13 Best Things to do in Pokhara, Nepal

Pokhara is Nepal’s not-so-secret holiday getaway spot for Nepali and international tourists, and there’s a good reason for that. Pokhara has the best all-year-round climate in Nepal, with temperatures reaching no lower than 15°C on a winter’s day, while maximum temperatures can reach 30 °C.

Pokhara is located some seven hours drive west of the capital, Kathmandu, or a quick but stunning 22-minute flight. Views of the Himalayas are awe-inspiring. Once you arrive in Pokhara, life will begin to mellow out, and you’ll notice a relaxed vibe, giving the complete opposite feel of being in Kathmandu. With mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and treks, Pokhara has become the adventure capital of Nepal. Here are the best things to do in Pokhara, including information on how to get to Pokhara from Kathmandu.


Best Things to do in Pokhara, Nepal


Lake Phewa

Lake Phewa Landscape With Reflections

Lake Phewa, Fewa, or Fewa Lake, is the only lake in Pokhara and is quite magnificent. It is the main attraction in Pokhara, as the city wraps around its grassy shores for as far as the eye can see, and one of the best things to see in Pokhara. This lake is known for having reflections of the Himalayas upon its surface, including the sacred peak of Machapuchare and neighboring peaks such as Annapurna. It’s also one of the busiest places to visit in Pokhara and remains that way until sundown. Daily, thousands of pilgrims take colorful wooden boats to the Phewa Tal Temple, situated a few hundred meters off-shore.

Getting to the World Peace Pagoda often requires hiring a boat or a doonga and rower to cross the calm waters to the trailhead that leads up Ananda Hill, usually taking 30 to 40 minutes each way. Getting to the trailhead is the easy part as hundreds of boats are available for hire, but after the steep hike and time spent at the World Peace Pagoda, there’s a good chance your rower and boat have long set course for the other side of the lake. Do not worry, as the odd Nepali waits for tourists at the shore, or if not, sit back at a local lakeside restaurant and have a cold beer. More on the World Peace Pagoda later.

Lake Phewa is also the most photographed site in Pokhara, as boats are not in use, and the shores are lined, while glorious peaks fill the skies in almost every direction. Sunrise is the best time to get the camera out, especially if it’s a clear morning when the alpenglow hits the peaks of the Himalayas. Make sure to read up on other Nepal hikes!


Phewa Tal Temple

Phewa Tal Temple

Phewa Tal Temple or Varahi Mandir Temple is one of the smallest temples in Pokhara, but one of the most fun to get to! This temple requires the use of a boat to get to and costs 50 Nepalese rupees for a return trip. Located about 300 meters off the shore of Lake Phewa, the Varahi Mandir Temple is sacred to the Hindu and celebrates the god, Vishnu; the protector of the universe. Visiting this temple is one of the best things to do in Pokhara.

The Varahi Mandir Temple is insanely busy with a constant queue of boats lining up to dock on the little island so if you are keen on checking it out, get down to dock at Lakeside Pokhara just after sunrise to avoid the thousands that come here each day. Once on the island, there isn’t anything to do apart from pay respects to Vishnu within the temple. By midday and late afternoon, moving around the lakefront can be a challenge as hundreds, if not thousands of Hindu pilgrims from Kathmandu, even India, come to visit this little island, and it’s an amazing thing to see in Nepal.


Davi’s Fall

Davi’s Fall In Pokhara Nepal

The water from Lake Phewa has to go somewhere, and Davi’s Fall is the place! Only 10 minutes drive from Lakeside, Davi’s Fall is a bit like the Seti River Gorge, but instead, this waterfall is underground and is a perfect hangout spot during Pokhara’s humid days. For a little side adventure, put Davi’s Fall and the World Peace Pagoda on the same list as the pagoda can be accessed without having to do the hour-long trek, plus it’s only 20 rupees to enter.


World Peace Pagoda

World Peace Pagoda In Pokhara Nepal

The World Peace Pagoda might be the best thing to do in Pokhara, but getting there is a classic Nepali challenge. The challenge usually only involves a trek, but it’s well worth it. At Lake Phewa, where the doonga or wooden boats are docked, you’ll need to hire a boat with a rower and row on over to the other side of the lake to the start of a steep trail. To hire a boat costs 500 rupees one way but feel free to haggle for a price, 350 rupees is ideal for a one-way trip.

