Nepal, a country coined as a trekkers’ paradise, combines rich ancient culture and history with a backdrop of Himalaya mountains. This landlocked country encompasses charming villages, breathtaking golden temples, untouched wildlife, and stunning landscapes. If you are planning a trip to Nepal, here are some of the most wonderful places in Nepal in collaboration with other travel bloggers.
Officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal was closed to the visitors until the 1950s. Since then, Nepal has undergone major developments including the formation of a multi-party parliamentary system; the abolition of the monarchy; and a decade-long Maoist rebellion. Sandwiched by India and China, Nepal is home to eight highest mountains in the world including Mt. Everest, or Sagarmatha as locals call it.
One of the poorest countries of the world, it’s economy heavily relies on tourism and aid. A disastrous earthquake of 2015, flattened many villages, killed thousands of people, and destroyed many heritage sites. Nevertheless, Nepal is an amazing country to explore, but before you go, check out my ultimate guide to Nepal travel tips to know what to expect.
Popular and less known places in Nepal
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, will most likely be your first destination in the country. This chaotic city will give you a sensory overload once driving from the airport to your hotel. Traffic-jammed roads, smells, and sounds dominating the alleyways can be overwhelming at first glance. However, with its marvelous medieval temples created by breathtaking architecture and details, Kathmandu is amazing, exhausting, and intoxicating at the same time, making it one of the must-visit places in Nepal.
Stay at backpacker district Thamel to feel the vibe of the town. Explore Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was almost destroyed by the 2015 earthquake; stroll down the backstreets of the city to reveal and experience its artistic and timeless cultural heritage. Explore its gorgeous temples of Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple), Boudhanath Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple Complex, along with small shrines and stupas scattered across the town.
One of the most historic places in Nepal and in Kathmandu valley is Patan and its main Durbar Square located Southeast in the Kathmandu area. The historic old center is filled with amazing palaces, ornate architecture, and stunning buildings that are easy to walk through.
Patan contains many historic sites within the square including the Patan museum, the Hiranya Varna Mahavihar (Golden Temple), the Krishna Mandir Temple, Pimbahal pond, and the Mangal bazaar to name just a few.
Even getting lost and walking through some of the fascinating streets, markets, and backstreets are a cool way of traversing this unique and historic area filled with the famous Newari architecture dating back to the early 1600s. The stunning facades are intricately carved in wood, gorgeous brick and stonework. Some of the major structures are rebuilt caused by the recent earthquake.
Definitely make an easy day trip to Patan from Kathmandu to enjoy this wonderful place with such amazing visuals, photo opportunities, and discoveries.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
One of the most interesting places in Nepal is perhaps the ancient Newari city Bhaktapur. Known as the “Living Museum” of the Newari art and architecture, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the main square in the town is one of the most splendid UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal. Located about 15 km from Kathmandu town, you can get to Bhaktapur by taking a cab or public transportation.
There are 4 main squares in Bhaktapur, of which the Durbar Square is the main one. Durbar Square has a number of important temples and buildings all depicting the past glory of the Nepali kings. The Palace of 55 Windows, Taleju Temple, Royal Bath are few of the main attractions of the square. The Nyatapola Temple at Taumadhi Square is one of the grandest structures in the entire Bhaktapur. The 5-storeyed temple is one of the tallest temples in Nepal measuring at 30 meters. You can also visit the Dattatraya Square for the famous Peacock Window and Pottery Square.
While in Bhaktapur, do try Juju Dhau, a creamy yogurt topped with a crunchy layer and served in earthen pots. This is made from buffalo milk and is found only in Bhaktapur. There is an entrance fee of $15 for foreign tourists to enter Bhaktapur Durbar Square. This ticket is valid for 3 days.
By Tale of 2 Backpackers
Nagarkot is a small mountain area about an hour from Kathmandu by taxi or around two hours ride on the bus (but a LOT cheaper). Nestled at 2,000m above sea level, this peaceful and small town offers various stunning sunrise and mind-blowing landscape views.
The top things to do in Nagarkot include hiking through beautiful forest and towards various viewpoints for the panoramic views of the Kathmandu Valley. In addition, you can see eight out of the 13 Himalayan ranges from here.
Adventure lovers can enjoy paragliding, a popular sport for a good reason. Although you will need to book in advance.
Dining venues are authentic, locally-owned cafes offering a wide selection of meals, like rice and prawn crackers. Check out the Berg House Cafe to have dinner while watching a beautiful sunset.
In terms of accommodation, Nagarkot offers several fancy places to stay with all the amenities you could want, but the Hotel at the End of the Universe is a great budget-friendly option. Nagarkot is a wonderfully relaxing place to be, where you can take the time to hike crowd-free.
