Pokhara is just the perfect antidote to the chaotic and crowded Kathmandu. Serene and surrounded by remarkable natural beauty, Pokhara is just the perfect place to return after a long Himalayan. Sprawled along the Pokhara Valley in the Gandaki zone, Pokhara stretches beside Fewa Lake going all the way to the foothills of the Annapurna range. This lakeside destination is the place where adventure meets relaxation because there are a lot of things to do in Pokhara. You can head towards the thrill of adventure in Pokhara, or simply enjoy the lazy vibes of the lakeside and take a tour to all the touristy places to visit in Pokhara. Whatever you choose to do, Pokhara will not disappoint you. So here is our complete Pokhara travel guide with all the details about the best places to visit, best things to do and other details.
- 1 Where is Pokhara?
- 2 Kathmandu to Pokhara: How to reach Pokhara?
- 3 Pokhara and Lakeside Pokhara is not the same
- 4 Places to visit in Pokhara and some awesome things to do in Pokhara
- 4.1 World Peace Pagoda | Places to visit in Pokhara
- 4.2 Phewa Lake | Places to visit in Pokhara
- 4.3 Bindhyabasini Temple | Places to visit in Pokhara
- 4.4 Barahi Temple | Places to visit in Pokhara
- 4.5 Sarangkot | Places to visit in Pokhara
- 4.6 Devi’s Falls or Davis Falls | Places to visit in Pokhara
- 4.7 Gupteswor Mahadev Cave | Places to visit in Pokhara
- 4.8 Mahendra and Bat caves | Places to visit in Pokhara
- 4.9 Begnas and Rupa Lake | Places to visit in Pokhara
- 4.10 Tibetan Refugee Settlement | Places to visit in Pokhara
- 5 Things to do in Pokhara | Travel Guide
- 6 Where to stay in Pokhara?
- 7 Where to eat in Pokhara?
- 8 Best Time to visit Pokhara
- 9 Money matters: Are there ATMs in Pokhara?
Where is Pokhara?
Pokhara is located about 200 km west of Kathmandu in the Gandaki Zone of central Nepal. From Kathmandu, you can get tourist buses to reach Pokhara, the second-largest city in Nepal. Pokhara has been quite an attraction for western tourists since 1970’s, even more than that of Kathmandu. And when the Annapurna region was opened first time for foreigners in 1977, there was no looking back. Tourism boomed and Pokhara became one of the most important tourist hubs of Nepal.
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Kathmandu to Pokhara: How to reach Pokhara?
There are a number of ways to travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Tourist buses, deluxe buses, local and micro buses are all available as well as flights and private cars and taxis.
Tourist buses from Kathmandu to Pokhara
Tourist buses depart every morning at around 7-7:30 from the tourist bus parks near Thamel in Kathmandu. The journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara takes about 7-8 hours depending on the amount of traffic you face on the roads. Most of these buses stop for breakfast and lunch at the roadside eateries. The ticket price ranges from NPR 500-1000. Deluxe buses costs about NPR 1500-2000 per ticket.
There are night buses from Kathmandu to Pokhara. These buses start from Balaju Bus Park in Kathmandu (2 km from Thamel on the Ring Road) and at Hallan Chowk in Pokhara. These buses are quite comfortable having pushback seats and AC. They also provide snacks on the bus. Tickets cost about NPR 1500. There is another super deluxe bus also (Ticket price is NPR 2200). The bus tickets can be arranged by any travel agent or your hotel. But they will probably charge a commission.
Local Buses and micro-buses from Kathmandu to Pokhara
Local buses and minibuses leave from Kalanki Bus Park in Kathmandu and Prithvi Chowk Bus Park in Pokhara. These buses depart every hour or when they are full from 6AM until 5PM. The microbuses take 6-7 hours to reach Pokhara from Kathmandu and the price of tickets is about NPR 500. Local buses take a little more time and cost a bit less. But local buses are not comfortable.
