In the heart of the Himalayas, Nepal is a magical country filled with enlightening adventures. Trekkers and climbers jet here for daring expeditions into alpine valleys engulfed by snow-capped peaks. Some travelers explore the religious sites of Kathmandu and Lumbini to seek spiritual guidance. And Chitwan National Park puts Nepal on the map for heart-stopping encounters with exotic animals.
Nepal entices your curiosities in ways that are hard to replicate in other countries. Watching spiritual traditions or exploring its otherworldly landscapes provide memories you’ll never forget. If you’re unsure where to begin in Nepal, think about what activities rejuvenate your soul. Whether you wish to connect with Mother Nature, wildlife, or your inner spirit, here are our top picks to visit in Nepal.
Nestled on the banks of Phewa Lake, Pokhara is Nepal’s 2nd most populated city and the gateway to the mighty Himalayas. Trekkers base themselves in Pokhara to set off on daring hikes to some of the highest peaks on the planet. Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, and Annapurna I of the Annapurna Range are among the most popular hiking destinations near Pokhara.
While prepping for your trek, Pokhara has a delightful atmosphere to relax and learn about Nepalese culture. Tal Barahi Temple has a scenic setting on Phewa Lake, and Shree Bindhyabasini Temple boasts breathtaking Himalayan vistas. The Annapurna Range reflects on Phewa Lake as boating excursions offer majestic views of the surrounding hills.
Intrepid travelers visiting Pokhara usually set off to the Annapurna Region for world-class hiking. Annapurna has the most extensive system of hiking trails in Nepal and has something for every skill level. The 21-day Annapurna Circuit draws the hardiest adventurers tempted by the wild landscapes around the 8,000-meter peaks. For those who have the time and stamina to last three weeks, the circuit is the journey of a lifetime.
The Kali-Gandaki River snakes through the valley, and the native Thakali people inhabit the fertile landscapes between the snow-capped peaks. With verdant forests and fertile terraces, the indigenous communities produce delicious, hearty meals for hikers. Poon Hill is another popular destination on the Annapurna Circuit for jaw-dropping vistas of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges.
Head to the Terai Lowlands of south-central Nepal to feel like you’re on an African safari. The tropical climate is a dramatic shift from Nepal’s alpine scenery, and lush forests nurture an abundance of exotic creatures. With hundreds of colorful species, Chitwan is a birdwatcher’s paradise. If you’re searching for larger animals, the park also has Bengal tigers, rhinos, leopards, elephants, and crocodiles.
With jungle treks and jeep tours, Chitwan is the best destination in Nepal to discover wildlife. But due to the tropical climate, avoid the torrential downpour of the June-September monsoon season.
Summiting the world’s highest peak is the ultimate thrill for mountaineers and trekkers. At 8,848 meters, Everest holds a reputation that simply can’t be matched by other peaks. The trek to Everest Base Camp sees more hikers due to the harrowing risks of climbing to the summit. But catching a glimpse of the world’s tallest mountain is a heart-racing sight for adventurous travelers.
Sagarmatha National Park is the protected landscape that houses Mount Everest and other lofty peaks of the Himalayas. While Everest dominates the vistas, aquamarine lakes, sharp valleys, and mammoth glaciers adorn the landscape. For nature lovers, Sagarmatha also lets you spot rare animals like snow leopards and red pandas.
As the bustling capital of Nepal, Kathmandu entices your senses unlike any other metropolis in the world. For most travelers, this royal Nepalese city is the first stop on a mystical adventure across the country. Although an earthquake devastated Kathmandu in 2015, it’s making a resurgence and rebuilding cultural sites. The energetic Durbar Square has a fascinating mix of temples, shrines, monuments, and other landmarks to check out.
Swayambhunath Stupa sits on a hilltop overlooking the valley and remains a spiritual pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists. The Boudha Stupa rests on the opposite side of Kathmandu and is another sacred place of worship amongst Buddhists. Situated on the holy Bagmati River, the Shri Pashupatinath Temple is Kathmandu’s most famous Hindu temple.
If your time in Nepal is short, Langtang National Park is accessible from Kathmandu and offers exciting Himalayan trekking adventures. The Sherpa people inhabit the area, and the 7,245-meter Langtang Lirung dominates the landscape. Many villages were affected by the 2015 earthquake, but the locals welcome visitors with open arms.
High mountain passes, immense glaciers, spring wildflowers, and rushing rivers highlight the scenic region near the Tibet border. While Langtang doesn’t see the tourist numbers of other trekking areas, guesthouses are on the Langtang and Gosainkunda routes. The traditional stone houses and clothing of the native groups give you insight into the Himalayan culture.
For spiritual travelers, a journey to this Buddhist pilgrimage site is the highlight of any trip to Nepal. Lumbini is believed to be the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who would later become the Buddha. Even if you’re not a Buddhist, visiting the Lumbini Province will touch your soul in ways unimaginable. Buddhist temples, monasteries, and museums are everywhere and tranquil gardens offer complete serenity.
Maya Devi Temple sits beside a sacred pool and garden, and ancient Buddhist shrines were discovered here. The Royal Thai Monastery is an astonishing piece of architecture that glistens white marble. Designed by Japanese Buddhists, the World Peace Pagoda symbolizes the hope for peace amongst humanity.
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