The we enjoyed our time in the capital, we escaped the noisy and crowded streets of our one day stay in Kathmandu, Nepal to visit a city that had a much different atmosphere to offer its visitors. Pokhara is a beautiful lake-side city situated to the East of Kathmandu in the Annapurna Mountain Range.
It is a lengthy seven hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara through some extremely sharp turning and narrow roads that wrap around mountain sides while at some points passing through lovely small towns. The bus ride itself is part of the adventure that Pokhara offers its guests.
Yet there is still so much more that this lovely town can provide any visitor from canoeing the lake to enjoying the sunrise at the top of the mountain. We fell in love with this city and it left a lasting impression on the two of us. We have nothing but fond memories of Pokhara and we want to share with you the perfect 3 days in Pokhara itinerary with you.
How to Get to Pokhara from Kathmandu
There are a few options to choose from when getting to Pokhara from Kathmandu. Some more expensive than others but allow you to skip the journey of winding through mountain sides with a wheel almost hanging over an edge. However, this is part of the adventure of getting to this magical town.
- Hire a Driver
This is the most expensive of the options costing around $100 USD and up depending on the season. This is a short 30 minute flight and saves you the worry and stress of having to experience the drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, so if you prefer flying this is definitely the choice that we would recommend.
This is the next option to get to Pokhara from Kathmandu and it can either be more expensive than flying if you are just a single person taking the ride or less expensive if you have one or more people with you. Hiring a driver allows you a little bit less of a worry wrapping around the mountain cliffs as the vehicles are smaller. You also have a little bit more control of where you want to stop than you would if you were to take a bus. This is a good choice if you want to be able to have the comfort and control of being around people that you know.
This is the option that we chose when getting to Pokhara and we do not regret it. The tickets cost us approximately $8 USD each and on the way to Pokhara we enjoyed a less fancy and crammed tourist bus, while on the way back we got on a much nicer and less crowded tourist bus.
The cost of our tickets was approximately $8 USD each for a one way from Kathmandu to Pokhara leaving at 7 a.m. in Thamel just a few minute walk from our accommodation. Our bags were strapped to the roof and the bus was completely packed with other travelers and locals alike.
When the bus reached the outskirts of the city the winding road through the mountains began. Thus began the journey of lanes only big enough to barely allow two cars to drive on, and in some spots just one. Whenever the bus approached a bend, the unique horn of the bus would sound to warn any approaching vehicles on the other end that it was coming. If we looked out our window to the ground, we could see the wheel just barely on the road. Another inch and it would be hanging off the road with a large drop to the bottom of the mountain. The skill of these drivers is incredible, to be able to maneuver the bus around these bends, keeping the wheels on the road, and passing by oncoming vehicles with just enough room.
Our first stop came quickly after leaving Kathmandu. The bus pulled over to the side of the road for approximately 15 minutes, and we were able to buy items from a small shop and to get tea and a hot snack from a vendor on the road where we bought Nepalese tea and curry potatoes. Before boarding the bus, we bought water and some chocolates from someone selling them on the street. We were prepared for the remainder of our ride.
A few hours later, we stopped for approximately 30 minutes at a small town where we took the opportunity to wander and interact with the locals. Here, we purchased some of the juiciest oranges I have ever eaten at a small market, and walked the streets of the city to see the everyday life. We walked into a store and bought some drinks, interacted with some children after their day at school, and slowly made our way back to the bus.
The bus ride saw amazing views of the mountains, settlements along the highways, the infrastructure of the country, and the rope bridges that extend across the Seti River. It offered us a short opportunity to get a glimpse of everyday life during our 7 hour journey as we glared out the window throughout the day. Though it is not the best way to see a country, it sure is an added bonus to be able to see these aspects of a country when traveling from city to city. Finally, when the Annapurna Mountain Range came into sight it was evident that after seven hours of driving, we had arrived in Pokhara.
Things to Do and Places to See in Pokhara, Nepal
Our three days in Pokhara, Nepal flew by. From the time we arrived until the time we left, we were constantly doing something or finding something to do. It was not hard to find something to do. Three days was a good amount of time to stay in the city, but we would recommend to stay a couple of more days if you have the time. During our three days in Pokhara, this is what we did:
- Canoe Fewa Lake
- Sunrise at Sarangkot
- Hiking Pokhara
- Paragliding in Pokhara
To rent a canoe for an hour is less than $3 USD. You can also hire someone to do the paddling for you for a little more money, but we opted to rent a canoe for an hour. We did not tour the entire lake, but we saw some beautiful views of the Annapurna Mountain Range that we would not be able to see from within the city, we circled the middle island, and went back to return the canoe.
