The second busiest city in Nepal, Pokhara has been welcoming more tourists and travelers around the world than Kathmandu. And it’s not hard to see why. There are so many lovely things to do in Pokhara!
Pokhara is located in Pokhara Valley (the second-largest valley in the hilly region of Nepal), which is also home to the city, Lekhnath. At roughly 200km west of Kathmandu, Pokhara has a better-managed traffic system, a more travelers-friendly vibe and has been a hub for adventurers wanting to leave their footprints in the Himalayan Mountain Ranges.
Is Pokhara better than Kathmandu? I wouldn’t compare those but there’s a lot to do in Pokhara. Here are the things to do in Pokhara you should never miss out.
Ready for these exciting things to do in Pokhara? Let’s dive into this travel guide!
- 1 How to Get From Kathmandu to Pokhara?
- 2 Rowing Boat In Phewa Lake
- 3 Hike To Shanti Stupa (World Peace Pagoda)
- 4 Visiting Devis Fall
- 5 Entering Mahendra Cave
- 6 Spend Some Time In Sarangkot
- 7 Go Paragliding
- 8 Try Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
- 9 Go For Zipflyer & Bungee Jump
- 10 Motorcycling Around The City
- 11 Riding To Rupa Lake & Begnas Lake
- 12 Trekking In The Himalayas
How to Get From Kathmandu to Pokhara?
Now, first-time visitors might scratch their heads and wonder how to get from Kathmandu to Pokhara the easiest way? Well, there are several ways that we’ll look into briefly here.
First of all, take the tourist bus. Tourist buses can be booked easily with your hotel or hostel manager in Kathmandu, most of them departing the city in Thamel in the early morning. If you don’t want to pay any middleman fee to the manager, feel free to head straight to Thamel at 7 am and talk to the bus drivers yourself.
Second, take the local bus. For this, you’ll have to go to Old Bus Park in the morning and ask the conductors there where they’re heading. It’s more of a local experience, and it could be quite exciting if everything goes well! Make sure you fix the price before hopping on the bus!
If you prefer to book your bus ticket online, check out 12Go and get the best price! (It’ll be slightly pricier than booking face-to-face in Kathmandu but it saves you the hassle).
Rowing Boat In Phewa Lake
Phewa Lake is the highlight of Pokhara, and rowing a boat there is definitely something you should do. Rowing a boat in the lake offers a spectacular view of the city and ranges of Annapurna Mountains when the weather permits of course. During monsoon season, clouds will obstruct the views most of the day so you’ll probably have a hard time seeing even one peak.
There’s a temple located in the middle of the lake – Tal Barahi Temple, which is also worth your visit as well!
One thing you should know is that it’s not advisable to swim in the lake. Electric cables, fishing nets, and ropes lurk in the water beneath, you might get entangled and get yourself drowned!
Renting a boat in the lake is not budget-friendly, as they offer a different price for locals and foreigners. Different operators offer different prices and packages so you might have to do some homework to find the one best suit you.
Safety jackets are mandatory in Pokhara while rowing the boat. Most operators will lend you the jacket for free if you rent the boat from them.
Hike To Shanti Stupa (World Peace Pagoda)
In the city of Pokhara, you can literally see a pagoda standing on top of the ridge in the opposite hills. That is Shanti Stupa, a World Peace Pagoda.
Completed in 1992, Shanti Stupa is the 71st World Peace Pagoda built by Nipponzan-Myohoji in the world. The pagoda is 115 feet tall and 344 feet in diameter. It took decades for the completion of the construction due to various obstructions by the local government. It wasn’t until 1992 when former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala came to Anuda hill and relaid the foundation stones.
The best way to get to Shanti Stupa is by renting a bicycle or motorcycle. The ride along the road is both scenic and fun. You should leave out the latter option if you do not have an international driving license, as the cops will fine you for driving without one. And it’s very common to see people getting fined. We’ll talk about this deeper later on.
At the entrance, you have to do a little hiking to get to the pagoda, passing through number of souvenir shops and bakeries. Grab a cinnamon roll and enjoy the hilltop view from the seat in a bakery after your visit to the pagoda.
And please remember to remain silent and talk like you’re having finals exams in your high school.
Check out my ultimate guide for backpacking Nepal too! I’m sure you will love it.
Visiting Devis Fall
Devis Fall is the perfect side trip if you’re cycling or motorcycling to Shanti Stupa, and the entrance is halfway to the world peace pagoda. It’s very interesting yet tragic how this waterfall got its name. The entrance fee is only Rs30.
On 31st July 1961, a Swiss couple, Mr. and Mrs. Davis had their trip to Nepal. Both of them were bathing in the waterfall but an accident happened and Mrs. Davis was swept away by the rushing water. Her body was recovered after a huge operation involving several search parties.
In order to remember her, hence the name. This story was also depicted on the official board near the waterfall.
My friend told me that if he pushed me into a waterfall, he would name it after me: Yen’s Fall. I should’ve slapped him.
Entering Mahendra Cave
Mahendra Cave is a huge limestone cave located in Seti River near Pokhara. The cave is dedicated to God Shiva, which is why the first things you’ll see inside the cave are a small temple and a sacred statue of a cow.
Mahendra Cave is located not so far from Devis Fall so you might consider adding this to your side trip as well. The path down into the cave is slippery so you might want to equip yourself with proper gears before entering. It might not be the best thing to do in Pokhara but definitely worth the time.
Spend Some Time In Sarangkot
Sarangkot is located west of Pokhara. The village on top of Sarangkot mountain is the place you should be going for, at an altitude of 1600m. It’s one of the best places in Nepal to see the sunrise and sunsets surrounded by forests and hills, overlooking the Annapurna range.
