Nepal is truly a trekker’s paradise and a treasure trove of culture and traditions. Tourists usually limit Nepal to Kathmandu and Trekking in the Himalayas, thinking those are the only best places that exist. These are incredible places to visit, but there are so many amazing places beyond the mountains and Kathmandu in the country!
Deciding where to travel while in Nepal and which cities can be challenging. Especially if you are on a tight budget. The main issue is with the amount of time it takes to get from one city to another – unless you are flying of course. Therefore, it will be important to come up with a rough itinerary of the places to visit in Nepal before you arrive.
In this blog I list out some of the best places to visit while traveling throughout the country. To start with, you can see the location of all the places a highlight in this blog in the map below:
Places to Visit in Nepal
1. Pokhara: The Gateway to the Himalayas
Known as the “tourist capital of Nepal,” Pokhara is the second-largest city in the country after Kathmandu. It is one of the popular tourist destinations for many trekkers and world-famous trekking routes. The best highlight of the town is the Lakeside. It is truly a boating paradise with charming lit shops, dreamy cafes, restaurants, and pubs, making the place a poster-perfect town.
Pokhara is also a hub for adventurous activities like rock climbing, paddle boarding, kayaking, zip lining and paragliding. Paragliding in Pokhara is also recognized as one of the world’s top five tandem paragliding spots. The trip offers stable thermals, easy take-off and landing sites, and views of the majestic Himalayas. You can also indulge in river rafting, zip-lining, bungee jumping, and ultra-light flights.
With the hustle and bustle of the Lakeside, Pokhara is also home to many historical temples, monasteries, and the city’s commercial hub. When you go boating, stop by the Tal Barahi Temple, located at the center of the lake.
Additionally, you can also hike up the World Peace Pagoda, Sarangkot, and the Shiva Temple! You can do the Peace Pagoda and Shiva temple hike in a day, read our blog to help you plan a perfect day hike! Also, make sure to head over to the Annapurna Cable Car on the other side of Fewa lake to get up to Sarangkot if you are not feeling the hike!
All of these locations are definitely some of the best places to visit in Pokhara, as they all give you a panoramic view of the city, lake, and the Himalayas!
Read about Pokhara in detail in my Pokhara Travel Guide: Why you NEED to visit Lakeside, Pokhara blog!
2. Kathmandu: The City of Temples
With the hustle and bustle of dust, traffic, and people, Kathmandu is the first stop to explore and learn about the city. Kathmandu is surrounded by many temples, shrines, historical sites, lovely restaurants, and busy streets. Once you’re in the city, make sure to visit the UNESCO heritage sites, the traditional towns of Patan and Bhaktapur, the peaceful Pashupatinath Temple, the bewitching Boudhanath Stupa, and the enchanting Swayambhunath.
The capital also offers plenty of outdoor activities. Adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers can go to Nagarkot, Dhulikhel, and Champadevi Hill for mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing. Head to Kopan monastery to learn about Buddhism, drink the famous lassi from Indra Chowk, and try some local raksi and cuisines in the local towns of Patan!
- The best hikes in Kathmandu: Day hiking trails in the KTM Valley
- Mahabuddha Temple – The Temple of a Ten Thousand Buddhas in Patan
Courtyards of drying rice and chilies, aromatic incense wafting out from temples, museums, and modern Nepali art galleries to workshops, busy bazaars, and streets, thukpas, momos, and beer, Kathmandu has something unique in store for every tourist, backpacker, devotee, history buff, foodie and shopaholic.
3. Lumbini: A Buddhist Pilgrimage
The birthplace of Gautam Buddha, Lumbini is one of the most religious and significant events sites and an incredible trip to the world of Buddhism. Lumbini is a UNESCO World Heritage Site wrapped with ancient stupas dating back to 2000 years. People from all over the world come to Lumbini to study Buddhism, and scriptures, meditate or practice yoga. “Lumbini” in Sanskrit means “The Lovely” and truly stands to its name!
Mayadevi temple is the most sacred site on the premises of Lumbini and houses the exact spot where Lord Buddha was born. The entire premises is decked with prayer flags that the monks have blessed. There are also several other monasteries in other countries such as China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thai, Myanmar, Germany, France, to name a few.
Each of these monasteries has distinctive architectural features and traditional paintings representing its story. Some other attractions within the premises of the Mayadevi temple are the Bodhi Tree Garden, the Sacred Pond, and the Ashoka Pillar, which was built in 249 B.C.
4. Janakpur: The City of Ponds
The birthplace of Goddess Sita and the place of her marriage with Lord Ram, Janakpur is another religious place to visit in Nepal. Known as the City of Ponds, Janakpur has more than seventy ponds! The city will give you history lessons on the ancient and revered Hindu epic, the Ramayana, and its significance in the present day. You can also explore the actual sites mentioned in the epic and listen to local lore!
