Nepal’s Top 15 by Lonely Planet

Nepal’s Top 15 by Lonely Planet

01: Old Kathmandu

The historic center of old Kathmandu remains an open-air architectural museum of magnificent medieval temples, pagodas, pavilions, and shrines. Once occupied by Nepal’s cloistered royal family and still home to the Kumari, Kathmandu’s very own living goddess, Durbar Squire is the getaway to a maze of medieval streets that burst even more vividly to life during spectacular festivals.

  • Durbar Square
  • North of Durbar Square
  • South of Durbar Square
  • East of Thamel
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square

02: Everest Base Camp Trek

Topping many people’s travel bucket list is the two week long trek to the base of the world’s highest and most hyped, mountain. Despite only limited views of Mount Everest itself, the surrounding Himalayan peaks are truly awesome, and the half-hour you spend watching the alpenglow ascend beautiful Pumori or Ama Dablam is worth all the altitude headaches you will likely suffer. The crowds can be thick in October, but the welcome at the Sherpa lodges is as warm as their fresh apple pie.

  • Duration: 14 to 20
  • Maximum Elevation: 5545 m
  • Best season: March to May and August to December
  • Everest Base Camp Trek
  • Classic Jiri to Everest Base Camp Trek
  • Gokyo with Everest Base Camp Tek
Mount Everest Base Camp Trek
Mt Everest & Lhotse seen from Kala Patthar

03: Boudhanath Stupa

The village of Boudhanath is the center of Nepal’s exiled Tibetan community and home to Asia’s largest stupa a spectacular white dome and spire that draws Buddhist pilgrims from hundreds of kilometers away. Equally fascinating are the surrounding streets, bustling with monks with shaved heads and maroon robes, and lined with Tibetan monasteries and shops selling prayer wheels and juniper incense. Come at dusk and join the Tibetan pilgrims as they light butter lamps and walk around the stupa on their daily kora.

Boudhanath Stupa
Boudhanath Stupa

04: Bhaktapur

Of the three former city-states that jostled for power over the Kathmandu valley, medieval Bhaktapur is the most atmospheric. Despite damage in the 2015 quake, its backstreets still burst with temples and pagodas, including Nyatapola Temple, Nepal’s tallest. Winding lanes lined with red-brick buildings lead onto squares used by locals for drying corn and making pottery – this is no museum but a living, breathing town where residents live their lives in public.

  • Durbar Square
  • Taumadhi Tole
  • Tachupal Tole
  • Potter’s Square & Around
  • Suriya Binayak Temple
  • Thimi
  • Changu Narayan Temple
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square

05: Swyambhunath Stupa

The iconic white-washed stupa of Swayambhunath is both a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of Nepal’s most sacred Buddhist shrines. The great stupa painted with iconic, all seeing Buddha’s eyes survived the 2015 quake with only minor damage and it remains a focal point for Buddhist devotion. Pilgrims wander the shrines spinning prayer wheels and murmuring mantras while nearby astrologers read palms, and shop keepers sell magic amulets and sacred bread. Come at dusk for spectacular views over the city lights of Kathmandu.

Swyambhunath Stupa
Swyambhunath Stupa

06: Annapurna Circuit Trek

This trek around the 8091m Annapurna massif is Nepal’s most popular trek, and it’s easy to see why. The lodges are comfortable, there is little earthquake damage, the crossing of the 5416m Thorung La provides a physical challenge and the sense of journey from lowland Nepal to the Trans-Himalayan plateau is immensely satisfying. Our best tip is to take your time and explore the spectacular side trips, particularly around Manang. Road construction has eaten away at either end of the trek but alternative footpaths continue to avoid the road.

  • Duration: 10 to 17 days
  • Maximum Elevation: 5416m
  • Best Season: March to May and August to December
  • Start: Dharapani or Chame
  • Finish: Jomsom or Nayapul
  1. Annapurna Sanctuary Trek
  2. Ghandruk Loop Trek (3 days)
  3. Panchase Trek (4 days)
  4. Annapurna Panorama Trek (6 days)
  5. Mardi Himal Trek (7 days)
  6. Khopra Ridge Trek (8-9 days)
Mt Fishtail along with Annapurna mountain Range
Mt Fishtail along with Annapurna mountain Range

07: Chitwan National Park

In the ‘other Nepal’, down in the humid plains, Chitwan is one of Asia’s best wildlife viewing spots and the place to don your safari togs and head into the dawn mist in search of rhinos and tigers. There’s plenty to keep you busy there, from scanning the forest for critters to visiting local Tharu villages, and the brave can even take a guided walk through the jungle, surrounded by the hoots and roars of the forest. If you are lucky, you’ll see gharial, spotted deer, and wild gaurs, plus plenty of exotic birds.

  • Crocodile Breeding Center
  • Wildlife Display & Information Center
  • Tharu Cultural Museum
  • Bird Education Society
  • Elephant Safari
  • Jungle Walk
  • Canoeing
  • 4WD Jeep Safari
  • Cycling
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park, Picture: BJL

08: Views from Pokhara

Nepal’s second-biggest tourist town may lack the historical depth of Kathmandu, but it more than makes up for this with a seductively laid-back vibe and one of the country’s most spectacular locations. The down views of Machhapuchhare and Annapurna, mirrored in the calm waters of Phewa Tal, or seen from the town’s hilltop viewpoints, are simply unforgettable. Take them in on a trek, from the saddle of a mountain bike or, best to all, dangling from a paraglider high above the valley floor.

