Known for housing some of the highest mountains in the world and several famous mountain ranges, Nepal is a trekker’s mecca unsurpassed by any other country on the planet. But there is so much to do in Nepal besides trekking. It is a country that was made to be discovered and explored on every level. Take to the mountains, the skies, the rivers, or the roads, and Nepal will never fail to take your breath away. No matter how you choose to traverse the country, the things to do in Nepal never fall short of incredible.
1 Conquer the Himalayan Trails
Despite its popularity and reputation of being somewhat overrun by tourists, one of the first things to do in Nepal should be trekking. It boasts some spectacular, world-famous treks, including the seriously famous trek to Everest Base Camp. In fact, much of the country’s most breathtaking landscape is only accessible via trekking. Luckily, you don’t have to be a professional mountaineer to have a trekking experience in Nepal — there are treks suitable for most ages and skill levels. Yes, you have to put in some effort, but we’ve never heard anyone complaining about the reward.
- ABC, short for Annapurna Base Camp trek, is one of the most famous and scenic trails. Starting atNayapul, 1.5 hours outside Pokhara, the trail ends at the base camp, set at 4,130 meters, surrounded by magnificent views of the Annapurna Range. The trek takes anywhere between 8 – 12 days and is considered moderate – difficult.
- Langtang, situated very close to Kathmandu, also takes around 8days to complete. However, it’s rated as “moderate” as the elevation level and distance of daily treks are not as high or as long as the ABC. On this trek, you’ll pass forests, waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, and endless views of the Annapurna range.
- Manaslu is a 14-day trek and is more difficult than the ABC trek. And while the trek is a rewarding experience, it was never as popular as the others because camping used to be required and a pricy permit needed to be purchased. Nowadays trekking the Manaslu trek comes with tea-house lodging available for every night and the permit fee has been reduced, making it more accessible but yet, less crowded.
2 Immerse Yourself in the Rich Heritage
Nepal’s heritage is ancient, making it some of the most fascinating on the planet. If you’re unsure of where to start, Kathmandu valley is the perfect place. Just a few kilometers outside the city, the valley is home to seven groups of monuments. They proudly showcase the rich history and artist skill of the Newars, the multi-ethnic group who are the valley’s original settlers. UNESCO has crowned the entire zone as World Heritage Site for displaying the highest level of craftsmanship of brick, stone, timber, and bronze in the world!
- TheDurbar Squaresrefer to the 3 squares located in the Kathmandu valley belonging to the ancient royal palaces of the former Kathmandu kingdom. The KathmanduDurbar, Patan Durbar, and Bhaktapur Durbar are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites and easily reachable via day-trip from Kathmandu. Set up opposite their respective palace, each square is like its own mini-city with temples, monasteries, shops, and restaurants.
- Pashupatinath is a famous Hindu complex a few kilometers outside of Kathmandu. It straddles both sides of the Bagmati river and is one of the most sacred temples in Nepal. However, most unique is what happens here. People from across India and Nepal journey to this temple to die, be cremated, and then have their ashes swept away in the river. It is believed that people who die here will be reincarnated as humans, despite what damage they may have done to their karma during their lives.
- Swayambhunath is a hilltop Buddhist stupa in the Kathmandu Valley. Foreigners know it as “Monkey Temple”, due to the huge populace of monkeys found here and come to admire the architecture and the panoramic views over the valley and Kathmandu city. It’s the oldest Buddhist stupa of its kind in the whole country and is, therefore, an important pilgrimage site.
3 Experience Glorious Sunrises
Wondering what to do in Nepal in the early morning? Watching the sunrise in this country —over the mountains and amongst the clouds — is one of the most magical and peaceful feelings in the world. What makes a sunrise in Nepal so great are the prime viewing spots in high elevations, creating a memorable and totally mesmerizing experience. The higher you can get, the better. Check out the best places to catch an early morning sunrise:
- One hour and 30 minutes east of Kathmandu, Nagarkot is a 2,195-meter high hill station. From here, there’s a truly astonishing view as the sun rises behind 8 of the 13 Himalayan Mountain Ranges, including Mount Everest and Mount Dhaulagiri (both over 8,000 meters).