Walking throughout Pokhara provides you with many views of the Annapurna mountain range and allows for some great photos of the mountains from within the city. However, some of the mountains are hidden by Sarangkot mountain. To get the full effect of the massive mountain range, take a canoe out on Fewa Lake and get the perfect photos of the mountain range from the lake.
Besides sitting back and enjoying environment and views that Phewa Tal has to offer, you can also choose to hike to the top of the World Peace Pagoda. It is on the other side of the lake from where you can rent canoes, and it just a 30-45 minute hike to the top from there (refer to the map to find the starting point). You can ask for directions or just follow the boats to the other side of the lake that drop off hikers. Another thing you can do is dock your canoe and get off on the island in the middle of the lake to see the small Barahi Temple. It is small, but a nice place to get off while on the lake if you want to stretch out those legs. Continue canoeing the lake to see Pokhara and the mountains in the background from different angles.
Though it is not the highlight of Pokhara, Fewa Lake is definitely a place worth relaxing on in a canoe. Sitting in a canoe on the calm lake, with the incredible views of the city, Sarangkot Mountain, and Annapurna mountain range is a worthwhile experience for anyone in Pokhara.
When getting to the top of Sarangkot Mountain to see the sunrise, you can either choose to hike to the top or take a taxi to the top, or even a combination of the two. We chose to book a tour that was a day trek and the very beginning of the day trek was seeing the sunrise. But we did not trek. We took a taxi. If you are prepared to wake up at 3:30 a.m. to see the sunrise then trekking it would be worthwhile. It will take you 2+ hours to hike there on foot.
The journey for us began bright and early at 5:00 AM when we woke up, packed our bags, and met our guide in the lobby of our accommodation at 5:30 AM. So, we loaded up into a taxi and drove up the mountain to catch the sunrise. I know, driving up a mountain isn’t any ones idea of hiking, but the guide assured us that we would not miss much and the true beauty laid after the sunrise on the journey we would set out on. Fair enough, I prefer driving up mountains anyways.
We got up to the top of the mountain around 6:00 AM and prepared for the sunrise around 6:30 AM. I set up my cameras, we took some pictures together, and we awaited the sun to illuminate the Annapurna mountain range. It…was…breathtaking. I know it has been said many times before, but it was.
The clouds surrounded Sarangkot to the east, and as the sun rose above them it set ablaze the Annapurna mountain range to the west. The view of the sun rising above the clouds to the east and the mountains turning a bright orange to the west made it a difficult decision where to look. However, it was a fairly crowded area where we were standing which took away from the moment. Nonetheless, if you find yourself in Pokhara, Nepal, you must catch the mountain sunrise view from the top of Sarangkot mountain.
There were areas to sit and relax while the sun rose and a place to order tea or coffee with a server coming around for orders. We ordered Nepalese tea and sat back to enjoy the sunrise together. Also, there was a shop that sold pashmina (a fine type of cashmere wool) woven products like shawls and rugs. It was interesting to see the precision and details that are added to every thread that is added to the pashmina products. We decided to pick up a rug and a couple of pashmina shawls for family back home. The rug cost us approximately $20 USD and the shawls were a little cheaper.
Following the sunrise and pashmina shopping, we continued our day trek through the mountainous areas that surround Pokhara, into small hill-side villages, and up to the Australian Base Camp. It was a beautiful sunny day trek that will be outlined in a future post. Enjoy the footage and pictures of the sunrise from on top of Sarangkot mountain, and let us know if you have been there and send us the pictures you took. If you have not yet seen the mountain sunrise view from Sarangkot, and you have a trip planned to Pokhara, Nepal, then you need to go see it for yourself.
Though it would have been quite the experience to trek the Annapurna circuit, we were short on time. The next time we return to Nepal, it will purely be for a hiking adventure in the mountains to add to our travel checklist. We had just one more full day in Pokhara. It had already been decided that we would use that day solely for hiking. And it was well worth it.
To hire someone to take us on our hike cost us approximately $120 USD. This was a full day hike from before the sunrise at 5:30 AM – close to the sunset at 7:00 PM.
We began our day bright and early, at 5:00 AM, to get to the top of Sarangkot mountain to see the sunrise as we had mentioned before. Afterwards we hopped back in the taxi and were taken about 15 minutes away to the starting point of our day trek where we would be hiking to the Australian Base Camp.
