Things to do in Nepal
Nepal is an outdoor adventure mecca with nearly one quarter of the land designated as protected natural areas. With 8 of the world’s 14 highest peaks, conditions are ideal for mountaineering, trekking and rock climbing enthusiasts of all ability levels.
The most popular trekking areas, rich in natural beauty and culture, have always been in Everest, Annapurna and Langtang, but Kanchenjungha to the east and Dolpo in the northeast are becoming increasingly popular. Generally, treks are at altitudes between 1,000 and 4,000 metres with exceptions such as the phenomenal 1,700 kilometre-long Great Himalayan Trail. Rock climbers generally head north where conditions are also ideal for hiking and wildlife watching. Whitewater levels vary for kayaking, rafting and canoeing, which can be done throughout the country in areas like Trishuli River at Chitwan National Park - also home to great wildlife such as the Bengal tiger, one-horned rhino and snow leopard. Other popular outdoor activities include mountain biking, paragliding, horse riding, bungee jumping, canyoning, boating and fishing.
For a slower pace, Kathmandu Valley ‘royal cities’ like Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur are rich in culture, history and art including World Heritage monuments such as Boudhanath and Changu Naraya. These cities, as well as popular tourist hub Pokhara, are also full of museums, restaurants serving local cuisine and shopping precincts.
Nepal is also home to many ancient pilgrimage sites attached to deities, including the famous Pashupatinath Temple and Swayambhunath Stupa. There are a plethora of colourful religious and cultural festivals throughout the country and tourists are welcome to get amongst it, ideal for those wanting an insight into the lives of the locals. Nepal’s history is richly entwined in spirituality and, in turn, Kathmandu and other cities offer ayurvedic holistic health clinics, meditation centers, yoga schools, water spas, faith healing and astrology sessions to tourists. For our top pick of Nepal’s sights, read on.
One of the most sacred Shiva Hindu temples in the world and the oldest in Kathmandu, Pashupatinath Temple is a traditional pagoda-style building with carved wooden beams, gold-covered roofs and a gold pinnacle located alongside the holy waters of the Bagmati River.
Boudhanath, a 5th-century Buddhist stupa (a religious mound), is the centre of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal and home to many monks and nuns who walk the grounds and chant among the pilgrims who frequent this holy site.
It takes at least 3 weeks to conquer the middle mountain forests, trans-Himalayan desert plateau, lowland traditional villages and the 8,091-metre summit of Annapurna I that together make Annapurna Circuit one of the most popular treks in the world.
One of the most illustrious Buddhist stupas (religious mounds) in Nepal, the 5th-century Swayambhunath rests peacefully on top of a hill and is often referred to as ‘Monkey Temple’ due to the large number of monkeys that surround its holy grounds.
Nestled between the Himalayas to the north and smaller peaks to the south, Langtang National Park is full of natural beauty, cultural wonder and spectacular wildlife. It also offers treks close to Kathmandu.
The birthplace of Lord Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama), the famous garden, complete with relics of monasteries past in Lumbini, is one of the most sacred places for Buddhists in the world and a must on any Buddhist pilgrimage.