- Poon Hill, at 3,200-meters, is considered to be the best viewpoint in the whole Annapurna region. It takes roughly 5 days to reach Poon Hill. This can be accomplished during the ABC trek or Poon Hill Trek and offers gorgeous views of Mount Dhaulagiri, Dolpo, Manaslu and Machhapuchhre.
- Sitting somewhere between Kathmandu and Pokhara, the charming town of Bandipur offers a spectacular view from Thani Mai Temple. The trek to the top only takes about 30-minutes and the reward is a 360-degree view of the sunrise, the Himalayas, and the valley below.
4 Indulge in Exciting Adventure Sports
Nepal’s ruggedly beautiful terrain makes it ace for a variety of adventure sports. These sports are sure to shake up your typical tourist itinerary if you need a break from sight-seeing, trekking, temple touring and food tasting. Challenging, thrilling, and once in a lifetime experiences await the daring traveler on the country’s mountains, rivers, and lakes.
- The mighty Himalayan rivers such as Trishuli, Kali Gandaki, and Marsyangdi (plus many more) make rafting in Nepal an excellent way to experience Nepal’s powerful nature. From class 2 rapids to the raging class 5, there’s a way for everyone, of all ages to experience a rafting trip. For a little taste, there are one-day trips. For the hardcore, there are longer trips (up to 9 days!) available, which include camping.
- It almost goes without saying that mountain biking and dirt biking are super popular in Nepal. The terrain was built for it! There are loads of day-trip trails around Kathmandu valley and Pokhara. Many trekking trails are also open to bikers, however, it may require some ‘start-and-stop’ to carry your bike over icy patches or up steep climbs or stairs.
5 Take a Jump from the Sky
There are adventure sports and then there are adrenaline-inducing activities. The thrill-level you seek will dictate the sport or activity you pick. Skydiving is definitely not for the faint of heart, and free-falling over the world’s most impressive mountain range has got to rank as one of the coolest things to do in Nepal. It’s certainly a way to experience the beauty of Nepal in a way very few people do or can. Here are the two best places to take the biggest plunge of your life:
- In many ways, Everest offers travelers the ultimate experience. Now you can also add skydiving over the tallest peak in the world to that list. With Everest Skydive, you’ll jump from 7,000 meters (just below Mount Everest) and land in the highest drop zone in the world, Amadablam Base Camp (4,572 meters). Jumping here also includes several days of trekking as well as the Everest Base Camp extension option.
- Pokhara Skydive, an offshoot of Everest Skydive, is another option for skydiving over one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. In Pokhara, you’ll jump from a helicopter between 3,353 – 3,962 meters with the Himalayans all around you and the stunning Pokhara valley beneath you. This company offers multi-day packages which include 2-3 jumps, a white-water rafting trip, and sightseeing and guided tour around Pokhara.
6 Go on Motorbike Road Trip
There’s nothing more exhilarating than the wind in your face as you cruise down a piece of unfamiliar highway on the way to an even more unfamiliar place. This is one of the only ways to literally get off the tourist track and discover Nepal in a way unrivaled by any other. If you’re looking for a way to have a truly epic journey that only you control, this is it.
- Lying near the northern Tibetan border, the Mustang district is certainly the road less-traveled. As a former restricted demilitarized zone, a dirt road accessing the Chinese border was only completed in 2015. The road winds its way up to 914m or so, with incredibly dramatic vistas of the Annapurna Mountains. Basic tea-room accommodation is all you’ll find as you reach the Upper Mustang area. Nothing touristy about this route – at all.
- In the central-south of Nepal, the Lumpini district sits on the border of India. This is a sacred area and pilgrimage spot as it’s the birthplace of Buddha, with some of the archeological remains dating back to the 3rd century BC! Located in Nepal’s flatlands, there are no mountains in sight, hence no steep climbs. Hence, cruising the quiet country roads is pure peace. The rural scenery is lovely with local farms, rice paddies, and flower fields scattered along the way.
