Nepal | Kathmandu

Hidden Nepal: The Road Less Taken

Nepal

Hidden Nepal -The Road Less Taken

Nepal

Trip Overview: Hidden Nepal – The Road Less Taken

Eastern Nepal, largely undiscovered by tourists and blessed with pristine nature untouched by external influences, remains a gem of Nepal’s hidden side. Excluding some of the parts of  the Kathmandu Valley, there are plenty of villages and landscapes yet to be explored. Contrasting with the frequently visited regions, these unexplored towns, villages and communities are a haven to encounter breathtaking landscapes, witness unique lifestyles, and connect with remote communities. 

Dhankuta is a hill town which offers a stunning view of Himalayan peaks on a fair day and is known for its warm hospitality and observing a rural way of life. Visit Cholung Park that displays traditional Limbu community houses. Get to know the indigenous Aathpahariya community of Dhankuta in Khambela and Sipting with Dhol Nach along with the traditional snacks. It is an ideal destination for people seeking a peaceful retreat and witnessing traditional music and dance performances. 

Visit Janakpur, founded in the early 18th century atop the ruins of the ancient Videha dynasty capital, is a revered religious center in Nepal. The city’s temples, notably the Janaki Mandir, dedicated to Goddess Sita, showcase stunning Hindu-Koiri Nepali architecture. Experience Mithila art and local cuisines at Mithila Thali by Chef Santosh Shah from Master Chef.

Travel on to Panauti Community Homestay, which is a successful model of women empowerment and women-led community homestay where you can experience being part of a family and learn their daily lifestyle. Explore Panauti with a bike tour around the ancient Newari town, experience dressing up in the local attire and cooking traditional Newari food together with the host family.

While returning to Kathmandu, a brief stop at Kirtipur, an off-the-beaten-path Newari town is a must with its historical treasures hidden in its narrow alleys. Local experts will introduce you to the ancient art of writing in Ranjana Lipi script using bamboo pens and ink on canvas paper. Enjoy traditional Newari refreshments and dishes like Sagun and Samay Baji. As the writing and feasting conclude, take away your framed Ranjana script as a special keepsake.

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the untouched natural beauty of Eastern Nepal, undiscovered by tourists
  • Enjoy stunning views in Dhankuta, a hill town known for its warm hospitality and rural way of life
  • The stunning Hindu-Koiri Nepali architecture at Janaki Mandir, dedicated to Goddess Sita
  • Experience Mithila Art and their vibrant colors and artistic techniques
  • Immerse yourself in local life, learn traditional Newari cooking, and explore the ancient town of Panauti
  • Ranjana Lipi and Aila experience with the local experts and a memento to take home

Itinerary

International Airport Arrival Transfer, Sound Healing and Dinner at Avata

Welcome to Nepal! On your arrival at the airport in Kathmandu, you will be received with a placard having your name in the arrival hall. The luggage will be loaded in the car and you will be transferred to the hotel in Kathmandu. After check-in you can take the time to freshen up before you move to Avata, for a sound healing session to recover from the jet lag followed by a healthy dinner at Nourish by Avata

Thereafter, you will be transferred back to your hotel.

Notes:
  • Accommodation: Traditional Comfort or Similar

Flight to Biratnagar, Drive to Dhankuta, Town Walk

Following breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Biratnagar. On arrival at Biratnagar Airport, a vehicle will be ready to transfer you to the Dhankuta. You will be able to observe the rich nature, and the beautiful landscapes on the way. 

Once you are checked in at the hotel, you will be going for a town walk of Dhankuta and observe the orange city, architecture of the Newari and Aathpahariya communities and the nearby Nishan Temple and holds a significant religious importance for locals and visitors alike.

Notes:
  • Accommodation: Hotel

Sunrise at Dhoje Danda, Cholung Park and Immerse in Tea Experience

Wake up early in the morning where you will be going for an easy short hike to Dhoje Danda. You will be able to see the Makalu, Kumbhakarna and Kanchenjunga ranges from here. After breakfast, you will be driving to Cholung Park, where you will see a lot of the Limbu community’s traditional houses as well as small museums that the local government have been able to maintain. Stop over to the rich tea garden of Dhankuta where the representative will give you a tea factory tour- you will learn how tea is produced, processed and packaged. Finish the tour by experiencing the distinct tastes of the teas produced in this area.

Notes:
  • Accommodation: Hotel

Chuliban-Khambela Hike, Cultural Program and Dinner at Sipting

After breakfast, start your day with a scenic drive to Chuliban then hike onwards to Khambela. On the way you will be visiting a view tower where a great view of the Tamor and the Kanchenjunga ranges can be seen on a clear day. You will also find scattered houses along the way which all belong to the families of the indigenous Aathpahariya community. After a short excursion, you will drive back to Dhankuta and in the evening you will be joining in Dhol Nach showcased by the Aathpahariya community in Sipting Community Homestay. After the festivities, you will be having dinner that has been prepared by the locals with their traditional snacks and drinks.

