Discover the best places to visit in Pokhara! This Pokhara travel guide is everything you need to know before visiting Pokhara.
Pokhara is located on Lake Phewa Tal and overlooks the peaks of the Annapurna. Above the lake is a hill on which a stupa is built, a small Buddhist temple, called the Temple of World Peace, from which there are spectacular views of the city and the surrounding mountain ranges.
The city is on an important historical trade route between China and Tibet and India, after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959 about 300,000 Tibetan refugees arrived in the Pokhara area, living in villages around the city to this day.
The invasion also blocked the important trade route that passed through the area.
The city is one of the country's tourist attractions, and a departure base for hikers for trekking in the nearby Nepalese Himalayas, such as the Annapurna Circuit, as well as for extreme sports activities such as rafting, skydiving, bungee jumping, and more.
The tourist area is called the Lake Side. You can find many hotels and hostels, cafes and western restaurants, shops selling trekking equipment, and travel agencies.
Pokhara was part of my solo trip to Nepal, and I visited Pokhara after my Annapurna circuit trek.
Pokhara has a small airport used for domestic flights and can be reached from Kathmandu Airport. There are several flights a day, operated by Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation and by a small number of private companies. The flight takes 20-40 minutes and costs $ 60-80.
As a central and touristy city, buses from all over the country come to Pokhara frequently. Most travelers reach Pokhara from Kathmandu by bus. The journey takes 6-8 hours.
There are two types of buses that travel in Nepal:
Local Bus - Usually an old, crowded, and slow bus, stopping in most villages on the way to pick up and drop off local passengers.
In the local bus, there is no limit on the number of passengers, and if there is no space inside the bus some of the passengers sit on the roof (where the luggage is also located).
An experience, but not comfortable. A local bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara costs 200-400 rupees.
It usually departs in the morning from Kathmandu Central Bus Station, located north of the city center, on the road that encircles the city. You can buy tickets at the station, but you should do it the day before the trip, so you can book a ticket online or you can do it at the travel agencies, where the price will be slightly higher due to the commission.
Tourist bus - A relatively modern bus, used almost exclusively by tourists, convenient and direct with no stops for loading and unloading passengers, but only rest and refreshment stops.
You can choose between a bus with air conditioning (800 rupees) or without air conditioning (650 rupees). The buses without air conditioning are equipped with fans, and the ride in them is comfortable overall.
Please note: in the high season, the buses fill up quickly, so it is recommended to book a ticket at least two or three days in advance.
The simplest and most convenient way to get around the Lake Side is to walk, as everything is close and accessible. To get to slightly more remote places the most accessible and convenient way is a taxi ride. Taxis in the city are numerous and available and the price is set in advance by bargaining.
However, keep in mind that Pokhara is very touristy, and therefore taxi prices are not cheap compared to the standard price level in Nepal.
A cheaper and more independent option is to rent a scooter or bicycle and go out with them to explore the area. Many agencies offer the service and even some hotels. Be sure to note that you are getting something in good condition and it is also advisable to photograph it so that they can not blame you later for the damage you did not cause.
It is important to know that the roads in and around the city are busy and in poor maintenance condition, so traveling by scooter or bicycle can be dangerous.
The World Peace Pagoda stands on Anadu Hill at 1100 meters and overlooks Lake Phewa and Pokhara. On clear days, the Annapurna ridge can be seen from it.
It is one of two Nepalese peace pagodas and 80 pagodas around the world built on the initiative and inspiration of a Japanese Buddhist monk who founded a new Buddhist sect after World War I. He began initiating and building the pagodas at the end of World War II in 1947.
The building here on the hill was not peaceful. The elements of the pagoda were laid in 1973.
The construction was done together with the local community, but the government did not approve of the construction.
The monks and some of the builders were arrested, and construction was dismantled.
The official reasoning was security considerations, but insiders say the building permits were simply not passed through the "conventional pipes." 20 years later, construction resumed, and the inauguration ceremony was held in 1999.
