Traveling to Nepal and want to know the best places to visit? Pokhara, Chitwan and Kathmandu are the most well known tourist destinations in Nepal for good reason! I cover the three places and give examples of why they are the gateways to everything in Nepal!
Nepal is a mystic and dynamic country that offers a world of excitement and adventure to its tourists. Situated in South Asia, Nepal is a relatively small country (about the size of the state of Arkansas). Although small, traveling the country is no easy feat, as the terrain and complexities of Nepal, has much to offer. As someone that has never traveled to the country before it may be difficult to know where to go and what to experience.
In this quick rundown of Nepal, I present three tourist destinations that everyone traveling Nepal should experience. Moreover, the reason these have made the list is because they are the gateway to almost all the exciting experiences and places to visit in Nepal. The three places I will discuss include:
Pokhara – The city of lakes and beauty:
Pokhara is probably the most popular tourist destination in Nepal. Nestled into a valley at the foothills of the Annapurna Range, Pokhara provides a gateway to the north, unlocking many of the most famous trekking destinations in Nepal – like the Annapurna Base Camp trek, which year after year, has around 70% of all trekkers visiting Nepal.
Even if you don’t plan on going trekking, the city has much to offer by itself. With the tourist destination of Lakeside, following Phewa Tal (lake), it provides access to beautiful views of the mountains to the north, adventure sports, tourist attractions, and one of the most relaxing experiences you will ever have.
In terms of adventure sports, there a few different options you can choose, for example, in Pokhara you can do:
And much more!
My personal favorite is taking advantage of the paragliding in Pokhara opportunity at Sarangkot Hill – the most famous paragliding spot in all of Nepal. With views of the city and of the Annapurna Range to the north, it’s 30 minutes of flight that you will wish lasted much longer!
If you decide to take advantage of paragliding in Pokhara, I strongly recommend forgoing the 30 minute car ride to the top, and jumping on the Annapurna Cable Car. The fast and easy ride to the top of Sarangkot, will provide you with a relaxing experience and views of the lake and city below in a brand new cable car. Additionally, the cable car has just opened (2022) and is the fastest way up the hill, lasting only about 10 minutes! In addition to paragliding, the cable car will take you to the top of Pokhara which has nice restaurants and hotels to stay in. Finally, on a clear day, you will be able to see a panoramic view of the Himalayas.
After your relaxing and adventure fueled time in Pokhara, it’s time to catch a domestic flight and head to Chitwan!
Chitwan – Say hello to the Elephants
Chitwan provides a completely different experience to tourists in Nepal. Located in the Terai of Nepal, the landscape and culture of the area completely changes and transforms from what you are used to in the hilly regions. Spending a couple days in Chitwan is a great way to complement your adventures in Nepal, especially after your visit to Pokhara for adventure sports and trekking.
Chitwan is a popular destination for Jungle activities, cultural experiences, water activities, wildlife and bird watching. Traveling to Chitwan is pretty easy as you can get a bus from Pokhara and Kathmandu, or even catch a flight – saving you a few hours in transportation. A few of the most popular activities in Chitwan National Park include: Jungle Safari, Jeep Drive and Safari, Bird Watching, sightseeing nature walks, and it is also home of One Horned Rhino.
The Chitwan area is also rich in culture and home to the indigenous Tharu people. Tharu are very unique and have distinct cultural practices, they are all skilled in various handicraft production – colorful baskets made from local grasses. Moreover, if you are looking to experience more heritage and religious activities, Chitwan is considered a holy place and is home to pilgrimage sites and temples such as: Devghat dham, Harihar Mandir, Ganeshthan, Bikram Baba and other popular temples. Finally, you can take part in some adventure sports while in the area as well including: Rafting and Kayaking.
Now that you have experienced and seen the hills as well as the Terai of Nepal, it is time to head back to Kathmandu!
Kathmandu – City of temples and more!
Kathmandu, popularly known as “the city of temples” has a lot more to offer just than the temples, arts, architecture, culture and heritage that it is famous for. Of course these aspects are all must-sees while visiting the Kathmandu Valley. However, if you are looking to get more out of the city after seeing the durbar squares, you can take advantage of the splendid places for sightseeing, hiking and other activities.
A few of the most famous places around Kathmandu for hiking and sightseeing are:
Chandragiri is a popular hiking destination in Kathmandu. With many people taking advantage of the day hike towards Chandragiri to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The trail passes through the jungle and small villages, and upon reaching the Chandragiri Hills you can witness the spectacular panorama views of the Himalayan Ranges.
Jamacho Gumba is situated at the top of the hill in Shivapuri National Park. The Jamacho hike is quite steep and goes through the jungle. Although it may be slightly more difficult, the view tower at the top of the hill makes it all worth it as it provides spectacular views of the Kathmandu Valley along with the majestic Himalayas at the north on a clear day.
Champadevi lies southwest of Kathmandu at an elevation of 2280m, and is among the top hiking destinations in the Kathmandu Valley. The steep hiking trail follows the pine forest decorated with Buddhist prayer flags. On a clear day the hill propounds the magnificent view of the mountains including the Gauri Shankar, Dorje Lakpa, Langtang Lirung and many more peaks. Moreover, the summit of this short hike offers a bird’s eye view of the valley below.