Nepal attracts visitors who come for various reasons. Some are attracted to the call of the mountains and try to climb or go hiking in the Himalayas, others are intrigued by the culture and the famous city of Kathmandu, and others come in the hope of finding a kind of spiritual awakening. So, these are must-visit places in Nepal. Nepal can be an adrenaline rush, a cultural revelation, or a life-changing experience, depending on the traveler’s itinerary and mood.
Most visitors will spend time in Kathmandu visiting the sacred and historical attractions, then heading to other parts of the country. Some of the most famous places outside the capital are Chitwan National Park for wildlife viewing and the city on Pokhara Lake, a popular area to start hiking. Hikers will find a variety of options, the most popular areas being the Everest, Annapurna, and Langtang regions.
In 2015, a severe earthquake shook Nepal, causing severe damage to Kathmandu and other parts of the country. Travelers should check local conditions before visiting. Here’s the list of best places to visit in Nepal.
Kathmandu, the capital and largest city of Nepal, is unlike any other city in the world. The decaying buildings in the heart of the city contrast with the living environment that pervades the streets. The smell of incense floats in the shops as street vendors push their products and people continue their daily lives, all against the background of historic temples and carved statues.
For several hundred years, Kathmandu was one of three royal rival cities, along with Patan and Bhaktapur. Located very close to each other, these three meet today almost together. The highlight of Kathmandu has long been the Durbar square which is UNESCO’S World Heritage Site, the largest of the palace squares in the three royal cities. Temples and monuments of different shapes, sizes, styles, and religions can be found here.
Durbar Square in Kathmandu was badly damaged during the 2015 earthquake and many buildings were irreparably destroyed. Kathmandu is one of the most popular and best places to visit in Nepal.
Bhaktapur, the third of the “royal cities”, is located on the old trade route to Tibet, just outside Kathmandu. For Bhaktapur, the trade route was both an arterial link and an important source of wealth. Its relative distance at that time allowed the city to develop independently and in a way that distinguished it from the other two cities. Unlike Patan and Kathmandu, the population of Bhaktapur is mainly Hindu. The best place to start a city tour is Durbar Square, where in addition to the royal palace there are also several temples. The entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You must visit this place as it comes to the best places to visit in Nepal.
3. Boudhanath Stupa (Bodhnath)
Boudhanath Stupa, just outside Kathmandu, is one of the largest stupas of its kind in the world, and dates back to the 6th century, perhaps even earlier. Like Bhaktapur, it is located on the old trade route to Tibet and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stupa suffered minor damage during the 2015 earthquake but otherwise is in good condition.
The stupa itself is a symbol of enlightenment, but in Boudhanath the symbolism is very clear. Each different form represents one of the five elements, earth, water, fire, air, and sphere, which are also the attributes of the five Buddhas. Together in the form of a stupa, their unity abstractly reflects the structure of the universe itself.
Pokhara, at the foot of the foothills, is located 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu and is surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world: Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, and Annapurna. For many hikers, Pokhara is the gateway to the Himalayas. It is the starting point for excursions to Jomsom and the Annapurna region. But visitors will appreciate Pokhara and the beautiful landscapes even if they have no intention of hiking.
In terms of population, it is the second-largest city in Nepal after Kathmandu, but it does not yet seem like a large city. The people of the Kathmandu valley almost immediately notice a much cleaner air and a pleasant climate. Lake Phewa, with its group of hotels, restaurants, and shops on the lake, is ideal for those seeking relaxation and day trips.
5. Trekking in the Annapurna region
Annapurna is one of the most popular trekking regions in Nepal, with trekking options from a few days to a few weeks. There are three main routes in the Annapurna region, which intersect and combine in places, but hikers can choose to do some or a variation of the routes. The Annapurna circuit around Mount Annapurna lasts about 21 days and is incredibly popular with people who have enough time. This route is sometimes referred to as the “Apple Pie Circuit”, about the fact that most tea houses along the way serve their version of French fries cake.
The Annapurna Sanctuary is located between the peaks of Annapurna and takes five days to arrive. Muktinath is on the way to Annapurna. The Muktinath road crosses the Kali Gandaki valley on the eastern flank of Annapurna and lasts for seven days. North of Muktinath is Mustang, a small region that only opened its doors to tourists in 1992. This region is unspoiled and has a fascinating culture.
In many respects, the Annapurna region, north of Pokhara, is a great place to stroll. The dramatic contrasts of the Nepalese countryside are particularly visible, from the subtropical vegetation of the Pokhara valley to the shade of the dry rain, with the characteristics of the Tibetan plateau. People and cultures are also very different: facial features, houses, lifestyles, customs, and religion. In 1986 the Annapurna region was declared a protected area. The region has good infrastructure to support hikers who pass through this area. The roads are well maintained and food and accommodation are guaranteed.
6. Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park is the ideal place to discover another facet of Nepal, in addition to trekking and the intrigues of Kathmandu. It is the place to observe wildlife and a safari-like environment. At an altitude of only 100 meters in some regions, much lower than Kathmandu at 1400 meters, this region has a tropical monsoon climate, generally quite different from what most people expect to find in Nepal.
