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If Kathmandu is known for its culture and heritage, Pokhara is the gateway to adventure in Nepal. The picturesque valley features shimmering lakes lined by cafes and restaurants ranging from quirky to luxurious. Surrounding the city are hills, home to local villages, and beyond is the lofty snow-capped Himalayan range and some of the highest peaks in the world. Whether you are a thrill-seeker, an adventure sports junkie or just someone looking for a chilled-out atmosphere, a trip to Pokhara is for you. To give you a taste of the options available, here are our top 15 recommendations for things to do in Pokhara.
- Gail Runciman
- From Finland
Pokhara can easily be Nepal’s adventure sports capital, and for adrenaline junkies, what better way to send the pulse racing than to tie yourself to a rope and take a leap of faith into the void? Pokhara boasts the country’s only tower bungee, and at around 75 meters high and offering up to five seconds of free-fall, it’s an enticing prospect that no daredevil will be able to resist.
- Good to know: The bungee jump tower is located around 20 minutes out of the main town and is open every day.
If you want to do some sightseeing in Pokhara, one of the obvious attractions to seek out is Shanti Stupa — commonly known as the Peace Pagoda — located at the top of Anadu Hill. Once there, you can admire the stupa itself along with some unrivaled views of Pokhara, the Fewa Lake, and the Annapurna mountain range rising in the distance.
- Good to know: The most convenient way to reach Peace Pagoda is via public transport, but if you are feeling more adventurous, hike there along a trail that starts on the southern edge of the lake and takes you through several local villages. Alternatively, you can also ride up on a mountain bike.
Pokhara is also home to the world’s tallest and longest zipline, and if you crave something exciting and intense, try whizzing almost 2km along a cable suspended 600m in the air at speeds of up to 120kmh. You can attempt to appreciate the sublime panoramas — or you can just close your eyes and scream! This is surely among the most unmissable things to do in Pokhara.
- Good to know: While the experience might seem terrifying, there’s really nothing to worry about. The zipline, which opened in 2012, incorporates state-of-the-art safety features, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the ride.
With a backdrop of stunning Himalayan mountain scenery, it’s hardly surprising that paragliding has become one of the most popular activities in Pokhara. With perfect conditions that include reliable thermals and vast open spaces, Pokhara is among the most famous places in the world to try it.
- Good to know: You can opt for either a 30-minute or 40 minutes to an hour flight. For the clearest views and optimum conditions choose sometime in September and October. Finally, run as fast as you can before the jump and enjoy your time in the air!
If you spend your whole time engrossed in all the adventurous activities that Pokhara has to offer, it can be easy to forget that you’re in a country with a very rich and distinct culture. To rectify this, take a trip out to Tal Barahi Temple on an island in the Fewa lake. This two-story pagoda-style temple was built in 1864 and is an important Hindu pilgrimage destination.
- Good to know: The only way of reaching the temple is by boat. It is open from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm from Monday to Saturday, and the entry fee is approximately USD 1 or less.
If you want to take in the breathtaking views of Pokhara’s mountains but prefer something more sedate, floating up in a hot air balloon might be more appealing. As you drift serenely over the landscape below, you will have plenty of time to admire Pokhara’s lakes as well as the mighty snow-capped peaks to the north.
- Good to know: Hot air ballooning is available throughout most of the year except June, July and August due to the monsoon. However, flights also depend on the conditions and wind direction on any particular day.
Another spellbinding way to experience Pokhara and the surrounding countryside is to take to the skies in an ultralight. This is the only location in Nepal where this is possible, and it gives you the chance to marvel at Pokhara’s majestic vistas from a vantage point high up among the clouds.
- Good to know: The best season for ultralight flights is September to May for the clearest skies and best views. A recommended option is either a sunrise flight or a sunset flight. You can choose from flights of 15 minutes up to 90 minutes.
