Updated on: 7 August, 2021
Nepal is THE trekking country par excellence. And with so many mountains there is a suitable trek for every fitness level and for every length of vacation. But Nepal has a lot more to offer: white water rafting, paragliding, jungle safaris, wild tigers, paired with temples, monasteries and pagodas. A truly fantastic mix for your next trip. In this article we have put together the best sights and travel tips in Nepal for you.
1. GO ON A TREKKING TOUR THROUGH THE HIMALAYA MOUNTAINS
The Annapurna Circuit is rightly one of the most beautiful hikes in the world . It is no longer an insider tip and is the most popular trek in the country. With a length of around 230 km, it leads through different climatic zones and spectacular landscapes.
The highest point is the Thorong La Pass at 5,416m . You will spend the night in teahouses, where you will also get your meals.
MOUNT EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK
One of the absolute Nepal highlights is of course a trek to Everest Base Camp at 5,364m . Not only the hike itself is exciting and varied, the approach to the infamous Lukla Airport alone is breathtaking.
The runway is extremely short, goes uphill and begins directly on a rock face that drops vertically into nowhere. The trek to the EBC (Everest Base Camp) also goes via teahouses, which provide you with meals and drinks.
For 14 days you will hike in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay around 122km from Lukla to the EBC and back.
If these two treks are too full for you, you should tackle the Manaslu Circuit . This demanding circular hiking trail takes around 15 to 19 days and goes over the Larke Pass at 5,153m.
In terms of landscape, it is in no way inferior to the neighboring Annapurna Circuit, but is a lot less crowded.
The Langtang Trek is – wrongly – overshadowed by its more famous colleagues. There are “only” 7,000 instead of 8,000 in the Himalayas to marvel at, but the trek scores with its proximity to Kathmandu. Great mountain panoramas without the hassle of traveling! It’s quieter on the Langtang, there are no disturbing tourist herds. The highest point on the roughly 12-day hike is 3,870m high.
POON HILL TREK
The Poon Hill Trek is “Himalaya Light”. Sure, at only 3,200m, it is not as big a hit as other mountains. The big advantage, however, is that you can sniff the Himalayan air here, even if you may not be fit enough for the higher treks.
With only five days, this trek is very suitable for beginners. And the view of the mighty 7,000 and 8,000 m from the viewpoint of Poon Hill is absolutely magnificent!
2. TAKE A KATHMANDU CITY TOUR
Every tourist will sooner or later find themselves in Thamel , the most touristic and therefore also the most developed area of the city. There is almost always electricity, restaurants, cafés, (free) WIFI and all kinds of accommodation from backpackers to 5 star hotels.
One souvenir shop follows the next, and the narrow streets are full of outdoor shops that sell everything you need for your big trek .
But be careful: Kathmandu is a shock for first-time visitors ! The city is really a juggernaut of dust, noise and unbelievable traffic. However, there is also a lot to discover here. On the second visit we learned to love the city.
HINDU TEMPLE PASHUPATINATH
If you are looking for a bit of culture, you can visit the Hindu temple Pashupatinath , three kilometers northwest of Kathmandu. This temple, located on the Bagmati River, is dedicated to the god Shiva and is considered the holiest in the entire country.
This is where the locals burn their dead relatives. The Nepalese believe in rebirth, and anyone can watch the ceremonies. The ashes of the dead are scattered in the river, which later flows into the Ganges.
As a non-Hindu, you are not allowed to enter the temple itself, but from the visitor terrace on the other side of the bank you have a beautiful view of the temple and what is going on.
There are more than 50 temples and pagodas to marvel at on Kathmandu’s King’s Square, Durbar Square . A perfect place to watch the locals and their culture. The temples are dedicated to different gods and worshipers make their offerings in them. From Thamel it is a 15 minute walk to Durbar Square.
The Swayambunath Temple around three kilometers outside the capital is one of the most popular Nepal attractions. At around 2,500 years old, it is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the world. The gem is the Buddhist stupa with striking, painted eyes.
