Something to remember for the rest of your life – a week in Nepal

A week in Nepal

Nepal is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites. Until the morning of April 25th, these man-made structures stood majestically, some of them as old as 4000 years. Five sites of cultural and religious importance are reported heavily damaged and destroyed by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake. From the first report coming out from the disaster, it seemed all of Nepal’s cultural treasures were reduced to rubble. But thanks to the many aerial footage from international broadcasting companies, it is now becoming clear that many monuments and structures defied the odds and emerged unscathed from the 2015 earthquake.

Nepal’s government state it is now safe to visit and tourism in the country today is more important than ever. In this 7-day suggested itinerary and travel guide, we tried to hit up all the remaining historical spots in Kathmandu that survived the quake. We have also included Pokhara, the ultimate destination for relaxation and the gateway to the Annapurna region.

Getting to Nepal:

A round-trip airfare from New York to Katmandu starts at 806 USD (we checked Google Flights and Tripadvisor, if you need more info on where to find the best priced airfare you can check our guide), from Hong Kong to Kathmandu is about 400 USD (maybe you should consider exploring Hong Kong for a couple of days), from London to Kathmandu a round-trip is about 765 USD and from Sydney (a great excuse to spend few days and discover what New South Wales can offer) to Kathmandu is about 640 USD.

Things to consider before travelling to Nepal:

1. What type of tourism do you intend to do?

With only 7 days or less, you need to make some hard choices to plan what you want for your trip. The type of tourism in Nepal can be categorized as follows:

Cultural and Historical Tourism – Without going to far, you can certainly visit Nepal’s cultural jewels in Kathmandu Valley. The valley is composed of seven Monumental Zones with three historical palaces within their urban settings (Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur), two Hindu centers (Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan ), and two Buddhist centers (Swayambunath and Boudhanath ).

Adventure travel – Nepal offers a wide range of adventure activities such as paragliding, white water rafting, bungee jumping and rock climbing.

Ecotourism and wildlife tourism – Nepal has several national parks to choose from, an excellent example is Chitwan National Park.

Trekking tour – it is not possible to trek to Everest base camp as it would take 20 days under normal circumstances. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t get to see Mt. Everest in person. Your option now is to take short treks, which are mostly Pokhara based.

You can certainly mix and match some of the above with careful planning. Just don’t expect to accomplish everything, as your time is limited. For those planning or scheduled to visit between now and autumn season of 2015, it is advisable to create flexible travel plans, mindful of the situation as the country picks herself up.

2. When is the best time to travel to Nepal?

Autumn (between September to November) and Spring (between March to May) are the best seasons for this trip when the weather is very plesant and so are the mountain views. However, if one wishes to avoid crowd and enjoy nature then this trip is favorable during the winters (between December to February) as well.

3. Taking Photographs

Taking photographs outside Buddhist stupas and Hindu temples are allowed. But seek permission while taking photographs inside temples or of religious ceremonies. Many people, especially the ladies, might not be willing to be photographed.

4. Visiting a temple

It is customary to take off your shoes before entering a temple or holy sites. Walking around the temples or stupas is always done in clockwise direction. Ask for permission before entering a Hindu temple as entrance to some temples, like the Pashupatinath and Dakshinkali in Kathmandu, is strictly prohibited for non-Hindus.

5. Understand basic Nepalese Customs

Take off your shoes before entering a Nepalese home. Never leave your shoes or sandals up side down. You may accept a handshake offered by a male or female but never offer your hand first to a woman.

Now that we have covered the basics, we can now proceed with the day-to-day itinerary.

7-day Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Hello Nepal

Upon your arrival in Kathmandu, check in to your preferred hotel / guesthouse either in Kathmandu or Bhaktapur. Stay in Kathmandu if you would like to be near the attractions or stay in Bhaktapur if you like a quieter environment. You may begin your sightseeing tour in the afternoon by visiting some of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the city.

Travel Tip: To avoid hassle at Thribuvan International Airport, make sure you have a pen to fill out forms, two passport size photos (make sure you have plenty as you need these for trekking permit, visa extensions if applicable), US dollars and the phone number and address of your hotel / guesthouse.