Sitting at a nice 967 meters above the city of Pokhara is the World Peace Pagoda. To take the hard but more beautiful way up, you’ll need to be fit. This trail will take you past mountainside villages where views of Pokhara are dotted the whole way up. It takes about one hour at a slow pace to reach the top. As the name suggests, The World Peace Pagoda was constructed to promote peace on earth, and there is a feeling of calm, beauty, and quiet as you walk around this pagoda in a clockwise direction.

360-degree views give the opportunity to see Machapuchare, known as the Fishtail or the Annapurna Himal, while the city of Pokhara seems endless to the eye. Sunrise is especially beautiful from the pagoda and will offer the best chance of seeing the mountains before clouds begin to form. After visiting the World Peace Pagoda, there are a few awesome cafes towards the trailhead and the best dining views in Pokhara so don’t feel the rush to head back down, take as much of the peace in as possible.


Old Pokhara

A Photo Of Old Pokhara From A Rooftop
Rooftop sunrise in Pokhara

Pokhara’s Old Town is about a 20 to 30-minute drive from the lakeside, and if you want to avoid insane traffic lines, head out early. With a hint of Kathmandu’s Durbar Square and a mix of Ghandruk, Pokhara’s Old Town is very different from the tourist shops along the lakeside part of Pokhara.

The Hindu religion has many gods, and there’s one for pretty much everything. Even business and trade come in the form of Bhima or Bhimsen, a god with extraordinary strength. In Old Pokhara, Bhima is worshipped by a 200-year-old shrine that tourists cannot enter, but it’s still worth checking out.

Old towns are also great for celebrating traditional foods so if you are only planning to visit Pokhara, this is your opportunity to taste Nepali cuisines such as Daal Bhat translating to lentils and rice or momo’s which are more of a treat for the Nepali people especially buff momo made from water buffalo meat.


Paraglide Among the Mountains

Paragliding In Pokhara Nepal

If you are walking along the lake’s edge after sunrise, you’ll notice hundreds of circling parachutes descending from a nearby mountaintop. What makes Pokhara one of the best places in the world to paraglide is the backdrop of the Himalaya, Lake Phewa, and the World Peace Pagoda in the distance. If you have the opportunity, a sunrise glide would be amazing.

The chances of seeing the mountains are better in the morning as clouds are all but gone (depending on the time of year), and the peaks of the mountains are pink and orange. Paragliding in Nepal might seem a bit on the crazy adventure side of things, but a few operators are trusted as there are many tour operators, but not all have a 100% safety record. Blue Sky Paragliding is idyllic, with sessions running for 20 minutes and multiple glides. If you want to book a tour around Pokhara or are planning on trekking the Annapurna, Mustang guides and porters are available on the main street of Pokhara on Ratnapuri.


Trekking in the Himalayas

Annapurna Panorama Trek With Prayer Flags Over Trail

Pokhara is one of the closest cities to the Himalayas, meaning within a few hour’s drive, you’ll be at the foothills of the mighty mountains. North of Pokhara is the Annapurna Panorama Trek, a 5 to 7-day trek through glorious mountainside villages jungles, and with views of mountains that are some of the tallest in the world (including that of Annapurna and Machapuchare).

If you need trekking gear, you can find almost everything in Pokhara, from jackets to tents, hiking poles, and camera equipment. If you’re planning on coming prepared, you can find great hiking gear here. Getting to the start of the trek is fairly easy. It takes around 4 to 5 hours by jeep or bus to a place called Ulleri. The trip will cost around USD 100.


Seti River Gorge

Seti River Gorge

Waterfalls are gorges, a seriously underrated natural feature in Nepal. Hundreds of thousands are dotted throughout this hilly country. Despite being quite far from the Himalayas mountains, Pokhara receives over 3,500mm of rain annually during the monsoon season. This is a serious amount, and all that water has to do is go somewhere!

The Seti River Gandaki originates close to the base of Machapuchare to the north and winds its way to Pokhara and beyond. For only 25 rupees, you can view the gushing river and chasm passing underneath a strange-looking bridge that, if you are game enough, you can stand on. Located near Old Pokhara, head to a small park in a northerly direction and follow the river.