Private car and taxi
This is perhaps the most comfortable way to travel from Kathmandu to Pokhara while enjoying the beautiful scenery on the Prithvi Highway. Cars can take about NPR 10,000 one way including driver and petrol.
There are daily flights between Kathmandu and Pokhara run by domestic airlines like Buddha Airs, Sita Airways and Yeti Airways (if you want to do it on your own). Flight tickets can also be booked by any travel agents or by your hotel. But they will probably charge you a commission.
Pokhara from the border towns
You can also reach Pokhara from the Indo-Nepal border towns like Kakarbhitta and Sunauli by tourist buses. We saw tourist buses available from Kakarbhitta to Pokhara. There are buses available from Sunauli as well.
Pokhara is also connected by buses to other towns of Nepal like Sauraha (Chitwan National Park) and Lumbini.
Pokhara and Lakeside Pokhara is not the same
Lakeside Pokhara is the main tourist area surrounding the Phewa Lake. The more laidback, serene and beautiful place where major tourist and trekking activity takes place.
Pokhara town, on the other hand, does not have much to offer to travellers and tourists. The town part is as crowded and chaotic like Kathmandu, but on a smaller scale. There are a large supermarket, some general stores and a cinema hall showing mainly Hindi and international movies.
Places to visit in Pokhara and some awesome things to do in Pokhara
Pokhara is complete laidback and undemanding. Although Phewa Taal (Lake) is the top attraction of the place, there are a few beautiful places to visit in Pokhara as well for a couple of day’s trip. But the main attraction of Pokhara lies beyond these places. Pokhara is heaven for adventure enthusiasts.
The town is the trekkers’ gateway to a number of popular trails in Nepal. Pokhara is the starting and ending point of the popular Annapurna circuit trek, the Mustang Valley Trek and several other treks in Nepal. So here is our list of places to visit in Pokhara.
World Peace Pagoda | Places to visit in Pokhara
The World Peace Pagoda is perhaps our favourite place in Pokhara. Perched on top of the Ananda hill at the south of Phewa Lake, this white structure exudes serenity. You can see the white pagoda atop the hill from the Phewa Lake and we think it is quite iconic Buddhist stupa in Pokhara just as the Shanti Stupa in Leh.
The dome structure is the symbol of peace and has four gilt images of Lord Buddha facing the four cardinal directions. From the Peace Pagoda, you can also get an all-encompassing view of Pokhara and the Phewa Lake.
Peace Pagoda was no doubt our favourite place in Pokhara. That day was a strike in Nepal. So we had to abandon our plans to visit Bandipur and stayed back at Pokhara. A few cars were taking tourists around in Pokhara, but they were charging an exorbitant amount. So we simply decided to visit the Peace Pagoda and spend time there. We sat there for hours seeing people come and go. Some were also meditating peacefully there. Oh, it was truly a wonderful time we spent there!
How to reach Peace Pagoda
There are a number of ways you can reach the Peace Pagoda
By Boat and foot: This is the most popular way to visit the Peace Pagoda. Take a boat ride from the lakeside to the other side of the lake. From there, follow the hiking route to the Peace Pagoda. The trail begins after the Lychee Garden Hotel beside the lake and then passes through the Raniban forest. The hike is quite a pleasant one. You can also return by the same way. Ask your boatman to wait for you.
The charges for a boat trip is NPR 550 one way and NPR 800 both ways.
Taxi: You can take a taxi from the Lakeside taxi stand to the Peace Pagoda. The taxi will drop you to the foothill and you have to climb up a number of stairs to the Peace Pagoda. You can also ask the taxi to wait for you for return journey. Please note that the taxi will wait for fixed hours. More than that, they might charge you extra money.
You can combine a trip to the Peace Pagoda with other places in Pokhara like Devi’s falls, Gupteswor Mahadev temple and others.
By foot: This is a longer hike and starts from the Damside. Cross over the dam and follow the path through Raniban all the way upto the Peace Pagoda.
You can also hire motorbike, scooters and bicycles to visit the Peace Pagoda.