7 Jump off a Bridge
If skydiving, rafting, kayaking, and mountain biking isn’t enough, then there’s always another way to shock your system. Bungee jumping is an insane way to get instant adrenaline and there are several safe and dependable options in Nepal. What makes a jump in Nepal so unique is the natural and serene surroundings that would almost be relaxing if you weren’t about to free fall into the gorges below!
- Pokhara Bungee Jumping is the highest water touch bungee in the world at a height of 80m. Below is a pond roughly 20m deep, and yes, you’ll get close enough to get a little wet.
- The Last Resort is located 100km from Kathmandu near the Tibetan border. The setting, nestled in dense jungle and pristine nature, makes it an ideal place for relaxation, however, it’s here that you’ll find the second highest bungee jump in Asia. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. A 160m free fall from a suspension bridge into a tropical gorge above the raging Bhote Koshi river waits for those who can’t resist a double shot of adrenaline.
8 Discover National Parks
Nepal is lacking in very few things, especially when it comes to uncharted and undiscovered land. The National Parks in this country is very special to the locals and are therefore extremely well-preserved. Whether you’re up for some Bengal tracking, bird-watching, or wildlife safaris, Nepal has plenty of parks and reserves waiting to be explored.
Recommended National Parks:
- In western Nepal, Bardiya National Park is the largest in the country at 968 square meters. Guided foot or vehicle tours provide the chance to spot 250 bird species and 30 mammals, including the one-horned rhino and the Royal Bengal tiger. The area is surrounded by the Churia Mountain Range and has access to Karnali and Babai river. On a lucky day, you could spot the Gangetic dolphin in the waters!
- Far-west Nepal housesKhaptad National Park, characterized by a soaring grassland plateau reaching roughly 3,000 meters. Dubbed ‘the living garden of herbs’, Khaptad boasts a total of 567 different plant species, 11% of Nepal’s flowering plants, and 224 species of medicinal herbs. Bird-watching here is sublime with 270 different species. Deer, monkeys, wild dogs, and the Himalayan black bear can also be seen.
- Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve is the only one of its kind in Nepal. The 1,325 square meter reserve allows controlled hunting of some species, of which the most prized is the blue sheep. Ghoral, serow (both goat-antelope species), black bear, peasants, and partridge are also hunted. Expeditions are available via hunting outfitters with the proper game license, issued by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation in Kathmandu.
- At 932,000square meters, Chitwan National Park straddles the India-Nepal border. It’s a top place for tracking the elusive Bengal Tiger and One-horned rhinoceros (both endangered species), as well as crocodiles, deer, and elephants. Tours can be taken from an old-school jeep or atop an elephant! This park was Nepal’s first, established in 1973, and is considered the best-preserved conservation area in all of Asia.
9 Go on a Gastronomical Journey
Food in Nepal is a delight, to say the least. From the famous steamed and stuffed momos to the Nepali staple of lentils and rice known as dal-bhat, there is a broad range of foods that can and should be tried! The two mentioned above are the most obvious but don’t forget to expand your palate by taste-testing a few other delicious dishes. Get your taste-buds tingling with spicy lahping, experience rich gastronomical offering with samay-baji, or try decadency with piping-hot yomari.
10 Clock Some Zen time at an Ayurveda Spa
Known for holistic practices that focus on balance and harmony between the body and mind, a day at an Ayurveda Spa can range from relaxing to spiritual. Originated in India, the healing art can also be experienced in Nepal. When you have trekked the harshest of terrain, an Ayurveda spa is a must. The goal of Ayurveda is to keep these energies balanced. This is done in a variety of ways including bodywork and massage, essential and warm oil treatments, yoga, meditation, a special diet, and detoxification. Sessions range from half-day to multi-day experiences, tailored to suit your needs, which are determined during a consultation with a trained therapist.
Simply put, Nepal is a comprehensive masterpiece of the most stunning natural creations on Earth. Although famous for its trekking, it’s clear there are many more ways to experience all of Nepal’s breathtaking beauty. Take your priorities into consideration when deciding what to do in Nepal. Whether you’re a total daredevil seeking an adrenaline rush, a hard-core hiker looking for the ultimate challenge, or a gentle soul who’s seeking serenity – Nepal is here to meet your every desire.