Around it there are over 100 prayer wheels, various shrines and Buddha statues. The hill on which the temple is located is also called the Monkey Mountain, thanks to the rhesus monkeys that live here in the wild.
The Bodnath Stupa northeast of Kathmandu is still one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists from all over Nepal and even Tibet. It is one of the most beautiful sights in Nepal. While you can visit the stupa with its 15 meter high dome all day, its magic is greatest in the evening hours. Because at this time believers come here, walk the wide path clockwise around the stupa and pray.
3. MARVEL AT BHAKTAPUR
Bhaktapur is the oldest of the three royal cities and is full of pagodas and historical temples . The city has managed to keep its medieval charm.
This is probably also due to the fact that as a tourist you have to pay an entrance fee of USD 15, which is used to maintain the building. The city center is car-free and therefore a welcome, quiet change from the chaos in Kathmandu. Since Bhaktapur is only 16km from Kathmandu, you can easily visit the city as a day trip.
4. STROLL THROUGH PATAN
Patan, also called Lalitpur , is also one of the three royal cities in Nepal and today it has practically grown together with Kathmandu. In the Middle Ages, Patan was one of the largest and richest cities in the world. Patan did not become part of Nepal until 1768, before that the city was the capital of its own kingdom.
The highlight is Durbar Square with its pagodas and temples – above all the octagonal Krishna temple. In Patan you can admire the architecture with its detailed carvings and statues for hours. A maze of alleys, temples and stupas exude a very special charm.
Even after the devastating earthquake in 2015, the temples are the most impressive in the whole country. You also have to pay admission in Patan.
5. RELAX AFTER A TREK IN POKHARA
Pokhara is the starting point for many spectacular hikes, such as the Annapurna Circuit. After a strenuous trek, you can relax here, and especially in Pokhara Lakeside, for a few days.
After a few weeks in the mountains, you can enjoy good western food here. But if you don’t just want to lie on the lazy skin, you can go for a walk on Phewa Lake or stroll through the markets. In addition, the second largest city in the country is one of the most popular paragliding airports in the world.
6. GO ON A JUNGLE SAFARI IN CHITWAN NATIONAL PARK
The Chitwan National Park in the subtropical lowlands is one of the greatest Nepal highlights. Here you can go on safari and see Bengal tigers, elephants and Indian rhinos, with a lot of luck even bears and leopards. Chitwan is around five hours from Pokhara or Kathmandu and the peace and quiet here is a relief after the chaos and noise of the capital.
One big request: please refrain from elephant-riding safaris . The elephants are terribly tortured and mistreated so that you can ride them as a tourist. The best thing to do is to make the tour operator aware that you don’t like the fact that he has it in his program.
7. FIND OUT THE STORY BEHIND LUMBINI
Lumbini , in the very south just before the Indian border, is the birthplace of Siddartha Gautama. According to tradition , he is considered the founder of Buddhism. The city is, so to speak, the birthplace of Buddhism. The center is the snow-white building in which Buddha Siddartha was born. Millions of believers travel here every year. Lumbini is one of the most famous Nepal attractions.
8. TRY NEPALESE SPECIALTIES
The Nepalese national dish is dal bhat , a red lentil soup with rice and vegetables. Dal Bhat is not only unbeatably cheap, it also gives you enough strength and energy for strenuous treks.
Nepalese people often eat it several times a day and are so convinced of it that they even sell T-shirts that read “Dal Bhat Power – 24 hour” . Another Nepalese specialty is momos , although they are originally from Tibet. These small dumplings are filled with meat or vegetables and then fried or steamed.
9. TAKE A SCENIC FLIGHT TO MOUNT EVEREST
The Mount Everest is the most famous sights of Nepal. A real unforgettable experience and probably the highlight of Nepal is a sightseeing flight to Mount Everest .
During the one-hour flight, you get very close to other “famous” mountains such as Lhotse, Cho Oyu or Nuptse. The planes take off in Kathmandu, and all passengers are guaranteed a good view through the large panoramic windows.
