5 Amazing Things to Do in Nepal (Other Than Climbing Everest)
Nepal is such an incredible destination which is world famous for being home to Mount Everest. But if climbing isn't your thing, what are the other top things you should do in Nepal?
Lucinda Vinestock visited Nepal in the summer of 2014 and instantly fell in love. Here she shares her experiences, highlights and top 5 things you should do when visiting Nepal....
Why I Visited Nepal
I spent four weeks volunteering with a construction project based in the Pokhara region before spending two weeks on her own with no prior plans! In those two weeks, she ended up visiting other regions like Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Chitwan and doing some incredible things.
After spending a month volunteering in Pokhara, I decided to venture out on my own! I had booked myself two extras weeks in Nepal so that I could go off exploring, and that's exactly what I did! I stayed at a yoga retreat in Nepal which was in the middle of nowhere and spent my days trying to convince my body that it could be flexible, hiking to visit temples and eating some amazing food. Despite only spending six weeks in the stunning country of Nepal, I managed to tick lots of things off my bucket list, meet great new people and instil a deep longing for travel within myself – something which my bank account isn’t appreciating very much!
Nepal is an amazing travel destination, and I’m sure that any time spent out there would be a lot of fun, and a huge adventure. However, there are some things that just need to be done while you’re out there: mainly eating your body-weight in dahl baht (essentially thick lentil soup and rice, often served with veggie curry); visiting temples; trekking (which I sadly didn’t have time to do out there!) and just appreciating the local culture and locals.
I’ve compiled a list of some of the things I enjoyed the most out there. It’s hard to list things to do, as they do mainly involved eating, so I’ve made a list of the top 5 places that I loved exploring and would definitely recommend anyone to visit while they’re in Nepal:
1. Explore Thamel
The main airport for international flights is Kathmandu, which is a crazy place! It’s a weird airport, half under construction and surrounded by monkeys, which only added to the culture shock as I stepped off my 24-hr delayed plane into the humidity.
A short taxi-ride away is the city of Thamel – this is a major tourist destination, so if you’re looking for authentic Asia, you might want to stay a little further out. I actually visited Thamel at the end of my journey, as I went straight to Pokhara, but it was a great way to end my travelling!
Thamel is full of great restaurants – these range from the touristy places promoting 2-for1 cocktails and burgers to Nepalese restaurants offering delicious momos (more on these later!) and dahl galore. The main reason Thamel is on this list of things to do in Nepal is because it holds one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to: The Garden of Dreams. The garden is incredibly cheap to visit (as are most places in Nepal!) and is full of exotic plants and water features, along with blankets and pillows and the therefore-inevitable groups of people napping on the lawns.
I stayed in a hostel (Alobar1000 – check it out, it’s very cheap and a great way to meet loads of people if you’re travelling alone) right near the centre of Thamel, so the Garden of Dreams became my sanctuary. In short – it’s beautiful and serene and definitely worth a visit!
2. See Temples
Again, in the Kathmandu region, I visited some stunning temples and places of worship. One of the most famous temples, Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, is awesome. It’s super easy to get to by taxi and is basically a temple swarming with monkeys!
Entry is cheap and there are little shops inside, along with shrines and more monkeys. The Boudhanath Stupa, or temple, is also in the Kathmandu region and is stunning - it’s one of the largest stupas in Nepal and has a wonderful, intense feel to it. There’s incense burning everywhere and prayer chants echoing around the shrines.
You can visit the temples, there are shops and cafes inside and it’s full of candles and prayer wheels and flowers.
3. Watch a Ceremony at Pashupatinath
Pashupatinath is a crematorium, and one of the most sacred shrines in Nepal - it sounds morbid, but it’s an oddly beautiful place to go to.
It’s an incredibly sacred place, and the atmosphere is solemn and respectful, but joyful in a way, too. It’s the place that bodies are taken after death to be cleansed in the river before being burnt – it sounds gross, but there’s a ‘tourist’ side where you can watch the ceremony.
It’s strangely humbling, and definitely worth visiting if you’re in the Kathmandu region.
4. Boating on Pokhara
The month I spent in Pokhara was amazing – and one of the highlights was paragliding. There are plenty of companies in Lakeside who offer paragliding with experts, along with training courses if you’re planning to be out there for a few months!
We paraglided over Lake Phewa, which was absolutely stunning. My tandem ‘pilot’ used to complete in acrobatic paragliding, so I had the added bonus of G-force spins and lots of tummy-flipping twists and upside down bits, all of which were a lot of fun but definitely didn’t aid my landing experience!
As a bonus, we also went boating on Lake Phewa, which was a lot of fun, and a pretty good workout given the heat and racing that went on between myself and the other volunteers.
5. See Wildlife in the Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Parkis a must! Everyone we met in Pokhara encouraged us to visit, as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There are plenty of coaches that travel from all over Nepal to the Chitwan region, and it’s relatively well-priced considering the experience you have out there!
The package that we paid for included staying in a lovely hotel – we all had mini huts to stay in which were surprisingly modern inside, the food was plentiful and delicious and the staff were lovely. We spent some time canoeing on the rivers and also went trekking through the jungle seeing rhinos and monkeys which is something I’ll always remember.
I could list a lot of other things to do in Nepal, as I had such a great time out there, but I think that half of the fun is discovering things for yourself.
For me, taking a guide-book and looking things up online was really useful as a foundation before travelling – it reassured me that I wouldn’t be the only tourist out there and gave some structure to the two weeks I spent out there on my own with no real plans.
But whilst I mentally ticked things off a list I made similar to this before I travelled, I loved the spontaneity and excitement of not having plans. Nepal is a beautiful country, full of culture, vibrancy and, most importantly of all, some of the best food I’ve ever eaten!
By Lucinda Vinestock
- Nepal Tours
- Volunteer in Nepal
- Mount Everest Base Camp Tours
- Teach English in Nepal
- Nepal Gap Year
- Asia Tours