Top 30 Things to Do in Nepal
Before 1662, no Westerner had traveled to Nepal. The first Westerners to visit Nepal were Christian missionaries Gruber and Doraville. In 1722, the first Missionary office was established in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. When Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of modern Nepal, took over Kathmandu in 1769, he banished all Christians and closed Nepal for foreigners. In 1816, Nepal lost a war with Britain. The newly signed treaty made Nepal accept the first foreign diplomatic mission.
Nepal established diplomatic ties with the United States in 1947. Nevertheless, Nepal was still closed for the Westerners. The 1950 revolution marked the beginning of modern Nepal. Westerners flocked into Nepal to explore mountains. Today, tourism is the second largest revenue-generating sector in Nepal.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
#1 Sightseeing in Kathmandu
There are numerous places of religious, cultural and historical importance in Kathmandu. Most of the monuments, temples, monasteries, and palaces in Kathmandu belong to 14th through 18th century; however, some are more than two thousand years old. Kathmandu Durbar Square, the medieval royal palace plaza, is the main tourist attraction in Kathmandu.
#2 Sightseeing in Patan
According to the Lonely Planet research, Patan has a greater concentration of temples than any other cities and towns in Nepal. The four Stupas built by Indian Emperor Ashoka, when he visited Patan in 249 BCE, are in the four corners of Patan city. Most of the Hindu and Buddhist temples in Patan belong to 8th through 17th century. Durbar Square Patan, Golden Temple (Hiranya Varna Mahavihar), Kumbeshwar Temple, and Red Machhendranath Temple are some of the attractions of Patan.
#3 Sightseeing Bhaktapur
Nepal Government has tried to keep the city of Bhaktapur in its medieval structure that’s why automobiles and modern constructions are prohibited inside the town center. Bhaktapur is famous for its Royal Palace Plaza the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the ancient settlements, and traditional farming.
Major Tourist Attractions in Nepal
#4 Visiting Stupas: The Buddhist Temples in Nepal
Stupa is a Buddhist temple design, which consists of white dome, gilded spire, brass canopy, prayer wheels and prayer flags. There are above hundred ancient stupas in Nepal, some of the famous stupas, which are believed to be about two thousand years old, are Boudhanath, Swayambhunath and Charumati Vihara. Boudhanath and Swayambhunath are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
#5 Visiting Pashupatinath and other Hindu Temples
Nepal is a secular state with predominance of Hindu and Buddhist population. There are more than 3000 ancient Hindu Temples and over 1200 Buddhist Temples and Monasteries in Nepal. Most of the Hindu Temples in Nepal are built in Pagoda design, consisting of multi-tiered roofs, latticed windows, carved doors and standing on the multi-tiered plinths. Pashupatinath is the most important temple in Nepal.
Everest Base Camp
#6 Trekking to the Everest Base Camp
A 30 minutes flight from Kathmandu will take you to Tenzing-Hillary Airport, in Lukla (2,860 metres), which is one of the ten deadliest airports in the world. You have to walk for eight days to reach Everest Base Camp. The alternate Everest Base Camp Trek, an 11-days walk, is from Lamosangu village, which is three hours drive from Kathmandu.
#7 Everest Expeditions
If you are a mountaineer, you should definitely try Everest Expedition, which begins from Everest Base Camp at 5356 meters. Before you begin actual climbing, you have to acclimatize by climbing uphill and downhill for few days and reach Kala Patthar (5545 m). Kala Patthar offers breathtaking view of Everest and other adjacent peaks. The first major hurdle to Everest ascent is Khumbu icefall (5486 m). If you are lucky enough to survive Khumbu icefall, you will have to climb further to four camps, the South Col (7906 m), the Hillary Step (8760 m) and finally to the summit (8848 m)
#8 A Visit to Namche Bazaar
Namche is a small town in Everest region at the altitude of 3440 metres. Namche is the gateway to Everest Expedition and Everest Base Camp Trek. If you are not a trekker or a mountaineer, you should experience Everest region by travelling to Namche. Namche is two days walk from Tenzing-Hillary Airport, in Lukla.
Annapurna Mountain RangeClick thumbnail to view full-size
#9 Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Trekking to Annapurna Base Camp begins from Pokhara. It takes about 8 days to reach Annapurna Base Camp.
#10 Annapurna Circuit Trek
Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the most popular trekking routes in Nepal and the world. Annapurna Circuit Trek, which circumnavigates, the entire Annapurna Range, takes almost 21 days to complete. The highest elevation in Annapurna Circuit Trek is 5416 metres at the Thorung La pass.
