Between the snow-capped Himalayan mountains and the unspoiled landscape of pastures, valleys and lakes, it’s easy to see why Nepal is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. However, if you spend time in this peaceful country, you will find that Nepal is much more than it looks.
In addition to spectacular scenery, Nepal is home to ornate Buddhist temples, ancient royal palaces and charming rural villages. Whether you are looking for your own spiritual calling or just want to learn more about Asian culture, you will be amazed at all you can do in Nepal.
1. Sanctuary of the Annapurna
The Annapurna mountain range, which runs along the Himalayas in north-central Nepal, dominates the Nepalese skyline. On the western side of the range is the Annapurna Sanctuary, a rugged plateau nestled between Hiunchulu and Machapuchare peaks.
The Annapurna Sanctuary Trek is one of the most popular activities in Nepal. Not only will you pass through forests, lakes and hills, but you will also have the opportunity to stay in the remote villages of the Gurung and Magar peoples. The entire trek can be completed in five or seven days.
2. Trekking through Everest base camp
Climbing Mount Everest is certainly one of the main goals for adventurers. Over the course of 12 days, you will walk over 120 km through glaciers, valleys and rivers on one of the world’s most iconic journeys.
Most trips start in Kathmandu and end in Lukla. You can expect an average of six to seven hours of hiking per day, with a total ascent of over 19,000 feet. This trip is not for the faint of heart, and hikers must be reasonably fit due to the high altitude. For those who are up for the challenge, it is guaranteed to be one of the most memorable experiences ever.
3. Boudhanath stupa
During your visit to Kathmandu, you will probably notice the huge Boudhanath Stupa, which is located a few kilometers from the city. It is one of the largest spherical stupas not only in Kathmandu, but in the whole world. Many believe that it was built by the Vikramjit ting as an act of penance after killing his father.
However, the focal point of the stupa is the golden base, which is painted on either side with the Buddha’s all-seeing eyes. Around the sphere there are images of Buddha Dhyani Amitabha, as well as various prayer wheels.
4. Swayambhunath stupa
Each spire and structure of the temple has an important meaning. The 13-tier stupa represents the 13 stages of nirvana as it sits on top of a white dome, which is believed to represent the world. On the sides of the stupa there are paintings of the eyes of the Buddha looking in all four directions.
5. Temple of Maya Devi
Located in the heart of Lumbini, the Maya Devi Temple has great religious significance for many Buddhists. It is believed to be the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, or as he is more commonly known: the historic Buddha.
Most of the temple ruins date back over 2,200 years. Visit the Ashoka Pillar, the Bodhi Tree, and the Sacred Pond where Maya Devi bathed before giving birth to Buddha. Another highlight of the temple is the sandstone sculpture of the Buddha, which marks the spot where the Buddha was born.
6. Chitwan National Park
With binoculars in one hand and a camera in the other, venture into Chitwan National Park on a wildlife safari. Chitwan National Park is not only the country’s first national park, but also a sanctuary for some of the world’s most exotic mammals and birds.
In total, Chitwan National Park is home to 68 different mammals, including the elusive Bengal tiger. You will also find leopards, sloths, foxes, honey badgers and many other four-legged creatures. Bird lovers will also appreciate the more than 500 different species that live in the park. If you can’t wait to see some of Nepal’s most famous people, be sure to spend a day hiking in Chitwan National Park.
7. Maha Shivaratri
During the one-day celebration, different rituals and traditions are practiced all over the country. Many devout Hindus spend the day bathing and fasting before visiting the holy temple of Pashupatinath. Others celebrate it with song, dance and song as a way to symbolize overcoming darkness and life’s hardships.
There are very few places in Nepal that offer such a vast view of the Himalayas as Nagarkot. This picturesque town is a great place to go out at night, and many hotels have rooms with balconies from which you can admire the beautiful scenery.
On a clear day, you might be lucky enough to see Mount Everest to the northeast. You will also be able to see other Himalayan peaks such as Annapurna, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Langtang, Jugal, Rolwaling and Numbur. For the best views, it’s a good idea to get up at sunrise before the mountains are shrouded in clouds in the afternoon.
