Following the devastating earthquake in 2015 – the recovery efforts have been slow and steady and are by no means complete. Despite this, there is still so much to see and do in the region and tourist interest and enjoyment of this area remains high.
Top Temples to Visit in Nepal
- Pashupatinath Temple (Kathmandu)
- Guhyeshwari Temple (Kathmandu)
- Swayambhunath Temple (Kathmandu)
- Boudhanath Stupa (Kathmandu)
- Kopan Monastery (Kathmandu)
- Jain Temple (Kathmandu)
- Janaki Mandir (Janakpur)
- Swayambhunath (Kathmandu Valley)
- Nyatapole Temple (Bhaktapur)
Top Nepal Treks
- Langtang Valley Trek
- Upper Dorpo Trek
- Mount Everest Circuit – to base camp
- Manaslu Circuit Trek
- Three Passes Trek
- Upper Mustang Trek
- Rara Lake Trek
- Annapurna Base Camp Trek
- Annapurna Circuit Trek
- Annapurna Dhaulagiri Panorama Trek
- Makalu Base Camp Trek
- Great Himalayan Trail
Places to Visit in Nepal
- Kathmandu City
- Bhaktapur (Bhadgaon)
- Pokhara Valley
- Phewa Lake
Unique things to do in Nepal
- Trekking – the most popular activity to do in Nepal- Langtang Trek, not as famous as Everest but just as beautiful.
- Bhaktapur – built in dark carved wood – pink brick, medieval alleys and famous wood carvings
- Bodhath (Boudha) – the largest stupa, known for its white wash and being an historical trading route, the surrounding area is littered with monasteries, prayer flags, and Tibetan monks. An authentic experience of Tibetan Buddhist culture in daily practice.
- Elephant Bath! Yes you can help bath an elephant in Chitwan National Park- a once in a lifetime experience.
- Eating MOMO – Dumplings worth every bite!
- Dasain – best Nepali festival to view carved masks
- The Himalayas – 2 viewpoints: 1) Sarangkot outside of Pokhara, 2) Nagarkot outside of Kathmandu
- Shiva Raatri – winter festival paying tribute to god Shiva. Google this one!
- Janaki Madir – a white temple constructed in 1874 which blends the Mughal and local architecture together and is known as the birthplace of Sita where thousand pilgrimage here to pay hommage to Ram and Sita (lovers).
- Jungle wildlife – Chitwan and Bardia National Parks
- Old Kathmandu – everything from narrow alley ways, noisy markets, carved temples, and political rallies (exercise caution when comes to viewing these events)
- Patan – collections of temples across the river from Kathmandu
- Nepalese bus rides - you’ll see everything from people riding the top of the bus to livestock being transported on their laps. Plus, you’ll witness the dramatic countrysides and really get a real feel for the local culture.
- Chiya – sip on a hot, sweet, milky, spicy drink (or Chai- 1 cup of milk, cup of water, 2t sugar, 2t tea, cardamon, cloves, ginger, black pepper)
- Rafting – even the not-so-adventurous types can find a rafting trip they will enjoy.
- Gorkha – a historical must is the Nepali Royal family ancestral home.
- Phewa Tal – this is great spot to kick up your heels for some lakeside leisure.
- Yoga and Meditation.
Most people from around the world come specifically to trek Nepal, and no trip would be complete without seeing the countryside, so be sure to add trekking to your list. For those who are not physically fit or are only moderately fit, you’ll want to prepare your body as much as possible. Trekking at higher elevations is taxing, and for those who live at sea-level and haven’t experienced this type of hiking you’ll be surprised how hard it is. That being said finding a trek to fit your skill level is always possible.
Even if you’re a seasoned trekker and are incredibly familiar with Nepal the most practical advice is to hire a guide/sherpa to help you with your journey. The obvious reasons are because sherpas are informative about the area and can show you the best spots, but also, they are there to assist you with the whole journey. That includes preparing your shopping lists for food, getting you the right gear and getting it organized for efficiency, and mapping out your overnight accommodations (whether it be camping, B&B’s, or hotels if available). The most notable reason is that they will assist you with carrying your bags if you need it, and as most travellers find out this is a blessing in disguise. Being strong on Day 1 is a different kind of strength than on Day 6, and a little bit of help goes a long way! An important piece of advice that you’ll hear many times is to choose a guide or sherpa from the area you wish to trek in- to better understand the landscape, customs, and people. There are cases in which guides from other areas of the country are just as familiar with the area you wish to trek, however it’s always best go with the most popular pieces of advice.
