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Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in Asia, Countries, Nature, Nepal | 11 comments

Pokhara – A window to the Himalayas

Pokhara – A window to the Himalayas

This is a stunning city, filled with nature, great sites and an important hub for mountain trekkers. 

Katmandu is a very interesting city with some of the most extraordinary  heritage sites in the world, it is a big capital, and maybe not the greatest place to be surrounded by nature and tranquility.

Pokkhara on the other hand,seems to be paradise on earth. The air is so fresh, people are always friendly and helpful, the food is amazing and the scenery…. what can I say, when I open my window in the morning and see the Himalayas ripping the skies?

 

… But where is Pokhara exactly?

 

pokhara map

 

Pokhara is the second largest city in Nepal, after Kathmandhu.

Pokhara is an important spot for Eco-minded travelers. Three of the highest mountains in the world, are located in the surroundings of this city, that’s why mountain trekk lovers can be seen roaming around in Pokhara year round.

 

 POKHARA IS ALL ABOUT THE NATURE

 

I spent nearly 3 weeks in Pokhara, enough time to soak up the beauty of this city and unwind after 5 months traveling in India.

As soon as I arrived, I knew I would stay here for a while. The Phewa lake is clean and peaceful, one of my favorite spots to enjoy stunning sunsets and… some animal company…!

Pokhara might not be the place for the wild party lovers. But let me tell you, you won’t have a single moment of boredom here, there are several activities you can do on a daily basis. I spent my days relaxing, trekking (even though I have to confess I’m usually too lazy for that – I knew I couldn’t miss the views from the mountains), eating and exploring the region around the lake.

 

THINGS TO DO IN POKHARA

 

NEPALI PEOPLE – THE FRIENDLIEST ON EARTH

 

Things to do in Pokhara

 

I’ve traveled a bit in my lifetime, and I can tell you that very few people on earth have impressed me with their smile and friendliness as Nepali people did.

My travel buddy and I spent a lot of time just hanging out and chatting with the owners of our favorite restaurant. People are so genuine, simple and humble, I could have stayed in Pokhara longer, just to enjoy their company.

Although a very touristy city, I visited it during the low season when there were basically no tourists around, so we could lose ourselves into long conversations.

 

TAKE A BOAT RIDE ON LAKE PHEWA

 

Pokhara lake photo:Sharada Prasad

 

Lake Phewa is gorgeous and clean.  Nothing is more pleasant that getting a boat and explore this amazingly beautiful lake.

The nature surrounding the Phewa Lake is stunning and since I visited Pokhara during low season, there was not that many people around. For most of the time it was just me and my travel buddy.

 

Things to do in Pokhara

 

VISIT THE PEACE STUPA

 

Visiting the peace stupa,  also known as Shanti stupa was the perfect excuse for a long but gentle trek in the nature.

 

Things to do in Pokhara

The peace stupa

 

The Peace stupa is located at  the height of 1100 meters on the Ananda Hill, with a breathtaking view of the Phewa lake, the Anapurna range and the Pokhara city.  You’ll need to trek a bit in order to get there, but the walk is well worth it.

The Shanti stupa is a Buddhist monument  dedicated to the world peace and is 115 feet tall and 344 feet in diameter. It displays four statues of Buddha, souvenirs from different countries: ‘Dharmacakra Mudra’ from Japan, ‘Bodh Gaya’ from Sri Lanka, ‘Kushinagar’ from Thailand and ‘Lumbini’ from Nepal.

This is definitely a must see monument.

 

VISIT THE LITTLE BAHARI TEMPLE

 

A pleasant surprise in the middle of Phewa Lake.

 

Things to do in Pokhara

 

There’s more than stunning nature at Lake Phewa. There’s a beautiful little temple island waiting for you.  This was a wonderful surprise I was not counting on. The island is not big, but it’s a great place to rest a bit and get some shade.

 

THE NEPALESE VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN FOODS

 

Being a vegan or vegetarian in Nepal is like being in heaven!

The Nepali food is so delicious, rich and with so much variety! With a very specific identity and taking influences from the Indian and Tibetan cuisine, I have to admit I fell in love with the food here!

 

Things to do in Pokhara

My daily dose of Aloo Paratha

 

Pokhara offers a wide selection of restaurants, most of them family owned business. I think that one of the highlights of my stay really was the food and I remember waking up with joy every morning, because a new day filled with vegan goodies was waiting for me.

 

Things to do in Pokhara

 

NEPAL IS EVERY TREKKER’S PARADISE

 

We can not deny the fact that Nepal is a big hub for trekking and nature lovers. You see them everywhere, excited about their adventures in the beautiful country.

Pokhara is no exception.

