Often referred to as the gateway to Annapurna region, Pokhara is a picturesque city located in the central Nepal. Perfectly tucked amidst the majestic Annapurna range, this city is a bustling thoroughfare.
Pokhara is the perfect tandem of nature’s splendor and Nepal’s cultural richness. It provides the visitors with a plethora of activities, all set against the stunning backdrop of towering peaks like Annapurna, Machhapucchre, and Dhaulagiri.
For trekkers heading to trekking routes like Annapurna Base Camp Trek, this city is the prefect starting and ending point. However, for trekkers and non-trekkers alike, Pokhara has a lot to offer.
From beautiful landscapes to an array of outdoor activities, this blog aims to discover the charms of the testament to Nepal’s natural beauty- Pokhara!
Enjoy Boating on the Phewa Lake
The heart of Pokhara, Phewa lake is one of the most iconic landmarks of Pokhara that mirrors the majestic Annapurna range on its calm waters.
A perfect blend of leisure and nature, you can spend quality time in the lake while indulging in many activities. You can enjoy boating on the lake or even kayaking to add a touch of adventure amidst the serene atmosphere of the lake.
You can also get a spiritual experience at the Tal Barahi Temple that is situated on a small island in the middle of the Phewa Lake as a part of your boating adventure.
This spot is also perfect for morning and evening walks where you can explore the lively lakeside full of restaurants and shops filled with souvenirs and crafts. The lakeside comes to life with the enhanced beauty of lights during the nighttime.
Unravel the Mystery of Davis Falls
Locally known as ‘Patale Chango’, literal translation being ‘Underworld’s Waterfall’, Davis falls is a beautiful natural wonder. It is famous for its mysterious yet awe inspiring sight of the majestic waterfall disappearing underground.
Adding to the beauty of the site, there lies a cave adjacent to the waterfall known as ‘Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave’. Locally known as ‘Bhalu Dulo’, it is considered to be the longest cave in Nepal.
Featuring stalactite formations within the intricate cave system, this cave boasts a stunning view of the waterfall from within.
Catch the Sunrise in Sarangkot
If you are in Pokhara or are planning to visit soon, Sarangkot is a must-visit location for you. Featuring the outstanding panoramas of sunrise over the majestic Himalayas, it is the best vantage point in and around Pokhara.
As the sun casts its first light on the snowcapped mountains, this place provides you with a surreal experience of viewing it creating a lifetime memory.
Also being the launchpad for paragliding adventures, Sarangkot offers you an opportunity to soar over the beautiful valley with a stunning backdrop.
You can also combine your visit to Sarangkot with another adventurous activity by taking a cable car to Sarangkot. Opting for a 2400-meter-long cable from the lakeside can make your view even more elaborate.
Relax while Fishing at the Begnas Lake
A peaceful alternative to the bustling Phewa Lake, Begnas lake provides you with a more tranquil experience away from all the crowds. If you are someone who wants to enjoy the serenity of nature without the chaos, this lake is a perfect spot for you.
The second largest lake in the region, Begnas also mirrors the beautiful views of Himalayas while giving you options of boating and fishing.
The surrounding is dotted with restaurants, for people just wanting to bask in the serenity accompanied with the sounds of nature and occasional fishermen rowing by.
Circumambulate the World Peace Pagoda
Perched atop Anadu Hill at the height of 1,100 meters (3608 ft), the World Peace Pagoda is a symbol of peace, harmony, and tranquility that overlooks the beautiful Phewa Lake. The pagoda has two tiers which are supposed to be circumambulated by the visitors.
Locally known as Shanti Stupa, this place is one of the go to tourist destinations. It boasts stunning views of Phewa lake accompanied by the beautiful backdrop of Machhapuchhre Himal and Sarangkot.
Radiating peace and tranquility, this place is the perfect spot for meditation and reflection while enjoying the serene atmosphere.
Indulge in Spirituality at Bindhyabasini Temple
While you are on the cultural spree, Bindhyabasini Temple can be your next stop. Situated 3,000 feet above sea level, this temple is a shrine dedicated to Hindu deity Goddess Durga.
Founded in the 17th century, this temple is constructed in the Pagoda Style and is regarded as one of the oldest temples of Pokhara.
As Durga is considered the guardian deity of Pokhara, this temple holds a high religious significance. It is located atop a hill and features beautiful views of the Pokhara valley, attracting pilgrims and tourists alike.
Explore the Tibetan Refugee Camp
A testament to the Tibetan resilience, the Tibetan Refugee Camp is a small world in itself. This can be a valuable stop in your stroll around the Pokhara valley.
Established in the 1960s as the home to the Tibetans who fled their homeland in the wake of political unrest, this camp is now a vibrant showcase of the beautiful Tibetan culture, traditions, art, and craft.
From intricate handwoven carpets, Tibetan jewelry, and beautiful handcrafts to the valuable insights on the history surrounding the Tibetan diaspora, this camp has it all.
Time Travel at the Museum and Bazaar
Featuring stalls for everything from handicrafts to spices and textiles, the narrow alleyway of the Old Bazaar gives you an experience covered in local culture. The market is a historical trading hub and gives you a taste of the traditional Nepali life.
The area is beautiful with echoes of the past immersed in the traditional Newari architecture and allows you to witness the centuries-long local way of life.
At a small distance from the Bazaar lies the Pokhara museum where you can delve into the local and traditional heritage, costumes, artifacts while getting glimpses of the ethnic diversity.
Another great addition to your itinerary while in Pokhara is the International Mountain Museum. It showcases the mountaineering legacy of the Himalayas which can be quite helpful if you are in Pokhara as part of an elaborate trekking adventure such as the Annapurna Base Camp Trek.