If you’re opting for a day hike trip, consider doing Methlang Hill Hike, also known as Sarangkot trail. It generally takes 2 to 3 hours to get to the summit and have a panoramic view of the city and mountains to yourself. From there, you can see Mt Dhaulagiri (8167m), Machhapuchhare (6997m), Annapurna II (7937m) and many more.
Sarangkot is also very popular for a 2-days hike, with one night in Sarangkot for sunrise the next morning. Be sure to check the season before planning for the hike, you might get disappointed by the clouds and fogs obstructing the view.
For your planning’s sake, check out the best time to visit Nepal.
The nearby landscape around Pokhara makes it one of the best places on Earth for paragliding. The paragliding service goes on almost all year round, with occasional breaks during the monsoon season due to clouds and rainy days.
You can easily come across various paragliding companies in the main street in Lakeside, Pokhara. The prices are becoming more competitive due to the high number of operators. You would have to do some research before making your decision.
When it comes to paragliding, it’s not advisable to book by considering the price as the main factor. There are many operators who promise you 15-30 minutes in the air but lands after 5 minutes after take-off. Book with a company that you trust to guarantee a satisfying experience!
20-30 minutes flight runs from $85-100 while 45-60 minutes will cost you around $120-150.
Check out these top 10 paragliding companies recommended by TripAdvisor!
Try Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking
When it comes to whitewater rafting and kayaking, no place in the country beats Pokhara. You can find whitewater rafting and kayaking packages in Pokhara for half-day trips, full-day trips, and even overnight trips. I would say it sure is one of the best things to do in Pokhara!
The adventures will mostly start in Seti River, Kali Gandaki River and Marsyangdi River, which you will be brought there by the operator you booked with.
Seti Rivers offers the best experience when it comes to kayaking. There is also a longer trip all the way down to Narayani River to Chitwan National Park. Prices start from $20 excluding equipment depending on the duration and location.
Go For Zipflyer & Bungee Jump
Being recognized as the world’s tallest (2000m), longest (1800m) and the steepest (2 minutes ride), the ZipFlyer in Sarangkot is definitely something you should consider if you’re an adrenaline junkie. However the biggest downside for the ride is the price, it comes with a higher price for foreigners, $68 for one ride.
You can also opt for bungee jumping at the same site by the same company for the same price ($68). Plunging yourself down a 70m above a river and green fields is definitely eyes-satisfying. Note that any pictures and videos are not included in the price, you would need to pay more for the extra services.
Motorcycling Around The City
I mentioned that the best way to get to Shanti Stupa is by bicycle or motorcycle. And I think motorcycling should be elaborated more.
Motorcycling around Pokhara is probably the top choice to explore around Pokhara if you have only a few days. Having a motorcycle can bring you to nearly all the attractions in one day.
But how do you rent one?
While some hotels have motorcycles for rent, you can get one in the main street in Lakeside. There’s a lot of shops offering motorcycle rentals to foreigners but with slightly different prices depending on your choice.
A scooter would normally cost around $6 with a little negotiating, while bigger ones like Indians or Royal Enfields will need about $20-30, both excluding fuel.
Stores will ask for your passport as a deposit. While it’s illegal to do that, it’s a common practice to guarantee their property. Here’s a checklist for renting a motorcycle in Pokhara:
- International Driving License
- Wear a helmet while riding
- Take photos of the motorcycle before hopping on to prove that you’ve never done any damages to it.
- Documents on the motorcycle will be given to you by the owner.
- Check every function of the motorcycle: brakes, tires, horns and the boot.
- Get the owner’s phone number and name.
Be informed that the police will be likely to ask you to stop by the road and check your documents. The cops will keep away the documents if they found out that you do not have an International Driving License. You’ll have to pay $10 to the owner to get back his motorcycle from the police station.
Yes, the owner will still rent to you even though you don’t have the license.
Riding To Rupa Lake & Begnas Lake
Alright, we talked about motorcycling. What if you visited all the places you wanted to and only spent a half day? Well, consider a ride to Rupa Lake and Begnas Lake!
Both of those lakes are divided by Sundhari Danda and located around 20km east of Pokhara. The ride there will probably take you around an hour due to bad road conditions and windy roads.
Due to its far location from the city, the lakes are not crowded and you barely see any foreigners there. It’s a great choice to escape from the busy city and enjoy your snacks in this nature retreat.
Trekking In The Himalayas
Pokhara has long been a hub for trekkers around the world hoping to leave their footprint in the Annapurna Mountains. I did Annapurna Circuit for 14 days during the monsoon season independently before staying and traveling in Pokhara for a few days.
Trekking in the Himalayas is the ultimate best thing to do in Pokhara.
If you did not prepare yourself with trekking gears, there’s a lot of shop selling those in the main street of Lakeside. Compare the price and start shopping for your gear.
There are a lot of operators who offer guides and porters services if you need them. The price for the guide is around $25 per day while porters cost around $15-20 per day.
Ghorepani Poon Hill trek and Annapurna Circuit trek are two of the most popular treks in Nepal. The former trek, which is quite a short trek, takes 4 days while the latter takes 12-15 days, depending on your trekking plan. Be informed that trekking in Nepal requires a trekking permit, which costs around $40, but it’s definitely worth it.
Other amazing treks include Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Mardi Himal Trek and more!
Ready For These Things to Do in Pokhara, Nepal?
Pokhara is definitely worth your time traveling in especially after your long and tiring trek. Bars and restaurants are all over the main street in Lakeside, making it a perfect retreat for those who want to unwind and slow things down.
Have you been to Pokhara or Kathmandu? How was it there? Comment below and let me know how you think about it. On your way back to Kathmandu, remember to spare a few days to visit Bandipur, the hidden gem of Nepal. Enjoy traveling in Nepal!
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