Where to stay in Kathmandu:

Hotel Mi Casa ( Thamel-29, Tridevi Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal)
Hotel Friends Home (Jyatha, Thamel (Beside Kantipur Temple House), Kathmandu 4600, Nepal)
Dwarika’s Hotel (Battisputali, Kathmandu, Nepal)
Dalai-La Boutique Hotel (Chaksibari Marg | Thamel, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal)
Hotel Tibet International (Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal)
Gaju Suite Hotel (A One Complex, 3rd and 4th Floor, Thamel Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal)

Patan Durbar, Kathmandu, Nepal

Patan Durbar Square , one of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley and listed by UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Kathmandu valley is composed of three ancient royal cities (Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur), two Hindu centers (Pashupatinath and Changu Narayan), and two Buddhist centers (Swayambunath and Boudhanath). However, Kathmandu Durbar Square has sustained severe damage and only a couple of pagodas have survived. You may explore a little bit in this area and proceed to Pashupatinath Temple where the temple of Shiva is located and considered as one of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world. Then your last destination for the day is Swayambhunath, one of the sacred Buddhist Chaityas in Nepal. The main stupa at Swayambhunath still stands, with some damage restricted to smaller buildings in the compound.

Day 2: Explore Kathmandu and head to Nagarkot

Take an early morning taxi out to Boudhanath Stupa, the largest stupa in Kathmandu Valley and is the center of pilgrimage for Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhists. The surrounding structures appear to be significantly damaged but the 1500-year-old stupa has survived, with reports of cracks in the spire. If you visit early in the morning, you can witness the monks’ get up around the great stupa. Devotees offer worship by prostrating on the wooden planks. Eat a hearty breakfast before you travel to Patan Durbar Square, 5 km southeast of Kathmandu.

Pigeons fly all over Boudhanath Stupa . Boudhanath is one of the largest ancient buddhist stupa in the world

Pigeons fly all over Boudhanath Stupa . Boudhanath is one of the largest ancient Buddhist stupa in the world

Travel Tip: Since you will be touring the rest of Kathmandu Valley on this day, consider hiring a taxi. You can cover the rest of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan in one whole day.

Patan, like its counterpart Kathmandu Durbar Square, is the social, historical, religious and urban focal point of the city. The city retains its old charm and more importantly Hinduism and Buddhism have co-existed here for ages. It is like stepping back in time because the buildings, narrow streets, brick houses and the way people live in this part of Nepal remains as it was hundreds of years ago. According to reports, the Sundari Chowk (courtyard), as well as the most significant temple in the Durbar Square the Krishna Mandir, have survived. Unfortunately, many smaller pagoda temples have collapsed and cracked.

Spend the rest of the day at Bhaktapur Durbar Square, 12 km to the east of Kathmandu. It has been reported that up to 80% of the temples around Bhaktapur Durbar Square are destroyed, including the 18th-century Batsala Temple. In this case, you may still explore other parts of the durbar square. Pottery and woodcarving are displayed on the squares and windows of many structures. Check out late in the afternoon and travel to Nagarkot, a village renowned for its spectacular view of the Himalayas. Stay overnight in Nagarkot.

Where to stay in Nagarkot:

Resort Eco Home (Naldum – 8, Nagarkot 44812, Nepal)
Hotel at the End of the Universe (Mahankal Temple, Nagarkot, Nepal)
Hotel Country Villa (Naldum Road, Nagarkot 00977, Nepal)
The Fort Resort (Lazimpat, KTM, Nagarkot, Nepal)
Niva Niwa Lodge (Naldum, Nagarkot, Nepal)

Day 3: Nagarkot

Nagarkot, Nepal

Mountain hill terrace in morning haze, Nagarkot, Nepal

Wake up early to witness the majestic sunrise in Nagarkot. After breakfast, you can explore the small town of Nagarkot. There are several souvenir shops in town selling interesting stuff such as intricate wooden carvings of Hindu deities. The stores also serve as the workshops of the local craftsmen where you could see carving woods, weaving and making local souvenirs. Nagarkot is not really an established town so establishments are not that plenty. This town is a perfect place if you are looking for quiet respite.

Day 4: Pokhara

After breakfast, head to Pokhara known as the lake city. Travel takes 6 hours and the trip costs around USD 20. Check in to your preferred accommodation and take a rest before exploring Pokhara.