While there isn’t much to see in the small town of Sarangkot, it is the breathtaking views that draw visitors from all over the world. Sarangkot offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas, which can be seen through the clouds. You will be able to clearly see the Dhaulagiri, the Machhapuchhare and even the peaks of Annapurna I.
If you can get up early to see the sunrise, you will have an experience that you will not forget. Besides admiring the view, you can also go hiking and trekking on the various trails that start from Sarangkot.
10. Janaki Mandir
The Janaki Mandir, made of white stone and shiny marble, is a striking example of Koiri architecture. This three-story Hindu temple is located in Janakpur and dominates the skyline from almost every corner of the city.
Despite the uniform color of its exterior, the interior of the Janaki Mandir is full of life. The 60 rooms are decorated with stained glass windows and paintings of the Nepalese flag. It was built in honor of the Hindu goddess Sita and attracts Hindu pilgrims from all over the world.
11. Patan Durbar Square
The royal temples in Patan Durbar Square are wonderful examples of Newar architecture. Patan is a testament to the ancient kingdom of Nepal as it is one of the three royal places in the Kathmandu valley.
It is worth noting the large size of Durbar Square in Patan: it has over 130 courtyards and 55 temples. The most important temple is Krishna Mandir, built in 1667 by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla. Other popular places are Bhandarkhal Gardens, Bhimsen Temple, and Keshav Narayan Chowk Court.
12. Gorkha Durbar
The great fortress of Gorkha Durbar is more than just a religious temple. Inside the ancient fortified walls, the Gorkha Durba also served as a palace and fortress. It remains one of the most important temples for the Nepalese, as it was the birthplace of the kingdom’s first monarch, Prithvi Narayan Shah.
During your visit, don’t forget to stop at the ornate temple of Kalika and the sculpted palace of Dhuni Pati. It rises above the Trisuli Valley and offers visitors a bird’s eye view of the Himalayan mountains of Annapurna, Manaslu and Ganesh.
13. White water rafting
The Seti River is located a short distance from Kathmandu and offers thrill seekers rapids of three and four kinds. For something quieter, head to the Trisuli River. Although the rapids are smaller, you can admire quaint farms and hills on your way.
Multi-day rafting trips on the Kali Gandaki River and Sun Kosi are also possible. It is a great opportunity to see the varied landscape of Nepal.
14. Phewa Tal
The spectacular Phewa Tal is the second largest lake in Nepal and continues to attract locals and visitors who want to spend the day surrounded by nature. Surrounded by lush forest with the Annapurna Mountains as a backdrop, Phewa Tal is the perfect destination to soak up the natural beauty of Nepal.
There is no shortage of activities to keep you occupied during your visit: you can walk along the shores of the lake on foot or by bike. It is also possible to hire one of the brightly colored doongas (boats) if you want to spend the afternoon on the water.
15. Manakamana Cable Car
For a breathtaking panoramic view, board the Manakamana Cable Car. This imported Austrian cable car takes you to over 3,300 feet high and takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery during the 17-minute ride.
As you soar in the sky, you will have spectacular views of the Manaslu, Himalchuli and even Annapurna mountain ranges. Once at the top, you can visit the sacred temple of Manakamana.
16. Hike to Langtang
Located in the beautiful Langtang National Park, Langtang Trek is a must-see for any outdoor enthusiast. As you drive through the picturesque Alpine valley you will be surrounded by vast pastures, rugged mountains and charming local villages.
The hike should be a leisurely stroll for moderate hikers, although it is easily accessible for beginners as well. The walk takes about two weeks, and there are many teahouses and rest areas along the way.
17. Durbar Square in Bhaktapur
A stroll through Bhaktapur Durbar Square is like stepping back in time. Bhaktapur Durbar Square, once the royal palace of the kingdom of Bhaktapur, is actually a complex made up of several different structures. Many buildings in the Old Town still look the same as they did 500 years ago.
The most impressive of all is the Palace of 55 Windows, built by King Phupatindra Malla. Although you can only enter the palace if you are a Hindu, you can admire its awe-inspiring structure from the outside. Also worth seeing is the fantastic architecture of the five-story Nyatapola temple, the heavenly Golden Gate and the magnificent statue of Bhupatindra Malla.