Notes:
  • Hike Duration: 2-3 hours approx
  • Accommodation: Hotel

Transfer to Janakpur

Today you will be traveling to Janakpur, where the infamous Janaki Temple and Mithila Art is a massive highlight. Once you reach Janakpur, you will be checking in  at the hotel. Visit the  Janaki Temple dedicated to Goddess Sita which stands as an icon of religious and cultural significance at Janakpur. The temple showcases a blend of Hindu and Mughal styles and end your day with a traditional cuisine in Mithila Thali by Chef Santosh Shah, who was declared the winner of MasterChef: The Professionals re-match in 2021.

Notes:
  • Drive Duration: 7-8 hours approx
  • Accommodation: Hotel

Mithila Art Experience, Transfer to Panauti

Begin your day by experiencing Mithila Art, where intricate designs, vibrant colours and distinctive art techniques grab the attention of the viewers from afar. Thereafter You will continue moving towards Panauti Community Homestay. The hosts will be ready to welcome you on your arrival. Panauti is a mix of old towns full of old Newari architecture and temples and going a bit to the outskirts, you will find modern houses surrounded by farm fields. The women-led homestay of Panauti has been able to be a leading example for many community homestays across Nepal.

 

Notes:
  • Drive Duration: 6-7 hours
  • Accommodation: Panauti Community Homestay

Panauti Bike Tour, Cooking with Hosts and Dress like Locals

Shortly after breakfast, enjoy a bicycle tour of the countryside and ride through three indigenous towns: Panauti, Bhandari gaun and Khopasi. Explore small temples, peddle through potato fields, and cross a suspension bridge. And try a cup of Nepali masala tea before you head back to the old town of Panauti. 

Later in the day, help the hosts cook up a Newari feast where numerous local dishes are cooked to be served serially during gatherings. You will be able to observe the rich culinary heritage of the community. In the evening, dress like locals and be ready for a cultural program put together by the younger generation and feel free to add in your flair. Right after the program, you will participate in the traditional Newar culture feast- Suku Bhwe.

Notes:
  • Accommodation: Panauti Community Homestay

Drive to Kirtipur, Ranjana Lipi and Aila Experience, Transfer to Kathmandu

With a warm farewell from your hosts at Panauti, you will be travelling to Kirtipur. Kirtipur is one of the oldest Newari town in Nepal. Home to the Newari community, enjoy local Newari food, catch views of the mountains and Kathmandu Valley, and visit the city’s many temples and stupas with the hosts. 

Shortly after, you will learn to write an ancient Newari Script, Ranjana Lipi with an experienced instructor. Taste a local alcoholic drink ‘ Aila’ while you are learning to write the letters and also enjoy a Newari Set meal, Samay Baji. This meal is a ‘must have’ in festivities for the Newari Communities. You will be writings using traditional bamboo pens with ink along with enjoying delicious Newari cuisine. At the end, have a word of your choice in Ranjana script framed as a special memento.

You will be transferred to the Hotel in Kathmandu after this experience.

Notes:
  • Drive Duration: 01 Hour 45 minute approx
  • Accommodation: Traditional Comfort or Similar

International airport departure transfer

Check-in is 3 hours prior to departure, and it is best not to skim on time as queues can be long and slow. Your booked airport transfer will be at your hotel ready to take you to the airport in time, allowing approximately 30mins driving time depending on time of day. At the airport security will check your flight ticket – either hard copy or on your mobile – along with your passport before you are allowed to enter the departure hall.

Impact Footprints

  • Supports local economies through tourism, directly benefiting small towns and rural communities like Dhankuta and Panauti
  • Promotes cultural preservation by engaging tourists with traditional practices and crafts such as Mithila art and Ranjana Lipi
  • Fosters understanding and appreciation of local customs through immersive experiences like traditional cooking and dressing like a local
  • Encourages ecological awareness with visits to natural sites like Gurase Park and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, highlighting the importance of conservation
  • Supports spiritual and historical preservation by including visits to ancient and significant sites like Janaki Mandir and Barahakshetra
  • Enhances community development by involving local communities in hosting and cultural activities, providing them a platform to showcase their heritage
  • Aids in the preservation of endangered arts and practices by educating tourists on unique local skills and crafts
  • Provides a sustainable model of tourism that minimizes environmental impact by focusing on small group experiences and local transportation methods
  • Boosts women’s empowerment through engagement with initiatives like the women-led Panauti Community Homestay, enhancing their social and economic status