Top 10 Things To Do In Nepal

Nepal is an incredible country with so much to offer visitors. The friendly people, spectacular views, one of a kind culture, fun cities, adventurous treks, and tasty food make it one of my favourite places. It’s hard to narrow down the range of things to do here, but here are my top ten!

1. Stay in Himalayan Villages

Nepal’s cities are fun places to be, but to learn how the majority of people in the country live, head to the mountains. Home stays with local families can easily be arranged in villages, and will give you an insight into life in the Himalayas. Nepali people are among the most welcoming in the world, and their warmth and hospitality, combined with the incredible mountain views, may make this the best part of your trip.

Read more about a home stay in a Nepali village here.

Bahakot (16 of 62)

Staying with a local family and getting dressed up Nepali-style

Taking in a mountain view

Taking in a mountain view

2.  Chitwan

A tiger is high on every wildlife-watchers checklist. While a sighting is not guaranteed in Chitwan, it is your best chance of spotting one in Nepal. Even if you don’t manage to see the elusive big cat, a trek through the jungle on the back of an elephant is an experience in itself, and you’ll likely see some Asiatic rhinos. For me, the highlight of the trek came at the end, when we sat bareback on our elephant in the river as she hosed us down with water.

To get to Chitwan, take a local bus from Kathmandu (4 hours) or Pokhara (6 hours), or fly to nearby Bharatpur airport. Entrance fee is NPR1,700 and a guide is essential.

A couple of massive rhinos

Getting up close with some rhinos

Taking an elephant bath

Taking an elephant bath

Unfortunately the closest we came to a tiger

Unfortunately this was the closest we came to a tiger

3. Explore Kathmandu

Kathmandu is a divisive city. Some visitors fall in love with its bustling, vibrant streets, while others hate the crowds and the constant sales pitches. Personally, I love the tourist district of Thamel, with its colourful souvenir stalls, cycle rickshaws and live music bars. But there’s so much more to Kathmandu, and it’s the perfect city in which to go exploring, get lost, and see what you can find.

Shopping for souvenirs in Thamel

Shopping for souvenirs in Thamel

One of many temples in Kathmandu

One of many temples in Kathmandu

4. Take a Trip to the Botanic Gardens

For those seeking refuge from chaotic Kathmandu, the Botanic Gardens in Godavari are thankfully just a short bus ride away. Set against a mountain backdrop, the gardens overflow with plants and flowers. Visitors can stroll through rhododendron forests, peaceful riverside lawns and greenhouses of orchids and cacti.

To get to the Botanic Gardens, take a local bus from Ratna Park. The entrance fee is NPR226 , with an additional NPR20 if you want to take photos.

A peaceful stroll by the river

A peaceful stroll by the river

A bird of paradise flower

A bird of paradise flower

5. Trekking

Think of Nepal, and you’ll likely think of mountain treks. Everest base camp draws those eager to set foot on the world’s highest mountain, while Annapurna offers a classic Himalayan circuit, and Western Nepal entices adventurous explorers. But for me, the Tibetan teahouse villages of Langtang National Park hold the most appeal. Stunning mountain views and traditional Tibetan culture make this an incredible part of Nepal. While parts of the area have been tragically devastated by the recent earthquake, many of the routes remain open, and local residents are eager to let tourists know that they are welcome here.

To get to Langtang NP, take an 8 hour bus from Kathmandu’s new bus park to Syabrubesi. Visitors must first obtain a park permit (NPR 3,000) and a TIMS card (NPR 2,000) in Kathmandu. Check with the tourist police in Syabrubesi about currently available routes.

Trekking through rhododendron forests in Langtang

Trekking through rhododendron forests in Langtang NP

Women in Tibetan traditional dress in Langtang NP

Women in Tibetan traditional dress in Langtang NP

7. Bhaktapur

While there are plenty of Durbar squares to choose from in and around Kathamndu, Bhaktapur is undoubtedly the most impressive. This UNESCO-protected ancient city is crammed with ornately carved temples and statues, and dotted with pottery sellers and handicraft stalls. A guide may be useful to explain the history of the area (don’t worry, they’ll find you).

To get to Bhaktapur, take a local bus from Kathmandu’s Ratna park. The entrance fee is NPR 1,500. 

A temple in Bhaktapur

A temple in Bhaktapur

One of the Bhaktapur elephants

One of the Bhaktapur elephants

Sunset at Bhaktapur

Sunset at Bhaktapur

8. Eat Like A Local

One of my favourite reasons to visit Nepal is the food! In the mountains, you’ll be given your fill of dhal and rice, but you can also try some local specialities like fried insects. Every type of food imaginable is available in the bigger cities. For the best culinary experiences, head down side streets away from the busy areas and find local cafes. Try some spicy curries, yummy thukpas, and, of course, some local Everest beer. My personal favourite is a paneer butter masala with vegetable momos.

Read more about vegetarian food in Nepal here.

Yummy momos!

Yummy momos!

A typical Nepali meal of rice, vegetables and dhal.

A typical Nepali meal of rice, vegetables and dhal

9. Climb to Swayabhunath Stupa

Those steps may seem never-ending, but once you arrive at the top you’ll get a view of the entire city of Kathmandu and the surrounding mountains. You’ll also get to see the buddha eyes and prayer flags of Swayabunath stupa up close, as well as the surrounding Buddhist temples and prayer wheels. Though my personal highlight was watching a hoard of adorable monkeys clambering throughout the entire complex.

Swayambunath is approximately a half hour’s walk from Thamel (not including getting up all those steps!). The entrance fee is NPR 300.

The many steps at Swayambunath

The many steps at Swayambunath

Swayambunath Stupa

Swayambunath Stupa

A monkey taking in the view at Swayambunath

A monkey taking in the view at Swayambunath

10. Explore Pashupatinath Temple Complex

Many people may associate Nepal more closely with Buddhism, but a large portion of its people are Hindu, and, until the recent constitution was passed, Nepal was officially a Hindu country. The best place to explore Kathmandu’s Hindu side is in the sprawling temple complex of Pashupatinath. Here you’ll find a collection of Hindu temples and statues (with a bit of Buddhism dotted here and there, too). Traditional Hindu funerals, where bodies are burned on pyres by the riverside, also take place here.

Pashupatinath is 3km from Thamel, and the entrance fee is NPR 1,000.

Pashupatinath temple complex

Pashupatinath temple complex

Pashupatinath (1 of 35)

Buddhist prayer flags at the entrance to the Hindu temple complex

One of the many temples at Pashupatinath

One of the many temples at Pashupatinath

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