Traveling to Nepal can be an exciting, exhilarating and an eye opening experience.
Nestled between India and China, Nepal is a small landlocked oasis surrounded by eight of the world’s highest peaks that sees well over 700,000 tourists every year.
The distinct geographical regions, rare flora and fauna along with authentic and culturally embossed cities make the country extremely diverse and inviting.
This diversity that often comes at a budgeted rate as Nepal’s weak currency fits just about anyone’s travel needs.
With plethora of options to choose from, here are the 15 best things to do in Nepal.
1. Hike To The Hills
We are starting with the obvious here— land of the mountains Nepal is synonym to hiking and trekking.
With numerous trails at varying difficulty levels, anyone and everyone can try to get an up close look at some beautiful peaks, trails and remote village settlements in the country.
Most of Nepal’s trekking is separated into 4 categories of difficulty accommodating a person’s fitness levels and aspirations.
Level 1 Treks: Starting below 4000 meters of altitude, level 1 treks follow easy trails and is ideal for people who are just beginning their journey into trekking.
Usually lasting 2 to 3 days these treks offer a way for you to get acquainted with remote villages and areas in the country without having to deal with high altitude.
Rest assured that regardless of the difficulty, you will be witnessing some of the best views from these treks.
The most popular easy treks are Ghorepani Poon Hill, Gandrunk, Panchase and more.
Level 2 Treks: This moderate difficulty of level 2 will mean that you need to physically fit to attempt it.
The average altitude for this trek in 3900 meters to 4800 meters with some uphills that would require your body to adjust to acclimation.
These terrains also include a few high passes that are considered to be slightly difficult.
Trekking in these areas will give you a chance to be acquainted with magnificent lakes such as the oligotrophic Gokyo lake, Langtang glaciers and remote valleys that will wow you with simplicity and warmth.
These treks usually take 7 or more days, the timings depend on your pace as well.
The most popular treks with this difficulty levels are Annapurna Base camp, Langtang Trek and Gokyo Lake Everest Trek.
Level 3 Treks: For the physically fit who can handle strenuous trekking, these treks take you through multiple passes, hours of trekking which happens at the altitude above 4800 meter to 5600 meters.
While there are plenty of tea shops around the area it is breathtaking views of the Everest range, Annapurna circuit, Upper Mustang and more that will keep you going.
The trails are at times a little off-beat and weather sometimes a little unforgiving but the view and experience will be worth it.
The treks usually take longer than a week and can be quite intense so come prepared!
The most popular treks in with this difficulty level are Upper Mustang Trek, Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base camp.
Level 4: This level will require you to have previous trekking experience and high level of stamina.
The duration of these treks are over 20 days and will require you to camp out in the snow for multiple days.
You will also need to handle mountaineering equipments well as they will be needed in the climbing process.
Climbers will have to be more careful of altitude sickness and cold as frostbites are common in this area.
Nevertheless, a trek for the thrill seekers, and professional climbers these trails are definitely worth it if you got what it takes.
The most popular treks with this difficult level includes Upper Dolpo trek, Everest high pass trek and Manaslu Trek.
2. Seek Some Thrill
Nepal offers plenty for the thrill seekers.
Be it plunging into the Bhote Koshi river via a bungee cord just 3 hours away from Kathmandu near the Tibetan border or taking the rapids of the white waters in Pokhara, the adventures in the country never stop.
But, if you are someone who is not quite there for the extremes, then a great selection of low intensity adventure sports awaits you; paragliding, zipline, boat riding all of which can be experienced in Pokhara city which is around 5 hours away from the capital and 30 mins by flight.
3. Immerse In The Local Flavors
A good time is never complete without good food.
Nepal is such that the rural and the developed parts co-exists in close proximity, which means either you want to taste the traditional local dal bhat from a small stall or eat some steaming hot momos in a high end restaurant, you can do both.
The prices for dishes at a high end restaurant can be somewhere between Rs 1500 – Rs 2500 for two people.
While the local stalls can sell you authentic dishes for anywhere between Rs 80 – Rs 250.
4. Take Public Rides
Perhaps this should be on the list of adventure sports as well?
Nepal’s transportation has its quirks to the say the least but if you want to know and experience how a true Nepali lives then hoping on a local bus, micro (mini van) and a tempo ( three wheeler wonder) will give you plenty of that.
Just be mindful of other passengers, avoid rush hour and you are good to go!
5. Enjoy Night Life in Kathmandu
You know what is booming? Nepal’s nightlife.
The country has an array of night life adventures to choose from, catering to people of all interests.
Want a somber night? Head to Krishna Mandir in Patan for a cup of tea. Amongst street performances, be a spectator of the historic architecture and culture.
Don’t care about any of this and want to just dance the night way?
The recent spurs of night clubs that play different genre of songs such as techno, deep house, R&B and more are open on most weekends till the wee hours for you let your hair down.
Some of the places that are the most happening during the night in Nepal are Thamel and Durbarmarg.
Durbarmarg (Kingsway) is a street in Kathmandu that leads up to the King’s Palace and is filled with restaurants and branded shops.
The area falls on the more pricer side and serves food items from different parts of the world.
As for Thamel, it is the tourist hotspot of the city, bustling with energy, local shops, small clubs, bars, food and live music.
If you can’t decide how to spend your night in the city you come here. With a wide selection of places to be, there is a little bit of everything in this part of the city.