 

 

 

There are a few highly recommended treks around Pokhara you shouldn’t miss. I’m too lazy for trekking, so I enjoyed the views from the my roof top. Getting an experienced guide that knows the are well is highly recommended, both for safety reasons and to get the most out of it.

 

Please be aware that this is a very physically demanding job and most of the porters and guides have to stay away from their families in order to work and put food on the table. Be generous with your tips. I’ve heard of stories where the tourists tried to bargain hard and avoid paying them what their work was worth. We want a tourism that supports the local economy, not one that tries to exploit it.

 

PARAGLIDING IN POKHARA

 

Paragliding seems to be a very popular, if not, very seeked after activity. And no wonder why, with such a unique and dramatic landscape, Pokhara from above must be an unforgettable experience.

 

Things to do in Pokhara

photo credits:flynepal.org

 

YOGA AND MEDITATION IN POKHARA

 

Pokhara is a place for nature and healthy living enthusiasts. You’ll bump into a few Yoga schools, located at peaceful spots with great views.

I wanted to practice some Yoga during my 3 weeks in Pokhara, but the prices for the classes were the same, if not more expensive than in Portugal, so I decided not to attend any class.

 

GO FOR LONG WALKS IN THE NATURE

 

Things to do in Pokhara

 

Seems like everything exciting in Pokhara, will lead you to some walking or treking.  Once more, if you’re not as lazy as I am, you can follow some routes that will lead you to the waterfall, the view point, the dam side or the peace stupa.

I went to the peace stupa and decided that was my trekk for the next 10 years to come.. Yes, I really don’t like to trek. If you do, let me know how the other spots look like!

Things to do in Pokhara

 

 

BEST TIME TO VISIT POKHARA

 

Pokhara has a nice and mild weather, but during winter time the low temperatures might be a bit chill.  Here’s the graphic with the average temperatures around the year.

 

Things to do in Pokhara

credits:easytoursofindia.com

 * ECO TIP *

 

Nepal and many other countries in Asia are struggling with the amount of plastic that is thrown away on a daily basis. Be aware of this serious problem and try to avoid using plastics as much as possible! Keep your bottle and refill it with water whenever you can. Ask around for places where you can do that.  If you can’t find a place to refill your water, then think about buying 5 liter bottles instead of many bottles of half liter. Use that to refill it.

HOW TO GET TO POKHARA

By land

Well, the only way to get to Pokhara is by bus. Now you can either get a regular public bus or a private one for tourists. We traveled from Kathmandu on a tourist bus which took about 6 hours and I have to admit it was a very painful trip for me. The roads were very dangerous, in terrible shape, we were constantly passing by buses and trucks which fell out of the roads and crashed.

We had a very young teenager driving our bus, and he drove like a maniac through those steep and extreme curves along the way. I don’t remember ever praying during a trip, but I hink for some moments I did! Seriously!

Take the tourist buses instead of the public ones, although they might drive crazy, the buses might be in a better shape.

 

By air

 

Royal Nepal Airlines corporation run flights between Kathmandu to Pokhara. It will take less than an hour and you’ll witness some incredible views of the Himalayas.

 

SCAM WARNING!

When entering Nepal through the Indian border, we noticed the scams going on. We were asked to pay way more money than the Visa is worth with the excuse of a new norm. We pretended we didn’t notice the scam and money extortion schemes and to avoid direct conflict we simply said, we had no money on us, other than the price of the visa. The borger guard stamped our passport and we left.

This scam goes on daily and we’ve seen it happening to other people, so BE AWARE of this and don’t pay more than the official price for the visa.

  ***

There are so many things to do in Pokhara, I truly believe this city will stay in your memory forever.  I fell in love for Pokhara, the nature, the people and the food. If you traveled to India and decided you need a break from the chaos, come to Pokhara! You’ll feel in paradise here.

NOTE: I was informed that since my last visit to Pokhara the city changed radically and it’s now overwhelmingly commercial.  This is really sad because the Pokhara I experienced was beautiful and very peaceful.  If you have updated info about Pokhara, let me know so I can update the article. Seems like things in Asia can change incredibly fast :(

 

 Need more info? Visit the official tourism website for Nepal

 

 

Featured photo: All credits for the author: Jean Marie Hullod

11 Comments

  1. The food looks amazing, I think I would eat enormous quantities of aloo paratha without any control, it looks too delicious! :)

    • Aloo paratha was basically like a ritual for me. I couldn’t get enough of it.

  2. Hey Yara! I’ve been following your blog for a couple of months now, and it’s really inspiring!

    But I’m curious when you went to Pokhara. Because in Nepal, things change very fast, and not necessarily in a good way. The first time I went to Pokhara was in 2008, after an 18-day trek in the Annapurna region. It was a bit of a shock to arrive in a town, instead the tranquil village I had expected. However, I did enjoy the food a lot, and lingered for about a week (basically because my friends wanted to stay there 😉 ) .