The stupa glows white. The paths leading to it cross a beautiful garden where colorful flowers are. The human landscape is even more fascinating.
The lake is nice overall, but it is quite polluted, so bathing in the lake is not an option.
Therefore, besides a nice walk along the promenade, a great option is to go for a short cruise. If you continue on the street from the main junction of the lakeside towards the lake, you will reach a stand where the boaters are.
You can rent a paddle or pedal boat (with a local cruise or on your own) for several hours and sail in the calm lake waters. Take a camera, water, and sunscreen.
Inside the lake, there is a small island with a modest and ancient Buddhist temple called Tal Barahi and it can be visited as part of the cruise.
Extreme sports enthusiasts will be able to combine stunning scenery with adrenaline and descend from the Sarangkot to the Pokhara lookout using a paraglider. Many travel agencies offer parachuting with a guide from the village back to the city.
The falls occur several times a day, but the number of places is limited, and sometimes there is no place even a week ahead.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to book a place at one of the agencies upon your arrival in the city or you can book in advance online.
If skydiving is not enough, the adrenaline enthusiasts among you will also be able to find the thrill of bungee jumping and "sliding at the tops" ( long and high Zip-line between the trees).
The two attractions are done in the same place and their price is the same (about $ 80). If you want, you can do both on the same day.
Lake Phewa, on the shores of Pokhara, drains south through the Mardi Khola to Devi Falls and disappears underground.
The best time to visit them is during the monsoon season when the water flow is strong.
At any time of the year, entering the water is forbidden and dangerous. The complex is fenced and arranged for sitting and observing the waterfall, and the entrance costs 30 rupees for tourists. The falls are about two miles southwest of the airport, south of Lakeside, about a 10-minute taxi ride.
The back of the waterfall and the way the water makes its way through the ground can be seen in the Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave. It is a cave and inside it is a temple to the Hindu Shiva goddess. If you continue in the cave, after the temple, you reach a gorge into which the huge amounts of water from the Death Falls are poured.
To enter the cave, you need to cross the road from Devi Falls and enter the gate with a sign pointing to the cave through a small market of Buddhist and Hindu religious souvenirs and accessories.
The cave is bright and spacious in most of its parts, but the floor is wet, so take care with the plots. The entrance to the cave costs 100 rupees.
Both sites are open from six in the morning to six in the evening and are close to the World Peace Pagoda and the small Tibetan refugee village of Tashi Ling, so it is possible to combine a visit with all of them in one day.
Sarangkot was a small village on the slopes of Mount Sarangkot before it was annexed to be part of the Pokhara metropolis.
The place is popular for sunrise observations on the Annapurna ridge.
The drive from the lakeside area is about 20 minutes by taxi, and the round trip price should be about 1500 rupees. You can order a taxi from your hotel reception.
The place is crowded with people, and you should only get there if the forecast is for a clear morning.
Pokhara is a major area for trekking, some known and familiar and some less so.
Annapurna - In the Annapurna Reserve there are several main treks, you can choose the trek that suits you according to the time available to you:
Annapurna Circuit - the most comprehensive passes around the ridge and encompasses all forms of landscape. Accommodation in villages. Minimum duration - ten days.
Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) - This is a trek that starts at Phedi at the foot of the Annapurna ridge and continues to the foot of the Annapurna summit - the maximum height is 4,130 meters. The round trip lasts eight days. This trek is harder than the Annapurna Circuit.
Jomsom Trek - is part of the Annapurna Circuit Trek. This is the last part of the trek, and at the end is the village of 'Tatopani', where there are hot springs.
Poon hill trek - relatively short trek, 3-5 days. The route ascends from Pokhara towards Annapurna Base Camp and reaches the hot springs at Gino Dada, from where you climb to the Pon Hill ridge. It is a long, relatively difficult climb, and at the end, you reach a spectacular vantage point over the Annapurna.
The Royal Trek - is named after Prince Charles, who toured the area with his family in the early 1980s. A short trek, about three days, passes over Pokhara.
The trek passes through wooded areas and lakes, accommodation in villages, usually with locals at home.
