Travelling to Nepal is amongst the world’s top destinations for travellers with an adventurous spirit, and altitude on the mind! The great news is that the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara deliver so much more than just a gateway to those trekking paths! For those who want to get out and see the many personalities of Nepal without lacing up those hiking boots, Kathmandu and Pokhara are the cities for you!
1 – The cultural pulse.
Home to 7 of the 11 Nepalese UNESCO World Heritage sites from medieval cities, to sacred temples, monasteries, and Royal Dwellings, Kathmandu Valley takes you back into the worlds of years gone by. Travelling to Kathmandu Valley in today’s world will bring you face to face with the devastation and hard work of restoration workers in the wake of the 2015 earthquake. With no temple spared, all buildings are being lovingly restored with original wood carvings being completed by hand in the traditional methods. Kathmandu is the perfect marriage of old and new!
2 – Shoppers rejoice!
Artworks, thangkas, spices, carvings, books, clothing, leather goods, jewels… Kathmandu has it all! With our hotels located centrally in Thamel, you are all but a walk away from the shopping capital of Kathmandu. Enjoy prayer flag studded, cross-crossed and curving alleyways lined with vendors and shop fronts all with thousands of treasures inside. A short walk down the many alleys will take you to Old Kathmandu where the shop fronts turn to markets, and locals’ shop for their daily goods. Shops are open from 11am – 9pm daily, and with the streets becoming beautifully illuminated by fairy lights overhead at night, it’s a great way to end a day of exciting touring!
3 – Hustle and Bustle with locals
Whether you want to get amongst it by foot, or perhaps just watch from one of the many rooftop restaurants, Kathmandu is a bustling hive of activity. The streets of Kathmandu are a cacophony of vehicles, pedestrians, live music, shop vendors and so much more. Travellers can be found on street corners sketching or filming the scene unfolding before them. Thamel is a predominantly pedestrian area, but it is not uncommon to be passed by a bicycle powered tuk tuk, or vendor and donkey. During dry season the streets can be a little dusty, so be sure to bring a scarf or something to cover your face for comfort.
4 – More, more, momos!
Whether you wish to delve into the world of traditional Nepalese Himalayan dishes, or like to stick closer to home, Kathmandu delivers excellence across the board. Foodies and hungry travellers alike come together in a world of aroma, and taste explosions from street food, to fine dining, to locally run rooftop restaurants taking in the views of Kathmandu streets and valley.
5 – A hiking-less way to the roof of the world!
No trip to Nepal is complete without witnessing the majestic Mount Everest. The good news is that you no longer need to don your tweed suit like the mountaineering champions of years gone by to take in the wonder and beauty of the tallest mountain on Earth. An Everest scenic flight is just the ticket! Ascending early in the morning, venture on a 1 hour flight across the Everest region of the Himalayas. With a guaranteed window seat take in the beauty of glaciers, alpine lakes, Himalayan peaks (4 over 8000m), and of course, Mt Everest, a mere 32km from your seat.
1 – Lakeside escape
Imagine a town at the foothills of the Himalayas, surrounded by a series of 7 fresh water lakes where you could paddle out for a romantic sunset canoe. Think no further than Pokhara! This resort town has been one of the peak holiday destinations for Nepalese locals and there is no question as to why! Being a younger city than Kathmandu, the planning and space has allowed the countries second largest city to grow at a healthy rate and therefore takes away the hustling and bustling feeling that Kathmandu holds. Enjoy lakefront restaurants, spas, and resort style facilities in a city that allows time to unwind, or rev up, depending on your preference.
2 – Views for days
No matter where you are, enjoy views of the high Himalayas to the North. The placement of Pokhara allows views of the sacred and iconic Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) mountain, Annapurna III, and Annapurna I. Stunning sunrise views can be accessed from the hilltop World Peace Pagoda for those who wish to start their day with a feast for the eyes!
3 – A breath of fresh air!
For those who don’t want to embark on any hard-core hikes but wish to still get their fair share of fresh air Pokhara hosts options a plenty! One of the first views you will bare witness to when pulling into the city is the sight of para-gliders floating in the shadow of the high Himalayas after disembarking from nearby hilltops. If land-based adventure is more for you, then bungee jumping, white water rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, and day hikes may make a nice accompaniment to your stay.
4 – After dark festivities
Now that your daylight hours in Pokhara have been filled with delectable activities, the night time festivities will help to achieve balance from your time in the city. From 5pm nightly, the lakeside changes in personality and becomes a vibrant hum of live music, artists, and shop vendors. Along this same esplanade enjoy a fantastic array of restaurants with varying cuisines, bars, karaoke clubs and nightclubs.
5 – The most sacred site of Nepal
Pokhara, like Kathmandu also accesses a gateway into its own set of Himalayan peaks. Here, we have the sacred Annapurna Range. Although scenic flights are not offered here for the average leisure traveller, you can witness the mountains that have inspired so many. The Annapurna mountains, along with Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) are known as the most sacred mountains of Nepal.
Each of these cities can be visited on our Highlights of Nepal and Annapurna Panorama group tours.