I’m sure everyone knows about Nepal— it is a country of diversity and the Himalayas.
With only one international airport in the country, most travelers tend to visit Kathmandu. It means that Kathmandu is your first stop to visiting Pokhara. It is where you can rest for a bit and then head towards your destination, Pokhara—the second biggest city in Nepal.
There are no correct words to explain Pokhara. It is a little bit and more of everything there is to see and do in the world.
Pokhara is a valley of beautiful lakes. It is a yogi’s zen, an adrenaline junkie’s heaven, and a base camp to the Annapurna Circuit.
The city thrives on tourism, with tourists coming from every part of the country and the world. Religious sites, thrilling adventures, souvenir markets, sightseeing spots, wellness retreats, you call it, Pokhara has it all.
I’ve been to Pokhara many times, and I still cannot get enough of it. The whole vibe of lake city never fails to fascinate me. Pokhara is where everyone comes for a good time.
Not to forget, Nepalese are one hell of a friendly people who treat guests as a god – “Atithi Devo Bhava.” So prepare for the best hospitality from the local people you’ve never experienced in your life.
During the 17th century, the Shah dynasty ruled Pokhara as a part of the Kingdom of Kaski.
Pokhara gained importance due to its old trade route, which connected India and Tibet. Slowly, the British set up a recruitment camp to enlist soldiers for the ‘British Gurkha Army.’
Later, after India and China’s trading posts got diminished, Pokhara took a new role. It became a transit hub for Tibetan refugees who had fled following Tibet’s annexation by China in 1959. The Tibetan community still maintains a presence in Pokhara.
After the construction of Siddhartha Highway in 1968, Pokhara was accessible by road. Thus, it developed as a major tourist destination.
Best time to travel in Pokhara
The best time to visit Pokhara is from September to November. People consider these months as peak tourist seasons because the weather is dry. It is the best time to carry out all the adventure activities.
December to February tends to be cold. Winter continues until March. Visitors cannot perform most of the outdoor activities then.
April to August is the monsoon season in Nepal. And Pokhara gets the most torrential rainfall all over Nepal.
How to get to Pokhara
You have two options to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu: by flight or by road.
If the budget is not tight and you want to reach the destination as soon as possible, we recommend traveling to Pokhara via plane.
There are a lot of flights to Pokhara departing from Kathmandu. The best thing about a 30-minute air trip to Pokhara is watching the view of the landscapes and the Himalayas.
Note that the flights are often delayed or canceled due to poor weather.
Several domestic airlines fly to Pokhara like Nepal Airlines, Yeti Airlines, and Buddha Airlines. They are some of the safest airlines in Nepal. They have various flights going from Kathmandu to Pokhara for $50-$60 during peak season.
A two-way ticket will cost you anywhere between $100-$200.
Another option is to travel by road via a tourist bus, jeep, or a HIACE minibus.
The trip can be extensive (8 hours!!), dusty, and a bit uncomfortable, but it is cheaper. Take it as a road trip as you get to see some excellent natural views of the hills and the country’s rivers.
The distance between Pokhara and Kathmandu is only 200 kilometers. Since Nepal is a developing country, the roadways, and transportation systems are a bit lagging.
The best ways to travel by road is through tourist buses like:
a. Greenline Tours
Greenline is the best tourist bus for traveling to Pokhara and back, as rated by the tourists.
They offer comfortable seats, free wifi, bottled water, air-conditioning, and device charging facilities. They also provide a one-time lunch buffet at a restaurant. The ride will feel safe and smooth as they have professional drivers.
Kathmandu – Pokhara: $25 Pokhara – Kathmandu: $25
b. Blue Sky Travels and World Touch
Blue Sky Travels and World Touch are also two of the cheaper tourist bus services. Some of the buses are air-conditioned or have air-coolers. The seats are manageable, and they provide you a lunch buffet.
However, the bus drivers may be a little like race car drivers over the highway. You might as well hold tight to your seat.
One-way ticket: $8
c. Local Buses
Local buses are available for as little as $5, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are on a very tight budget. You will be a victim of open windows, pollution, and lots of odor.
One-way ticket: $5 (excluding any facilities)
Private Jeeps and air-conditioned HIACE microbuses are also available. But, I believe tourist buses are the best option.
