For many, travelling to Nepal is a once in a lifetime experience. However, while Nepal may seem a romantic destination for many, it is not on everyone’s bucket list. Nepal conjures up images of Mount Everest, the high Himalayas, wild adventure and trekking, but this is not everyone’s cup of tea.
What many people don’t realise, is that there is far more to Nepal than trekking and staying in mountain huts – however luxurious many of these have now become.
Nepal offers a wide range of contrasts. For the more sportive, everyone knows that it is famous for its trekking. It also boasts some of the world’s best white water rafting. Ten of the world’s highest mountains are found in Nepal. There are treks to suit all abilities and levels of fitness. There are easy, one day hikes in the Kathmandu Valley or epic Trans Himalaya treks that take several months.
But for those who don’t want to go trekking, there are a lot of other things to do.
For anyone interested in culture and traditional architecture, Kathmandu and its surrounding area has no less than seven World Heritage sites to visit. Lumbini, where Buddha was born, is another magnificent World Heritage site well worth the visit. Temples and monasteries can be found all over Kathmandu and in almost every other town or city. You could even stay in one and join the monks in their prayers and rituals. Kathmandu is a transport hub that you can’t avoid, if only to get away to other parts of the country. You might not want to stay too long in the city’s chaos of noise, smells and action. But you should not miss a visit to at least some of its main sites. Don’t miss Patan’s quaint historic center and Asaan, the teaming bazaar that has changed the least during the past decades.
Nepalese people are famous for their smiles and friendliness. Nepal is very diverse, with over a hundred languages and more than sixty ethnic tribes. For anyone interested in learning more about the many different social customs and people, and to get an in-depth insight into the lives of people, it is possible to stay a few days with families in their homes in communities all over the country. There are homestays in villages in the mountains in the Annapurnas, in villages in the Terai, or in tea gardens in the east of Nepal, or in ancient historic towns like Tansen or Panauti. Have a look at the Community Homestay Network if you are interested in staying in a homestay.
Whilst not for everyone, this is my favourite way of exploring Nepal. Anyone that has a sense of adventure can travel all over Nepal quite easily using public transport (or if you prefer more comfort, by hiring a car and driver). There are many interesting places to visit. Pokhara is an obvious choice, that is the starting point for many of the treks in the Annapurna region. It is easy to reach from Kathmandu. This second city of Nepal has a beautiful lake and views of the mountains, with lots of places to stay. But there are many more places of interest like Tansen, a historic city up in the hills; Janakpur, exotic for its Indianness, colours and Hindu temples; Ilam, home to tea gardens (the tea is similar to that grown in Darjeeling, but costs half the price) and where you have the best views of Kanchenchunga, the world’s third highest mountain.
Nepal is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora. For nature lovers, Nepal has over 866 species of birds and more than 300 species of orchids. Birders and botanists will be in paradise, but even for anyone with the slightest interest in nature, sighting a tiger, one-horned rhino, crocodile, wild elephant, wild bear or any of the several species of deer or monkeys in one of the national parks can also be a great adventure. In particular Chitwan and Bardia National Parks can offer jeep safaris and walks in the jungle. Not to mention the wildlife reserve at Suklaphanta in the far west.
There are many things to do. From going on a yoga retreat, to bungee jumping, paragliding, white water rafting, to learning how to cook local dishes, or painting a thangka if you have a few weeks to spend on it! In Pokhara you might want to visit the Tibetan refugee community on a daytrip, or in Lumbini, stay in one of the monasteries. For shopping, don’t miss the Asaan’s traditional bazaar area with its little crowded streets full of shops selling everything from saris to cooking pots.
The list of Nepal’s attractions would not be complete without mention of what Nepal is famous for: trekking and mountains. Though it helps to have some level of fitness, it is really not as tough or daunting as you might think. I have never prepared, nor am I at all fit. But this has never stopped me! Not all treks go high or last for weeks. The famous Everest Base Camp Trek taking about two weeks (from Lukla) and going up to 5,364m is still classified ‘moderate,’ which means that anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can do it (the secret is to take your time). But there are many less strenuous and shorter treks, like going to Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek from Pokhara taking 2-3 days (3,210m) and offering incredible views of Dhaulagiri (8,167m), Annapurna I, II, III and Annapurna South, Machapuchare and several more above 7,000m high. For anyone with little time, there are many fine hikes and short treks in the Kathmandu Valley too.
Nepal is not just about mountains. There are so many other things to do and see, appealing to more than just the mountaineers and trekkers!
Mar 29, 2022
Manaslu Tsum Valley Trek is one of the most popular trekking destinations in Nepal. This trek takes you to the hidden valley of Manaslu “Tsum” which means vivid. This isolated hidden Shangri-la is home to the Tibetan descendant called Tsumbas and remained restricted till 2008.
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Transcend around 10 best places to visit in Kathmandu in 10 Photos. Nepal is not just limited to trekking and mountaineering. There is more beyond Annapurna region and Everest region.
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Sustainable Tourism is a term often bandied around these days. As the world’s number one industry, tourism is very profitable. But too often not much of the money spent by tourists is seen in the destinations where they go.
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Excavations in Tilaurkot during the period of 1967-1976, revealed that the earliest coins recorded in Nepal are ‘kushan’, ‘kaniksha’ and ‘havisha’ coins (1st century) and the ‘punch marked’ coins (6th and 5th century B.C.). King Mandeva’s rule in the 5th century gave birth to the Licchavi coins.