Phewa Lake | Places to visit in Pokhara
The entire tourism of Pokhara is based around Phewa Lake. The second largest lake in Nepal, it is the centre of attraction in Pokhara. You should definitely spend a day to explore around the lake, the villages nearby, the Barahi Temple and shops and market around the lake. The brightly painted boats on the lake shore looks beautiful. It is a great place to stroll around in the evening. There are a number of shacks, restaurants along the shores of Phewa Lake. Get into one of them, relax and view the fantastic sunset along the lake.
You can also take a boat ride across the lake.
Rates for Boat ride at Phewa Lake
Bindhyabasini Temple | Places to visit in Pokhara
Bindhyabasini Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples of Pokhara located atop a hill. The white dome like structure looks quite beautiful from a distance. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhagwati, a manifestation of Goddess Durga. The Goddess is said to be the guardian deity of Pokhara.
The temple is quite an important one in Pokhara as we could see from the many ceremonies and rituals that were going on. A few marriages were being held in the temple. We saw some beautiful brides and nervous grooms in the temple, all ready to start their new life. Families and friends had gathered there to be in their good times and to bless them. Infact, one father of the bride invited us to stay for the marriage! We stopped for some time to see all the rituals of Nepali marriage. It was quite interesting to see the rituals, some so different and some so similar to ours. The best thing I liked was the garland worn by them.
How to reach Bindhyabasini Temple?
Taxi: You can take a taxi from the Lakeside. A return trip will cost about NPR400.
Local Bus: You can take a bus from Hallan Chowk to Zero Kilometer and then another bus towards Baglung Highway. Ask the driver to stop at Bindhyabasini Temple.
Barahi Temple | Places to visit in Pokhara
This is a quaint temple located on an island in the Phewa Lake. The temple was built in the 18th century and is dedicated to Goddess Ajima. The Hindu Goddess is the boar manifestation of the force of Shakti, the mother goddess who is the origin of universal creativity and power. Large numbers of Hindu devotees visit this two-storeyed pagoda style temple on Saturdays which is a special day for veneration of the deity.
You can reach the Barahi Temple only by taking a boat ride from Phewa Lake. Boats are available from Barahi Chowk and cost NPR 50 for a return trip in large public boats. You can also hire a small boat from anywhere in the Lakeside for yourself and visit the temple.
Sarangkot | Places to visit in Pokhara
Sarngkot is known for its breathtaking and panoramic views of the Annapurna and the Dhaulagiri ranges, Pokhara Valley and the Phewa Lake. Located at an altitude of 1592 m on the north of Phewa Lake, you can see the panoramic views of the mountain ranges from the Sarangkot watchtower. You can also enjoy a beautiful sunrise from the Kaski fort.
If you have more time, then you can explore the nearby farming villages also. If you wish to stay somewhere near, there are a few guesthouses in the village just beneath the summit.
Entry Fees: NPR 200 to visit the tower
How to reach Sarangkot?
Cars: you can hire a car from Lakeside to Sarangkot. The car will take you to just below the hilltop. It will take about 30-40 minutes to reach Sarangkot.
Price: NPR 1000 for one way and NPR 1500 for both ways.
Motorbike: you can rent a motorbike and visit the place.
Local buses: you will local buses towards Sarangkot from Baglung Bus Park in Pokahara. Buses take about 1 hour to reach and a ticket will cost you around NPR 50.
Hiking to Sarangkot: If you want to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and also crave for some activities, you can hike from Lakeside towards Sarangkot. You can ask your way towards the Sarangkot viewpoint. The locals are quite friendly and are ready to help. It will take about 2-3 hours to hike to Sarangkot.
Devi’s Falls or Davis Falls | Places to visit in Pokhara
Located on the Siddhartha Highway about 2 km from Pokhara Airport, Devi’s Falls is one of the tourist attractions of Pokhara. The name is actually a corrupted form of Davis Falls following a sad legend following the place. It is said that a Swiss couple went swimming in the place. But Lady Davis was carried away by the strong and swift waters of the falls and lost her life.