Visitors mainly come here to see wildlife. Visits from the shelters take visitors to the park, on foot, or, more often, on elephants for a closer view of the animals. The park is home to rhinos, Bengal tigers, leopards, sloth bears, demand many other creatures. Freshwater dolphins and crocodiles inhabit rivers and streams but are rarely seen. More than 500 bird species make Chitwan a bird watchers paradise.
Chitwan is located in the southwest of Kathmandu, near the Indian border, and is included in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. October to February is the best time to visit Chitwan. Average temperatures are around 25 ° C (77 ° F), with high humidity, although the morning can be quite cool. From June to September it is the monsoon season, with frequent and intense rains.
7. Trekking in the Langtang Region
The Langtang area, which is home to Langtang National Park, is a wonderful area for hiking, with some high passages, breathtaking views, ancient monasteries, and beautiful mountain landscapes with rhododendron forests that bloom during the season. spring excursion. It is less developed than some of the other popular trekking areas in Nepal and is generally less frequented on the trails, despite its proximity to Kathmandu. There are villages with pensions and food along the way, although slightly more scattered than in other hiking regions.
Langtang area is easily accessible from Kathmandu by jeep in 7 to 8 hours, making it extremely convenient, with no flight required. On clear days, the Langtang Lirung peak which is 7,245 meters above the sea level is visible from Kathmandu. The duration of the trek varies from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the route. Some hikers combine Helambu and Langtang for a longer hike. Langtang tops the list of best places to visit in Nepal.
8. Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
Located on a hill west of Kathmandu, Swayambhunath is the second most important shrine in the Kathmandu valley after Boudhanath. Because of the resident monkeys who inhabit parts of the temple, it is also known as Monkey Temple. The Swayambhu stupa, which is painted with the eyes of the omnipresent God, is the centerpiece of the temple.
Originally, it was a prehistoric place of worship, but the temple complex dates back to the 5th century. Swayambhu plays an important role in the life of Vajrayana Buddhists in northern Nepal and Tibet, but especially of Newari Buddhists in the Kathmandu valley.
9. Everest and Base Camp Trek
The summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, rises to 8,848 meters (29,028 feet). Hiking in the Mount Everest area became popular after the first legendary summit climb in 1953 by Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tensing Norgay. Since then, many others have reached the top of the mountain, but many others have followed the Everest base camp route simply to take a look at the summit far above. In recent years, the mountain has experienced many tragedies and dramas. The 2015 earthquake and previous avalanches, as well as disputes between climbers, marked the trekking and climbing of Everest.
The Everest region is not generally considered to be the most scenic area in the country for hiking, but the attractiveness of Everest attracts many climbers. There are several routes to access the base camp and several options for organizing a trip. Many trekking companies offer a guided excursion, both with Nepalese companies and based in the west. It is also possible to hire a private guide or a porter and do it yourself, but all hikers are technically required to have a guide. The main hiking seasons are in spring and autumn, from March to May and from September to December.
For those who don’t want to walk on Mount Everest but still want to see the mountain, it is possible to see it on a clear day from the hill town of Nagarkot, near Kathmandu. Hotel staff will knock on customer doors on a clear day if Everest is visible. This could be the best chance for the lazy traveler to see the highest peak in the world. Everest is world-famous for mountain hiking, so this should be on the list for the best places to visit in Nepal.
Lumbini is famous for being the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, known as the Shakyamuni Buddha. Located away from the main tourist route, about 250 kilometers from Kathmandu, Lumbini is a useful detour on the road from Pokhara to Chitwan National Park. In this city of pilgrimage, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, there is a feeling of tranquility.
Most of the visitors are Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world, following in the footsteps of the Buddha during the seasons of his life. The Maya Devi temple dedicated to the mother of the Buddha is said to be the birthplace of the Buddha. It contains an ancient stone relief from the 2nd century A.D. which represents the birth of Buddha.
11. Trek Helambu
The Helambu region is a famous trekking region, in particular with the trekking companies offering guided walks. This is mainly because it is close to Kathmandu. It does not surprisingly reach high altitudes and offers splendid mountain landscapes. For many of these same reasons, tourist groups often promote it as easily. However, many hikers who come here on tour find it more challenging than they think and more difficult than they think. Trekking in the Himalayas is always demanding and although not as high as other hikes. It is still a physically demanding trek and hikers must be in good physical condition. With that in mind, it’s a great walk and it’s worth it.
The Helambu region is inhabited by the Sherpas. It is located in the upper area of the Malechmi Khola valley. The Helambu Trek can start in Kathmandu and end in 5-8 days. The typical seven-day route is circular and the first day is repeated at the end of the trek. The sudden contrast between the regions below and above and their characteristic cultures is striking. Accommodation is in hostels and pensions in the village are available here. These should be in your bucket list of consisting the best places to visit in Nepal.