Unfortunately, something was not sitting right with me from the previous night’s dinner. I felt it in my stomach after the sunrise, and I had to go to the bathroom. I knew I would not make it to the base camp without going. Luckily, the guide said he knew a place where I could go. Surrounded by small homes of a village at the base of a mountain, he took me into the backyard of somebody’s home by unlatching the gate and pointed towards the outhouse with a hole in the ground. At that point, I was just glad it had a door to hide me from the outside world. Traveling is not always as beautiful as sunrises and sunsets. I finished my business and we were on our way, but not after meeting the lovely old lady that shooed me away with her hand when I exited the outhouse with her nice big dog at her side. What a start to our one day trek in Pokhara, Nepal.
The walk up the green mountain was a lovely ascent with some steep steps along the way. We were greeted at various points to small farming communities waking up and slowly preparing for the day. Along the way we saw a large cow in the middle of the path, goats soaking in the rising sun, and a small puppy and child, all the while looking around at the increasingly magnificent view with every step upwards.
Finally, just before noon we arrived at the Australian Base Camp. From here we enjoyed a beautiful view of the Annapurna Mountain Range and brunch. As with every meal in Nepal, we had some Nepali tea. A perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea. We also ordered banana pancakes and eggs from the small restaurant. We rested there for about an hour, staring at the mountains and sitting back in the chairs. After the lovely brunch, we began our descent down the other side of the mountain. Our one day trek in Pokhara, Nepal seemed as though it was coming to an end.
With the Annapurna Mountain Range to our left, we descended the mountain through forested areas and open fields. Along the way, we heard music in the distance that became increasingly audible as we continued moving down the mountain. Finally, we looked over a small cliff to a party in the hills that was being held for the little kids. Equipped with a large speaker, the kids were dancing and having fun in the mountains above the clouds. We joined in for some fun and photos with the kids before making our way further down the hill.
Shortly after, we found ourselves passing through a small village in the hills. Our guide passed by a house, talked to the lady and brought us into their outdoor living area. This is where we would have our dinner with a great view of the Annapurna Mountain Range, a look into their everyday lives, and a great experience.
Following the meal, we continued on our trek through forested areas and made a steep descent before finally arrived at the base of the mountain. Our guide had his driver waiting for us, and our amazing day trek came to an abrupt end as we made our way towards our hostel in Pokhara.
A small bus arrived in the morning to pick us up and take us to the top of Sarangkot, a mountain overlooking Pokhara. We drove up the winding roads to the top of the mountain and passed the different roadside homes that live along the mountainside. Students were making their long walk to their schools bright and early in the morning. It was an interesting drive to the top and we got to see what we would miss hiking to the top of Sarangkot as the next day we did get to see the sunrise at the top of the mountain, but chose not to hike it to save time.
When we arrived at the top, several others were already in the sky and we were just two of many who had signed up on this beautiful morning to take the leap. There are several companies in Pokhara that you can sign up with and they all seem to fly from the same grassy plain at some point on Sarangkot mountain that has a nice clearing to allow for take off.
At this point, we were teamed up with our paragliders as we would be riding tandem. They talked to us about what we needed to do on take off and landing to ensure a safe takeoff and a safe landing. Basically on takeoff they will direct you to help them by walking to get the parachute up and then to run as fast as you can to get the forward momentum needed to get off the ledge. Once you are getting close to landing they ask that you keep your feet tucked in and up so that they can take care of the landing until they are ready for you to put your feet down. It was a simple process you just need to listen to their instructions.
Once you take off you are at the mercy of your pilot. I brought my camera along and shot as many videos and photos as you could. Of course I gripped that camera as tight as I could and was terrified of dropping it. However, that terrified feeling was easily replaced by the feeling of flying hundred of feet in the air over Pokhara.
We never flew over the actual city itself or the lake, but over the mountain side forests and homesteads from Sarangkot down to Fewa Lake. The experience was over all too soon, but the feeling remained long after landing. The landing went smoothly on an opening right by the lake and we were dropped off back in the city of Pokhara where we then went to a local restaurant to enjoy a victory meal.
Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal was an incredible experience, and one that we will not soon forget. The weather could not have been better. The views of the beautiful Nepalese villages along the hillsides and off in the distance, Pokhara and the lake below my feet, the birds and other paragliders in the skies, the looming Annapurna mountain range in the distance, it all culminated into a magnificent 30 minute ride that included lots of wow’s and photos. It was too quickly concluded.
Expect the price for paragliding from Sarangkot to be about 8,500 Nepalese Rupees. This includes approximately 30 minutes worth of flight time from the ledge of Sarangkot to the lakeside where there is a landing zone.
