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Located between the majestic Himalaya Mountains and the fascinating Indian jungles, Nepal is a land where things like yaks, yetis, mountain peaks and hidden monasteries appear to be seemingly common. Ever since the country opened its borders to foreigners, it emerged as an enchanting destination for hikers and trekkers of all types, many venturing to the famous Everest Base Camp. Its rugged trails proved unparalleled trekking opportunities while the appeal of climbing Mount Everest was more than enough to attract mountain climbers from all over the planet.
Over the years, Nepal has also managed to invent itself into a popular travel destination. Its rich natural beauty, historic attractions and vast cultural heritage has proven to be the perfect mix between the ancient and the modern, slow paced lifestyles and frantic city life. No wonder then that Nepal is featured high on the list of travel trends for 2016 and beyond.
Just for the anxious ones, Nepal’s earthquake did not destroy the country, although it was almost portrayed that way in the various medias. Old monuments were laid down and many local villages suffered, however, many monuments, buildings etc remains 100% intact and almost all trekking routes have already opened up again.
So, here's our list of the top 12 best things to do in Nepal.
Whether your a novice or an experienced trekker Nepal is the land of trekking (and climbing), offering some of the best trekking routes in the world. Period. The 4 days Poonhill trek is one of the better short treks in Nepal; the Everest Base Camp trek is a great trek if having 12 days available; while the Everest Base Camp - 3 Passes trek or the Manaslu trek are some of the best adventure treks in Nepal, taking you on unparalleled trekking routes amidst pristine nature.
If you're into climbing but lack experience we recommend Island Peak or Mera Peak. Both peaks reach +6,000 meters and can be summited by people with no prior mountaineering experience, yet promising a challenging adventure and memory of a lifetime! For more information about mountain peaks, please check out the top 10 best climbing peaks in Nepal.
Trekking the great Himalayas may not be something that everyone is cool with. But that doesn’t mean that you must miss out on meeting the most majestic peaks on the planet. A himalayan panoramic mountain flight tour is the perfect way of enjoying unparalleled eye-level views of those majestic mountain peaks and watch true Himalayan beauty unfold right in front of your eyes, including Mount Everest. Some of the most popular peaks that can be seen through a panoramic flight include Mt. Makalu, Mt. Gosaithan, Mt. Dorje Lhakpa, Mt. Gauri-Shanker, Mt. Pumori and the Grand Daddy of them all – Mount Everest.
Chitwan National Park, the first national park in Nepal, is considered to be another must-see destination in Nepal. More than 500 species of migratory birds call the park their home, as do one-horned rhinos, Bengal tigers and Asian elephants. It covers almost 332 sq. miles and is supposed to be your best chance of seeing animals such as bears, tigers, crocodiles, elephants and rhinos while in Nepal. The most common bird sightings include kingfishers, paradise flycatchers, egrets and brahminy ducks.
Insider Tip – The ideal way to explore the Chitwan National Park is to go for a three-day trip and stay for 2 nights at one of the hotels in Chitwan. This also gives you a chance to explore a typical Tharu village while in Nepal.
Pokhara, essentially a lakeside town, attracts explorers, nature lovers and adrenaline junkies with its spectacular natural beauty, an array of fishing opportunities, mountain biking, exciting treks such as Poonhill, Annapurna Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit, visiting the peace pagoda, paragliding and sunbathing. It is one of those destinations that you certainly wish to visit for the second time in your life. Boating and strolling down the lakeside in Pokhara is definitely two of the top things to do in Pokhara.
Especially Kathmandu might not be one of those cities that offers bike-friendly locales to its visitors, but there is no shortage of mountain bike tours in Kathmandu and Nepal. One of the best and most challenging biking excursions can be found in Shivapuri National Park. The dirt roads that start off at the Budhanikantha entrance are hardly ever used, and the challenging patches in between simply makes riding all the more exciting. Those searching for easier options can explore the Godavari, Bungamati and Chapagaun roads, known for their serene beauty and easy trails. Another popular mountain biking tour is Kathmandu to Nargakot and back. If you're looking for a real challenge, do the Annapurna Circuit on a mountain bike.
Insider Tip – You might want to explore the Dakshinkali road biking option as well. The area puts together an uphill ride with beautiful cultural attractions all around.