Where to stay in Pokhara:

Hotel Middle Path (Lake Side 6 | Center Point, Pokhara 977061, Nepal)
Hotel Crystal Palace (Lakeside | Pahari Path, Pokhara 00977, Nepal)
Hotel Trekkers Inn (Shiva Marga | Lakeside, Gaurighat, Pokhara 061, Nepal)
Temple Tree Resort & Spa (Gaurighat, Lakeside 6, Pokhara, Nepal)
Fish Tail Lodge (Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal)
Pokhara Grande (Pardi, Pokhara 200, Nepal)
Hotel Landmark Pokhara (Landmark Chowk | Lakeside, Pokhara,Nepal, Pokhara, Nepal)

Pokhara, Nepal

You may start your Pokhara tour by taking a boat across the lake and climb up the hill to visit the World Peace Pagoda

You may start your Pokhara tour by taking a boat across the lake and climb up the hill to visit the World Peace Pagoda. This area is also one of the popular spots to view the Annapurna Mountain range. Spend the evening in a restaurant by the lake. Stay overnight in Pokhara.

World Peace Pagoda

World Peace Pagoda, Pokhara, Nepal

Day 5: Sarangkot

Start your day early at Sarangkot, famous for its sunrise and sunset views of the entire Annapurna Mountain Range and the valleys. It’s best to book a taxi in advance. If you would like to take time marveling at the views then you can opt to walk down back to town. For adventure seekers, Sarangkot is also the jump-off point for paragliding. You can book paragliding in the town of Pokhara and the price start at 80 USD. Paragliding is a tandem flight and a licensed pilot will guide you. This is another way of viewing the Fewa Lake and the Himalayan foothills.

Head back to town and continue exploring the town’s landmarks. Go to Devi’s Fall, a mysterious waterfall that flows directly into a narrow and deep canal which has no end. The water comes from Fewa Lake overflow and it reportedly goes in the Gupteshwar Cave, which is quite deep. Inside the deep Gupteshwar Cave, a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva will be found. After lunch, visit the famous International Mountain Museum that records, documents and chronicles the lifestyle of people in Nepal and the mountainous activities since early days. The museum also records the past and present development of mountaineering activities in the world and the Himalayas. Spend the rest of the day at Tibetan Refugee Camp where you can get an insight into Tibetan culture. Stay overnight in Pokhara.

Day 6: Back to Kathmandu

After breakfast, say goodbye to the beautiful town of Pokhara and head towards Kathmandu. This will be a long journey but the views of the riverbanks and hills are amazing. Once in Kathmandu, check in to your hotel and rest a bit before your last minute shopping.

Where to stay in Kathmandu:

Hotel Mi Casa ( Thamel-29, Tridevi Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal)
Hotel Friends Home (Jyatha, Thamel (Beside Kantipur Temple House), Kathmandu 4600, Nepal)
Dwarika’s Hotel (Battisputali, Kathmandu, Nepal)
Dalai-La Boutique Hotel (Chaksibari Marg | Thamel, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal)
Hotel Tibet International (Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal)
Gaju Suite Hotel (A One Complex, 3rd and 4th Floor, Thamel Marg, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal)

There are a lot of shopping options in Kathmandu, from luxury boutiques to bargain outlets, they all have it. In the main street, you will find several tourists souvenir shops selling Nepalese handicraft, carved-wooden items, jewelries and many more. After shopping, you can have a farewell dinner at The Ship Restaurant Bar and Lounge in Kathmandu to celebrate your successful journey,

Day 7: Say “Goodbye” to Nepal

This will be the end of you Nepal Adventure. Remember to be at the airport at least three hours before your scheduled flight. Traffic in Kathmandu can be a bit crazy.

Travel Tip: Nepalese Rupees cannot be exchanged outside of Nepal so make sure to find FOREX once in the airport. A day before your flight, make sure you have all the receipts of your souvenirs as this might be requested by airport security. And lastly, if your flight is scheduled early, book a taxi with your hotel / guesthouse.

This is the end of our 7-day suggested itinerary. As you can see, you can get a lot done in Nepal within just a week! Plan your holiday now and help Nepal recover through tourism. If you can’t travel right now and you wish to make a donation, just get in touch with The Red Cross (redcross.org) as they have established an official Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund through its representatives worldwide. Namaste!

 Have you been to Kathmandu, Nagarkot, Pokhara or anywhere else in Nepal? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below. 

Where Would You Go

AUTHOR: Where Would You Go

Where would you go to escape from reality if you had a day, a week, a month or a lifetime? Find ideas for your next trip!

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