Tip: The back rows are best for photography because the wings are out of the way.
10. PRACTICE RAFTING IN WHITE WATER
When you’ve had enough of hiking at lofty heights, you can indulge in the element of (wild) water and go on a rafting tour on the Trisuli, Marshyandi or Kaligandaki rivers. Whether three hours or three days, beginner or advanced, rafting in Nepal has something to offer for all water enthusiasts.
11. CLIMB A PEAK IN THE HIMALAYAS
If you not only have enough fitness and two months of time, but also have some change, you can climb Mount Everest . A commercial expedition to the 8,848 m high summit costs at least $60,000!
Climbing one of the many 6,000-meter peaks is even more affordable. In combination with the Annapurna Circuit you can climb Pisang Peak (6.091m), which is considered an easy climbing mountain.
Chulu East (6,059m) is also in the Annapurna area. It is one of the most beautiful panoramic peaks in the region. From the summit of Mera Peak (6,461m) you have a fantastic view of the “big ones” of the region: Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oy. Tours to these 6,000 peaks are available from around $3.5k or $4.5k.
USEFUL NEPAL INFORMATION – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
THE BEST TRAVEL TIME TO NEPAL
For such a small country, Nepal has a very diverse climate. Temperatures and rainy days vary depending on whether you are in the lowlands or in the (high) mountains.
Many visitors come to Nepal in spring from March to May . It’s sunny, warm, everything is green and in bloom. In the higher elevations it is pleasantly warm, in Kathmandu you sweat at around 30 degrees, in the lowlands it is unbearably hot at 40 degrees.
The monsoons come from June to September and bring heavy and prolonged rain showers across the country. Roads are often flooded or blocked by landslides. It rains a little less in the mountains, but the view of the peaks in the Himalayas is obscured by clouds and fog fields.
Autumn, in October and November, is a very popular travel time and ideal for hiking in the Himalayas. Thanks to the cleansing effect of the monsoons, the air is clear, visibility is good and the temperatures are still pleasantly warm.
In winter, from December to February, it rains less, but it is very cold, especially in the high mountain regions.
THE NEPALESE LANGUAGE
The national language is Nepali. In total, around 20 different languages are spoken in Nepal because many of the different tribes have their own language.
The writing is Sanskrit. Nepali is considered to be quite difficult to learn, not only because of the pronunciation, but above all because of the complex grammar. Nevertheless, as a visitor you should at least have a few basics like hello, please or thank you. The locals are happy and appreciate your efforts.
CURRENCY IN NEPAL
In Nepal, people pay with the Nepalese rupee, which is divided into 100 paisas. The currency is abbreviated as NRS (Nepalese rupee) or simply Rs (rupees). There are 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50 paisa coins and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees in banknotes.
ENTRY INTO NEPAL
You need a visa to enter Nepal. The passport must be valid for six months after returning from Nepal. You can easily get the visa on arrival at the airport in Kathmandu.
You have to bring a passport photo with you. Alternatively, you can organize your visa at home at the Nepalese representation authority. A visa (with multiple entries) for 15 days costs US $25, for 30 days US $40 and for 90 days US $100.
ARRIVAL TO NEPAL
The best way to get to Nepal is by plane. Since Kathmandu is not one of the hubs in international air traffic, you have to change trains one or two times.
Tip: The left side of the aircraft is spoiled with a great view of the Himalaya massif when flying from Delhi to Kathmandu.
You don’t necessarily have to fly to Nepal. There are six border crossings between India and Nepal that you can use as a tourist. If you want to enter from Tibet via the Friendship Bridge, you should find out about the current situation beforehand. This border is not always open.
TRANSPORT IN NEPAL
Due to the mountainous landscape, domestic flights are very important. Some private airlines have established themselves in the trekking areas in particular. In the mountains, flights are only flown on sight, which means that in bad weather there are often massive delays or flight cancellations at all.