You can book tickets from Kathmandu to Pokhara and back through the travel company’s site. You also can book tickets through a travel agency or buy them online through 12Go.
There are no railroads in this country besides Birgunj; thus, no train services.
Getting to Pokhara from the Indian border
If you’re traveling to Pokhara from the Indian border, you must enter from Sunauli and take a bus to Butwal or Bhairahawa.
If you’re taking a bus from Butwal to Pokhara, you can expect to pay $10-$20 depending on the bus.
How to get around in Pokhara
Getting around Pokhara is very easy. Almost all the roads are pitched at the lakeside. Places away from lakesides, however, have some bumpy roads.
For transportation, you have a lot of options to choose from like:
Taxis are comfortable and can get you to your desired destination faster. However, they can be costly. You should bargain with the taxi drivers to get a fair deal.
Unless you have large luggage or are traveling to destinations far from the lakeside, do not use a taxi.
Buses are the cheapest means to travel around the city. It sure can be a bit crowded, and sometimes you may even have to stand to get to a destination. But, you will save a lot of your money and get to your destination safely.
Hiring a cycle, bike, or a car for a day
You can hire a cycle, bike, or car through various motor rental shops in Pokhara. Hiring a scooter or a bike costs $5- $12 depending on where you rent it.
Hiring a car for a half-day in Pokhara will cost you $23.37. A full day of it will cost you $26.70. It is a comfortable way of touring the various attractions in one day.
Pokhara does not have train services.
ATMs and foreign-exchange offices in Pokhara
Pokhara uses the Nepalese currency for its transactions. There are many foreign-exchange offices in Lakeside, Pokhara. Thet will readily change your dollars for Nepalese currency.
Many ATM Lounges accept foreign cards too. Some of the shops in Pokhara also receive Indian currency.
Major attractions in Pokhara
Pokhara itself is a beautiful city, and coming here to relax is an attraction itself. However, the town invites tourists all-year-round to visit its major attractions. Below I have listed my favorites, which are worth the visit.
Pokhara and its lakeside are famous, all because of this gigantic emerald lake. It would be a sin to visit Pokhara and not take a boat ride on this city’s signature lake.
You can either hire a boat with a guide or paddle on your own around the island. The boat ride around Phewa Lake usually takes an hour.
In my experience, it is better to hire a boat with a guide. By doing so, you get to experience the tranquility of the lake overlooking the mountains and hills. It is a great chance to take pictures of yourself and the view.
Do visit the Barahi Temple, which is in the middle of Phewa Lake. This Hindu temple is an important religious site of Pokhara. It is always busy with Hindu and non-Hindu pilgrims coming to get blessings from the priests.
1-Hour boat ride without boatman: $4.17
1-hour boat ride with boatman: $4.59
Full-day boat ride: $8.34
(The ticket includes a life jacket)
World Peace Pagoda (Shanti Stupa)
The World Peace Pagoda is located on the peak of Ananda Hill. We can see the Pagoda from all lakeside.
The question about how we reached the top and how the city looked from up motivated me to visit.
Like its name, the World Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist monument. It has a peaceful vibe, and the view, my God, the scenery is so beautiful that I could sit there and cry.
The Pagoda serves the view of the city, the vast Phewa Lake, and the Annapurna Mountains. There are cafes and souvenir shops on the way to Pagoda. To get the best view, I suggest you visit this monument right before Sunset.
How to reach World Peace Pagoda?
There are three ways to reach the World Peace Pagoda: boat, taxi, and a local bus.
Take a boat ride from the lakeside to the opposite side of the lake. Then hike the summit through the gorgeous forests, which usually takes 45 minutes to an hour.
The one-way boat trip costs $7, and a return trip costs $9.
You can also take a cab from Pokhara’s Lakeside to the summit. The taxi ride also takes about 45 minutes. However, the visitors need to climb the stairs to reach the top.
I walked fast because I was stoked to see what this place looked like up-close. I was the first to reach the stupa while all my friends were still down the summit.
A taxi ride costs $15 from lakeside to Ananda Hill.
c. Local bus:
If you are on a backpacker budget, getting a local bus is an excellent way to travel to Ananda Hill. It will not be as comfortable as taking a taxi, but it is right on your budget.