The capital and some cities like Pokhara outside of the valley also have many bustling cafes and pubs where you can enjoy live musical performances.
6. Mingle With The Locals
You won’t find this anywhere but in this list, tarkari bazar or vegetable markets is where all the early morning actions happen.
While not the most obvious place to visit when traveling, if you enjoy morning banters, a look into a true locals life in the country and some utter fun chaos then heading to any morning markets in Kalimati or Kumaripati will give you just that.
Another great way to get to know the locals is to visit the many co-working spaces around the capital, made targeting the expats living in the country these places are welcoming to foreigner and also host networking events that you can be a part of.
Some of the co-working places in Nepal are BAC Art Cafe, The Platform. Inc and Workaround.
9. Visit The Unesco World Heritage sites
While some of the ancient landmarks were shaken by 2015 earthquake much of it still remains and are coined as Unesco World Heritage Sites.
These sites are soaked in religious artifacts and tradition.
And, the best part about all of this is that you do not need to go very far to experience such musings, with most museums, temples located within the valley and some only a few hours away from it.
Here are a list of some the World Heritage sites that you can explore.
Pashupatinath: The sacred temple devoted lord shiva is the one of oldest hindu temples in the city, thousands of people come here to offer their prayers and get lots in the religious wonder of principal deity along with others.
Boudhanath: Nepal being a secular country has big influences of Buddhism in it, the stupa at boudhanath is sacred for the buddhist in the country with a big mandala.
This serene place has many Nepali and Tibetan buddhist come here to offer prayers and meditations. Around the Stupa are a string a restaurants and hotels which present tranquility and breathtaking view.
Swayambhunath: Known as the monkey temple, this religious architecture holds monasteries, shrines, library and is often visited by both buddhist and hindus devotees to come here to offer their prayers.
Durbar Square: The royal places in Nepal are surrounded by striking architecture, these durbars (palace) square now have become tourist hubs with restaurants, souvenir shops, museums and more inside and outside of the durbar.
Lumbini: The birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha Lumbini is scared place for most Buddhist. The place has many old temples, museums and monasteries along with with the famous Mayadevi Temple.
It also includes Puskarini a pond deemed holy because buddha’s first bath happened in it. The area includes many complex and intricate architecture and embodies peace just like Buddha did.
Sagarmatha National Parks :Located in east part of Nepal in the Himalayas Sagarmatha National Park includes the magnificent Mount Everest (8,848 m).
In the Solukhumbu district the park covers and area of 1,148 km of land. The park is located 6000 m from the ground and includes some of the most dramatic glacier and snowy peaks.
It is also a home to 2500 Sherpa people who live with strong influences from neighboring countries like Tibet.
Chitwan National Parks : Covering an area of 952.63 km2 Chitwan National Park is located in the Terai lowlands in Nepal.
If you do not fancy the mountains and the hills, the plains is a great alternative. Known famously to be the habitat of many endangered species such as the One Horned Rhino, Bengal Tiger, Red Panda the park is a place for nature and animal lovers.
Activities such as bird watching, elephant bathing, jungle safaris are a crowd favorite here and most resorts around the park provide you the options to stay in chalets near the forests and get close to nature.
10. Visit Pokhara
A tourist favorite, the city of Pokhara is 5 hours away from Kathmandu Valley.
This metropolitan city is known for its affordability and beauty.
As a starting hub for most treks this city is known for it beautiful fewa lake and the majestic annapurna region.
The views, service, activities such as paragliding and zip lining all make this city a must visit, equipped with plenty to do and see.
11. Give Back
If you wish to use your vacation time to bring a smile to someone’s face then volunteer work is the answer.
Nepal has many non-profit organization that can help you do this.
Either by donating your time, money or resources they can use your help to truly make a difference in someone’s life.
There are organizations like Volunteering In Nepal, Ford Foundation, Global Vision International,Helping Hands which all offer short and long term programs for you to work with.
As a safety measure make sure to do prior research with credible organizations before you start working with them.
12. Shop For Authentic Souvenirs
Excotic jewellery, comfy pashmina and woollen shawls, Nepal has some unique offers in terms of shopping.
The souvenirs in the country are laced with traces of history, culture, religion and at times the bohemian culture of the 60’s.
Certain areas in Thamel, Pokhara and Patan are doused with souvenirs that embody all these.
You can also find local shops such as Timro Concept, Local Project that sell goods from traditional and contemporary Nepali brands.
13. A Flight To The Himalayas
Do not fancy weeks of walking to visit breathtaking base camps and peaks in the country ?
Chartered helicopters are here for the rescue, giving you an up close view of many ranges such as Annapurna, Langtang or Everest region in a matter of minutes.
The design of the transport makes it easy to give you a real and authentic view of these ranges.
Fly above the Himalayas and get blown away by the beauty this country beholds.
14. Learn Something New
There are some shops in tourist hotspots like Thamel and Patan that offer courses such as cooking classes to learn nepali cuisine, wood carving, thangka paintings and more.
For those who enjoy some relaxing meditation and yoga there are also retreats and classes in the capital to choose from.
15. Relax At The Garden of Dreams
Placed strategically in the middle of hustling Kathmandu in Thamel, garden of dreams is a neoclassical estate that was restored from the Rana regime. It is beautiful, tranquil and serene with avast garden, ponds, flowers and amphitheater for you to enjoy some peace and quiet.
The list captures the local wonders along with tourist hotspots. Choose your pick and enjoy your experience.