The ideal way to explore Kathmandu is to have your own guide and conduct a real Kathmandu sightseeing tour. Almost each and every turn in the valley introduces you to intricate carvings, delightful pagodas and humongous stone images. The area is teeming with temples and shrines and seems to be a living history museum. As a result, it becomes impossible to understand what to explore and what to leave out, given your interests and time constraints. A guide helps you choose the right destinations and also provides non-stop entertainment in the form of history and local folklore. Some of the must-see attractions in Kathmandu Valley include Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, Swayambhunath Stupa, Boudhanath Stupa, and the Temple of Kumari.
If a panoramic flight around the Himalayas doesn’t sound exciting, a helicopter tour across Mount Everest certainly will. This tour lets you get up close and personal with some of the most traditional Himalayan cultures and admire majestic peaks such as Mt. Cho Oyu, Mt. Ama Dablam and Mt. Pumori at the same time.
Insider Tip – The base camp of Kala Patthar is famous for its 360-degree panoramic views of fascinating mountains from ground level.
Bardia National Park is the largest wilderness area in Terai. It boasts of beautiful wildlife and is considered to be what the Chitwan was about 30 years ago, before it became commercialized due to tourism. The park covers about 968 sq. kms. of grasslands and Sal forests and is famous as one of the biggest stretches of tiger habitats in Asia. Apart from tigers, you can also check out 30 different species of mammals such as one-horned rhinos and elephants, Gangetic dolphins, crocodiles and more than 250 species of birds such as sarus cranes and the Bengal floricans.
The Pashupatinath Temple was constructed way back in the year 1696 on the banks of the Bagmati River. It is now known to the most important Hindu temple in Nepal. The temple was designed in a classic pagoda style, with a gilded rooftop, four silver-plated doors and beautifully carved rafters. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple premises, but a glimpse of Lord Shiva’s bull, Nandi, can be seen from the western entrance. Even if you are not allowed to enter the temple, its exteriors and surrounding areas are certainly worth exploring. Watching the traders and priests go about their daily routines is considered to be an experience in itself.
Another interesting phenomena, despite some people might find it uncomfortable, is that the Pashupatinath Temple is also the place where most people from the Kathmandu Valley are burned after they pass away. In contrast with many Western nations Nepal’s funerals are public – a very different tradition but nonetheless also admirable.
A visit to the Pashupatinath temple should be high on your list of things to do in Nepal.
The Bhote Koshi River offers one of the best and most exciting kayaking and rafting adventures in all of Asia. It is famous for offering some of the best short river trips in the world, and a two-day rafting package is the perfect way to understand why people across the globe long for the adrenaline rush that rafting has to offer.
Patan, the second largest town in the valley, is separated from Kathmandu by the Bagmati River (although Kathmandu and Patan has very much integrated nowadays). What makes Patan so special is that its history dates all the way back to the year 250 BC, when the corners of the ancient town were marked by stupas. It is also home to a greater concentration of temples when compared to Bhaktapur or Kathmandu and always provides exciting architectural beauties worth discovering. Some of the top attractions in Patan include the Golden Temple and the Kumbeshwar Temple. Be aware though that much of the ancient temples were laid-down by the recent earthquake in Nepal on April 25th 2015.
Insider Tip – Don’t miss out on the Patan Museum that is housed in the Malla royal palace. The museum is home to more than 200 copper or gilt statues of Hindu or Buddhist deities. The main highlights of the museum are its courtyard (featuring a red-brick façade, wood carvings, a golden door and a golden window) and the 12th century seated Buddha.
The Four Day Kayaking Clinique down the Seti River is considered to be the ideal way to learn white water kayaking while exploring spectacular natural beauty and riverside scenery at the same time. This tour starts at the Phewa Lake in Pokhara and carries on for three days along the Lower Seti River, before finally ending close to the Chitwan National Park.
Insider Tip – The Seti River kayaking tour is perfect for kayakers looking to brush up on their kayaking skills before challenging the more dominant and difficult Himalayan rivers.
We tried our best to zoom in on the absolute best things to do in Nepal. However, please do not hesitate to write to us via the comment field if you think we missed out on something. We look forward to hear from you.