Nepal has been attracting global tourists since tourism started in Nepal back in 70’s. 70’s was the hippie era so Nepal was the central attraction for the flower children that in fact came to Kathmandu for the legal marijuana available at the government authorized marijuana stores. After the banning of marijuana, another group of people especially those who wish to see the beauty of Nepal and know it’s culture came into the limelight. They trekked the far corners of Nepal and spread the news of trekking in Nepal is a great opportunity. Besides, mountaineers from around the world also beginning to visit Nepal to climb it’s high Himalayan peaks including the world’s highest Mt. Everest’. Thus began the journey of tourism in Nepal which is now fully grown to be one of the promising industries in Nepal earning foreign income.
Visitors from around the world come to Nepal for different reasons from trekking to cultural tours, jungle safaris, Himalayan mountain flights, rafting, and mountaineering. 2015 earthquake Nepal socked the entire nation damaging residential homes and cultural sites including trekking routes. But at present things are back to normal and trekking routes being open and heritage sites being rebuilt. To know more about Nepal below are the top attractions in Nepal which fall under any enthusiastic Nepal travelers.
10 best place to visit in Nepal
1. Kathmandu City
Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and the largest city in Nepal. It’s a metropolitan city alongside it’s traditional roots. Often Kathmandu is also called the ‘city of temples’ since one can find temples almost at every corner of the city specifically in the old town areas. Kathmandu will amaze you with it’s sights and sounds, crowd and dust, UNESCO World Heritage sites and high-rise buildings. Kathmandu is the combination of three queen cities namely Kathmandu itself then Patan and Bhaktapur. Kathmandu is in fact is a valley and interestingly there are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites inside Kathmandu Valley. These include Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Swayambhunath ‘Monkey Temple’, Pashupatinath, Boudhanath and Changunaryan temple. Sightseeing in Kathmandu includes cultural tours of these locations which provide great insight into Nepalese culture and traditions, history and heritage. All three durbar squares have ancient royal palaces, temples, shrines and courtyards. Durbar square in Kathmandu has been badly hit by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal but restoration is still going on, and it still is an interesting place to visit. Kathmandu City Tour is the ideal program to fully explore cultural sites in Kathmandu.
Bhaktapur is located outside of Kathmandu city at about 13 kilometers distance. It is actually on the old trade route to Tibet. One of the prime features of Bhaktapur compared to Kathmandu or Patan is that it has still retained it’s age-old environment untouched by modernity. One can find the difference with it’s ancient streets, temples, residential houses. Daily lives in Bhaktapur are a bit laid-back if you compare it with Kathmandu or Patan. The area around Bhaktapur Durbar Square is UNESCO World Heritage Site which has ancient royal palaces, many temples, royal courtyards etc. Interesting landmarks to look out for whilst in Bhaktapur is the Royal palace with 55 windows, Golden Gate, the museum inside the palace, five-story Nyathapole temple, pottery square where pots out of clay is being made in age-old style. Walking around Bhaktapur will give you a feel of going back in time at it’s narrow streets, many lines of small shops, ancient temples, beautiful ponds etc. Some parts of Bhaktapur square is being damaged by the 2015 earthquake and restoration is underway.
3. Boudhanath Stupa (Boudhanath)
Boudhanath Stupa closer to Kathmandu City is one of the largest Buddhist stupas inside the Kathmandu Valley and probably around the world. The stupa dates back to the 6th century or possibly even earlier. Boudhanath is UNESCO World Heritage Site and also on the old trade route to Tibet in ancient times. Big Buddha’s eye is carved in all directions of stupa which represents one of the five elements, earth, water, fire, air, and sphere, which are also the attributes of the five Buddhas. 2015 earthquake did minor damage to the stupa but now fully restored.
Pokhara is one of the beautiful lakeside cities in Nepal. It is located about 200 kilometers from Kathmandu and surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world – Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, and Annapurna I. Pokhara is also the gateway to most of the treks into the Annapurna region like Ghorepani Ghandruk trek, Annapurna Base Camp trek, Upper Mustang trek to name a few. The city of Pokhara has a different charm and is not as crowded as Kathmandu. Fewa lake is at it’s city center and one can relax and unwind at it’s many restaurants, pubs at the lakeside area. You can feel the fresh air and a pleasant climate almost immediately whilst in Pokhara. Many adventure sports can be done in Pokhara like paragliding in Pokhara, bungee jump, zip-flyer, boating at Fewa lake, rafting in Seti river, pony treks, day hiking, sunrise tour in Sarangkot. To witness the beauty of Pokhara you can go for Sarangkot Sunrise and Pokhara City Sightseeing.
