What to do in Pokhara? Get a first impression!

There is no other place in the world where you can sit below 1,000m and marvel at 8,000m peaks. Machhapuchhre (Nepali for ‘Fishtail’) is the most prominent peak in the Annapurnas due to its unique shape and it being only 30kms from Pokhara. Fishtail is also regarded as a holy mountain and as such it is forbidden to be climbed. Three of the world top 10 highest mountains, Dhaulagiri I (7th), Manaslu (8th) and Annapurna I (10th) can be seen from various parts of the Pokhara Valley and its surrounding hills, such as Sarangkot, Ananda Hill (World Peace Pagoda), Kaskikot, and the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara.

Did you know?

Pokhara is the starting/end point for the popular Annapurna circuit trek. It’s also a great place to explore the Mustang region and several other popular trekking areas. Pokhara’s Lake, Phewa Tal, supplies the electricty that keeps most of the city running. If you are not looking for adventurous activities then Pokhara also offers some of the most scenic locations in all of Nepal to relax in. From sitting by the still lake reflecting the Annapurna mountains to visiting cultural villages there’s plenty to enjoy.

TOP 6 DAY TRIPS

RAFTING TRIP

RAFTING TRIP

For a great time with friends, float down the white water rapids of one of Nepal’s many rivers in a raft or kayak. If you are after a more peaceful water adventure, you can hire a boat and paddle around Phewa Lake or Begnas Lake.

TANDEM PARAGLIDING

TANDEM PARAGLIDING

Fly like a bird from the top of Sarangkot down to the shores of Phewa Lake with a professional pilot. There are daily flights available thanks to the great flying conditions in Pokhara. If you are after more of a thrill, why not learn to paraglide yourself!

PEACE PAGODA HIKE

PEACE PAGODA HIKE

Take a boat across Phewa Lake and do a 45 minute hike up through the Raniban forest to visit the World Peace Pagoda, which has stunning views over the lake, Pokhara and if the weather is clear, the Annapurna range.

SARANGKOT SUNRISE

SARANGKOT SUNRISE

The sunrise from Sarangkot viewpoint is spectacular as have a 360 degree view of the Himalayas, Phewa Lake and Pokhara valley. You could take a taxi up in the morning or night before and walk back down to Pokhara afterwards through the local villages.

MOTORBIKE TRIP

MOTORBIKE TRIP

Rent a motorbike or scooter for the day and take a ride up to Sarangkot, the Peace Pagoda or perhaps visit Begnas lake. There are companies who provide day tours as well as extended trips around the Annapurnas and even up to Upper Mustang.

BEGNAS LAKE

BEGNAS LAKE

Begnas lake and Rupa Lake are very serene and beautiful and well worth either a day trip or a couple of nights stay. Take in the wonderful mountain views, have a dip in the lake or paddle around in a wooden boat.

Planning advice

One day in Pokhara:

Start your day super early with predawn taxi trip up to Sarangkot for a spectacular sunrise. Head back to Lakeside for breakfast on a rooftop cafe/hotel overlooking the Annapurna mountains. Take a boat across the lake and climb up the hill to visit the world peace stupa and explore the area. Have a light lunch at a cafe near the top. Come back down and visit Devi Falls then take a taxi to the Mountaineering Museum. Take another taxi back into Lakeside and do some light shopping for souvenirs before a quick shower. Spend the evening in a pleasant lakeside restaurant by the lake or take in a cultural dance. Finish the night with a drink in one of the many popular bars.

Two or three days in the valley:

There’s plenty above in the one day itinerary that can be broken up over a few days while adding in some of the following. Take an early morning Paraglide or go Kayaking (arrange your trip the day before). Visit some of the Tibetan villages / refugee camps. Go for a small motorbike tour. Spend a day on the Lake.

A week or more in paradise:

Take a Paragliding course. Go on a trek. Visit Rupa and Begnas lake. Enroll in a Nepalese cookery course. Take a bicycle or motorbike trip. Enjoy a home stay in a Nepalese village. Map of Pokhara Pokhara is very easy to navigate around. If you are just sticking to Lakeside it’s simply a one road town (do checkout the guide to Lakeside Pokhara).

The best sights in Pokhara

Take a look at the most popular sights. We also give you tips on how to get there.

SARANGKOT

Famous for its breathtaking panoramic views of the Annapurna & Dhaulagiri ranges, the Pokhara Valley, and Phewa Lake, this 1,592m mountain located on the northern side of Phewa Lake is one of the most popular tourist destinations around Pokhara. Enjoying the sunrise from this former Kaski fort is an experience not to be missed when visiting Pokhara. You can also walk around the traditional farming villages with magnificent views of Phewa Lake or watch paragliding pilots taking off and flying high above you alongside eagles and vultures.