Lakeside Dining

Nepali Thali Meal

Honestly, I would travel to Pokhara just to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner by Lake Phewa for three reasons:

  1. Sitting lakeside and watching the world go by as boats row back and forth to Phewa Tal Temple makes for an interesting breakfast.
  2. Nothing beats crunching on a meal of chips and chapatti with a dash of ketchup while watching clouds roll past Machapuchare as paragliders descend from Sarangkot. Exciting lunch for sure!
  3. Dining lakeside is always vibrant and full of life with nightly cultural performances entailing dancing, music and many laughs.

There is an almost endless list of restaurants to choose from, as you could eat at a different place every night of the year and still not taste everything. Most places along the front of Lake Phewa offer good views and the same prices; it’s just a matter of picking a place and ordering.


River Rafting

Rafting in Nepal is considered one of the best spots in Asia to undertake this extreme activity. Thousands of people each year travel to Pokhara with their own kayak to tame the thunderous rapids or just want to jump on board with an experienced guide to see what it is all about. Most tours are run on the Seti River which winds its way through Pokhara and beyond. Like most outdoor tours and activities in Pokhara, bookings and information on river rafting can be seen on the main street in Pokhara.


Sarangkot

Sarangkot At Sunrise With Amazing Views

Sarangkot is the mountain getaway from the mountain getaway. Views are often exceptional from Pokhara, but Sarangkot is the place to see a sunrise over the Himalayas. It’s a top spot to go if you aren’t hiking and won’t have an opportunity to get up close and personal with these giants of nature.

Sarangkot is a busy place day in and day out as locals and tourists looking to catch a sunrise or sunset over the Himalayas, but it’s also a great place to stay and escape from the bustling streets of Pokhara. Accommodation is plentiful, with rates starting at 1,500 rupees.

Sarangkot is also where the paragliders take off from and begin twirling descent to lakeside Pokhara. If you have booked a sunrise paraglide, a good option would be to stay in Sarangkot the night before to save the windy mission up the mountain in the early morning hours.


Mahendra Cave

Mahendra Cave With Waterfall Inside

Pokhara is known for its epic underground system of caves, some of which can be easily explored with or without a local guide. Mahendra Cave’s limestone means there are stalactites and stalagmites, and if you can tell me which is which, you’d be a winner! Getting to Mahendra Cave can take one hour from Lakeside Pokhara, so leave early before the traffic slows things down!


Begnas Lake

Boats On Lake Begnas Lake In Pokhara Nepal

Still wondering what to do in Pokhara? Lake Phewa might not be the cleanest lake to swim amongst in Pokhara. Luckily there are other options to cool down during Pokhara’s warm summer days. Begnas Lake is Nepal’s third largest lake and a very much idyllic place to hire a boat or kayak or simply relax along one its shorelines. Surrounding Lake Begnas are mountains lush in rainforests while farming happens close by due to the fantastic availability of water. Homestays and guesthouses are also available in the area!


How do you get to Pokhara from Kathmandu?

Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu and Pokhara are separated by 206 kilometers of extremely under-maintained roads. They are dusty and often run into a traffic jam before even leaving Kathmandu. However, if you decide to take a jeep or bus to Pokhara, it is quite an epic experience and one you may never get to try again.

Depending on the time of day, weather, and mode of transport, the journey can take anywhere from six to 10 hours. During this trip, you will see many awesome views and opportunities to see the countryside of Nepal. Just make sure to pack snacks and treats, as it could be a long day on the road!

Sunrise Over The Himalaya Mountains

Flying to Pokhara from Kathmandu is my favorite way to get there, as this flight is one of the most scenic flights in the world. No matter what your ticket says, it’s generally a rush to get a seat on the right-hand side of the plane—everyone wants to see the Himalayas on this flight!

Kathmandu to Pokhara takes about 25 to 30 minutes and is best done early in the morning to avoid chaos at Tribhuvan Domestic Airport. Airlines such as Simrik, Tara Air, Yeti Airlines, and Buddha Air have great safety records. One-way tickets cost around 13,000 rupees.


About Cameron Seagle

Cameron Seagle is one of the principal writers and photographers for The World Pursuit. He is a travel expert that has been traveling the world for the past decade. During this time, he established a passion for conservation and environmental sustainability. When not traveling, he's obsessed with finding the best gear and travel products. In his free time, you can find him hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, and snowboarding. His favorite countries are Scotland, Indonesia, Mozambique, Peru, Italy, and Japan.

You can learn more about Cameron on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

Leave a Comment