The Pardi Khola River coming from Phewa Lake disappears underground, travelling for about 1 km before gushing out at the Devi’s Falls. This is quite a popular place for the locals.
Opening Time of Devi’s Falls: 5 AM to 7 PM daily
Entry Fees: NPR 30
How to reach: You can take a taxi from Hallan Chowk (will cost NPR 400 for a return trip). You can also visit the place by motorbike or bicycle. There are no direct local buses to the falls. You have to take a bus to Birauta Chowk and then take another bus towards Devi’s Falls. I think changing bus is quite a hassle for visiting the falls.
Daily sightseeing trips in Pokhara are run by most of the travel agents in Pokhara. If you wish to do a sightseeing trip to Pokhara, it is quite convenient to book seats on these trips. They will take you around a few of the attractions in Pokhara. They also have an English speaking guide who will explain the significance of the places you visit.
Gupteswor Mahadev Cave | Places to visit in Pokhara
There are a number of caves around Pokhara and if caves are something that you fancy, you can definitely take a visit to Mahendra & bat caves and Gupteswor Mahadev Cave.
Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave is located just opposite to the Devi’s Falls. The inside of the cave was a bit disappointing as there was only a huge Shiva linga inside the cave. There was a signpost saying cowshed and we followed it thinking there might be something interesting there. But there was only a plastic made cow in the shed! Well, it was a tad disappointing.
You cross the Shiva Linga and follow the path towards the end of the cave. There are some stairs that will lead you to the end from where you can see a waterfall. I think it is the Devi’s Falls on the otherside that comes gushing out from the top of the cave. This was something interesting that we saw in the cave. You will hardly require about 15 minutes inside the cave. The interiors are slippery, so make sure you hold on to the railings.
Opening Time: 9 AM – 6 PM
Entry Fees: NPR 100
Mahendra and Bat caves | Places to visit in Pokhara
Well, these are another pair of caves in Pokhara. Located in north Pokahara in Batulechaur about 10 km from Lakeside, Mahendra Cave is the larger one famous for its stalactites and stalagmites. You are supposed to take a torch inside the caves.
The Bat cave, another limestone cave is just nearby and is inhabited by hundreds of bats. You can see those bats hanging down the ceiling. Both Mahendra and Bat caves will take around 15-20 minutes each.
Personally, we are not so much fond of caves. All the caves look almost the same and the scope of photography is quite less inside the caves. But if you are fond of them, you can definitely visit these two.
Opening Time: 9AM-5PM
Entry Fees: NPR 50 each for Mahendra cave and Bat Cave
How to reach: You can take a taxi from the taxi stand near Lakeside. I don’t think local buses come here. If you have rented a motorbike, you can visit these caves. The road is through some beautiful villages in Pokhara. Also, as I mentioned before, you can avail a Pokhara sightseeing trip from any of the travel agents and visit these caves.
Begnas and Rupa Lake | Places to visit in Pokhara
The Begnas Lake and Rupa Lake are two lakes located 15 km from Pokhara lakeside and is a beautiful place to visit. The lakes are beautiful and quite serene place to visit. Of the two lakes, Begnas lake is the bigger one. There are a few guesthouses nearby from where you can get a stunning view of the lakes.
You can reach Begnas Lake by local buses going to Begnas Bazar that leave from Prithvi Chowk and Barahi Chowk. Bus tickets cost NPR 50 per head.
Tibetan Refugee Settlement | Places to visit in Pokhara
Following the exile of His Holiness Dalai Lama from Tibet in 1959, over 20,000 Tibetan refugees migrated from Tibet to Nepal. Since then a number of them had migrated to India while many settled around Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Tibetan Refugee settlements are interesting places to visit. It is always difficult to leave ones homeland. These people have come to a new country and settled down here. While the settlement has grown around in Pokhara, the Nepal government has agreed not to recognize the Tibetan refugees, mainly because of their trade agreement with China. We would not want to comment on this sensitive topic here in the Pokhara Travel Guide. Maybe, in some other post!