The area around Pokhara is ideal for exploration on two wheels, and there are plenty of rewarding and picturesque trails for mountain bike enthusiasts to enjoy. For those looking for something a little more fast-paced, some of the exhilarating downhill rides will put your skills — and your nerves — to the test.
- Good to know: One of the easiest rides takes you around the lake, and you should be able to complete it in about five hours. For the more adventurous, longer rides do exist. However, unless you are very experienced, multi-day trips are best done as part of a tour.
If there’s one activity that is associated with Nepal more than any other, it’s hiking, and for many, this is the main reason to visit. Pokhara is among the world’s premier hiking destinations, and you can hardly visit without taking advantage of the exceptional trails in the surrounding hills and mountains.
- Good to know: The best periods for trekking are from February to May/June and September to November. These times offer the best combination of relatively comfortable temperatures and less chance of rain.
Paddleboarding has become increasingly popular in recent years, and Lake Fewa, one of the main Pokhara points of interest, or the less explored Lake Begnas, is perfect to give it a go. This is one of the more laidback Pokhara things to do if you need a break from more extreme activities, allowing you to spend the day on the water admiring the scenery or just chilling on your board. If you're not up for sports, both lakes offer picturesque boat rides for minimal cost.
- Good to know: It’s possible to hire paddleboards by the hour, for a half-day or a full day.
Known as one of the world’s top spots for white water rafting, the area around Pokhara boasts a range of rapids where you can experience the thrill of doing battle with the churning, foaming waters. Choose between large 8-person rafts, or tackle the rivers alone in a kayak for one of the essential Pokhara adventure activities.
- Good to know: There are plenty of options to suit everyone, including a relatively easy half-day trip from Pokhara on the Upper Seti River, longer two-day excursions or hardcore rafting tours of up to a week or more.
With all the adventure activities on offer in Pokhara, the moment will probably come when you need to take time out and seek some inner peace. Thankfully, you’re also spoilt for choice when it comes to yoga retreats — Pokhara is Nepal’s top yoga destination, and you could hardly imagine a more beautiful setting in which to practice.
- Good to know: In Pokhara, you can find yoga retreats and classes for all major styles of yoga. Classes are available for all levels, from beginner right up to teacher training courses.
Also known as Devi’s Falls or Patale Chango (‘underworld waterfall’ in Nepali), Devi’s Falls is among Pokhara’s most popular sights. As the stream flows down the hill, it plunges into a deep cavern and flows underground before emerging from a cave further downstream. The falls were made famous in 1961 when a Swiss tourist named Mrs. Davis fell in and drowned – hence the name.
- Good to know: The waterfall is at its most spectacular during the monsoon season after rain (June – August). A visit to the falls can be combined with a trip to the Peace Pagoda.
The countryside around Pokhara hides a number of caves, several of which are worth visiting if you have a day to spare. Gupteshwor Mahadev, the cave at the bottom of Davis Falls, is the most visited and is probably Nepal’s most famous. Mahendra Cave, a limestone karst cave with stalactites and stalagmites, and the nearby Bat Cave, home to a large number of eponymous flying mammals, are other popular options.
- Good to know: Mahendra Cave is located around 30 minutes out of town by bus and the entrance fee costs around USD 1.50 for international visitors. From there, it takes around 15 minutes to walk to Bat Cave. The entrance to Bat Cave costs around USD 1.50.
One of the best ways to learn about a country and its people is through food — so what better way to immerse yourself in Nepali culture than by taking a cooking class? Learn to cook local classics like dal bhat, momos, and more — so when you’re back home after the trip, you’ll still be able to enjoy Nepal’s culinary delights.
- Good to know: There are a few places in Pokhara where you learn how to cook Nepali food.
If you are in Nepal, you cannot miss out on Pokhara. Spend a day or two in the lakeside town to wind down from a trek in the mountains or use it to drive your passion for outdoor activities and intense experiences — we've already provided you with a list of amazing things to do in Pokhara. In a nutshell, a trip to Nepal is incomplete without a visit to Pokhara. So what are you waiting for; let's plan a whirlwind trip!