Food & accommodation

There are many guest houses to choose from in the village directly beneath the summit. If you follow the top road to the west along the ridge top, there are a few more guest houses that have panoramic Himalayan views.

TRIP NOTES

On foot: The most satisfying way to reach the summit is by hiking up the stone steps on the south side of Sarangkot. Follow the Lakeside road north out of Lakeside, cross the small bridge and continue straight for another 300m. Turn right up the side street (Suhan Kirana
shop is on the corner) and follow this road for 750m (approx. 15mins). Continue past the school and 150m later there is a footpath on the left which crosses over a stone wall. Follow this path and the stone steps soon begin, leading all the way up to Sarangkot  viewpoint.
Hiking time: 2–4 hours.
taxi: Taxis can take you to the village just below the summit.
Driving time: 30–40 minutes
Price: One way/Return = Rs1000/1500 from Lakeside
Motorbike/Scooter: To access the main Sarangkot road from
Lakeside, at Hallan Chowk turn up Phewa St and follow it until the first
major intersection, Zero Kilometer (1.8km). Turn left here, continue
straight for another 3km and then turn left again where there is a sign
for Sarangkot. As the road is steep, we recommend a motorbike for
two people or a single person per scooter.
Local bus: Buses to Sarangkot depart from Baglung Bus Park
Time: approx. 1 hour
Cost: Rs50 one way

DEVI'S FALLS

Devi’s Falls is a fascinating waterfall located 2km south of Pokhara Airport on the Siddhartha Highway. The river, Pardi Khola, coming from Phewa Lake disappears deep underground, travelling for 1km before gushing out at Devi’s Falls. The name “Devi’ is apparently corrupted from David, referring to a Swiss tourist in 1961 who was either swept away himself or lost his wife in the falls.

TRIP NOTES

Foot/motorbike/bicycle: Ride or walk through Lakeside and Damside to Birauta Chowk and turn right. Continue for 1.3kms and Devi’s Falls will be on the right hand side of the road.
Taxi: A return trip costs Rs400 from Hallan Chowk.
Local bus: Take the bus to Birauta Chowk (Rs15). You need then to take another bus (going south) from there to Devi’s Falls (Rs25–30).
Open: 5am–7pm daily / entry: Rs30

CAVES

There are many caves around Pokhara, the most popular of which are in Pokhara’s north in Batulechaur, approximately 10kms from Lakeside. Here is the Mahendra Cave, a large limestone cave famous for its stalagmites and stalactites and nearby is the Bat Cave, another limestone cave which is inhabited by many bats. In Chhorepatan opposite Devi’s Falls is the Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave. This cave is sacred for Hindus as an idol of Lord Shiva was found in there.

TRIP NOTES

Mahendra & Bat caves: By taxi a return trip from Lakeside costs Rs800.
Gupteshwor Mahadev cave: Follow the same directions as to Devi’s Falls. The cave is located on the opposite side of the road.
Open: 9am–5pm / 9am–6pm (Mahendra & Bat Caves / Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave)
Entry: Rs50 / Rs100 (each for Mahendra & Bat Caves / Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave)

BEGNAS & RUPA LAKES

These two picturesque lakes are perfectly serene, clean and receive few foreign visitors. Located about 15km east of Lakeside, a trip to these lakes makes a perfect day or overnight trip from Pokhara. Of the two lakes, Begnas Tal is the larger and more accessible and here swimming, boating and fishing are all possible.

Food & accommodation

On Piple Hill there are several guest houses with stunning, undisturbed views of the lake and the Annapurnas. At the even quieter eastern end, Majhilkuna, there are a few family-run guest houses running from the top of the hill down to the lake shore.

TRIP NOTES

Taxi: A one way trip to Begnas is approximately Rs1,200 and Rs2,000 return.

Motorbike & bicycle: Ride out of Pokhara along the Prithivi Highway
and after approx. 12km turn left. There is a sign for Begnas Tal on the right
side of the road but just past the turn, so a better indicator is the concrete
bus stop shelter and large tree on the left hand side. Follow this road straight
until BegnasChowk To get to Piple Hill, turn left just before crossing the
small bridge at Begnas Chowk. It’s a dirt road that passes a few fisheries and
eventually becomes a footpath (wide enough for a bicycle and motorbike).
To get to Majhilkuna continue straight through Begnas Chowk and follow the
winding road up along the ridge between Begnas Tal and Rupa Tal where the
isolated Rupa Tal is beautifully revealed on your right. After passing though a
small village on the ridge take the next left down the dirt road to come to the
guest houses.
Local bus: Buses going to Begnas Bazaar leave from Prithivi Chowk and
Barahi Chowk every 30 minutes. It is a short walk from there to the hotels on
Piple Hill. Tickets cost around Rs50.

