From mystical temples to gorgeous mountain villages, there is no shortage of beautiful places to visit in Nepal. Lodged between the large masses of India and China, the little Himalayan nation may be small in comparison. However, its stunning scenery rivals that in the larger countries.
The country is home to some of the world’s highest and most famous mountains (ever heard of Mount Everest?). Many of the best places to visit in Nepal are surrounded by gorgeous mountains and lush landscape, making it a top travel destination.
Perhaps it’s hiking or trekking that you’re after. Maybe you’re looking for authentic cultural experiences or want to get close to the natural beauty. Whichever it is, traveling to Nepal will fill you with wonder and amazement. Have a look at these top places to visit in Nepal and start planning your next trip.
1. Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu’s Durbar Square in Nepal’s capital city is one of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley. You’ll find the others located within the cities of Patan and Bhaktapur.
The 2015 earthquake unfortunately destroyed a large part of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though rebuilding continues, I still consider this square to be one of the top places to visit in Nepal, and definitely one of the best things to do in Kathmandu.
Unfortunately, rubble now lies in the place of what were once some of the most beautiful buildings in Kathmandu. Despite this, it’s still possible to experience the country’s royal history and architectural heritage within the buildings spared from damage.
2. Chitwan National Park
This large national park, home to diverse eco-systems, is one of the more popular places to visit in Nepal. It’s not surprising that it can be found on almost every traveler’s itinerary.
The vegetation in Chitwan National Park is both of the tropical and sub-tropical kind. The park is home to a diverse amount of nature. Rivers, jungle and forest, rhinos, leopards, elephants, monkeys, bears and boars, crocodiles as well as several hundred species of birds.
You can also find Royal Bengal Tigers here. However, they are notoriously difficult to spot, unlike the rest of the wildlife! Visitors to the park commonly come on pre-arranged multi-day package tours. You can book these online, or via agents in cities frequented by tourists such as Kathmandu or Pokhara.
3. Patan, Lalitpur
You can reach the heritage city of Patan, located in the Kathmandu Valley, from the capital city. It is only 5 kilometers away public bus or taxi and is very well-known for its handicrafts. Patan should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Nepal if you are looking for souvenirs.
The craftsmen in Patan continue to work using traditional techniques and produce fantastic metal handicrafts and fine thangka paintings.
Patan is also home to numerous temples and monasteries as well as one of the three Durbar Squares in Kathmandu Valley which unfortunately sustained some visible damage in the 2015 earthquake.
This is the gateway to the Annapurna National Park and is one of the places to visit in Nepal if you plan on trekking in the Annapurna region.
Lakeside Pokhara at the shores of the beautiful Phewa Lake is packed with restaurants, bars and shops. Many of these cater to the needs of travelers and trekkers who stay here for a few days before and after their treks, either preparing for a trek or celebrating its completion.
Although practical, Pokhara town itself is not remarkable, but the lakeside is pretty and besides trekking in the mountains, there are lots of activities which start off from town.
You can use Pokhara as a base for caving, canoeing, whitewater rafting, paragliding and mountain biking. The town also lends itself to exploring the surrounding region, with equipment-rental shops and transport agencies lining the streets.
5. Annapurna Region (one of the most amazing places to visit in Nepal!)
Nepal’s Annapurna region is the most popular trekking region in the country since it is home to many treks at different levels. Whether you’re a hardcore trekking enthusiast or whether you just enjoy hiking, you will find that the trekking here is superb.
Spectacular mountain ranges, lush farmland and beautiful valleys give rise to unforgettable views, which is one of the biggest draws of travelers to the region. You’ll find various tea houses providing lodging facilities along the different trekking routes and they also serve a wide range of food including the trekker’s favorite, dal bhat.
Few people spend more than a single night at the tea houses since most are eager to get on with their trek. But the dramatic and picturesque locations of the guesthouses make spending more than one night in the shadow of the mountains worthwhile!
6. Swayambhunath (The Monkey Temple), Kathmandu
This is one of the best places to visit in Nepal, not only to see the domed stupa with its golden spire and the various temples and shrines at the site, but also for the panoramic views over Kathmandu city.
The steep climb up the 365 steps to the complex, also home to hundreds of sacred monkeys, may prove to be a little challenging. But the wonderful views and ornate temples justify any extra effort needed to access the site.