Things to do in Pokhara | Travel Guide
Apart from taking a visit to the above interesting places, there are much more things to do in Pokhara. It is not in vain that Pokhara is known as the adventure hub of Nepal. The list of activities that Pokhara offers is a long one. For trekkers, Pokhara is the gateway to the famous Annapurna Circuit having Nepal’s most popular trails. For paragliders and mountain bikers, this is one of the best spots. Pokhara also does not disappoint the rafters and kayakers with sprightly rivers. From paragliding to white water rafting, kayaking to mountain biking, bungee jumping to zip lining, Pokhara has all the thrills that the adrenaline junkies seek. So here is a list of things that you can do in Pokhara.
Adventure in Pokhara : Trekking and hiking
The Annapurna massif can be clearly visible from Pokhara town on a clear day. The panoramic view can simply blow your mind. When we visited in April, the weather was not all clear, but a glimpse of the Macchapuchhare Peak (Fishtail Peak) was enough to make us smile.
Annapurna Circuit trek is the classic trek in Nepal starting from Pokhara. It can be done within 18 days starting from Besisahar. Infact Annapurna Circuit Trek and the Annapurna Base Camp Trek are the main reasons for foreign tourists visiting Pokhara.
There are a number of travel agents in Pokhara just beside lakeside who can cater to your every trekking needs from arranging permits, guides, porters to arranging of buses. If you are taking the help of a travel agent, be sure to check the prices from different places, as the prices may vary.
Even if you do not have time for long treks, you can go for shorter treks from Pokhara. There are mini overnight treks from Pokhara where permits are not required as well. Here is a list of treks that can be done from Pokhara.
- Dhampus Trek
- Panchase Trek
- Poon Hill Trek
- Annapurna Base Camp Trek (ABC Trek)
- Annapurna Circuit Trek
- KopraDanda Trek
- Mardi Himal Trek
- Upper and Lower Mustang Treks
Paragliding in Pokhara
Just imagine yourself soaring over the Phewa Lake, rivers, villages and terraced mountains while gazing at the mighty Annapurna range in awe! No wonder Pokhara is considered being one of the world top 5 places for paragliding.
There are a number of operators in lakeside who offer tandem flights with professional pilots. All the operators offer 15-10 minutes flight daily as well as 30-45 minutes flights. There are a number of packages available. Prices are usually fixed across all the paragliding operators, but they are subject to changes. If you want photos and videos to be made during the flight, that will incur additional cost.
- Price for 15-10 minutes flight: NPR 10,000
- Price for 30-45 minutes flight: NPR 13,000
Rafting and Kayaking
Whether you want to enjoy kayaking along the Phewa Lake or want to negotiate the rapids of Seti River, you have it all at Pokhara. You can enjoy kayaking along Phewa Tal and Begnas Lake. Whitewater rafting is another popular adventure in Pokhara. Several of Nepal’s rivers run along the surrounding areas of Pokhara.
There are a number of operators who offer rafting and kayaking trips. There are whitewater rafting adventure at Upper Seti River, only 20 minutes from Lakeside, or you can also go for expeditions down the Kali Gandaki, Marsyangdi and Lower Seti. The grades of the rapids vary from +2 to +5 depending upon the rivers and the season.
Rafting at Upper Seti River is just perfect for beginners. It can take a half day for it. You also do not need to have any prior rafting experience. You just have to follow the instructions of the guide and captain.
For kayaking around the Phewa Lake, you can rent kayaks from all the major rafting and kayak rental shops in Lakeside for an hour or half a day at reasonable prices.
Bungee jumping is one of Pokhara’s extreme sports. It has a 70m vertical drop and a 3 second free fall amidst the valley of Pokhara. How extreme can it get? Highground Adventures offer bungee jumping along with zip-lining, just what you need for a perfect day of adventure in Pokhara.