Keep this in mind when planning your trip and allow for a little buffer. It happens regularly that hikers get stuck in Kathmandu or Lukla for a few days because they cannot fly due to the poor weather and visibility conditions.
Nepal is very small, but getting ahead is often very difficult. The buses are old and the roads are bad. Tourist buses run between the most important places. Although these are more expensive than the “normal” ones, they are worth the money. They are a lot more comfortable, faster and, above all, safer.
Where tourist buses no longer go, local buses run. For example to the starting point of the Manaslu Circuit and the journey is a real adventure! Night buses are not recommended because buses are repeatedly attacked or the drivers fall asleep.
Where there are no more local buses, you can switch to jeeps or trucks, which are often waiting for passengers at intersections. These remote roads are more like off-road slopes and are flooded in the monsoon season or closed due to landslides. The vehicles are old and in poor condition. Trips in jeeps or trucks cost roughly the same as a bus trip.
ELECTRICITY AND TELEPHONE AVAILABILITY IN NEPAL
In the small, tourist center of Kathmandu, in Thamel, the infrastructure is very good. There is internet and almost always electricity. Hotels and cafés offer WLAN, mostly free of charge. But Thamel is not Nepal. And that is why power outages and rationing are the order of the day.
Since almost all of the country’s electricity is produced with hydropower, one is dependent on high water levels in the rivers. After the end of the monsoon season, at the end of September / beginning of October, rationing begins.
At first there is no electricity for a few hours a day, at the end of the dry season (January, February) there are even up to 18 hours without electricity! This system is called “load shedding” and it happens according to a precise plan that specifies which district has electricity when and when it does not.
Most government buildings and hotels have generators and thus produce their own electricity. Still, it’s handy to have a headlamp and a power bank with you. By the way, our favorite travel items anyway.
There are many small shops in Kathmandu that offer telephone service. One minute costs about 50 rupees. If you prefer to use your cell phone, you can buy a Nepalese sim card.
The provider Ncell sells them for around 500 rupees including credit. To buy a SIM card, you need a passport photo and a copy of your passport – and of course a mobile phone that is open to all networks. The network coverage is amazingly good, even on the hike to Everest Base Camp you have cell phone reception with Ncell.
NEPAL PACKING LIST – THAT MUST BE INCLUDED
An extensive first aid and medication bag should definitely not be missing. Talk to your doctor beforehand about what exactly should be included. Remedies for colds or gastrointestinal problems have proven effective.
You cannot drink the tap water in Nepal. Even if it’s not exactly environmentally friendly, the best thing to do is to buy bottled water. For tours in the high mountains you should use tap water, but treat it accordingly.
This can be done either with a UV pen or with tablets. We used untreated water to brush your teeth, but you have to decide for yourself. It is best to choose your clothing according to the onion principle.
So you can put on or take off a layer depending on the weather – and that often changes very quickly in the high mountains. The bottom layer that lies against the body is the most important. It has to cool you in summer and keep you warm in winter, it should also wick away sweat and dry quickly.
Functional underwear made of synthetic fibers such as polyester or polypropylene, or merino wool is best suited for this. The second layer is used to protect against the cold. This insulation layer is best made of fleece.
On top of this comes the third layer of protection against the weather. Softshell jackets and trousers are very suitable for this. They keep out wind and drizzle, but also insects.
Kathmandu is a true shopping paradise for fans of outdoor equipment. Whether blister plasters, headlamps, stoves, clothing, boots and shoes, gaiters, backpacks in all sizes and designs, or tents. In one of the hundreds of small shops you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for and you can equip yourself for your expedition.
But be careful: not all branded products here are real. Look carefully at the seams, their seals, the buckles, zippers and straps.
The quality of the copy can often be used to easily distinguish the copy from the original. Sometimes the brand name is misspelled! However, the “fake” products are often sufficient, you should just negotiate the price accordingly.
With these Nepal travel tips in your luggage you are well prepared for your Nepal adventure!