#11 Annapurna Sanctuary Trek
You can reach Annapurna Sanctuary via walking through a narrow pass between Hiunchuli (6,441 m) and Machapuchare (6,993 m) mountains. Annapurna Sanctuary is a plateau, which offers the view of entire mountains in the Annapurna Mountain Range.
Annapurna Mountain Range
# 12 Hunting in Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve
Nepal allows legal hunting in Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve. All you have to do is get permission from Wildlife Conservation Department by paying US$ 500. Hunting can be expensive because access to Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve is difficult, and you have to cover expenses for helicopter.
Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, which is located in western Nepal, was established in 1982 and spreads over 1325 square kilometers. At least 32 species of wildlife including wild boar, red panda, snow leopard, bear, stag, blue sheep etc. are found in Dhorpatan. However, you are not allowed to hunt other animals except blue sheep and wild boar.
There is also a trekking route from Dhorpatan to Dolpo, which is called Guerrilla Track, named after the Maoist guerrillas who traveled through this route during the armed insurgency (1996-2006). Recently, Nepal government has announced Dhaulagiri-Dhorpatan as the new travel destination. Dhaulagiri (8167 m /26,795 ft) is one of the eight highest mountains in Nepal.
Chitwan National Park
Things to do in Chitwan National Park
- Boating in Narayani River
- Watch crocodiles in Rapti River
- Jungle safari on elephants back
- Jungle safari in a jeep
- Elephant breeding centre
- Tharu cultural shows
Some of the popular bird watching spots are:
- Koshi Tappu National Park Bird Watching
- Shivapuri National Park
- Chitwan National Park Bird Watching
- Phulchowki Bird Watching
- Pokhara Bird Watching
- Bardiya National Park Bird Watching
- The Annapurna Conservation Area
# 13 Jungle Safari in Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park was a royal hunting reserve before it was turned into a National Park in 1973. King George V and his son hunted down 18 rhinoceros in Chitwan Jungle when they visited Nepal in 1911. Chitwan National Park is UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to 2011 cencus, there are 501 rhinos and 125 tigers in Chitwan National park.
You can reach Chitwan National Park in six-hour bus ride or 25 minutes flight accompanied by 15 minutes drive.
#14 Jungle Safari in Bardia National Park
Touted as the best place on earth to spot royal Bengal Tiger, Bardia Naional Park is a home to 250 species of birds, tigers, rhinos, wild elephants, swamp deers, and black bucks. If you are lucky, you can even spot a heard of wild elephants.
#15 Bird Watching
It has been found that birds migrate to Nepal from Tibet by crossing the Himalayas. Some of the migratory birds come to Nepal from as far as Siberia. There are over 900 species of birds in Nepal, which is 10 percent of the world’s entire species. Over 500 species of birds have been recorded in Kathmandu valley alone.
#16 Sightseeing in Pokhara
Pokhara is a city of lakes, caves and mountains. Pokhara is the gateway to short treks such as Ghandruk and Ghorepani treks and long treks such as Annapurna Treks. When you are in Pokhara, don’t miss a walk to Sarangkot.
Things to do in Pokhara
- Visit International Mountain Museum
- Rafting on the Kali Gandaki and Seti rivers
- A walk to Poon Hill
- Peace Temple
- Boating in Phewa and Begnas Lake
- Gurkha Memorial Museum
- Annapurna Butterfly Museum
- Shree Gaden Dhargay Ling Monastery
- Devi's Fall
- Bat Cave
#19 Mountain Biking
Nepali terrain consists of flatland, hills and mountains thus providing wonderful adventure for mountain bikers. Whether you choose a bicycle or a motorcycle, you can find numerous routes to explore Nepal. Depending on your stamina and interest, you can choose either short routes or long routes. If you dare, you can even try motor biking in the Himalayan plateau.
#20 Rock Climbing
If you love adventure sport, rock climbing is for you. You can climb either artificial walls or natural hills. Artificial rock climbing wall in Kathmandu is in Chabahil and maintained by Pasang Lamhu Foundation. In Pokhara, artificial rock climbing wall is at the Mountaineering Museum.
Nagarjuna forest and Shivapuri forests also serve as rock climbing destinations. Rock climbing itinerary to Nagarjuna and Shivapuri can be combined with hiking and bird watching.
#17 Mountain Flights
Nepal has best trekking routes. However, for those who want to see the mighty Himalayas but cannot trek anywhere near, they can try mountain flights. Mountain flights offer eye level view of the mountains in a close range. During the mountain flights, planes fly at an average of 7000 m. One-hour flight in the morning takes you near Everest, Annapurna Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Ganesh Himal, Gauri Shankar, Lhotse, Nuptse, Langtang, Manaslu, Lamjung Himal, Dhaulagiri and many others.
