Top Places to Visit in Nepal
Nepal is a country of scenic landscapes, an abundance of both natural and cultural heritage, and no shortage of stunning places to visit! Although being a small landlocked country sandwiched between the giants of China and India, Nepal is an ancient melting pot of traditions and cultures from the major influences of Hinduism and Buddhism down to the local tribal practices and beliefs. Over 100 different cultural groups live peacefully side by side in this small piece of heaven in the Himalayas. Despite bordering on two of Asia’s superpowers, Nepal remains relatively underdeveloped meaning that both nature and culture can still be seen in their raw element from the alpine peaks and lakes of the north to the jungles of the south.
Here we have listen ten of the most amazing places to visit during your journey in Nepal. Being a Nepali myself, I have made my selections carefully not based on tour books or advertising promotions, but on places that are truly amazing whether the world knows about them yet or not.
So without further ado, here are the top ten places to visit in Nepal …
10. Tilicho Lake
One of the highest lakes in the world at an altitude of almost 5,000 meters, Tilicho Lake is located in the Annapurna range in Manang district, Nepal. Anyone attempting to do the Annapurna Circuit usually encounters watershed from this lake between Manang and Kali Gandaki valleys. Various lodges have been built between Manang and Tilicho Lake, but there aren’t any accommodations or teahouses past the Tilicho Base Camp lodge. Tilicho Lake and the trek to reach it are highly revitalizing experiences, yet physically demanding. The terrain is extremely challenging, and best suited for experienced trekkers, yet it remains one of the top places to visit in Nepal.
9. Annapurna Base Camp (ABC)
With terraced rice paddies, luscious rhododendron forests, and high altitude landscapes – not to mention the Annapurna range in view – the Annapurna Base Camp trek is certainly one of the most popular activities and places to visit in Nepal. The trek is usually 7 to 11 days long, depending on the trekker’s itinerary and the length of walking days, and passes through multiple environments from teeming forests to alpine meadows. ABC can be trekked almost any time of the year, but springtime is undoubtedly the most appealing time to visit due to the rhododendrons in full bloom which gives the trek a truly majestic feeling.
8. Upper Mustang
The Upper Mustang trek can also be called a peek into the hidden world of the Buddhist Kingdom of Mustang. Mustang used to be a part of the Tibetan empire, and is therefore very closely related to Tibet in terms of culture, religion and landscape. Surrounded by rocks in bizarre windswept formations, Mustang is mostly a barren landscape where the villages’ brightly colored fields are like oasis in the desert. The culture of the Mustang people is one of the major attractions for tourists to the region, making it one of the key cultural places to visit in Nepal.
7. Rara Lake
Rara Taal is the biggest lake in Nepal, covering an area of 10.8 sq. km. The lake is surrounded by Rara National Park on all sides, which was established in 1976 to preserve the vulnerable ecosystem and natural beauty of the lake. Located in western Nepal, the trekking route to Rara Lake has been a popular draw for many trekkers despite its isolated location. Visitors must fly first to Jumla, and then trek through the mountains for several days past remote villages before finally reaching the banks of the lake. This awe-inspiring journey to reach the “shimmering blue jewel set in a ring of snowy peaks” (as described by Bill Greer), is undoubtedly why it’s one of the top places to visit for any tourist coming to Nepal.
6. Khaptad National Park
Although not as famous as some of Nepal’s other National Parks, Khaptad National Park is considered to have one of the best scenic landscapes in Nepal. Located in far western Nepal, the National Park was established in 1984 on the advice of the region’s holy man Khaptad Baba. The park covers 225 sq. km and reaches over four districts, inside which is an almost untouched landscape. Steep slopes, streams and moorland provide habitats for countless birds and wildlife, and little human intervention is visible. This is certainly a place where you can experience the true essence of tranquility and peace.
5. Panch Pokhari
No list of top places to visit in Nepal would be complete without the cultural and natural highlight of Panch Pokhari. Panch Pokhari is Nepali for “Five Lakes”, which are located at the base of Jungal Himal, considered to be of high religious importance. It takes 12 days to trek to these five holy lakes, via untouched traditional villages in the shadow of spectacular Himalayan mountains. The trek offers pristine views, rich culture and a sense of adventure as you make your way to the alpine lakes that are sacred to both Hindu and Buddhist people.
4. Gosaikunda Lake
Located inside Nepal’s Langtang National Park at an altitude of 4,380m, Gosaikunda is not only an adventure travel destination but also a religious site according to Hindu mythology. Gosaikunda is an alpine freshwater lake surrounded by mountains along the Dhunche-Helambu trekking route. Popularly visited on a teahouse style trek, it’s an easy addition to any Langtang Valley trek.
3. Chitwan National Park
Chitwan was the very first National Park established in Nepal in 1973, and was granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984. Formerly called Royal Chitwan National Park, it covers an area of 932 sq. km in the sub-tropical Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal. It is undoubtedly one of the most popular places to visit in Nepal, with multiple lodges providing comfortable accommodation inside the park, plus daily activities such as elephant or jeep safaris, rafting tours, and guided jungle walks. Easily accessible from Kathmandu, the park is a great example of the diversity of flora and fauna that Nepal harbours.
2. Poon Hill
Poon hill is the famous view point in the Annapurna foothills that offers unobstructed, majestic mountain views. The Ghorepani and Poon Hill trek is a colorful foray into the Annapurna Region which starts and ends in Pokhara. The trail goes through patchwork valleys, dense mossy forests and past icy waterfalls where one can stop to cool off and rest. On the way to Poon hill there is a tantalising glimpse of the high mountains around every corner, which is only fully revealed to you as you reach the higher points of the trek. This sight is definitely not one to miss out on in Nepal.
1. Everest Base Camp
Everyone knows that the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, lies in Nepal. But since it is unfeasible for just anyone to attempt the incredible peak, the trek to Everest Base Camp is the next best thing. Beginning with an exhilarating flight to Lukla, the 16 day trail leads through lush rhododendron forest and stone walled villages into the heart of Sherpa land. From Namche and Phortse Gaon you can witness the magnificent peaks of Everest and Nuptse, alongside the rest of the Himalayan range. The journey is challenging and requires a high level of fitness, but the reward is unbeatable. A journey to Everest Base Camp makes for an extravagant adventure that will remain in your memory for years to come.
Nepal certainly has a lot to offer for the small size of its landmass. Within this small undeveloped country you can find cultural diversity, soaring landscapes and intense jungles, scenic lakes and abundant wildlife. I personally believe this land holds great importance for both religious and scientific purposes, and should be respected and taken care of accordingly.
The destinations mentioned above are some of the best places to visit for adventure enthusiasts, but the list could continue forever. There are thousands of other places in Nepal: favourites of various travellers and locals, and sites of historic or cultural or geographic significance that are waiting to be discovered by you.