  • Phewa Tal
  • Varahi Mandir (temple)
  • International Mountain Museum
  • Gurkha Museum
  • Devi’s Fall
  • Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave
  • World Peace Pagoda
  • Zip-Flyer, Boating, Bungee Jump
  • Paragliding (Frontiers or Sunrise)
  • Cycling & Mountain Bike
  • Ultralight & Helicopter Flight
  • Begnas Tal & Rupa Tal

09: Langtang Valley

Nepal’s third great teahouse trek is nestled in a lovely Alpine Valley next to the Tibet border. Combing lush bamboo and Himalayan forest with high peaks, pastures and glaciers, Langtang offers incredible variety, especially if you add on a side trek to the holy Gosainkunda lakes, set in a mountain bowl at 4400m. Langtang suffered greatly in the 2015 earthquake but the lodges have been rebuilt, the trails improved and the trek is open for business. The nearby newly opened border with Tibet offers a superb new overland add-on.

  • Duration: 7 to 8 days
  • Maximum elevation: 3870m
  • Best season: September to May
  • Start: Syabrubesi
  1. Tamang Heritage Trails
  2. Gosaikunda Trek
Langtang Valley
Langtang Valley

10: Lumbini – Birth place of the Lord Buddha

A pilgrimage to the Maya Devi Temple, Buddha’s birthplace, ranks as one of the subcontinent’s great spiritual journeys. You can visit the exact spot where Siddhartha Gautama was born 2500 years ago, rediscovered only a country or so ago, and then tour a multitude of temples. But perhaps the most powerful thing to do is simply find a quiet spot, and a book on Buddhism, and meditate on the nature of existence. Travel experiences don’t get much more profound than this.

  • Maya Devi Temple (Ashokan Pillar, Lumbini Museum)
  • World Peace Pagoda
  • Zhong Hua Chinese Buddhist Monastery
  • Royal Thai Buddhist Monastery
  • Cambodian Monastery
Buddha Stupa – Lumbini

11: Mo: Mo’s

These little meat or vegetable filled dumplings are Nepal’s unofficial national dish. Enjoy them in a grandiose Newari restaurant, at a shared table in a backstreet Tibetan kitchen. Join a cooking class to learn how to make these deceptively simple morsels that are savored from China to Central Asia. Kathmandu.

Jhol Mo-Mo
Jhol Mo:Mo

12: Bandipur

Halfway between Kathmandu and Pokhara is this perfectly preserved ridge top village of traditional 18th century Newari houses and temples. Apart from just enjoying the peace and quiet, there are some fine walks to be had in the surrounding hills, while adventurous types can arrange to abseil into the Siddha Gufa Cave, paraglide over the village or go canyoning in nearby waterfalls. At the end of the day several well-run guesthouse offer atmospheric accommodation in restored Newari mansions.

  • Thani Mai Temple Viewpoint
  • Siddha Gufa Cave
  • Tundikhel
  • Bindebasini Temple
  • Khadga Devi Temple
  • Silkworm Farm

13: Nepal’s Fantastic Festivals

Nepal has so many spectacular festivals that any visit is almost certain to coincide with at least one. Celebrations range from masked dances designed to exorcise unruly demons to epic bouts of a tug-of-war between rival sides of a town. For a full-on medieval experience, time your travel with one of the slightly mad chariot processions, such as the parade of Rato Machhendranath, when hundreds of enthusiastic devotees drag tattering 20m-tall chariots through the crowded city streets of Kathmandu and Patan.

Top events are: Losar, Maha Shivaratri, Holi, Seto Machhendranath Jatra, Bisket Jatra, Balkumari Jatra, Balaju Jatra, Rato Machhendranath Jatra, Buddha Jayanti, Naga Panchami, Janai Purnima, Gai Jatra, Krishna’s Birthday, Teej, Indra Jatra, Pachali Bhairab Jatra, Dashain, Tihar, Kartik Dances, Mani Rimdu, Pokhara Street Festival.

14: Patan

Kathmandu’s sister city doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The city of Newari traders, interconnected Buddhist courtyards and hidden temples has a greater cultural cohesion than any other city in Nepal. Wander the fascinating backstreets, the magnificent Durbar Square and the Panan Museum, the best museum in the country, plus ancient Ashoka-era stupas and the valley’s best collection of international restaurants and it’s clear you need a couple of trips to take it all in. spend the night here and you’ll have the backstreets to yourself.

  • Durbar Square (Bhimsen Temple, Krishna Mandir, Patan Museum, Sundar & Mul Chowk
  • North of Durbar Square (Golden Temple)
  • South of Durbar Square (Rato Machhendranath Temple)
  • West of Durbar Square (Zoo)
Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square

15: White-water rafting

Nepal is one of the world’s best rafting and kayaking destinations. Fuelled by water rushing down from Himalayan peaks, rivers such as the Trishuli and Bhote Kosi promise thrilling water for day trippers. Even better are the multiday adventures- liquid journeys that take you down the Karnali, Tamur, Kali Gandaki, and Sun Koshi rivers through some of Nepal’s remotest corners. In general the best times for rafting and kayaking are September to early December and March to early June.

White Water Rafting

Outdoor and others activities such as:

  • Mountain Biking
  • Kayaking
  • Rock Climbing
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Canyoning
  • Paragliding & Ultralights
  • Wildlife Safari
  • Climbing
  • Camping
  • Bird Watching
  • One day Hiking
  • 4WD Jeep Safari
  • Filming
  • Royal Bengal tiger encounter