A local bus ride costs only $0.63. CHEAP!
There are three caves in Pokhara that are must-visit sites, and each has its significance.
a. Devi’s Fall and Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave
Devi’s Fall is an underground waterfall, one of the most visited places in Nepal.
History has it that a Swiss couple went swimming at this waterfall. Due to the overflow of water, the wife drowned in a pit. People recovered her body after three days.
The lady’s father wanted to name it ‘David’s fall’ after her name. Later the name got changed to Devi’s Fall.
There is also a luck pond where you can make a wish. You get to try your luck by throwing a coin and place it on God’s statue. If you are successful in doing that, you’re considered lucky.
On its opposite side is the Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, which is also a major attraction of Pokhara. The water from the waterfall passes through this cave.
Entrance Fee: $1
b. Mahendra Cave
Mahendra Cave is a prominent place for the Hindu pilgrims. Besides that, it isn’t much of a magnificent cave. The stairs that lead to the cave is beautiful, though, so take some photos for your Instagram.
The cave has a small statue of Lord Shiva and a plastic cow in the cowshed. The insides of the cave are dark with some tube-lights and light bulbs here and there. The ground is super slippery, so I suggest you hold on to the railings or wear shoes with good grips.
Entrance Fee: $9
c. Bat Cave
Bat Cave (Chamero Gufa) is my favorite cave to visit in Pokhara. It is only a ten minutes walk from Mahendra Cave. The cave is dark, and the bats cover all the damp ceilings.
Walking around the cave itself is an adventurous feeling. The fear of waking up all those bats is just another thing that adds the thrill to it.
The exit to this cave is a very narrow gap. Myth has it that if you can get yourself out of that hole, you get cured of your sins.
You may think it is easy to get out of the cave, but trust me, it is not only a narrow hole, and you need to squeeze yourself out. You have to lay yourself on your tummy while balancing yourself between two rocks and the gap in between. One slip and you will be hanging for your life.
Entrance fee: $2-$4 (as you need a guide)
If the World Peace Pagoda has the best sunset view, then the Sarangkot Viewpoint has the best sunrise view.
Sarangkot is a 30-minutes drive away from Lakeside, Pokhara. It is a popular one-night destination. The place attracts tourists for its beautiful scenery of the Annapurna mountain, Machhapuchhre ranges, and the Phewa Lake beneath.
You’ll see the spectacular view when the sun rises early in the morning. Sarangkot is also a paragliding take-off spot.
How to reach Sarangkot?
Take a taxi from the lakeside for $20. Mind it! The ride is 40-minutes long and bumpy, but worth the struggle.
Begnas Lake is located 15 kilometers away from Pokhara. It is another lake filled with tranquility.
Begnas is a lot quieter than Phewa Lake, which is bustling with an enormous number of tourists. At Begnas, you can chill at the lakeshore park seats, sightsee or go for a boat ride. While you are here, do eat some fish dishes.
How to reach Begnas Lake?
You can take a taxi which costs $15. Private taxis will usually get you to the destination in half an hour.
If you are tight on budget, then take the local bus, which will only cost you $5. However, the journey will be an hour-long as the bus picks other passengers up on the way.
Rupa Lake is a freshwater lake located southeast of Pokhara. It is one of the remote lakes that have limited accessibility, due to which its scenery is unspoiled.
There are a couple of eateries near this tranquil lake. You can also go boating and fishing while enjoying the fantastic scenes of the hills and mountains.
Amazing things to do in Pokhara
Annapurna Circuit Trek
Trekking the Annapurna Circuit is one of the main reasons that lure people to visit Pokhara. Remember when I told you that Pokhara is a base camp for Annapurna Circuit?
The reason why travelers love hiking in the Annapurna Circuit is that it is one of the most beautiful treks in the world.
The breathtaking view of the Annapurna Range is, without a doubt, to-die-for. (Don’t take it literally, though!) The best thing about trekking the Annapurna Circuit is that you get many trek options. The options offered to you depend on your time, budget, and fitness level.
a. Poon Hill Ghorepani Trek
The Poon Hill Ghorepani Trek is a famous 4-days trek that is suitable for kids too. You have to climb the stairs through some ethnic villages, jungles, and rivers.
