As the small mountain town of Lukla is the typical starting point for treks in the Everest region, including the Everest Base Camp Trek, it’s a busy little place. As there is no motorized road there from Kathmandu, there are only two ways to get to Lukla: by air, or on foot.
Duration: 30 minutes
Most travelers get from Kathmandu to Lukla by plane. The flight takes about 30 minutes. The Tenzing-Hillary Airport is notorious for its short, mountain-side runway, but the vast majority of flights arrive and leave from there without incident. Delays, however, are very common due to weather conditions in Kathmandu, Lukla, or en route. It’s important to build some buffer days into your itinerary in the Everest region, so you don’t risk missing an important international connection if Lukla flights are grounded for a day or two.
Helicopters are a handy back-up option if you had been booked to fly on a canceled or seriously delayed flight. They can fly in weather that airplanes can't, so in an emergency could get you back to Kathmandu.
UPDATE: Kathmandu's airport is undergoing renovation for the rest of 2019. During this time, flights between Kathmandu and Lukla will depart from Manthali's Ramchhap airport, a 4-5 hour drive from Kathmandu. Nine flights are expected to operate daily, from 6-6:30 am to 10:30 am. You can either drive to Manthali the day before your trek and spend the night (keep in mind that accommodation is basic) or you can leave Kathmandu at midnight on the same day. For those who are short on time, you can still take a helicopter from Kathmandu to Lukla.
Duration: 45 minutes
If you’re not on a tight budget, getting to Lukla by helicopter is an unforgettable experience. You’ll leave from the domestic terminal of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport, and arrive in Lukla less than an hour later. On the way you’ll see the hilly, farm-studded landscape of Kathmandu rise to the higher elevations of the colder, less fertile mountain areas. From Lukla, most people who travel by helicopter continue on to Everest Base Camp for a sightseeing flight of the area and return to Kathmandu the same day.
By Road & On Foot
Duration: 4-6 days
Although this is a much less common way of reaching Lukla, it’s possible to trek there from Kathmandu, or at least take a Jeep for a day to reach the towns of Jiri or Phaplu, from where you can trek to Lukla. The trek from Jiri is called the “Pioneers’ Route” because it’s how pioneering mountaineers used to reach Lukla before the airport was constructed in the 1960s.
The trek from Phaplu to Lukla takes three days, while from Jiri it takes five. These trails hardly see any visitors these days, but those who do make the trip tend to enjoy the more gradual approach to the Everest region, witnessing the slow changes in landscape and culture.