Stopping between Asia and Europe

Free layover in Istanbul for transit passengers as well as a holiday idea for this Dasain Tihar

Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul. Photo: TURKISH AIRLINES

Dasain used to be a time for family reunions, celebrations and feasting in Nepal. Now, it is time to take an annual vacation to destinations abroad.

Bali, Bangkok and Goa are the preferred cities, and within Nepal domestic visitors to Pokhara, Mustang or Sauraha have also picked up after the pandemic. 

Now, Istanbul has become a competitive destination thanks to stopover offers by Turkish Airlines as well as the US dollar exchange rate, making Türkiye surprisingly affordable. It is hard to believe that a city destination in Europe is only a six-hour flight away.

Turkish Airlines flies three times a week from Kathmandu, and from there to 314 destination airports in 126 countries around the world. In fact, more than 90% of passengers on every Kathmandu-Istanbul flight are transiting to Europe or the Americas. 

“Bangkok and Bali are great, but why keep going to the same place each time? Istanbul and Türkiye in general have so much to offer,” says Turkish Airlines Country Manager Serkan Başar. “Nepalis will find many things familiar, but also exotic in the meeting place of Asia and Europe, the food, culture and shopping.”

Turkish Airlines is also promoting Nepal among other destinations as a tourism attraction at the fifth travel and tourism EMITT Istanbul to be held 6-9 February in 2024.

Nepal and Türkiye established diplomatic relations in 1962, but it was not until Turkish Airlines connected Istanbul and Türkiye that exchanges were picked up. Türkiye’s ambassador to Nepal is based in Delhi, but the country is soon setting up its embassy in Kathmandu.

Historically, Nepal-Türkiye links go back even further to Nepali soldiers fighting alongside the allies in the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War

Turkish Airlines is currently the only European airline flying into Nepal and now offers Nepali passengers with connecting flights to Europe and beyond who can get a wide range of complimentary tour and travel services from the airlines. Passengers can make the best use of their layover in Istanbul. 

One of the three options by the airlines is Touristanbul for passengers with a layover between six to 24 hours. Interested individuals can sign up at the Transfer Desk or the International Arrivals Terminal of İstanbul Airport.

There are eight scheduled tours to select from given one’s flight times. After landing at İstanbul Airport, passengers will be picked up by a vehicle and driven back to the airport at the end of the tour.

Galata Tower

Passengers can take advantage of a free tour using their ticket number only if issued by Turkish Airlines stock number starting 235. Touristanbul is available for Turkish Airlines’ flights including codeshare flights.

Economy class passengers with a connection time of 12 hours or longer and business class passengers with nine hours or more can get hotel service free of charge. A maximum of two nights’ accommodation will be offered.

The layover period is calculated taking the landing time of the first flight and departure time of the second flight as a basis. Passengers under 18 are not accepted without accompanying adults, and passengers on Codeshare airlines are also eligible.

The most attractive complimentary service is the Stopover in Istanbul valid for passengers with a connection period of at least 20 hours. Economy Class passengers can stay one night at a 4-star hotel and Business Class passengers may stay two nights in a 5-star hotel for free.

Dolmabahce Palace. Photo: ISTANBUL.COM

Passengers are required to make a reservation at least 72 hours before their first flight. They need to send in their name-surname, reservation code (PNR) and ticket number, desired accommodation dates, preferred room type, telephone number and e-mail address information to the e-mail address corresponding to their country of departure, or visit Turkish Airlines website for details.

Nepalis can easily get an e-visa if they have a Schengen, UK or US visa for the complimentary stopover. Forms can be obtained at website. Nepalis without onward visas can get a single entry tourist visa valid for a maximum of 30 days at VFS. 

Stopover e-visa can also be obtained from the Turkish Airlines sales or ticket desks before or on the day of departure.