The trek is relatively easy. Poonhill is at an altitude of 3,200m. From here, you will see the perfect panoramic views of the gigantic mountains of Nepal. Some are the Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, Machhapuchhre, and Annapurna II.
I suggest you wake up at around 5 AM to watch the sunrise. I know it is early. But, looking at the stars and moon meet the rays of the sun as it hits the snowy mountain ranges is splendid.
The Poonhill trek is quite affordable: $150 per person.
b. The Annapurna Circuit
The Annapurna Circuit is a 15-days journey where you get to trek along some of the world’s tallest mountains. On your way, you pass some beautiful Nepalese villages. You also get to meet the villagers, who live a life so different from the urban areas.
As pleasant as the view and the experiences are, trekking the Annapurna Circuit is also a tough job.
October – early December or late February – April is an excellent time to trek the Annapurna Circuit. It is a period when the sky is clear, and you can see the beautiful mountains vividly.
I suggest you book the trek with a tour company as you will get a team of local guides and porters. They can organize things for you and give you some insights about the place. They will also help you with professional safety measures.
Note: You need a trekking permit for the Annapurna Circuit. For example, the Trekking Information Management System (TIIMS) permit costs $20, and the Annapurna National Park Permit costs $30.
The Annapurna Circuit trek will cost you anywhere from $700-$1500. It depends on whether you are trekking solo or with a tour company.
c. Mountain flight
If you do not want to trek, then book a helicopter ride and enjoy the mountain views from the top. The cost of a mountain flight to Annapurna Base Camp is $350 per person.
White Water Rafting
Upper Seti is a hidden gem for rafting. To avoid the crowd, go to Upper Seti for an hour and a half of rafting, where you will get a view of the mighty Annapurna.
Fuel your wild inner spirit with non-stop Class III and Class IV rapids. I’m sure this will be an adventurous experience to try on your tour to Pokhara.
Paddle Nepal and Saara Tourism Nepal are some companies that provide a fantastic action-packed package. There are packages suitable for families with children too.
$51.41- $60 per person.
Pokhara is the perfect place to paraglide in the world. It is not only because of its scenic beauty but also because of its safe take-off location, stable thermal currents, and landing zone.
The perfect months start from March to May, then September to November. The paragliding flight takes off from Sarangkot, 45 minutes away from the lakeside. The take-off from Sarangkot shows you an extraordinary view while soaring up with the birds.
The Tandem Flight usually lasts for 25-35 minutes. You can also tell the pilot if you want to go easy or perform some stunts. It is one hell of a thrilling experience of your life.
The best thing is that you can take your go-pro footage and photos home. If you are experienced, then you can paraglide on your own too. But you need to ask for permission from the Aviation Office of Pokhara.
Tandem flights: $90 for 30 minutes and $140 for 60 minutes. Solo flights: $70. Sometimes, the go-pro footage costs an extra $14.20. They do not allow taking your phone and camera for safety purposes.
If you are booking from a paragliding company, then it may cost you around $125. It includes transportation to and from the paragliding spot, paragliding fees, photos, and videos.
Ziplining in Pokhara, operated by High Ground Adventures Nepal, is one of the world’s best zipline experiences. It is the steepest and among the longest ziplines in the world.
The zipline swoops your heart as the speed reaches 120 km/h, along with a spectacular view of the scenery.
You can book a zipline with High Ground Adventures Nepal for $41.69. The cost includes hotel pick and drop, transport by private vehicle, and photos and videos.
This company also provides Zipflyer Sunrise Experience with Champagne breakfast for $95.89. It adds a new experience to your Pokhara memories.
High Ground Adventures Nepal also operates Bungee Jump in Pokhara. This bungee jump is at an elevation of 75 meters, like jumping off from a tall tower.
It is entirely safe and has certified jump masters to maintain safety standards. The jump-site has a delightful view of the Himalayas and the rivers. In 3 seconds of free Fall, you will feel the adrenaline kicking in.
Prepare to feel the adrenaline-induced euphoria as you hang in the open air.
The price of Bungee Jump in Hemja, Pokhara, starts from $85. It includes two-way transportation, lunch, jump master’s fee for instructions, safety gears. The cost also covers photos and videos from experience.
