If you were planning a ‘staycation’ in Nepal, you would likely be organising an itinerary for Pokhara. This lakeside town is number one for domestic Nepalese tourists and a firm favourite with international visitors.
With picturesque landscapes and just the right amount of tourist infrastructure, it’s somewhere you can easily spend some time. For me, it was part of a relaxing transition from trekking before returning to the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu.
Read on for my top activities that I experienced during my stay:
1: Street Food Dining at Sunset
The town centre of Pokhara, known as ‘Lakeside’ sits along one shoreline and is where most tourists will spend the majority of their stay. Across the water is a magnificent view of hills moving up to mountains including the infamous ‘Fishtail’. I would encourage everyone to explore the length of Lakeside as it is large enough to provide a good variety of shops and cuisines, including a number of street food options. With beautiful sunsets almost every night, grab some grilled meat kebabs, samosas and coconut waters and sit on the grass for an extremely affordable meal with amazing views. Friday nights in particular are the most bustling ahead of Nepal’s one-day weekend and almost every lakefront bar will also have live music taking place.
2: Row Boats
For a handful of US dollars, you can row, or be rowed, around and across Lake Fewa. My recommendation would be to hire a boat for the day. This way you can row yourself across to where you can leave the boat while exploring the peace pagoda and stupa and not be in any hurry to return it. It’s also the only way to access the Hindu temple on the small island. On hot days, the clean water away from the shoreline will tempt you to jump overboard for a swim!
3: World Peace Pagoda and Stupa
These are located across the lake from Lakeside and up a 40-minute hill-walk. The pagoda is a relatively modern structure which provides a shaded place to sit while taking in the view of the entire town. The stupa is extremely large and beautiful with four impressive Buddha statues. My top tip is to take socks if the weather is warm. No shoes are allowed while walking around the stupa and the paving stones can quickly become too hot for bare feet.
Pokhara is a good place to get your Nepal souvenirs. You avoid the crowded stores of Thamel in Kathmandu, yet still benefit from numerous stores selling all the tourist favourites at competitive prices.
There are a number of places to take a one-off class or retreats for longer, more immersive, stays. I had an amazing time at, and can happily recommend Purna Yoga Retreat, which I described in detail HERE.
If you go trekking in Nepal, you will quickly realise that just about every lodge has the same menu, serving the same dishes. Therefore, Pokhara provided some much-missed variety in food. The multitude of cafés and restaurants ensure every variety of cuisine is provided and a mixture of places directed to Western or more local tourists guarantee a range of price points as well.
One new café in particular deserves special mention, You and I has recently opened on the main street, right next to Blue Sky Paragliding. It’s operated by a lovely English / Nepalese couple Amanda and Basanta who have created a wonderful space to spend some time while enjoying the lake view and Basanta’s delicious ‘fusion’ cooking. They kindly cooked gluten free meals for me, including 100% GF bread which I had as toast for breakfast one day. Such a treat!
7: Movie Nights
Keep an eye out for signs outside restaurants and bars for any movie screenings. Often these are free, or come with an unenforced expectation that some food or drink will be purchased. They are a great way to socialise or meet new friends and a great way to see classic favourites or even new blockbusters.
8: Classes at the monastery
Do stop by the Buddhist monastery in town. If you walk along the main road near Blue Sky Paragliding and ask, you will be pointed in the right direction. It’s not too far to walk up and you might be able to spend time with one or two of the monks. While I was there one of the resident llamas was giving talks in Buddhism, philosophy and meditation every evening around 5pm. There was no cost to this. I am sure any donation to assist in running the monastery would be much appreciated though.
What do you think would be your favourite activity in Pokhara?