Traveling the 350 km (217 miles) from Kathmandu to Jomsom will first require getting to Pokhara, as there are no direct flights from the capital, and overland road access also goes through Pokhara. Read on to find out more about the journey between Kathmandu and Pokhara.
First Leg: Kathmandu to Pokhara
Duration: 30 minutes
Flying is the easiest and most comfortable way of getting between Kathmandu and Pokhara. Flights leave from Tribhuvan Airport's domestic terminal, several times a day. The last flight leaves around mid-afternoon, but get on an early flight if possible, because if there are delays, re-bookings are done in the order of the original flight. If you're booked onto an afternoon flight and all morning flights are delayed, you may not get on a flight until the next day.
Flights only take around 30 minutes, although they are frequently delayed because of the weather. Try to sit on the right-hand side of the plane for the best mountain views.
In Pokhara, the small Pokhara Airport is just a couple of miles from Lakeside. If you get an early morning flight from Kathmandu, everything runs on time, and you plan to go overland the rest of the way to Jomsom, you may want to continue your journey on the same day. If you plan to fly onward to Jomsom, there may be time to connect to your next flight, but as flights to Jomsom only leave early in the morning (see more below), this is probably too tight. Either way, spending a day or two in Pokhara is recommended; read about the Best Things to Do in Pokhara.
Duration: 6-9 hours
Hiring a private driver is the most comfortable and convenient way of getting between Kathmandu and Pokhara by road, and foreigners are not allowed to hire cars for self-driving in Nepal anyway. With a car and driver you can stop when and where you like, plus you can leave at any time of day (tourist buses tend to leave early in the morning).
Taking the bus is the scenic option, and not too uncomfortable. You'll follow the Prithvi Highway, which runs almost parallel to the Trisuli River for the first half of the journey. When the weather's clear, you get great mountain views from time-to-time on the second half of the journey. However, because of road and traffic conditions, taking the bus can be slow and physically tiring. When there are no road delays, an overland journey can take as few as six hours, but this is uncommon and it often takes as many as nine.
Tourist buses are cheaper than private transfers, and reasonably comfortable. Most leave from near Thamel in Kathmandu at around 7 am, and arrive at Pokhara's tourist bus park, not far from Lakeside. Pre-book tickets during busy times, or if you're traveling in a large group. The Greenline Bus is the most comfortable and tickets include a buffet lunch, plus comfort stops are at quite decent places.
Local buses are cheap but generally uncomfortable and not very safe—overcrowding and speeding should be expected. They're only really an option if you're on a very tight budget.
Whichever overland method you choose, there won't be time to continue your onward journey to Jomsom on the same day. You'll arrive in Pokhara mid-afternoon, and flights between Pokhara and Jomsom only leave early in the morning (see below). If you plan to continue to Jomsom overland, spend at least a night in Pokhara, as you shouldn't make this trip overnight.
Second Leg: Pokhara to Jomsom
Duration: 30 minutes
The easiest way to get from Pokhara to Jomsom is to fly. The small airplanes fly through the Kali Gandaki Gorge (the deepest gorge in the world, according to some calculations) and arrive in Jomsom, in the rain-shadow of the Himalaya, less than 30 minutes later. There are spectacular mountain views from the airport.
Flights leave from Pokhara airport early in the morning, before the daily winds whip up through Mustang in the late morning and make flying hazardous. Even so, flights are still often canceled or delayed if the winds or other weather conditions make it unsafe to fly.
For more information on flying in Nepal, check out the following article: Domestic Flights in Nepal.
Duration: 8+ hours
While going overland from Pokhara to Jomsom is an option, it's not recommendable unless you have no choice. The 96 mile (155 kilometer) journey is long, uncomfortable, and dangerous in places. Plus, the roughly eight-hour journey can be made significantly longer if there are any landslides or accidents en route. However, in the busy season, flights between Pokhara and Jomsom sell out quickly, and at other times they can be canceled because of the weather. Sometimes, going overland may be the only way to get to Jomsom. It's definitely scenic and dramatic, following the Kali Gandaki River most of the way.
If you have to make the overland journey and your budget allows, a private transfer is the best option. Tour companies can arrange these, and vehicles with good suspension and air conditions can make a huge difference to your comfort. If you're on a tight budget, buses and shared microbuses/Jeeps also make the trip, but these are usually slow, hot, crowded, and less safe than taking a private transfer.
While it's possible to walk between Pokhara and Jomsom, in an area with so many wonderful trekking options, this isn't the best choice. The classic Annapurna Circuit Trek used to require trekkers to walk from Jomsom all the way back to nearer Pokhara, but since the construction of the Pokhara to Jomsom road, fewer people complete this part of the circuit. Many of those that do take alternative routes that avoid the road, called the New Annapurna Trekking Trails (NATT).
See more about this option in How to Get from Pokhara to Jomsom.