High Ground Adventure also offers Tandem Bungee. Head to High Ground Adventures’s website for more inquiry on bookings and combo deals.
Yoga sessions are top-rated in Pokhara. This city has many yoga retreats that offer drop-in classes. These classes include a day of meditation, healthy meals, and therapies.
You should head towards some wellness spa or yoga retreats after trekking.
I recommend Purna Yoga Retreat, which costs $100 per person. It consists of Yoga, meditation activities, Purna Yoga herbal tea, and other wellness activities. This cost also includes 2-nights accommodation with an attached bathroom and full meals on the program day.
Purna Yoga Retreat also offers drop-in classes for $15, which runs in the morning and evenings. They also provide private sessions that focus on your needs and interests for $30.
If you have less time, then Lotus Corner is a place to go. Lotus Corner is a restaurant with Yoga classes. I suggest you take a yoga class and eat healthy food at this restaurant afterward.
A drop-in class at Lotus Corner costs only $3 per class. CHEAP!
SUP, Kayaking, and Canyoning
Stand Up Paddling (SUP) and Kayaking are activities that I want you guys to try out besides boating in Phewa Lake.
SUP is an easy water sport where you can row and enjoy the view of the lake. I suggest you also take a Beginner Kayak Clinic and learn to Kayak in Phewa too. After you become more confident, you can learn it at the Seti River.
Going on a one-day canyoning trip is also fun if you want to do some more adventurous activities in Pokhara. Repelling down the waterfalls will be one hell of a worthy experience for you.
You can rent SUP boards, take a Beginner Kayak Clinic and go on a Canyoning trip with Paddle Nepal.
Canyoning: $85 per person (13% government tax, transport both way, and lunch)
4-days Kayak Clinic: $271 per person (13% government tax, transportation to and from Paddle Nepal Lakeside Center, meals, and accommodation)
Renting SUP board costs $5.85 per hour, $20.88 for half-day, and $29.24 for a whole day.
Hiring a cycle and getting around the city is as good as doing adventurous activities in Pokhara. Cycling is an affordable means to explore Pokhara and admire the views of the lakeside.
You can get cycles in excellent condition for reasonable prices at the lakeside. Make sure to check the gear shift before riding it!
A mountain biking trip in Pokhara will quench your thirst for adrenaline. There are lots of mountain biking routes, one such being Lakeside to Pame/Ghatichhina and back.
Mountain biking in Pokhara takes you through lakesides to the paddy fields, authentic villages, and suspension bridges. You will also be riding through single tracks. If you want more challenges, your agency can arrange an optional trail too.
Here are some of the fun mountain biking tours:
- Around Phewa Lake
- Sarangkot/Naudad/Hemja Loop
- Dobindy Pass ride
- Tibetan Refugee Camp
Ultralight flight is a unique way to sightsee the Pokhara valley. You will take off with a pilot on a very light aircraft with no window.
Enjoy the stunning views of the mountains, the hills, the lakes, and the city below. The flight has a duration of 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, and 90 minutes depending on your preference and budget.
The flight costs $95, $150, $235, and $445 per person, depending on the duration. If you want a video of your flight, prepare to pay an extra $15.
Another great way to explore the culture of Nepal is through food, and what’s a better way to explore than learning to make Nepali dishes. Join a cooking class around the lakeside or stay at a farm.
The classes will help you learn about the ingredients and cook Nepali dishes such as Dal Bhat, curry, momo, Nepalese sweets like Yomari, and more.
Cultural Tour to Tibetan Settlements in Pokhara
Go on a full-day tour to explore the local Tibetan community with a Tibetan tour guide and learn about Tibet, its people, Buddhism, food, art and craft, and culture.
A full-day tour costs around $85 and includes pickup and drop from your hotel, snacks, lunch, a professional guide, afternoon tea, and a driver.
If you have come to Pokhara, you might as well take something for your friends and family or yourself.
Souvenir markets fill Pokhara’s lakeside. Each offers intricate artistic masterpieces, singing bowls, key-chains, ornaments, postcards, etc.
The markets in the center of the lakeside tend to be a bit pricey, so try to shop a bit afar from the lakeside and try to haggle. You will get much better deals this way.
