If you are contemplating planning an exotic travel experience look no further. Nepal is a treasure chest of The Himalayas letting you set out on an idyllic hideaway by trekking and trailing daunting mountains and hills, sojourning in the beautiful valleys along the way. Exploring the lush jungles while feasting your eyes with the vivid vista of astonishing floras and faunas will give you a lifetime experience of this piece of Shangri-La. Blessed with numerous high mountain summits, humid grassland plains and everything in between Nepal accentuates the contrast not merely evident to the landscapes alone. Traversing across this multicultural nation housing people from different ethnic backgrounds is a temptation hard to resist for any traveller. With the local’s display of humble living yet hospitable nature, enigmatic tradition and flamboyant festivities, it would not be wrong to say that visiting Nepal is every backpacker’s jamboree. Despite having so many natural and culturally valuable assets it is quite an insult and injustice to Nepal for enlisting only ten of its places in this compilation because if I keep on going then even the list of hundred would fall short. So here we go anyway:
10 Places To Visit In Nepal For Every Travel Junkie In 2021!
1) Kathmandu and around : Overwhelming City
The first city you will land upon getting into Nepal, Kathmandu is the crazy ancient city of Asia, a melting pot of various cultures where Gods and goddesses dwell. This is so palpable as you walk every few distances you will come across a temple or a Buddhist shrine, be it small or big. This is a spiritual city very much affixed to its roots yet rapidly advancing towards modern-day urbanization with all the modern-day amenities it has to offer. Home to seven of the world heritage sites (UNESCO enlisted) mostly the temples (Three Durbar square complexes with their adjacent temples and monuments, Pashupatinath Temple, Changunarayan Temple) and Buddhist shrines (Boudhanath Stupa and Swayambhunath Stupa), Kathmandu is an open museum and a window to its legendary arts, intriguing culture and fascinating history. If the lively bustling life of Kathmandu is too overwhelming for you to try its outskirts and neighbouring villages which are equally travel-worthy and would make a perfect hiking getaway. Hiking around Nagarkot, Chandragiri, Fulchowki, Nagarjuna hills are good choices and homestay with the locals around Dhulikhel and Panauti equally deserves a mention here. Once you are in Kathmandu do not miss out on Nepali cuisine one of the world’s most underrated gastronomical delights.
2) Bandipur: Tranquil Hill Station Of Nepal
Located 143 km west of Kathmandu, Bandipur is historically and culturally significant beautiful and tranquil hill station of Nepal. One can only savour the excellent view of the Himalayan range it gives upon reaching here. Originally a resting point for the Newar merchants of the Kathmandu valley who would embark on trading journeys to Tibet, Bandipur was booming with prosperity and the cultural exchange was imminent. Many people started settling here however later with the modern highway access Bandipur started losing its significance and was segregated as just another hilly village. Its major settlement was scattered elsewhere leaving Bandipur almost deserted. However, this exodus only helped the remaining locals of the Bandipur preserve their culture even more. Today whatever you see around Bandipur is the reminiscence of the yesteryear’s Bandipur. Aesthetically inspiring temples, water taps, neo-classical themed buildings, slate paved vehicle-free streets are few to name. It is so amazing to see how the residents have kept their heritages fortified and intact.
3) Pokhara: The City Of Lakes
The second-largest city of Nepal also termed as the tourist capital (and rightly said so) boasts of scenic natural beauty and is a destination for adventure seekers. The city is also a gateway to the famous Annapurna circuit trek and hosts several arrays of adventure sports and recreational activities to pump in the adrenaline rush in you. Also known as the city of lakes, Pokhara has three prime lakes Fewa, Begnas and Rupa and the vicinity around these lakes are breathtaking as they consist of green hills suitable for hiking, temples and shrines and small villages. Boating through Fewa lake one can reach The World Peace Pagoda one of the highlights of the city which sits atop a hill. You can experience the vantage point of view of the valley while circumambulating the pagoda and also get the glimpse of a chain of Himalayan mountains afar. The poriferous underground of the valley has had the formation of many intriguing caves and underpasses through which rivers flow and disappear. Trekking over hills like Dhampus, Ghandruk, Poon Hill Ghorepani and Sarangkot you are also bestowed with the options of adventure sports like zip-lining, skydiving, bungee jumping, rafting, hot air ballooning, ultra flight and paragliding which encapsulates the entire surreal experience of Pokhara.
4) Annapurna Circuit : Diverse climatic zone
Put your endurance to test trekking the Thorung La pass having an elevation of 5416m. with a rewarding view of Tibetan plateaus. A haven for avid adventure seekers who would want to experience the best of thrill nature has to offer high in The Himalayas. Dramatic landscapes with majestic mountain ranges to pristine rivers flowing through gorgeous valleys, see them all. Then surrender yourself to the fascinating encounter with the local’s rustic and unique custom and lifestyle. Reinvigorate yourself in fairly relaxing tea-houses and lodges trailing through some of the challenging cliffs and high suspension bridges. Discover the rarely talked about community of Mustang and Manang valley then find yourself wandering around the Buddhist monasteries dating back to centuries and some significant Hindu shrines like Muktinath Temple. Feast your eyes with picturesque mountains including Annapurna massif, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Manaslu among others. Rejoice in an escapade of the lifetime around Annapurna Circuit.
5) Everest Base Camp: Everest’s magic & Beyond
If the Annapurna circuit was not enough, try an even more extreme trek to Everest base camp. Commencing the journey from Lukla is an adventure per se as it has one of the most difficult runways in the world for an aeroplane to land. The trekkers and mountain enthusiasts congregate here and trail off to ascend higher to Namche bazaar and surrounding villages whose natives are legendary Sherpas. Interacting with them helps you comprehend their culture and the connection they have with the mountains. This trek is both mentally and physically demanding and can be termed as an acid test for any nascent climber. As intimidating as it sounds, the joy of experiencing the vicinity around Sagarmatha National Park with its breathtaking visuals of high mountains, glacial lakes, yaks and Buddhist monasteries is equally rewarding.
