Nepal Destination Guide

Well endowed with magnificent scenery including mountains, terraced valleys, rushing rivers, ice-blue lakes, and lush jungle, Nepal is a magnet for adventure seekers. Whilst mountain climbing and trekking are the most popular activities, there is exciting white-water rafting, as well as elephant-back safaris or tiger tracking in its National Parks. This together with its ancient culture and architecture and warm and friendly locals make the Himalaya Kingdom of Nepal a great place to visit.

Nothing can prepare you for your first view of the breathtaking Himalayas, especially Mount Everest, the highest place on earth at 29,029ft (8,848m).

This Nepal destination guide, together with our Nepal tour suggestions, will help you plan your perfect Nepal holiday. We also have some more useful travel information about Nepal. You can check out all the local exciting things to see and do in the following destinations:

- Kathmandu
- Pokhara

Things to See & Do in Nepal

Follow the links to the right or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting tourist attractions in Nepal:

Boudha Top

Boudha is the best known Buddhist monument of Nepal. A glittering white stupa with a golden spire towering above it, it is believed to be protected by the Buddha himself. A number of pilgrims flock here everyday, make the ceremonial circumambulation of the stupa and offer prayer flags.

Boudha radiates a perceptible spiritual energy that is strengthened each day by hundreds of pilgrims who flock to the shrine. Some of them even circumnavigate the stupa by rolling on the ground in what they believe to be the expression of total submission to God. Many pilgrims who visit the shrine are Tibetan refugees. This explains the number of shops around the stupa which sell Tibetan antiques and other items required by them for day to day living.

Dakshinkali Top

Dakshinkali, named so because it is located in the Southern (Dakshin) corner of Kathmandu, is a temple dedicated to Kali, the wife of Shiva, in her most violent and destructive form. The temple is situated in an eerie spot and made more forbidding by the animal sacrifices that take place there twice a week.

Every week, and especially on Saturdays, pigs, sheep, goats, ducks, chickens and buffaloes are slaughtered and carried away to the stream nearby, sometimes in a heartrending, half alive yet wounded state, to be washed and used for a feast in the near future. The sacrifices reach a peak in October during the Dasain festival where the idol of Kali is bathed in the blood of these slaughtered animals.

Entertainment and Sports Top

While Nepal offers unparalleled thrills and numerous outdoor attractions, it also offers good entertainment options for the city slicker. In the rural areas made distinct by their exotic customs and cultures and places of scenic beauty, tourists at best remain spectators. But there is a lot they can actually do in cities like Pokhara and Kathmandu, just as they can in any place in the West.

Nepal is famous for its casinos. Chance your arm with a game of blackjack or rummy. Take to the golf course and tee off in the serenity of the Himalayan Mountains. Shake a leg at the state of art discos and hum your way into the night. Or watch a movie in one of the cosy theatres. There are many theatres which play both Nepali and Hindi films; one of the theatres in Kathmandu shows English films as well. DVD and video parlours also provide a wide range of movies.

The health conscious need not miss out on their daily regimen thanks to the various gymnasiums and health clubs. The more sedate can enjoy a quiet evening with wine and fine dining at the various premium hotels around Pokhara and Kathmandu. Those wishing to sample authentic local fare can step into the ethnic restaurants which serve traditional Nepali food complete with Nepali ambience. There are art shows and cultural performances for the culture vultures. Museums and art galleries displaying Nepal's cultural wealth and Nepali art is very popular with tourists.

Hanuman Dhoka (Old Royal Palace) Top

Hanuman Dhoka is the erstwhile palace of the royal family and is located in the Durbar Square in the centre of the old town. The King of Nepal moved to Narayanhiti Palace almost a hundred years ago and in 1934, an earthquake damaged part of the palace. But even so, it is a fine example of traditional architecture and a very interesting place to visit.

In the western quarter of the palace, which overlooks the Durbar Square, there is a fascinating museum documenting the life of King Tribhuvan and his successful domination over the Ranas. The museum has many of his personal effects, grand furniture, photographs and newspaper snippets, giving a rather creepy ghostly glimpse of his life. A spooky but interesting experience!

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve Top

Gangetic dolphins, the last of the wild arna (water buffaloes), mugger crocodiles, nilgai, various deer species and almost 400 species of water birds - you can find them all here. The Koshi Tappu reserve is the ideal place to lose yourself in the peace and serenity of bird watching and animal spotting, because it is visited only by the odd tourist.

Mountaineering Top

Nepal is unarguably the Mecca of Mountaineering. It is home to eight of the world's tallest peaks which have, over many decades, provided great challenges to mountaineers from all over the world. The mountaineers, too, have literally risen to the occasion with some exceptional achievements! To mark the Golden Jubilee of Mount Everest, the Nepalese Government threw open almost 175 peaks, taking the tally of scalable peaks to almost 326.

Mountaineers who wish to climb the Himalayas need to get permission from the mountaineering section of The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. Applications must be accompanied by stipulated official documents, and fees are levied for every expedition. The fee charged depends on the height of the peak and ranges from US $ 1,000 for peaks under the height of 6501 metres. Every 500 metres thereafter attracts a fee of an additional US $ 500. 121 of the 326 scalable peaks do not require a liaison officer to be part of the expedition, while others do.

Kathmandu has many trekking and mountaineering agencies which offer trekking packages. These packages include trekking gear, transportation, insurance, porters and guides and food. Do ask questions before you choose an agency. It is advisable to zero in on one that has a proven track record. For those who do not have their own, climbing equipment and gear can be rented or bought at Kathmandu.

The Nepal Himalayas evoke fascination and awe among most people all around the world. Himalaya literally means the abode (Alaya) of Snow (Him). To many, it means the abode of the gods as well. The Himalayas remain the tallest mountains in the world and are often called the rooftop of the world. Stretching over 2500 kilometres, the Indus in the west and the Brahmaputra in the east mark the length of this mountain range. The scenic beauty of the Himalayan Mountains is legendary. Much of these mountains, enveloped in an aura of lore and mystery, still remain unexplored and untouched.

The Nepal Himalayas lie in the centre of this Himalayan Range and Nepal has become famous as the home of these awesome mountains. There are 1310 peaks rising majestically above 6,000 metres and 8 peaks that scale a height of over 8000 metres. Mount Everest, the highest mountain of the world, is found in the Nepal Himalayas.

Royal Chitwan National Park Top

This National Park offers one of the best and most unforgettable wildlife experiences that you can find anywhere in Asia. All you need to do is climb on to a great big elephant and go on the famous elephant safari! If you are lucky you can spot tigers and leopards from the safe height of the elephant; if not you will certainly spot a variety of birds, monkeys, deer, rhinos and, of course, elephants.

Trekking Top

Nepal offers many trekking options to trekkers with varying degrees of skill. There are walking expeditions for the novice and arduous treks for the veterans. For those who are happy marvelling at the peaks from a distance, there are other adventure activities closer to terra firma, like the jungle safari of the Terai region, which give a ringside view of the richness and diversity in Nepal's flora and fauna. For the slightly more adventurous, there is bungee jumping high above the untamed waters of the Bhote Koshi River. For the rugged, there is canyoning, which provides a close up of the landscapes that are normally out of the ambit of traditional tourist destinations.

Hot air balloons and microlights take you closer to the mountains. But the ultimate adrenaline rush is provided by the mountain flights that take you as close as possible to Mount Everest. They promise to be a breathtaking and awesome experience.