The monkeys are said to be sacred. The story goes that Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom and learning, was raising the hill on which the Swayambhu Stupa stands upon. During this time, he grew his hair, which subsequently became filled with head lice. Legend has it that the lice transformed into monkeys which then filled the temple.
The ancient city of Bhaktapur is an important landmark in the Kathmandu Valley and used to be on one of the major trade routes between China and India. It is home to some of the best art and architecture in the country and you can visit in an easy day trip from Kathmandu.
Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square was truly impressive before the damage sustained by the 2015 earthquake. Luckily some of the beautiful buildings have been spared, so you can still admire their intricate architecture.
Bhaktapur is also famous for its “King Curd” or Juju Dhau. It’s a yogurt made from buffalo milk and sweetened with Nepalese honey, known for its rich flavor.
The city of Bhaktapur is one of the most elegant and culturally important places to visit in Nepal and you can read more about it here.
Lumbini is known for being the birthplace of the Lord Buddha. Because of this, it’s an important pilgrimage site for Buddhist devotees from all over the world, making it one of the most spiritual places to visit in Nepal.
You’ll come across beautiful monasteries built by different countries scattered around the site. The most important temple of all though, is the Maya Devi Temple. It protects ancient ruins which are said to stand at the very location of Buddha’s birthplace.
It doesn’t matter whether you follow the Buddhist faith or not, or even whether you are religious at all. The site is worth visiting for its significance within the Buddhist world, and for the spiritual atmosphere rather than for its beauty.
9. Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu
My personal favorite of all the places to visit in Nepal, Buddhist monasteries surround this massive stupa. It’s common to see monks and other devotees praying and chanting as they walk around the stupa in a clockwise manner.
The stupa is located right in the heart of Kathmandu’s Tibetan community which is home to hundreds of Tibetan refugees. You can drink Tibetan butter tea at the cafes as you observe the prayer flags blowing in the wind and spinning prayer wheels filled with mantras.
Although the area around Boudhanath is typically buzzing with energy, the overall incense-filled vibes are very peaceful. You can observe the Buddha eyes or Wisdom eyes, on each of the four sides of the stupa symbolizing the all-seeing ability of the Buddha.
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10. Everest Base Camp
Surely one of the most mythical places to visit in Nepal, the base camp to the highest mountains in the world is probably the closest spot to Mount Everest in Nepal. Unless you are planning on climbing the mighty mountain of course!
Unlike the base camp on the Tibetan side of the mountain, the Nepali Everest Base Camp can only be accessed by means of a two-week trek which is one of the most popular trekking routes in all of Nepal.
The beautiful trek will give you fantastic views over the Himalayan mountain ranges and won’t cause you any problems if you’re a reasonably fit trekker. Sherpa villages and monasteries provide great resting stops along the way, also giving an insight into the rather harsh and basic, but rewarding, Himalayan mountain life.
The town is most famous for its sunrise views over the Himalayan mountain ranges. Even if you’re not trekking to Everest Base Camp, you can still experience sunrise over the imposing mountains from Nagarkot.
8 of the 13 Himalayan mountain ranges in Nepal can be observed from this spot. Apart from the stunning mountain views, Nagarkot is also a popular walking destination with lots of hiking trails snaking through its green forests.
Nagarkot provides a very peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. It’s a serene place in which to spend a few relaxing days soaking in the cool air surrounded by nature.
12. Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu
This temple is one of the holiest places for Hindu devotees in all of the country and definitely one of the most sacred places to visit in Nepal. Located at the banks of the Bagmati River, the temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is dedicated to a manifestation of Lord Shiva called Pashputi.
The actual temple cannot be accessed by non-Hindus but the bank on the opposite side of the river provides a good vantage point for observing life at the temple. Sadhus, the brightly robed ascetic yogis roam around and about the temple grounds meditating and reciting prayers. They will often pose for photos with tourists, though sometimes for a fee.
Hindu devotees come here during the last weeks of their lives to be cremated at the river banks. This is because it’s believed that those who die within the temple grounds are reborn as humans.
It is very common to observe cremations taking place here, but remember to be respectful of local customs. It’s definitely wise to read up on some tips before heading to the temple.
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Ready to Visit Nepal?!
Whether you’re thinking of making your way to Nepal to go trekking, or if it’s cultural experiences you’re after, be sure to include these 12 amazing places to visit in Nepal on your itinerary. You won’t be disappointed!
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