Pokhara is a tourist city and has more hotels than it has houses. Waking up to the lake’s view is something about Pokhara; other towns cannot match.
Below I have listed some best hotels according to your needs. The list ranges from luxurious hotels to budget-friendly hostels.
Hotel Pokhara Grande
The Pavilions Himalayas
Hotel Kuti Resort & Spa
Bodhi Suites Boutique & Spa
Hotel Silver Oaks Inn
Harvest Moon Guesthouse
The Mountain House
Gaurishankar Backpackers Hostel
Pokhara Youth Hostel
Kiwi Backpackers Hostel
There are plenty of homestays in Pokhara. They give you an authentic experience of being in a Nepali household.
Homestays are a great way of understanding the Nepali culture better. Some of them have prices starting from $2 a night. MAD CHEAP!
Food and water
Pokhara has all types of eateries on its lakeside. You will find continental, western and Asian restaurants. You can also find local Nepali restaurants offering authentic Nepalese dishes.
Not to forget, there are several street food stalls along the lake shores too. Let me list some of my favorite eateries, each with its signature style of dishes.
- AM/PM Organic Café
This café is a tourist’s favorite eatery. It uses vegetables and herbs from organic farms as well as from their garden. The café’s food is free of chemicals and preservatives.
AM/PM Organic Café is great for vegans. Another thing that most of us love about this café is the Himalayan Coffee. They also have some fresh salads and smoothies that are great for a light breakfast.
- Café Concerto
I would die for some great Italian food. Café Concerto is the best in Pokhara when it comes to Italian delicacies. An Italian team, who put their signature touch on every meal, runs this eatery.
This café has the best pasta in the city. Although I haven’t tried their pizzas, I’ve read some pretty good reviews about them. I would surely love to try it on my next visit.
- Godfather’s Pizzeria
Now, this is my favorite spot for a wood-fired pizza. Pizza lovers always flood this restaurant; no wonder the service seems to be a bit slow.
But the pizza, I swear on my good lord, it is delicious. There are plenty of pizza toppings, with a perfect amount of cheese.
One of the reasons I keep coming back to Pokhara is for this pizza. Silly, but true! Godfather’s Pizzeria has two branches; one in lakeside and one at Halan Chowk.
- The Kebab King
You have traveled to Nepal, so eating a Nepalese meal is a must. This restaurant serves Nepalese and Indian dishes.
The thali set contains rice, lentils, vegetables, pickles, and non-vegetarian curry of your choice. It is one of the best-value meals which is hearty and gets you full for the day.
Besides, as its name states, the restaurant has amazing chicken kebab, naan, and curry.
Nightlife in Pokhara
Pokhara has a vibrant nightlife with lots of pubs and clubs around the lakeside. The lakeside never goes dark. People are walking around at night too.
Lakeside is also known as “Thamel of Pokhara,” Thamel being the party place of Kathmandu. Here are some of my dearest places to spend the night. I hope you’ll love it too.
- Irish Pub
The name is Irish, but the place hosts people from all around the world. Irish Pub has a great ambiance with booze and good music. It is a great place to hang out with your friends.
The sports screening on game night is another exciting feature of Irish Pub that I love.
You must have heard about Trisara in Kathmandu. Well, it has its branch at Pokhara as well.
Trisara hosts concerts of well-known artists. The acoustic performances are also attractive.
But out of all, the snacks are delicious here. I especially love the cheese balls and the crispy fried corn of Trisara.
- The Rolling Stones Rock Bar
The Rolling Stones Rock Bar is the best bar for all rock music lovers. It is a bit expensive but walks in for some mini-concert feel.
The bar has some great live performances over the weekend, so I suggest you spend your Friday night here.
You have two SIM Card companies to choose from in Nepal: Nepal Telecom (NTC) and Ncell.
You can get these SIM Cards as soon as you land at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.
NTC even provides free SIM Cards for tourists. You will have to buy the data packages, though. However, if you wish to buy it outside of the airport, it will cost you $1.
You can buy a 1 GB data pack for $5 from NTC, whereas Ncell is much cheaper and gives you 1.2 GB data for only $2.
If anything is missing out and you’d like me to add it, please feel free to comment below.