Panchase Trek - A charming and not very touristy trek, starting about an hour's drive from Pokhara, climbing to the village of Panchase, from where there is a spectacular view of the Annapurna ridge. Accommodation in a guesthouse - one of the two in the village. You can spend several days in the villages. All around the trek, there are beautiful waterfalls and short hiking trails.
Pokhara Museum is a small museum dedicated to the history and culture of the Pokhara area.
It displays a collection of jewelry, musical instruments, traditional costumes, and photographs of the ethnic groups living in the Pokhara area, who may also meet on treks in the area.
This beautiful and peaceful lake, which is about 10 km from Pokhara, has in recent years become a must-stop for those looking to escape here for a few days of quiet. Apart from its beauty, you can also bathe in the lake. You can also rent a boat (325 rupees per hour or 700 for three hours) and go on a pleasant cruise on the lake - remember to bring enough water because during the day it is hot.
You can get here for a few hours' visit, but most backpackers choose to stay here for at least a night or two. The lake is relatively large and is surrounded by many villages.
A perfect place to spend two to three days for those looking for a resting place after the trekking.
There are four villages in the Pokhara area where Tibetan refugees live. The largest and most interesting village in them is Tashi Falkel. At the entrance to the village stands a line of Tibetan women, offering for sale handicrafts and jewelry.
About a hundred monks live in the colorful Jangchub Choeling Gompa Monastery, located in the center of the village. During January-February, on Tibetan New Year (Losar), celebrations take place in the village, during which the monks wear colorful masks and go out dancing.
The village is located a few kilometers north of the city. You can take a taxi from anywhere at about 350-600 rupees or a local and cheap bus from the bus station, which is two kilometers north of the city center and is called Baglung Bus Park.
The Juicery Cafe - A cool place for breakfast on the shores of the lake that will make you forget for a moment that you are in Nepal
Be happy restaurant - A cute local restaurant presented a wide variety of dishes at particularly affordable prices.
Or2k - Just like their restaurant in Kathmandu, a Mediterranean restaurant, with stunning views and a relaxed atmosphere of freedom, you can sit here for hours and enjoy the atmosphere
Lemon Tree - One of the restaurants I enjoyed the most. It is located on the main street of the Lakeside area and is spread over three floors. Pleasantly, decorated, delicate lighting, and a vantage point for passers-by on the street.
During the Annapurna Circuit Trek, I learned to like the local Dal Baht dish. So I decided to order it at this restaurant as well, and it was excellent!
Pokhara, the second-largest city in Nepal, located west of Kathmandu, feels like a resort town for tired trekkers.
The lakeside is for the most part the street along the lake and the alleys and streets that branch off from it.
The whole area is full of guesthouses, restaurants, pubs, bars, agencies, bakeries, trekking and hiking equipment stores, ATMs, and supermarkets.
The lakeside is like the Thamel in Kathmandu but more spacious, quiet, and peaceful without the chaos.
Kiwi Backpackers Hostel - Great hostel in Pokhara. easy to meet people for and after trekking. Beautiful views from the rooftop, which also has a bar and hammocks.
Pokhara Backpackers Hostel - Another great hostel to stay. Comfy beds, hot shower, good wifi and amazing value for money.
Hotel Middle Path & Spa - The place is clean, the staff is welcoming, very cozy, central and quiet location, with a nice pool and a beautiful lake view.
Bar Peepal Resort - A little more expensive but an excellent hotel with an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center. located away from hustle but walking distance to main market and attractions.
Pokhara is a charming combination of nature and an Asian city, of local colors with western comfort, bustle, and serenity.
Pokhara is a good place to shed the haste of the West and its worries and begin to get used to the ease of the East. Pokhara is a great place to start or end a trek in the Annapurna Reserve.
Pokhara is a good place to wander leisurely across the promenade by the lake, and a place to go for a day trip to the city sites.
I hope this blog about the places to visit in Pokhara will make you want to fly there to taste it, touch it and smell it, and will inspire you to visit Pokhara soon as possible.
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