Hiring a scooter in Kathmandu

Hiring a scooter in Kathmandu

Backpackers and travellers are known for hiring scooters as they travel all over Asia. It’s so common for travellers to be on the back of scooters or self-driving in the Philippines, Bali and Thailand.

But for some reason, tourists never seem to think of hiring a scooter in Kathmandu. There are plenty of old-timers who travelled Nepal by motorbike back in the days of the hippy trail, but that seemed to die down in recent years as tourists took to backpacking more, and taking public transport so they could carry more mod cons.

There are a few scooter and motorbike hire shops in Thamel, but the signage is weathered and they have been there for years. Which makes those shops perfect for information, especially for those looking to travel more of Nepal by motorbike.  More on that later.

For anyone looking to hire a scooter for a few days in Kathmandu, read on.

Hiring a scooter in kathmandu
Hiring a scooter in Kathmandu is easy!

Where to hire a scooter in Kathmandu

Walk down to Thamel and hire a scooter for 700rs per day. I believe you will get this down to around 500rs per day if you hired it for a week or more, but for a single day price, it is reasonable. 

This will also include 1 helmet. If you are two people, ask for an additional helmet and they might include it free of charge, but otherwise expect to pay 100rs a day for one.

Ask for Sunil Shrestha at the Motorbike Rental Service. You can call Sunil in advance on 9861700457 or 9841860912. He will help you with hiring a scooter in Kathmandu.

Petrol in Nepal

When you hire a scooter, it will most likely come with half a tank of gas or so. You will be expected to return the bike around the same level. 

To fill up your scooter or motorbike drive to a petrol station just outside of Thamel. Locals will say it is expensive for fuel, and it is for Asia, but not impossibly so. Current prices are around 100rs per Liter.

I was able to drive around for 2 days on 150rs of fuel to put it into perspective.

Once you are out of the city, finding petrol stations is a bit more difficult. I just pulled up next to a motorbike repair shop and asked, they walked next door to a local dairy type store and bought a bottle of petrol in an old 7up bottle for 100rs.

After I filled the bike, I gave the plastic bottle back to the seller. My scooter seemed to run fine and I’m assuming that’s a normal way of filling up.

Expect long queues at petrol stations, that’s just how it is.

Try to be ready so you don’t slow the movement down. Have the right amount of cash handy and open your tank for the guy to fuel you up. Keep the line moving and you will have the respect of the local drivers. 

Hiring a scooter in Kathmandu, or something with more power!

Road rules for Scooters in Kathmandu

The official liquor intake allowed for driving on Nepalese roads is 0%.

After dark expects there to be plenty of roadblocks and checks on drivers in Kathmandu. This surprised me, but they do have breathalysers to analyse your alcohol intake and they love to use them. So don’t even think of drinking a beer with dinner, or you could get busted.

I am unsure of the fines or jail terms associated with getting caught.

Driving without a helmet seems to be ok. While 8 out of 10 drivers have helmets on, I rode as a passenger with my Nepalese sister for over a week and not a single cop pulled us over, and we probably drove past them on 15 or so occasions. 

In saying that driving without a helmet is stupid and you’re only going to hurt yourself. Wear a helmet. 

I also noticed Nepalese tend to use their indicators a lot. I had expected to just move with the traffic in a similar fashion to how I was used to in other parts of Asia such as the Philippines or Vietnam. But actually, driving a scooter in Nepal is slightly different. 

Indicate always.

But be wary that your indicator is turned off afterwards. Mine kept being bumped back on and with no audible alert, I drove around frequently flashing the wrong way.

I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, so I’m sure you will manage to not get polite yells across the traffic from concerned citizens. 

The traffic moves similar to other parts of Asia though. Brake when you see someone coming into your line of the path, and they will do likewise.

Drive slowly in heavy traffic, and sound your horn at arbitrary and random times. 

That one always confuses me. 

Hiring a scooter in Kathmandu

Where to drive your scooter in Kathmandu

So you have hired a scooter for the day and now you have no idea where to go?

Save on taxi fares by driving to Pashiputi or Bodnath.

I don’t want to recommend this, but a small travel hack that I figured out, was at Bodnath. By driving into the area while on a scooter by myself and wearing a helmet, no one seemed to see that I was a tourist, and consequently, I was not charged for entry. A saving for 400rs 😉 

From there I headed up to Kopan monastery and I got myself a bit lost on the backroads which were nice.

You can also drive the other direction out to Sawambanth and the white monastery. Make sure you stop at the red house along the way for a drive with a view, or a cheeky plate of momo.

Or for the truly adventurous, try and drive to Bhaktapur or Patan. Allow a decent amount of time if you plan to do this. It takes around 1 hour one way to get to Bhaktapur. But allow extra for traffic as the roads are still quite damaged from the quake. 

If you plan to get a little further off the beaten track, try stopping in at Kitipur, or driving out to Nagacort. Again, plan accordingly.

You will be spending a long day on the road with these itineraries, and you may not bump into any other tourists to assist you, so its best to make sure you have data on your phones, a bottle of water and a full tank of gas before you leave. 

Tips for riding scooters in Kathmandu

I am unsure why there seems to be fear (for lack of a better word) for foreigners driving on scooters or motorbikes in Kathmandu city.

Sure the traffic is bad, and you spend a fair bit of your time sitting on the ring road parking lot, but once you escape that and get out of the city, the drive is stunning.

Twisting roads up mountains sides with sweeping views of Kathmandu Valley, driving through small roadside stalls offering local foods at local prices. You can pull over whenever you want and take in the sights, or pull off the main road and go rogue for something different.

The locals are always friendly, and the roads are always unpredictable

Oh yeah, and be careful of the leopards.

They sometimes attack people on the outskirts of the city. I’m not kidding.

I hope this helps you with hiring a scooter in Kathmandu next time you are there.

Round The World Rachel
Round The World Rachel

Rachel Cunningham is a Superyacht Chef and World Adventurer.
With over 110 countries visited in the past 15 years, Rachel wants to you to come along for the ride! Bring a bottle of rum, and a bikini, oh yeah, and your passport. You could end up losing all three items by the end of this journey!
Round the world Rachel takes you off the beaten track to beaches, bars and restaurants of the unknown!

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1 Comment

  1. May 18, 2020 / 1:07 am

    A great informative blog for those who are wondering to rent a scooter in kathmandu.
    thanks for sharing!
    Cheers 🙂

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