Unless you’re entering Nepal from one of the borders by foot or car, you’ll no doubt be flying into Tribhuvan International Airport. Luckily, there are a number of things to do in the capital city before you escape for the mountains.
Check out the narrow lanes and shops in Thamel, see prayer flags flutter in the wind at Boudhanath Stupa, watch your belongings carefully as you explore Swayambhunath Temple (commonly known as monkey temple), and see smoke rise from bodies of the deceased at Pashputinath.
On your way from Kathmandu to Pokhara, drive up to Bandipur to see epic views of the mountains. If it’s cloudy, go up there regardless to see the terraced farms and hillside village.
Hang by Pokhara’s lakeside and choose your favourite cafe to sip a cheap drink or enjoy some momos. Take a day hike to see World Peace Pagoda and the view from above the lake. Go for a sunrise or sunset paraglide, starting from Sarangkot. Or, if you aren’t much a dare-devil, just visit Sarangkot to see the locals go about their daily lives.
Check out the Bat Cave and Mahendra Cave. I get claustrophobic, so I didn’t squeeze my way through the narrow caverns, but it’s worth the brag if you’ve got the balls to do it!
Walk across Asia’s longest suspension bridge, and have breakfast on the other side. Beware as you cross the bridge, motorbikes will attempt to make a crossing regardless of how many people are squished onto the structure.
Watch the sunrise from the roof-top of your hotel. In winter the ‘white lake’ isn’t as prevalent, but other times of the year the fog will sit in the valley.
Visit the birthplace of Buddha and learn about the history behind Queen Mayadevi giving birth to Siddhartha Gautama in 563 BCE.
Full disclosure: we were seriously underwhelmed when we visited Lumbini.
Chitwan National Park
Stay in town a few days and enjoy the bars, restaurants, and yoga studios. Take a half-day jungle walking safari, and chase it down with an afternoon jeep safari.
Sit and watch the sunset from one of the riverside bars. Keep your eyes peeled for an enormous colony of bees flying from one side of the river to the other. Literally millions of bees flew over our heads, from town to the jungle, as we sat and watched the sun go down.
Other Things to Do
While I can’t confirm if these activities and destinations are worth it or not, here are three other things you might want to check out while you’re in Nepal:
- Go white water rafting on the Bhote Koshi, Trishuli, or Gandaki river. Do your research to be sure the tour operator provides decent gear and an efficient safety briefing.
- Take an eight day rafting trip along the Sun Kosi river.
- Go bungee jumping. We wanted to do this, but The Last Resort was closed while we were there. Always question the safety standards in Nepal, while I like to think of myself as quite the adventurer, there are some countries I just wouldn’t test a bungee cord.
- Explore Bardia National Park and see the wildlife thrive in Nepal’s far western reaches.