By Vicky Flip Flop Travels
Pokhara is a hub getaway town for those willing to hike in Nepal. With its striking scenery and adventure activities, lakeside Pokhara is one of the ideal places in Nepal to recharge your batteries from your hiking trip or to simply escape the hustle and bustle of busy Kathmandu.
Nestled along the Phewa Lake, Pokhara is home to a two-story pagoda, Tal Barahi Temple, sitting on the island in the lake, and a World Peace Stupa (Shanti Stupa) a Buddhist pagoda-style monument on Anadu Hill overlooking the lake, the city, with a panoramic landscape of the snow-covered Annapurna range on a clear day.
The tranquil lake features colorful bobbing paddle boats for hire to get to the island and to a starting point of the hike towards the Shanti Stupa.
Adventure enthusiasts can enjoy some of the best experiences in paragliding or visiting various caves and waterfalls within the region. In addition, Pokhara offers several museums for those who are interested in learning more about renowned Gurkha soldiers, mountain and mountaineering around the world, or getting to know the Annapurna region.
And those who seek a spiritual escape, Pokhara provides various yoga retreats and meditation centers.
Sarangkot in Pokhara is another wonderful place to include in your trip to Nepal. Located around 11.3 km from Pokhara, it takes about 30 min to reach the village. Alternatively, you can hike to Sarangkot from Phewa Lake, which takes around 4-5 hours.
At an elevation of 1,599 meters above sea level, Annapurna ranges surround the village. Therefore, it is the perfect place to catch a beautiful view of the Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, and Manaslu ranges.
There are a few sunrise viewpoints, however, the main ones are the Sarangkot View Tower and Annapurna viewpoint. In terms of sightseeing, you can visit Phewa Lake, Mahendra Caves, and the International Mountain Museum in Sarangkot.
In addition, it is also famous for its adventure sports like paragliding, hiking, and zip-lining. The latter being the longest and fastest in the world. Sarangkot’s some of the most beautiful hiking and trekking trails often offer glimpses of unique wildlife. And if you’d like to explore various Tibetan settlements and experience untainted Buddhist cultures, then you should definitely visit Sarangkot between September to November, when the weather is pleasant and suitable for all outdoor activities.
By Our Backpack Tales
Not to be confused with Bandipur National Park in India, which is home to Asian elephants, tigers, and other wild animals, Bandipur in Nepal is a quiet town of about 10,000 human inhabitants that’s filled with 18th-century houses.
The distinctive architecture of these homes is typical of the Newar people, who are considered to be the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. Some of the distinguishing features of the buildings you can look out for are their ornately carved wooden balconies and their slate-tiled roofs that extend out over the street. The town center of Bandipur is pedestrian-only, which makes it a very peaceful place to stroll around.
It won’t take you long to walk from one end of town to the other, though, so for a longer hike consider heading out into the nearby hills. One possible destination is Ramkot, a village about five kilometers from Bandipur. This walk offers some beautiful views of rice fields and the Himalayan mountains, seen from a distance.
To get to Bandipur from Kathmandu or from Pokhara, take one of the many buses that travel between these two cities and get off at Dumre. From Dumre to Bandipur it’s about nine kilometers on a winding road if you go by bus or taxi, and 4.5 kilometers if you choose the steep walking trail.
By The Nomadic Vegan
If you want to get up close and personal with the Newari community and its culture, you must sign up for a few nights homestay accommodation at the Tansen village at Palpa district of Nepal. In the true spirit of the community, the entire village of Tansen is now open to receiving tourists as guests, taking them for guided walks, showing them the lesser-known temples and intricate traditional architecture of the village houses.
In short, Tansen is one of the many success stories of iconic pan Himalayan home-stays and one of the beautiful places in Nepal to visit.
The village rooms are decked up with clean bed-sheets, large round brass plates where Nepalese staple of Daal-Bhat is served hot from the oven.
Tansen has a thriving market scene selling the abundance of traditional household items of the Newari community, while a cinema hall has three shows a day with Bollywood blockbusters. The aroma of incense sticks fills Hindu temples shaped like a pagoda and a few local Khaja Ghar serves delectable local cuisine of Buff momo and Nepalese moonshine.
The winding roads of the Tansen village go upward towards the hill. Dense woods occupy those hiking trails. On a bright sunny day, you can see the peaks of Sagarmatha, including Mount Everest. That is an unforgettable sight.
Historical and spiritual places in Nepal
Lumbini is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, or commonly known as Buddha, making it one of the important and spiritual places in Nepal. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a significant pilgrimage site, where Queen Mahamayadevi gave birth to Buddha in 563 BCE.
The vast complex features several old and new temples constructed and funded by various Buddhist organizations all around the world, along with monasteries, several monuments, the Lumbini International Research Institute, and a museum. Explore the Mayadevi Temple with its Holy Pond (Puskarini) where the Queen took a ritual dip before she gave birth. See the pillar of Ashoka, the emperor of the Maurya Empire, who visited the place in the 3rd century BCE and distinguished it as the birth-place of the Buddha.