Tours in Pokhara

With professional mountain guides & certified companies

PHEWA LAKE

Nepal’s second largest lake is the centre of attraction in Pokhara and is what brings the peace and tranquility to Lakeside. You can walk along its edge or hire a brightly painted boat along the lake shore. Take a day to explore the lake, the villages on its shores, the aquatic  life, Barahi Temple on the small island or watch farmers working on the rice paddies and the local fishermen collecting the day’s catch. A magical sight is when the lake is perfectly calm and you can see the reflection of the Himalayas in its waters. For the best views, head over to the shady park at Phewa Dam in Damside early in the morning.

TRIP NOTES

On foot: The footpath along the lake’s shore is a peaceful alternative to the busy main road. You can walk along the footpath from Barahi Chowk until Freedom Café in Lakeside’s north where you join up to the main road to continue around the lake. In south Lakeside there is a large park, Basundhara, bordering the lake as well as Komagane park further south, where the Kedareshor Mahadev temple is.

Bicycle: Renting a bicycle is a cheap and fun way to explore the shores of Phewa Lake. Pedal north through Lakeside or along the footpath and continue around to Sedi, where you can see the first landing area for paragliders. You can continue onto Khaupaudi
where there are several restaurants, guest houses and paragliding landing areas until the end of the lake. Further on is Pamay, where there is a large Buddhist school and several more villages. The road eventually leads to the end of the valley at Gatechhena and from
there the 4WD track winds up to Panchase Bhanjang (2,030m).
Boat: The most popular way to cross or explore Phewa Tal is by the brightly painted wooden boats (dunghas). You can fit several people inside and choose either to paddle yourself or to hire a local oarsman to do the paddling for you. There are several places along the lake from where you can hire boats.

BARAHI TEMPLE

Situated on a small, shady island only a 10–minute boat trip from Barahi Chowk in Lakeside, the Barahi Temple is one of the most important Hindu monuments in Pokhara.

The 18th century two-storied pagoda is dedicated to Ajima, the boar manifestation of the
force of Shakti, the Hindu mother goddess who is the origin of universal creativity and power. Large crowds of Hindu devotees are seen on Saturdays, which is when sacrifices may also take place here.

TRIP NOTES

Boat: This is the only way to access the small island in Phewa Lake. From Barahi Chowk boats cost Rs50 per person for a return trip in a large communal boat or you can hire your own boat from any boat hire in Lakeside.

BINDHYABASINI

TEMPLE & THE OLD BAZAAR

Bindhyabasini

One of Pokhara’s most important and oldest Hindu temples, Bindhyabasini sits atop a shady hill at the northern end of the old bazaar. The white dome structure is dedicated to Baghwati, a manifestation of the goddess Durga, who is Pokhara’s chosen guardian deity.

On Saturdays and Tuesdays animal sacrifices are typically presented at the temple as well as during the festival of Dashain. FREE ENTRY

Old bazaar

The buildings, temples and monuments of Pokhara’s Old Bazaar have ties to the Newar architecture of the Kathmandu Valley. It is located about four kms from Lakeside near Chipledunga, the main shopping centre of Pokhara. Here there are shops selling foodstuffs, cloth, cosmetics, and gold.

TRIP NOTES

Motorbike/bicycle: Ride out of Lakeside along Phewa St from Hallan Chowk and continue until Zero Kilometre. Turn left here and continue straight for 3 kms. After passing Baglung Bus Park, turn right when you are opposite the turn-off to Sarangkot; after 100m park on the street and walk through the park on your left and up the steps to reach the temple.
Taxi: A return trip from Lakeside costs approximately Rs400
Bus: Take the bus at Hallan Chowk to Zero Kilometre (Rs20–25). Take another bus going left on the Baglung Hwy and ask the driver to stop at Bindhyabasini Temple (Rs20–25).

PEACE PAGODA

Perched at 1,100m on the top of the Ananda hill south of Phewa Tal, the World Peace Pagoda is a large Buddhist Stupa that commands tremendous views of the Himalayas, Phewa Lake and Pokhara. The dome structure is a symbol of peace and has four gilt images of the Buddha facing north, south, east and west.

It was built by Japanese Buddhists and opened in 1999. It is also known as the Shanti Stupa, which is Sanskrit for Peace Pagoda.

Food & accommodation

There are a few guest houses near the Peace Pagoda which also serve food. There is also the upmarket Raniban Retreat, a 10min walk to the west of the Peace Pagoda.