#18 Peak Climbing
Almost 18 peaks are opened for alpine Climbing in Nepal. You can obtain permission from Nepal Mountaineering Association, and the charges differ depending on the peak. However, you have to take care, climbing of these minor peaks – sometimes also known as Trekking Peaks – require snow climbing experiences. Some of these peaks provide challenging snow and ice climbing of high standard. Some of these minor peaks are Chulu East (6584 m), Mera Peak (6654 m), Yala Peak (5732 m), Imja Tse (6183 m), Paldor Peak (5896 m), Tharpu Chuli (5663 m) etc.
Skiing in Kanchanjunga Mountain,the Third Highest Mountain in the World
If you think trekking is not your cup of tea, try hiking.
Some of the popular hiking routes near Kathmandu are:
- Nagarjuna Hiking (5 hrs)
- White Monastery Hiking (4 hrs)
- Sundarijal-Chisapani Hiking (3 hrs)
- Nagarkot Hiking (5 hrs)
- Namobuddha Hiking (4 hrs)
- Changunarayan Hiking (4 hrs)
Hiking routes near Pokhara
- Sarangkot Hiking (6 -7 hrs)
- World Peace Pagoda Hiking (4-5 hrs)
- Naudanda-Sarankot Hiking (6-7 hrs)
#21 White Water Rafting and Kayaking
Nepal is a mountainous country, and hence the ideal place for white water rafting and kayaking. There are many long and short river routes for rafting and kayaking in Nepal.
Some people who love extreme adventure have done paragliding from the mountains, however, if you think this is too risky, you may paraglide from Sarangkot over beautiful Pokhara valley or towards Annapurna mountain range. Paragliding from Sarangkot hill near Pokhara is one of the best ways to experience mountains and Himalayas. There are two options for paragliding, you can take a free-flying foot launched aircraft or a non-motorized foot launched inflatable winded glider. In both cases, you will have a trained pilot to assist you. Alternatively, you can also take a 10-day course and do paragliding alone.
#23 Bungee Jump
Want some adrenaline rush, try bungee jump. Bungee jump in Bhote Koshi River is one of the top 10 Bungee Jumps in the World. The bungee site is situated near Nepal-Tibet boarder above Bhote Kosi river.
Bungee Jump in Bhote Koshi River
Major festivals of Nepal
New Year's Day (April 14)
Buddha Jayanti: The birthday of Lord Buddha (May 24)
Machchendranath Rath Jatra (May-June)
Father's Day (August-September)
Indra Jatra (September)
Bada Dashain - (October-November)
Tihar (Diwali) (October-November)
Maha Shivaratri: the birth night of Lord Shiva) (February-March)
Holi: Festivals of Colors (March)
Mother’s Day (March)
#25 Participate in Nepali Festivals
If your visit to Nepal coincides with any of the hundreds of festivals in Nepal, try to become a part of celebration.
#26 Meditations in Nepal Vipassana Center
Nepal Vipassana Centre situated in Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu, is the best place to attend a free meditation course. You can attend a 10-day free residential Vipassana meditation in Nepal Vipassana Centre.
#27 Visiting Lumbini
Nepal marked 2012 as the Visit Lumbini Year. Lumbini is the birthplace of the Buddha. There are many religious and archeological sites in Lumbini.
Mayadevi Temple in Lumbini
#28 Eat Momo
Try Momo, which is sold in all kinds of eateries, from roadside food stall to the extravagant restaurants in five star hotels. Momo is the Nepali version of Asian dumplings. Momos are made by filling meat, vegetable or dairy products inside a dough ball and are steamed or fried.
Nepal is ideal place for sport fishing because of it’s over 4000 rivers, and thousands of lakes. In the rivers that run through the Himalayas you can find mahseer, snow trout, fresh water eel, and catfishes. Angling in the rivers like Gandaki, Koshi and Karnali is an experience of lifetime. You can also team up with fishing communities such Bote, Majhi, Tharu and Machhuwar. You can combine your fishing trip with rafting.
#30 King’s Way Walk
Walk around Rani Pokhari, the Queen’s Pond, Ghantaghar-clock tower, and then to Durbar Marg, the King’s Way. In the Durbar Marg, you can find some of the finest hotels, shopping centers, and restaurants in Nepal. Narayanhiti Palace, the residence of the Kings of Nepal until 2008, is in King’s Way. Narayanhiti Palace is now converted into a museum.
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