A food lover’s delight, Nepalese cuisine is rich with flavour, colour, and culture. The influences from neighbouring countries, Tibet, India, and China post 1950’s, has brought in new taste elements, however the Nepalese people really stick to their native plants and animals- and not exported goods. This is great for the tourist who wants to really explore authentic Tibetan culture through food. That being said the regions vary in culture and customs, so many of the dishes reflect this diversity. You could order the same dish in different parts of the city and wind up with something slightly different. So, try everything more than once if you can! Many of dishes will include ingredients such as, lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, cumin, coriander (Cilantro), chilies, peppers, and garlic. There are so many good dishes to try and if you can try be adventurous with your palette, but if you need some good easy staples, here are our top three:
You don’t want to miss the Nepalese rice (a true staple in any Asian cuisine), Pulao. It is fried rice dish seasoned with turmeric and cumin and it’s a great dish transition to on your travels as it is easier on the digestive system. It is also a staple item that you’ll find in most areas.
Another MUST HAVE dish is Momo. Every Asian country has their version of the dumpling and Momo is true winner amongst them. Typically it contains a vegetable or meat filling that is steamed in a flour dough. If you’ve tried Japanese Gyozo’s this quite similar. Momo’s are accompanied with a couple different dipping sauces, which are typically spicy or with a fermented vegetables. Momo stands or street stalls are abundant so you’ll have no problems finding this one!
The most common meal that you’ll find on every menu- in just about every spot, especially in the higher regions where farming limited- is Dal Bhat. This is a dish that provides a bit more variety with focus on starches. The presentation of this dish is fun for the tourist. You will be given several little dishes of ‘sides’ accompanied by the main portion of rice. A typical spread is rice, lentils (Dal- red, yellow), mutton or meat cooked in chilli, cooked vegetables(cauliflower), pickled vegetables, maybe some spinach and/or flat bread, and of course some hot spicey chilies on the side. Careful of the chilli though, because it can be really hot!
Best time of year to visit Nepal
The best time to visit Nepal is either before or after monsoon season, so really there are only two seasons: dry and wet. Monsoon season runs from June to September and the precipitation is high, which results in many landslides. High season runs from October to the beginning of December, where the weather is warm and sunny. This is the most popular time for trekking. The shoulder season runs from February to May and has less rain but slightly cooler temperatures. In the high mountains that could mean a temperature drop to below zero (Celsius) in the evenings, so bear in mind that city temperatures and mountain altitudes differ quite a bit and you’ll need to pack differently for both.
Be advised that numerous permits are needed in Nepal and most require that you have them before embarking on your treks. The Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS) card is mandatory and its purpose is to record all visitors’ travels for their safety- to know their whereabouts and cut back on illegal trekking operations. To obtain a TIMS card, you’ll need to pay a fee, provide a passport copy, and a passport sized photo located at the Tourist Service Centre, Bhrikutimandap. The same is true for Trekking Agencies Association Nepal (TAAN). There are different permits for mountaineering, national parks, trekking, and heritage sites. Reputable and registered guides can provide you the necessary information for your trip, but being self aware of the requirements- to avoid complications.
The Napalese currency is the Rupee. It comes in banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 100, and 500 (Rs). Coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 paisa, and 1 Rupee(Re). There are many ATMs available in the major cities and one in the airport on your arrival. Paying with credit cards, like American Express, Visa, and MasterCard, is possible at the major hotels, restaurants, and shops only. You will need cash in the countryside. Always keep your foreign cash exchange receipts as they may be needed when converting your Nepali currency back in your home currency when you’re leaving the country. **It is illegal to leave Nepal with their currency, so you must convert it before leaving.**
Ready to plan your visit to Nepal? Check out these popular guides and trips.