The flight zigzags along the mountain side and over the surrounding trees and hills, providing an incredible view of the city, rural homesteads in the mountains, and the lake itself. At no point did we ever go directly above the city of Pokhara or Phewa Lake. There are other flight options that include cross-country flights and longer flights as well that you can book if you are willing to spend more money on this. We were more than happy spending what we did for what we received in return.
On this flight you can take your camera along with you, but you are warned that if it is broken or if you drop it, it is your loss and not the companies responsibility. You can also opt to have them film and take photos with a GoPro for an added cost. It was approximately another 1,500 – 2,500 Nepalese Rupees for this service and they provide you with a CD with all they filmed once you arrive back in their office in Pokhara.
If you are looking for a company to book your paragliding tour through, simply walk along the main drag of Pokhara and you will be introduced to more than a handful of tour companies that offer this service. It is not difficult to find things to do in Pokhara. If you do not want to go through the hassle of searching for the right company, simply talk to your host or accommodation owner and they would likely be happy to book it for you as we did. Alternatively you can book your paragliding adventure before leaving while online without any worries or hassle.
Paragliding in Pokhara, Nepal is highly recommended. Visiting Pokhara is a must when you are in Nepal. Make your time worth while there and book a flight. Get a view of the area that cannot be matched by anything else. Bring your camera with you (you are liable if you drop it) and get some shots of the countryside.
Pokhara Sightseeing Tour
There are a lot of things that you can do when in Pokhara. If you have a limited amount of time, perhaps it may be better to book yourself a tour. Especially if you want to go hiking in Pokhara and you do not know where to go and what to see. This is what we did when we were in Pokhara and we never regretted it.
There are several tours that you can book in advance before leaving for Pokhara. It is a city that is extremely popular for its hiking trails. From the short ones to the long ones, there are treks to satisfy anybody who wants to get out there and see more of the mountains.
Alternatively you can book tours of the city and surrounding areas based on what we have discussed in this itinerary. Having a local show you the way is sometimes the best way to travel a place you had never seen before.
Where to Eat in Pokhara
Pokhara is not a big town by any stretch of the imagination. It is a backpacker town where those who visit are mostly passing through and are either starting or finishing their trek. The best places to visit for a bite to eat are along the road of the lakeside. There are various restaurants of all types that will satisfy your taste buds while also having various roadside stalls with fresh fruit and drinks at various spots throughout the stretch of road that extends closer to the lake. This stretch of road is also where you are going to find the nightlife in Pokhara including bars and restaurants that are open late.
Best Place to Stay in Pokhara
When choosing a place to stay in Pokhara, you should be looking for a place as close to the lakeside as possible. This is where the best restaurants and nightlife in Pokhara is. It is where all of the action is when you are visiting the city and the best area to stay.
These lakeside hotels in Pokhara are the perfect places to choose when you are looking for accommodation. Those hotels, hostels, or guest houses that offer the perfect location.
- Lakeside Hotel in Pokhara
- Cheap Hotels in Pokhara
If you are looking for a great place to stay in Pokhara that will provide more than just a roof over your head during your time in this beautiful town, there are several options for you to choose from. You can sink your teeth into resorts and spa hotels along the lakeside and really enjoy every moment of your time in Pokhara. Here are a few that will not fall in the budget hotel range, but will definitely pamper you beyond what other hotels in Pokhara will.
If you are just looking for a place that provides a roof over your head with prime location, there are a few places that will provide you just that. Fortunately Pokhara has a wide range of places for you to stay that match any budget range. Here are a few of the best choices with prime location along the lake.
Best Time to Visit Pokhara, Nepal
The best time of year to visit Pokhara is between the end of October to the beginning of June. This is when there is minimal precipitation, it is comfortable to warm weather, and mostly clear skies. Between June and October, the weather is hot to warm, overcast, and the most rain falls on the city during this time.
In April to the beginning of June you will experience the most comfortable weather getting up to slightly above 30 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas October to March it will be fairly cool falling to slightly below 20 degrees Celsius or below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
We visited at the beginning of December and it was the perfect weather for us to wander around the city in pants and a shirt without having to worry about getting to cold or too hot. When we went hiking, we wore extra layers especially for the mornings. However, during the day it got way too hot for those layers.
Our time in Pokhara was incredible. Some of the best travel memories that we have ever had together were experienced in this beautiful lake-side town. It was where our first adventures began together as a couple. It helped us fall in love with each other and fall in love with travel together.
We would definitely recommend that you visit Pokhara. Get out of Kathmandu and away from the noise pollution to experience an oasis in Pokhara. You will not regret it.
Have you ever traveled to Pokhara? What was your experience like? We would love to hear more about your experience there or answer any questions you have. Leave a comment below.