5. Trekking in the Annapurna Region
Annapurna region is one of the best and popular trekking destinations in Nepal. Treks on offer in Annapurna come in few days to few weeks of trekking itineraries. Most popular treks in Annapurna regions are Ghorepani Poon Hill trek, Ghandruk loop trek, Annapurna Base Camp trek, Mardi Himal Trek. Poon hill (3,210 meters) is the famous Himalayan viewpoint from where one can witness spectacular views of the mountains like Dhaulagiri, Annapurna South, Machhapuchhre, and Singa Chuli. Muktinath on the way to Annapurna is a pilgrimage site. Muktinath route runs in the Kali Gandaki Valley on the east flank of Annapurna. North of Muktinath is the Mustang region which a different world of high deserted Himalayan land. Trek to Mustang was opened only in 1992 and is a remote and restricted trekking route in Nepal. It borders Tibet and the way of life in Mustang highly resembles Tibetan people. The Annapurna region was declared a protected area in 1986 and ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project) was established to protect it’s flora and faunas. Trekking in the Annapurna region is a great way to explore Nepal’s culture and traditions and to witness majestic mountain panorama.
6. Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the finest wildlife reserves in South Asia. The park is home to many wildlife such as rhinos, Bengal tigers, leopards, sloth bears, gaur (buffalo), deer, and many others including freshwater dolphins (gangetic) and crocodiles. More than 500 species of birds can be found in Chitwan. Jungle safari at Chitwan is one of the most popular and sough-out adventure activities in Nepal. Chitwan at 100 meters above sea-level is located southwest of Kathmandu at the ‘Terai’ plains of Nepal and closer to the Indian border. The best time to visit Chitwan is from October to February. Different jungle activities are offered for Chitwan Wildlife Safari like elephant safari, jeep safari, jungle walk, canoe ride, elephant breeding center visit, bird watching, village tour, cultural show. Many tourist-class to five-star hotels are located outside Chitwan National Park catering to various categories of tourists from around the world. Chitwan Jungle Safari offers many safari programs from 2 days to 5 days alongside luxury safari in Chitwan staying at world-class hotels.
7. Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
Swayambhunath, a Buddhist Stupa, is another center of tourist attractions in Kathmandu. It is located atop a hill west of Kathmandu providing wonderful view of Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding mountains. Tourists also popularly called it as ‘Monkey Temple’ due to the many monkeys that reside in it’s forested area. The stupa of Swaymbhunath dates back to the 5th century and plays a major part in the lives of the Vajrayana Buddhists of northern Nepal and Tibet. A visit to Swyambhu is a refreshing feeling looking at the beautiful Kathmandu city and the mountains from it’s summit. One will get a peaceful feeling while exploring the stupa and it’s surrounding area visiting many stupas and temples. There has been some damage during the 2015 earhquake but now fully restored.
8. Everest & the Trek to Base Camp
Mt. Everest at 8,848 meters above sea-level is the world’s highest peak. Climbing the peak may not be one’s choice but the trek to it’s base camp is certainly one of the most popular treks in the world. Mt. Everest become popular after a successful ascent of the mountain back in 1953 by Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and the Sherpa Tensing Norgay. Ever since many mountaineers have climbed the mountain. It’s a dream of every trekker to set foot on the base camp of Mt. Everest which is at 5,320 meters above sea level. Thus, Everest Base Camp became one of the most sought out treks globally. The Everest Region is generally not considered the most scenic region for trekking, but the allure of Everest makes it a popular destination. The best time for trekking in Everest is in the spring and fall, from March to May and September to December. Trekking in the Everest region offers many more other adventrous treks besides the Everest Base Camp trek.
Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha ‘Siddhartha Gautama’ known as Buddha Shakyamuni. Lumbini is the actual birthplace of Lord Buddha which is located almost 250 kilometers from Kathmandu. It is also closer to the border in India at Sunauli which further connects with Varanasi in India. A trip to Lumbini can be a detour from Pokhara or Chitwan. It’s the holiest pilgrimage site for all Buddhists around the world. Lumbini is another UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Nepal. Visiting Lumbini is a tranquil feeling in itself retracing Buddha’s footsteps through the stations of his life. The prime landmark to watch out for while in Lumbini is Maya Devi Temple, mother of Lord Buddha, and is believed to be the spot where Buddha was born. It contains an ancient stone relief from the 2nd century AD depicting Buddha’s birth.
10. Trekking in the Langtang
Langtang trek region closer to Kathmandu city is a great location for hiking in the Himalayas. The region is blessed with high passes, extensive views, old monasteries, and spectacular mountain scenery. Langtang region is protected under Langtang National Park. Mainly inhabited by the Sherpa community, Langtang is a bit less developed than other popular trekking regions in Nepal despite its close proximity to Kathmandu. Thus, it gives less busy trials and great space to explore it’s unmatched beauty. 2015 earthquake has completely devasted some of it’s villages but now been back to normal and trekking underway. To start-off trek into the Langtang region, one can start with a seven to eight hours drive from Kathmandu. Trekking duration in the Langtang region comes from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on the routing.