    In 2012 I went back to Pokhara – and some other places in Nepal – in the context of a tour I was escorting in India and Nepal. At that time it was the low season, and if it was not raining, there were so many clouds it was impossible to see any mountains. But ok, I already knew that. When you come back from a trek, the views in Pokhara are underwhelming anyway. Besides that, it was painful to see how fast the city is expanding, and how many new guesthouses are popping up every year. The place is getting so commercial, and it’s sad to see. In 2012 I only stayed one day and a half, and I jokingly wrote on facebook that after one day in Pokhara I was already bored to death. It seems that the only thing you can do there during monsoon is eat, and that’s not a reason why I would go to Nepal. Or if I did, I would base myself in Kathmandu, because there are at least a lot of cultural places to visit.

    I don’t want to be too negative in this post, but I just want to place things in perspective. Nepal is a stunning country – I spent some of the most beautiful months of my life there while trekking in the Himalayas. And I don’t say you can’t have a good time in Pokhara, but I think it’s better to hang around there BEFORE you go trekking instead of after a trek. And think twice before you go during monsoon, Pokhara is notoriously wet..

    So that’s my opinion in a nutshell 😉
    Thanks for your entertaining writings Yara

    • Hi Sigrid, thank you soooo much for your message!

      I went to Pokhara during low season in 2010, it was basically empty, very quiet, great weather and great food. It was also super clean and pleasant.

      I’m very sad to hear that Pokhara changed so fast and so radically in such a short amount of time and I will add an amend to this post. I noticed there were a lot of guest houses, but it was still not so overwhelming. Certain areas were really underdeveloped, along the lake.

      I remember renting a boat and being the only person in the whole lake! We even went in the water for a swim, no one around!

      I’m really sad to hear it became so commercial. The great thing about this city was the silence, the quiet and the good vibe…. I guess massive tourism can actually kill a place, isn’t it?

  3. Pokhara is my absolute favourite place in Nepal. The mountains around are so breath-taking, and the local culture is just full of colour and heart. Not to mention the food–nothing as tasty as Nepali cuisine.
    You’re right–Kathmandu after a few days starts to feel too crowded and commercial–good thing Pokhara is not too far away.

  4. Pokhara in 1984; now that was an amazing time! No problems as a vegan back then, either. I would hesitate to return now; my memories are so grand.

  5. This post brought back so many memories for me :) I visited Pokhara in 2008, during the low season and it felt like a calm village compared to the hecticness of Kathmandu. Funnily enough, after a ten day trek to Annapurna base camp it did feel like a much busier place on return but I guess that is relative! The food was incredible and I agree that Nepal is like a veggie heaven.

    It’s quite sad to hear from the other comments that it has changed so much though. Nepal is somewhere I hold so close to my heart but I worry that I would be so disappointed if I returned, but then that is something you come to expect with travel – no where is static and no two stays in a place are the same :)

  6. hi, we are considering a month long visit to Pohkara in March/April…. what is considered low season? when is monsoon season?

    thanks…

  7. I’m in Pokhara now. Sorry but, the pollution is so bad that we can’t even see the other side of the lake. The mountains are obscured by grey smog, the lake is filthy. This is our second time in Pokhara, first time, 15 years ago, it was nice, this time we’re gutted. I just asked a cafe owner how long it had been like this, he said “About 13 years”. There is no power at all during the day, they only switch it on between 7pm and 7am ( it was actually 8-6 last night).
    I’m gutted by what has happened here. We’ve just returned from Everest region, which was stunning, but lower down, same story, environmental disaster. Kathmandu air hurt our eyes and throats less. Something is very wrong here and with the world. I notice that some of your photos are stock photos, they’ve very different to ours. Don’t get me wrong, we adore Nepal, it’s long been one of our favourite countries, but man is this bad!

    • Oh no, that’s so sad to hear….. I have a wonderful time there, It was low season, so it was peaceful, very laid back. I had electricity 24 hours, there was no smog, the lake was super clean, we even jumped in and swam. I absolutely loved Pokhara, I left part of my heart there.

      I think Asia is changing extremely fast, I’ve head China is facing the same radical changes in a short period of time. Do you think that massive change is related to tourism? I’m shocked to hear about your experience, because for us (my bf and I) Pokhara was pure bliss.

    • hi, thanks for posting. we will be in Pohkara 3/26 for a month with Paddle Nepal. I passed it on to our group, who were all bummed, but better to learn of it before we get there…

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