Pokhara certainly has a lot to offer. Found in the Annapurna region, it’s the second largest city in Nepal, just a short flight from Kathmandu. I recently spent time here while travelling around the country on our Highlights of Nepal tour. Here are my suggestions of how to spend time in Pokhara.
Pokhara is a thrill-seekers dream destination with tubing, canyoning and abseiling all available. Nepal is one of the world’s best destinations for white water rafting. There are over 6,000 rivers flowing through the country, the Himalayas helping to create Class 3 and 4 rivers. Pokhara is near the Seti River, a roaring torrent of water that passes through a gorge. There are many companies that will fulfil your adrenaline crave with a trip down Seti River. On these thrilling journeys you’ll pass stunning Annapurna mountain views and travel underneath suspension bridges decorated with prayer flags.
However if you wish to stay dry, try parasailing and paragliding. Or if you’ve always dreamt of flying, take to the air on the Zipflyer Nepal. The zipliner, said to be the world’s longest, steepest and fastest, starts in Sarangkot a 20 minute ride from the centre of Pokhara. The 1.8 kilometre zipliner takes you over dense forest and the Seti River towards the majestic Himalayan mountain peaks spread out in front of you. Strapped comfortably into a safety harness, it’s an exhilarating way to see the incredible landscape.
Shopping in Pokhara
Pokhara has many shopping options on its main street. Sherpa Adventure sells last minute trekking supplies such as shoes, poles and jackets. High quality yak wool products can be snapped up for those who want to return home with authentic Nepalese pieces. There is also a selection of cashmere pieces, silver jewellery, and local artwork and handicrafts to be found.
The stores vary between fixed price and negotiable. Many sell the same goods, so don’t be afraid to shop around and put your bargaining skills to good use. Dotted along the main street are plenty of cafes and restaurants to stop and take a break. Grab a plate of steaming hot momos from the Tibetan Mini Market or a dish of teriyaki beef from Koto.
One store which grabbed the attention of our group was Woven, a women‘s skill development organisation. It teaches local women to weave and sew beautiful bags, scarves and other products in order to make a living. The operation currently supports over 500 women. With two stores on the main street, Woven is a must visit for anyone staying in Pokhara.
Hiking in the Himalayas
Found at the bottom of the Annapurna Range, it’s unsurprising there are many hiking options available in this region. From Pokhara you can see Mount Dhaulagiri, Mount Annapurna, Mount Manaslu, all beckoning you to climb and explore them. Treks, as well as being full of picturesque views and fresh mountain air, provide an interesting insight into the area’s culture, history and religion.
The trekking options vary considerably. You can spend a few hours hiking up to the Australia Camp which is an ideal place to spend the night if you’re considering a couple of days hiking. Or you can spend two weeks trekking to Annapurna Base Camp, even the summit if you’re feeling super adventurous.
From Pokhara you can climb to Sarangkot Hill for breathtaking views of the mountains at sunrise. Trekking from Pokhara to Sarangkot and back again takes about four to five hours depending on your route, the walk back accompanied with views of the city. For those who want to dedicate the whole day to an invigorating hike, follow the trail up to the village of Dhampus continuing onto Naudanda. As well as visiting the villages, the hikers will pass through dense forests, terraced rice fields and remote houses.
If the majestic beauty of the Annapurna region isn’t enough to help you relax, Pokhara has a few other solutions. Take a boat ride out on the Lake Phewa, sailing out to the island that holds the Hindu Tal Barahi Temple. There is also a selection of parks including one just north of Old Pokhara with views of Seti River – a peaceful place to unwind, read a book and write a few postcards.
You can also visit the World Peace Pagoda for very pretty views of the mountains reflected in Lake Phewa. You can either take a taxi from the centre of Pokhara or rent a bicycle or motorbike. Once you’ve arrived you will need to climb the staircase up to the Buddhist temple, the white walls and gold Buddha gleaming in the sunlight.
If you are looking for a fine dining experience you can’t beat Harbour. Situated along the main street with delightful lake views the restaurant offers a mix of western and Nepalese food with fantastic service. Whist a little more expensive than a local restaurant, the food is delicious. And the cocktail menu is a brilliant way to reward yourself after a long day trekking or shopping.
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a keen shopper or an avid hiker, join one of our Nepal group tours to try out our Pokhara suggestions.