6) Lumbini: Birthplace Of Gautam Buddha
Nepal may be synonymous with the country of mountains but if you descend south a different mildly scorching Nepal shows itself. The plains of southern Nepal also known as Terai has two UNESCO heritage sites Lumbini and Chitwan National Park. The previous one is the birthplace of The Light of Asia Siddhartha Gautam Buddha who founded Buddhism while the latter is a grassland sanctuary for many rare and endangered species of birds and animals. These reasons are legit enough for you to march towards Terai for a relaxing trip after the exhausting mountain treks. Lumbini is mostly visited by the pilgrims who arrive from all over the globe. It has the historical temples (like Maya Devi temple), remains of the palaces and relics, landmarks left by prominent figures in history (like Ashoka pillar erected by emperor Ashoka of India) and other monasteries voluntarily built by different countries all over Asia.
7) Chitwan: Jewel on the Terai
A wildlife safari in Nepal very much resembling that of savannah might be news to your ears but Chitwan National Park offers you this experience. Sauraha to the east and Meghauli to the west, this stretch of land was previously a hunting reserve for the ruling elites of Nepal until the late 19th century. Later with the influx of people from hilly regions, the destruction of forest for settlement and agriculture went rampant thus disturbing the habitat of animals and birds. This resulted in the decline in numbers of these creatures at an alarming rate provoking the government to take radical steps for the protection of these animals and birds. This led to the establishment of the park. Today, tourists flock in here to enjoy wildlife safari to get a glimpse of animals like rare One-Horned Rhino, Royal Bengal Tiger, Gharial crocodiles and many others. For this you can either get an elephant ride or opt for a vehicle ride. Elephant polo, a sport much like horse polo originated here and has spread to many countries today. A visit to the local Tharu community is also highly recommended.
8) Western Nepal: Unexplored Gem
Though considered an impoverished region of Nepal, western Nepal is affluent when it comes to natural beauty. Two of the national parks Rara and Khaptad are located here which are isolated jewels of Nepal pristine, undisturbed and peaceful. Rara Lake, the biggest freshwater lake of Nepal is located in the periphery of Rara National Park and is quickly becoming a major tourist destination despite poor accessibility. With over a thousand species of floras, over fifty species of animals and over two hundred species of birds, the bliss upon viewing the aesthetics of Rara with all that it has to show is unparalleled to any other travel experience. Similarly, Khaptad region is both religiously and culturally significant. With picture-perfect rolling hills having green meadows and pastures, dreamy Khaptad looks too good to be true. There are more than twelve lakes and lagoons here along with the highest concentration of medicinal herbs and other plants. It is also home to many species of rare birds and animals which are frequently sighted around the park. The name of the park is derived from Khpatad Baba’s hermitage, which has been preserved here and is visited by lots of Hindu pilgrims along with other prominent religious points within the park. Getting to these secluded pieces of paradise is no cakewalk with no direct road access and with limited accommodation options available. It would be useful to use the expertise of a reliable guide.
9) Eastern Nepal: Illustrious Tea Estate
Land of the rising sun for Nepal eastern Nepal sits on the lap of the third highest peak of the world Mt. Kanchenjunga. Not so much publicized this place however attracts a good number of internal tourists sporadically. The famous tea estate gardens around Ilam, Fikkal and Kanyam are the highlights of this region. The verdant lush landscapes with many beautiful water pools are home to many species of rare plants and animals like Red Panda, Musk Deer, Spiny Babbler and Snow Leopard. One of the highest points in the region Shree Antu hills at an elevation of 2,328m lets you have the best sunrise view over the horizon on a clear day and if you are lucky enough you get to see the mountains like Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu and few others too. Along the way, you will not only view green hills and dense forests but also streams and milky waterfalls cascading straight down from the mountains. Enchanting places like Sandakpur, Sanu Pathibhara, Maipokhari with many temples and shrines hold religious importance for Hindu, Kirant and Buddhist pilgrims.
10) Dolakha: Trinity Of Nature
A northern central district of Nepal not so far from Kathmandu, Dolakha is predominantly a pilgrim’s destination as it has many temples and Gumbas. Over the years Dolakha has emerged to become one of the hot tourist destinations in a rather cool region because of its numerous cultural and natural heritage. Jiri, a town in Dolakha also known as The Switzerland of Nepal is an alternate classic route to Everest. Whoever prefers not to ascend the peak/base camp through airways they start their journey here just like Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay did way back in 1953. The place is a good deal for people who are not into mountaineering nor hiking yet want to see The Everest closely. Kuri-Kalinchowk is another popular destination in Dolakha. With the snowy precipitation it receives during winter the place becomes an exciting skiing destination of Nepal. Thanks to the recently installed cable/ropeways it has become convenient for people to go all the way up from Kuri bazaar to Kalinchowk hill/temple from where one can enjoy the panoramic view of the mountains like Ganesh, Gaurishankar, Everest etc. The same can be viewed from another place known as Sailung located at an altitude of 3,146 m. It is a far stretched area of rolling hills with green meadows and grasslands much like the wallpaper you must have seen using Windows XP back in the days.
Honourable mention: Paanch Pokhari
Try not to miss Paanch Pokhari (collection of five small lakes) on the way to Dolakha. There are two Paanch Pokharis, one lies in Sindhupalchowk district and the other in Ramechhap district. Both of these beautiful places are trek worthy and many people annually attend a Hindu cum Buddhist festival celebrated here. You can choose to visit either one of them or both of them.