri is the best option if you want to follow the explorers’ old path.

If you are interested in Kathmandu to Salleri transportation, click here!

Drive to Phaphlu

Another ground transportation route is driving from Kathmandu to Phaphlu. This small town is at 2413 meters elevation and lies 270 km east of Kathmandu. It takes around 9 hours to drive from Kathmandu to Phaphlu.

In comparison to Jiri, it only takes 3 to 4 days to trek to Lukla from Phaphlu. This is another best option for trekkers who want to skip traveling by flight to Lukla. The trek is also scenic, passing through picturesque countryside, hills, valleys, forests, and rivers.

Drive to Thamedanda

Thamedanda is another small village connected by roadway to Kathmandu. This relatively newer route opened after the road extension to the Everest region. Shared and private jeeps make routine trips from the capital city to this village.

It is a 9 to 10-hour jeep drive from Kathmandu to reach Thamedanda. En route, you will come across Phaphlu before continuing to drive ahead. It takes only two days to reach Lukla from Thamedanda. For trekkers who want to take a roadway but want to reach Lukla in a few days, driving to Thamedanda is an excellent option.

Lukla Flights and Alternatives

Aside from Kathmandu to Lukla flight and ground transportation, there are a few alternatives. Take a look:

Flight from Ramechhap to Lukla

The Manthali Airport, Ramechhap, has become a popular alternative for trekkers flying to Lukla. The flight from Kathmandu is infamous for delays, cancellations, and congested air traffic. Thus, the Manthali Airport has become an excellent divergence to avoid these issues.

The Manthali Airport sits at 474 meters elevation. The flight from Ramechhap to Lukla began in October 2022. However, you must first travel from Kathmandu to Ramechhap, 132 km away. It takes around 4 to 5 hours to drive.

Ramechhap is a small town with few visitors. If you plan to spend a night here, only a few accommodations have basic facilities. The Manthali Airport is less congested, unlike Tribhuvan Airport’s domestic terminal. It takes only around 20 minutes to reach Lukla.

Helicopter Ride To Lukla

Taking a helicopter ride to Lukla is another alternative to getting there. Additionally, it is luxurious and more comfortable to travel by helicopter. It is an ideal solution for trekkers who have limited time.

You will board the helicopter from Tribhuvan Airport’s domestic terminal. It takes 40 to 60 minutes to fly to the Tenzing Hillary Airport. Air Dynasty, Simrik Air, Kailash Heli, and Summit Helicopters are some carriers that provide helicopter services.

helicopter ride

However, it is costlier. A helicopter ride can cost anywhere from USD 400 to USD 600 per person. Likewise, chartering a private helicopter can cost around USD 2200 to 3000. A helicopter can accommodate up to 5 passengers at a time and allows baggage allowance of up to 4000 kg.

Everest Region Treks

Once you get to Lukla, it opens the doorways to various trekking destinations of the Everest region. Let us explore some of the most popular Everest Region trek destinations:

Everest Base Camp Trek

The Everest Base Camp is undoubtedly Nepal’s most popular trekking destination. It takes you as close as possible to the world’s highest mountain, Mt. Everest (8848 meters), without climbing the summit. The highest point is the Kala Patthar, which sits at 5545 meters.

The trails of Everest Base Camp are full of adventurous terrains and beautiful scenery. You will pass by picturesque Sherpa settlements like Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche, Gorakshep, and more. Likewise, you will trek through the forest of rhododendrons to highland pastures, where it is common to see yaks grazing.

Similarly, the trek route goes through Sagarmatha National Park. You can witness diverse Himalayan flora and fauna. Also, if you are lucky, you can encounter rare animals like red pandas, Himalayan Tahr, musk deers, etc. The trek also treats you with jaw-dropping sights of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Nutpse, Makalu, and many others.

Pikey Peak Trek

The Pikey Peak Trek is among the lesser-known trek destination of Nepal. It was opened recently, so the trails are less crowded. If you want to avoid the highly-commercialized and crowded routes of Everest Base Camp, you can opt for the Pikey Peak Trek. Or better yet, you can combine the Pikey Peak with Everest Base Camp Trek.

During the Pikey Peak Trek, you will pass by remote villages, valleys, deep gorges, and age-old monasteries. The tranquil atmosphere of the trek is perfect for escaping bustling city life. Furthermore, even beginners can participate and enjoy the trek.

The off-the-beaten trails of the Pikey Peak route offer a refreshing experience. En route, you can witness gorgeous mountain views like Mt. Everest, Makalu, Dhaulagiri, Kanchenjunga, and more. You will witness all the eight highest mountains of Nepal during the trek. The trek provides an alluring experience to witness the raw and unspoiled beauty of the Everest region.

Everest Three Passes Trek

The Everest Three Passes Trek is the ultimate trek for adventure and thrill-seeking trekkers. During the trek, you will pass Everest region’s three highest passes, i.e., Renjo La Pass (5340 meters), Cho La Pass (5420 meters), and Kongma La Pass (5535 meters).

everest three high passes trek

While on the trek, you will pass by beautiful Sherpa settlements like Namche Bazaar, Thame, Lungden, etc. In addition to the stunning mountain view of Mt. Everest, you can also see mountains like Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Nuptse, Khumbutse, Cholatse, and more. The trek is physically demanding and full of challenges and adventures.

Similarly, you can get a mesmerizing view of Gokyo Ri, Gokyo Lakes, and Khumbu Glaciers. Everest Three Passes Trek also offers a unique cultural experience. The trail also passes by ancient monasteries, mani walls, prayer wheels, and chortens. You will trek through Sagarmatha National Park and observe the diverse Himalayan flora and fauna.

Faqs

How safe is the flight to Lukla?

The Lukla Airport, or Tenzing Hillary Airport, is considered one of the world’s most dangerous airports. However, it is safe to fly to Lukla. The title of danger comes from its statistical position. The last accident that involved a passenger airplane was back in 2008. The safety and regulations have significantly been upgraded since then. So, rest assured.

What is the weight limit for a flight to Lukla?

The total weight limit for a flight to Lukla is 15 kg. This includes 10 kilograms of luggage and 5 kg for hand carry. For luggage weighing over 15 kg, you must pay an extra charge of USD 1 per kg. In the worst-case scenario, you may have to leave some of your stuff behind due to overweight.

What alternatives are available for Lukla’s flight?

You can drive to Phaphlu, where you have to trek to Lukla, or you can drive to Jiri and trek from there. Another option is to drive to Thamedanda. Or, you can take a helicopter to Lukla. Traveling via roadway takes a long time, but it is cheaper. However, a helicopter will be a better alternative if you have limited time.

Does travel insurance cover flight delays or postponements?

There are travel insurances that cover trip interruption. It includes flight delays, postponements, and cancellations. Such policies will reimburse the travel expenses at such times. You must understand the policies clearly while taking the insurance. You can call and inquire about the insurance coverage with your insurance coverage before embarking on the journey.

How much does a helicopter to Lukla cost?

A helicopter ride to Lukla can cost around USD 400 to USD 600 per person. The cost can vary depending on the helicopter, services, season, and demand. You can also opt for a sharing or private helicopter ride. Sharing a helicopter is comparatively cheaper than booking a private one. You can contact the helicopter service agencies for exact costs and details.

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