Janakpur is located in the Terai region of Nepal, and the Ram Janaki Temple is the main attraction in Janakpur. The city of Mithila Art, Janakpur has pleasant weather during spring, colorful festivals throughout the year, the temples’ detailed and stunning architecture, and the friendly locals make the place a favorite of many tourists and pilgrims alike.
5. Bandipur: Crown Jewel of Nepal
A postcard-perfect picture, Bandipur is a small abode of Newari culture and tradition and is set on a hilltop. Bandipur used to be an important stop on the trade route to Tibet, and now the former merchants’ homes have mostly been converted into cafes and guest houses.
The city boasts 18th-century architecture and is spellbinding. Crimson bougainvillea flowers cascade the windows and wooden balconies of the guest houses, and ancient temples peek out from every street junction. The lack of vehicles and horns makes the place even more peaceful, especially when you want to escape the crowded Kathmandu city.
Bandipur is an ideal place to explore at your own pace while visiting the temple, strolling around the backstreets, and enjoying a leisurely pace of life. You can also do many things in Bandipur; take an early morning walk to the viewpoint at the Thani Mai Temple or stroll to the Martyrs Memorial Park or nearby Tudhikhel, which serves as the town’s football field.
Bandipur also offers good hiking locations – you can hike downhill to Siddha Gufa, the largest gufa in Nepal, or Ramkot, a traditional Magar village. Rock climbing is also possible on nearby cliffs and has amazing canyoning en route to Chitwan National Park.
With charming old shrines, temples, houses, and monuments, the small town of Bandipur will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. It is a really lovely town with a cultural yet modernist twist and one of the best places to visit in Nepal.
6. Chitwan National Park: Nature Lover’s Ground
Located in the subtropical inner Terai lowlands of Nepal, Chitwan National Park covers an area of 952.63 sq. km. over the districts of Nawalparasi, Parsa, Makwanpur, and Chitwan. It was Nepal’s first National Park! The national park is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Nepal and is home to a large forest, grasslands, and wildlife, including over 500 species of birds, elephants, leopards, one-horned rhinos, bears, and the majestic Bengal tiger!
Chitwan might not have the best weather, but it is really one of the best places to visit in Nepal if you want to experience incredible wildlife. You can either take a jeep tour or jungle hikes! However, it is important to take a guide with you as some of the animals can be very dangerous so that you don’t get lost in the vast jungle.
Chitwan is a perfect place to experience a different side of Nepal and experience the cultural aspect of another city. With so much focus on the Himalayas, many places like Chitwan are missed from the popular tourist destinations while people are traveling Nepal.
Don’t forget to visit the Bis Hazari Taal or the 20 Thousand Lake while on a trip to the National park! The lake got its name as several divisions of the water body are present here, and it looks like many small and big lakes, separate but clustered together. It is frequented by the many veteran bird-watchers and is a nesting ground for many native and migratory birds that you’ve never seen before!
If you are on tour to Nepal and love wildlife, Chitwan National park should definitely be on your itinerary!
7. Ilam (e-lam): The Queen of Eastern Nepal
A tea lover’s paradise, Ilam is Nepal’s district with some beautiful tea gardens overlooking the scenic town. The place is still relatively not a popular tourist destination and is quite off-the-beaten-track. Ilam is truly the land of lush tea plantations and a gem of Nepal’s eastern region. When you visit Ilam, you can either travel by bus, which is 700km east of Kathmandu or a 45 minutes flight from Kathmandu.
The Sano Pathibhara Devi Temple is an important religious site in Ilam. This temple is similar to the Pathibhara in the Taplejung district, and they are believed to be sisters. It is believed that the temple has supernatural powers and always fulfills her devotee’s wishes. Devotees who come to visit the temple make resolutions in the temple and offer sacrifices or other offerings to the goddess.
Another place to visit in Ilam is the Mai Pokhari, which is shaped like a star with nine corners. The nine corners are dedicated to nine different gods. The Mai Pokhara lies between a dense forest, and the pond helps to keep the vegetation around lush and green. Make sure also to visit Kanyam, a famous tea garden in Illam.
Late King Birendra initiated the idea of a tea garden, and now you can enjoy your tea with a panoramic view of the mountains. While in Ilam, just make sure that you do go on a tea tour, do some bird watching and hiking. If you want to watch, the tea pickers do their thing, visit the town between April and November! It is truly one of the best to stay in Nepal for tea lovers!
FAQs: Places to Visit in Nepal
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to the best places to visit in Nepal:
The most visited place in Nepal is Kathmandu. This is because it is where the only functioning international airport is located. After Kathmandu, the most visited places include Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Pokhara, Chitwan, Lumbini, and the Annapurna range.
The top five places to see in Nepal are: Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan, Lumbini, and the Annapurna Range.
Nepal is a country that offers a little of something to every type of tourist. Its diversity in natural riches combined with a thriving culture and heritage, provides a historic look at the country and its people. It is also home to eight of the world’s 10 tallest mountains, providing an array of adventure sports like hiking and mountaineering, white water rafting and paragliding.