In this museum, you can get insights on the flora and fauna, geography, and the history of different parts of the Himalayas.
Trailblaze on the Hiking Routes
A gateway to the Annapurna region, Pokhara valley serves as the starting point to the world of trekking in Nepal. From smaller hikes to full-fledged treks, the verdant valley caters to trekking needs of people with all levels of experience.
With easy access to trekking, the area around the city is also a safe haven for those interested in hiking. Also considered as the Hiker’s paradise, Pokhara opens the doors to many hiking trails.
Basic hikes can mean hiking upto the Shanti Stupa or even to Sarangkot instead of using a vehicle. For those wanting to explore more of the countryside of Nepal, you can opt for the Dhampus hike.
Panchase hike offers an experience equivalent to a mini trek as you set about on a 3-day journey. Therefore, Pokhara is an ideal hiking base with ample options for every adventure lover.
Get Thrills from Sports and Adventure
For the adventure enthusiasts seeking an adrenaline rush, Pokhara is a haven. It boasts a wide range of pulsating activities against the stunning backdrop of the landscapes of Nepal.
Paragliding from Sarangkot is an experience unlike any other as you get a bird’s eye view of the Pokhara valley and the towering peaks surrounding it.
Ultra-light flight in Pokhara is an activity that must make it to your list of adventures. It gives you a breathtaking aerial view of the stupa, lake, Sarangkot, Seti River, and temples against beautiful backdrop of snowcapped mountains, especially the Annapurna range.
Pokhara is also the only city in Nepal that offers a wonderful hot air balloon experience at a height of 1,000 feet above sea level. Embarking on this joyous ride, one can get mesmerizing views of towering peaks while the fresh air hits your face as you rise above the clouds.
Along with this, Pokhara also offers a rather popular and safe bungee jumping experience from towering platforms. Don’t miss out on the 80-meter tower Bungy with option available for Tandem bungee too!
Besides this, zipline across deep ravines, mountain flights, and white-water rafting are some common adventures that you can go for.
Unwind with the Relaxation and Leisure Activities
Offering opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation, Pokhara features many spas and wellness centers with traditional Nepali Ayurvedic treatments, holistic healing, and therapeutic massage.
If you just got back from a rigorous trek, this can be the best retreat for you. Pokhara also has many yoga and meditation retreats providing a more holistic approach to your exploration.
Along with this, the Lakeside area makes for the perfect stop for both relaxation as well as leisure. With a laid-back vibe, it provides you with many restaurants and eateries boasting stunning lake views.
Stroll Around the City’s Best Shopping Stops
The heaving market in Pokhara is the perfect spot for people wanting to shop. Whether you are trekkers in need of trekking equipment or just tourists looking for souvenirs to take back home, the Pokhara market has it all.
As the gateway to several treks in the mountains of Nepal, Pokhara has shops well-equipped with all the quality trekking gear. So, if you are going for a trek and feel underprepared, you can always shop more here.
The city also features numerous shops with authentic handicrafts reflecting the diverse Nepali culture or Tibetan culture. So, carry back an item of your choice from the extensive collection.
For people wanting to munch on local snacks like yak cheese or any other staple, you will find numerous stalls for those as well. Happy shopping!
Experience the Vibrant Nightlife in Pokhara
Among the things to do in Pokhara, an unmissable one is exploring the beauty of the city after dusk.
The sunset transforms the serene Pokhara valley into a vibrant nightlife hub presenting a different facet of the city. Whether you are a party animal or are someone looking for a more aesthetic experience, this nocturnal playground has it all.
The lakeside comes alive with an array of clubs and bars providing an eclectic mix of experiences for the visitors. DJs add life to the party by spinning a variety of tracks from Nepali tunes to western bangers.
To get a glimpse into the tapestry of Nepali culture, you must visit the live music venues featuring cultural performances like Dohori. You are guaranteed to be grooving along with the traditional tunes as you delve into the ethnic dance.
An evening cruise on the pristine Phewa lake provides an experience unlike any other. Enjoying the beautiful lake under the starlit sky can be a much-needed experience amidst the bustling city.
The beautifully lit lakeside adds to the enchanting beauty of the city along with the perfect blend of subtle charm and lively entertainment.
Although usually considered safe, it is advised to adhere to basic safety tips while venturing out in the city at night.
Savor the Local Cuisine
Featuring a cuisine as diverse as its cultures, the gastronomical landscape in Pokhara is suited to cater to traditional as well as international palates. It boasts a variety of dishes from local staples to sumptuous international culinary delights.
Serving a variety of flavours, you can enjoy delicious Momos, Dal Bhat, or Thukpa which serves as a comfort food. Besides this, numerous Nepali dishes can appease your palate.
For those craving international food, the Lakeside is a melting pot of culinary delight. From Italian to Korean, this place has its all. To top it up, it offers a majestic experience of dining under the stars surrounded by the vistas of the beautiful lake and towering mountains.
For those interested in learning the culinary art behind these mouthwatering dishes, some of the eateries also provide cooking classes!
Tips for Travelers
To ensure a hassle free, more convenient, and a more organized visit in and around the Pokhara valley, adhere to these tips!
- The best time to visit Pokhara is during Spring (March to May) or during Autumn (September to November). As this is also the peak trekking season in Nepal, this tip comes in handy for people visiting Pokhara as a part of their trek.
- If you are planning to go for adventure activities, it is highly recommended that you go for recognized adventure companies. Reputable tour operators ensure your safety during the activity by using proper safety equipment. Always adhere to the safety guidelines.
- Although Pokhara is considered a safe city for exploration, it is always advised to take standard safety precautions. Avoid strolling around unlit areas at night and guard your valuables.
By keeping these things in mind, you can have a better experience while you are meandering along the Pokhara valley. Now pack your bags and set about!