TRIP NOTES

Boat & foot: The most popular and scenic way to hike to the Peace Pagoda is by firstly
making a boat trip from Lakeside to the other side of the lake. The trail begins after you’ve
passed through the Lychee Garden Hotel on the lakeshore and it winds up through the lush
Raniban forest. If you want to return the same way, ask your oarsman to wait for you at the
bottom or row yourself across.
Hiking Time: 45mins one way
Taxi: If you take a taxi to the Peace Pagoda, perhaps visit Devi’s Falls, Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave or the International Mountain Museum on the way back to Pokhara.
Price: Rs800/1,200 one way/return from central Lakeside
Foot: This longer hike begins from Damside. Cross over the dam and follow the path through the Raniban up to the Peace Pagoda.
Time: approx. 2 hours
Motorbike & bicycle: Ride south along the Lakeside road until you come to Sahid Chowk
and turn right. Continue straight until the next intersection and turn right again. Continue along this road (Damside Marg) and when you come to the next intersection turn right once more. Continue along the Siddhartha Highway for 3.7km and after starting to climb up the hill there is a right turn and sign to the Peace Pagoda.

TIBETAN

REFUGEE SETTLEMENTS

Following the Tibetan Uprising and exile of the Dalai Lama from Tibet in 1959, over 20,000 Tibetan refugees migrated from Tibet to Nepal. Since then many have migrated onto India or have settled in refugee camps in Pokhara and Kathmandu. Up until 1989, these refugees were issued refugee ID cards and were provided with economic assistance; however, since the Nepalese/Chinese trade agreement, Nepal has agreed not to recognize Tibetan refugees.Consequently, refugees are not allowed to own land, legally work, drive cars or claim any government benefits. You may see in Lakeside women dressed in Tibetan clothing selling handmade Tibetan jewellery and other tourist souvenirs, as this provides these women with a modest income. There are four Tibetan Refugee Settlements in and around Pokhara, including Tashi Palkhiel, Tashi Ling, Jampaling and Paljorling.

TASHI PALKHIEL

This is one of the largest Tibetan Refugee Camps in Nepal and is home to around 1000 Tibetan refugees. It is located off the Baglung Highway to the north-west of Pokhara and overlooks the Seti River and the Himalayas. Here there is also a large monastery, Jangchub Choeling, which was built in 1963 by Lama Dupsing Rinpoche as well as a small carpet factory which generates some income and jobs.

TASHI LING

This refugee camp is the closest one to Lakeside, located in Chhorepatan not far past Devi’s Falls (see Pokhara map I19). It runs a carpet handicraft center, providing employment opportunity and source of income to the settlers. The co-operative maintains a small poultry farm and there is also a TIbetan Medical Centre, where you can see a Tibetan doctor and
purchase Tibetan medicine.

MOUNTAIN MUSEUM

With an objective of maintaining systematic records of the successful eight thousanders, geographic flora and fauna and human activities in the range, the International mountain Museum has been established at the foot step of Fishtail peak and gate way to the Himalayan mountain region. The shape of the museum roof itself resembles mountain skyline to any visitor before entering the museum main gate.

TRIP NOTES

Motorbike/bicycle: The museum is located by the Seti Gandaki river on the other side of the airport. To get there, follow Lakeside Rd south, then turn right onto Damside Rd. At Birauta Chowk, take the second exit left, Pardi Bazaar Rd. Follow this road until Hotel Jal Mahal and then turn right. Continue for 650m and the museum entry is on the right.

Taxi: A return trip costs Rs600 from Lakeside
Open: 9am – 5pm daily
Entry: Rs400 (foreigner), Garden entry Rs20
www.internationalmountainmuseum.com

GURKHA

MEMORIAL MUSEUM

Gurkha soldiers have been a part of the British Army since 1815 and later a part of the Indian Army since 1947. The museum concentrates on their history up to the present-day British and Indian Armies. The displays include hundreds of photographs of the many campaigns in which the Gurkhas took part as well as their regimental life. Displays also include uniforms they wore, items they used and medals they won. Details of the Gurkha Victoria Cross winners, the highest bravery medal, with their citations can also be viewed.

TRIP NOTES

Motorbike/bicycle: The museum is located in front of the British Gurkha Camp in northern Pokhara, past the KI Singh bridge and just off Lamachaur Rd.To get there, drive up the Baglung Hwy and turn right at Bindhyabasini Temple (opp. Sarangkot road). At the end of the road, turn left and continue until the end. Turn left again and follow the road over KI Singh Bridge. At the first split veer left and then take the first right. The museum is on the left.
Taxi: Taxis from Lakeside cost Rs600/900 one way/return
Open: 8am – 4:30pm daily
Entry: Rs200 (foreigner), Camera Rs20, Video Rs50
www.gurkhamuseum.org.np

Tours in Pokhara

With professional mountain guides & certified companies