Pokhara is the home to the craziest ziplining. The zipline is huge 1.8 km long, has a 2000ft vertical drop and takes you to 120km/hr all in the space of 2 minutes. It is the tallest, longest and steepest zipline in the world.
Well, I did not want to do the bungee jumping, but wanted to do the zip-lining. Bad weather played spoilsport and again we could not do it. Maybe next time when we visit Pokhara!
Take the ultralight flight at Pokhara
This is one of the unique adventures in Pokhara. There are a few companies that offer ultralight flights around Pokhara. Shorter flights will take you around for a bird’s eye view of Phewa Lake and Peace Pagoda, while longer flights will take you closer to Mt.Fishtail and the Annapurnas.
You can hire a good quality mountain bike, be a little more adventurous and go biking around Pokhara. Visit Sarangkot during sunrise for a spectacular view or ride up to the Peace Pagoda. You can even bike upto Begnas Lake. Mountain biking is another way of experiencing the adrenaline thrill at Pokhara.
You can also rent motorbikes and scooters on daily basis top explore around Pokhara. The rates of renting are given. The rates are subject to changes.
Motorbikes (125cc to 200cc) : NPR 600-1000 per day
Royal Enfield (350cc & 500cc) : NPR 3000-4000 per day
Yoga & Meditation in Pokhara
Pokhara is Nepal’s home for yoga. You can attend single yoga classes in Pokhara and also long term yoga retreats. Meditation courses are also offered.
Shopping in Pokhara
Pokhara is actually a shoppers’ delight. There are many shops in the Lakeside area selling a variety of products from traditional Nepalese pashminas, paper products, books, leather bags and handmade clothings. There are many shops selling handicraft items as well. Also being the adventure hub of Nepal, you will get a lot of trekking gear shops in Pokhara. Starting from fleece and jackets to gloves and trekking poles, you will get everything that you need for doing a Himalayan trek in Pokhara. There are products from western brands as well as local made trekking gears. Sometimes, these local gears are made imitating a North Face or Columbia Asia product. You might not be able to differentiate between the original and the local one. However, a local made does not essentially mean it is of bad quality. Sometimes they last as long as original brands, if not more. We have a couple of “NorthFace” trousers that have lasted for 5 years now and is still going strong!
The main local market is in Chipledunga area. Here you will get a number of shops selling items for local and everyday use. For collecting souvenirs, we think Lakeside is a great place to shop.
Where to stay in Pokhara?
No matter what your budget is, you will probably find a place to spend night at Pokhara. There are plenty of hotels, hostels, guesthouses and resorts in Pokhara to choose from. Whether you want to spend $10 or $100, you will find a place in Pokhara.
Most of the accommodations for tourists in Pokharais spread from Damside to North Lakeside. Most of the hotels have a great view, either of the mountains or the lake.
Where to eat in Pokhara?
There are a number of restaurants, cafes, bistros and bars along the Lakeside. Most of them have a superb location overlooking the Phewa Lake. These places also serve a variety of cuisines like Nepali, Italian, Continental and Indian.
In addition to dining, Lakeside also has a vibrant nightlife with many bars, pubs and clubs. Most of these are located at Central Lakeside overlooking the Phewa Lake. Many of these places provide live Western music and Nepali cultural programmes.
Best Time to visit Pokhara
The peak season is March and April (spring) and October to November (autumn) for the trekkers. This is the time when the hikers flock the area for Annapurna trek.
May to early June is also good for general tourists and travellers. Late June to September is monsoon season and is not the ideal time for trekking. Also, mountain views are not good during this time due to cloudy weather. But this is a good time for doing the Lower and Upper Mustang treks as it falls in the rain shadow area.
Winters are quite cold and chilly. But you will get great views of the mountains.
Money matters: Are there ATMs in Pokhara?
You will find a number of ATMs in Lakeside Pokhara. There are a number of money changers as well in Pokhara. Most of the money changers in Pokhara do not charge commission and the exchange rate is also good.
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