Come here early in the morning to see the pilgrims and watch their prayers and meditation. Afterward, walk around to see a number of beautiful monasteries, stupas, ruins of old temples, and monuments all dedicated to Lord Buddha.
Changu is a small village in Kathmandu Valley and a home to a famous temple of Changu Narayan dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. Sitting on the top of the hill, the temple overlooks the beautiful scenery of the village and attracts many believers. It is one of the seventh UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Kathmandu Valley.
It is the oldest temple in the country with its rich decorative works. The two-story roofed temple rises from a high stone base. The architecture of the temple is neither pagoda nor Shikhara style, so many believe its traditional Nepali temple.
Several sculptures related to Lord Vishnu surround the temple, along with temples dedicated to other Hindu gods within the territory.
Located only around 12km from Kathmandu, Changu is a hidden gem for many foreigners. And those who visit it are part of an organized tour. The small, tranquil village is one of the great getaway places in Nepal to relax and get to know the rural life of Nepalese people.
Wildlife and nature places in Nepal
Bardiya National Park
Bardiya National Park lies in the far western corner of Nepal; it is very remote and is in fact more close to Delhi in India than it is to Kathmandu. Its isolated location has preserved nature and wildlife in this national park like no other places in Nepal.
If you want to visit an almost untouched wilderness area, Bardiya is the place to go. It is certainly worth the long journey from Kathmandu as it’s one of the best places in the world to see wild tigers, the rhinoceros, and the Asian elephant. Other wildlife includes lots of birds, deers, and monkeys.
Bardiya has some excellent eco-lodges and homestays that can arrange a number of activities such as jungle walks, jeep safaris, and even rafting trips through the park. Guides are mandatory for your own safety and they are all very professional with a wealth of information about Bardiya’s incredible nature.
The adrenaline during the rafting trip might not come from the rapids as the river is quite calm, but does come from getting up close with the crocodiles and the chance of seeing Gangetic river dolphins.
Culturally Bardiya is also an interesting area. Most villages near the entrance of the park belong to the indigenous Tharu population. Cycling around to see the rural way of life in the beautiful countryside is just as rewarding as a visit to the national park.
By Backpack Adventures
Koshi Tappu is a wetland nature reserve located in eastern Nepal. Covering 175 sq. km, the Reserve was originally established to protect the last remaining wild Asiatic buffalos.
Koshi Tappu is a perfect destination to enjoy some peace and tranquillity. It is also an ideal spot to relax and recuperate after hiking the Annapurna circuit.
You can spot Ganges river dolphin in the Koshi river, while bird-watchers can spot around 485 recorded bird species. On the edge of the nature reserve, you can visit a Tharu village and observe their traditional way of living.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Camp nestled on the edge of the reserve is an excellent place to stay for an exploration. The camp has 20 fixed safari tents and a restaurant serving delicious Nepalese food. They also offer various activities including bird-watching walks, jeep safaris, and rafting.
To reach Koshi Tappu take one of the daily buses from Kathmandu to Kakarbhitta or Biratnagar. Get off the bus at Jamuha and walk 1.5km to the Reserve Headquarters located at Kusaha Sunsari District. Alternatively, fly to Biratnagar and catch the bus to Jamuha.
By Wandering Welsh Girl
Ilam Tea Gardens
Ilam Tea Garden is a little hill town, known for one of the first tea plantations in Nepal. It is also called the Queen of Hills.
Located around 600 km away from Kathmandu, the garden is one of the gorgeous places in Nepal for you to visit. It’s a very clean and quiet budget-friendly destination with welcoming inhabitants. The garden opens at 9 a.m and closes by 10 p.m, making it a perfect sunset point too. Make sure to bring your camera to shoot some of the most beautiful panoramas.
Hike up the hill to get the stunning view of the area from the top of the tower. Afterward, enjoy a cup of tea on a sunny terrace at the foot of the tower. Nepalese staff members will be happy to welcome you and give hands-on experience of tea cultivation. The best time to plan your visit is from October to December or from February to April.
Alternatively, once in there, you can visit Mai Pokhari wetland, situated an hour drive by car; enjoy the view of the four highest peaks of the world from the Sandakphu community, or visit other green tea gardens at a famous Kanyam town.
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Nepal travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
– Check iVisa to see if you need a tourist visa to visit Nepal, how to apply online if applicable, or where’s the nearest embassy or consulate
– Pre-book a private car transfer from Kathmandu Airport to the city center
– Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, to cover all sorts of health problems on the road
– Book in advance some of the best city walks, trekking trips, and day trips to maximize your stay and experience in Nepal