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Pokhara is the city where everybody goes in Nepal, because this is where treks start in Nepal. I was hesitating over writing an article about Pokhara, since I didn’t trek for various reasons… But I had the opportunity to visit the city where everything starts, Pokhara, and I met a lot of travelers who were about to start a trek, or coming back after spending two weeks trekking the Annapurna (actually I mostly met people coming back from their trek). Here are a few things to do in Pokhara. Wanna go trekking? Here’s a list of the best treks in Nepal.
Description of Pokhara
Since Pokhara is the city where people go before trekking, you’ll see everywhere in the city shops selling all the equipment you need for trekking. There were already many trekking shops in Kathmandu, but there’s even more in Pokhara! I checked two or three shops and honestly it’s very cheap, and the quality is not that bad. Moreover, the sellers give advice about gear, safety and even things to consider for family trekking in Nepal.
Of course, like Kathmandu, there are counterfeit clothes, but a bit less. Those who need to get equipment, I suggest you to buy in Pokhara, rather than Kathmandu. You can also rent your equipment if you don’t want to keep it after the trek. Two brands dominate the trekking market in the country : North Face and Sherpa. I think you know North Face. That’s the locals favorite brand, they all wear North Face jackets (mostly counterfeit ones!). Sherpa is a Nepalese brand also selling all the trekking equipment you need, and this brand is very present in the city.
Otherwise Pokhara is a quiet place. Just like in the movies, there’s a paperboy, a guy delivering the newspaper from his bicycle. He throws the newspaper on various courtyards from his bicycle without stopping, or he just hands them to the locals, still riding the bicycle. By the way, Nepalese people are friendly. It’s cultural I guess but to me, their biggest flaw is how they keep spitting on the floor. Everybody : men, women, children. And it’s not a discreet spit. No no, they clear their throats doing this unbearable noise to hear, before spitting enormous gob of spit on the floor.
Actually, Pokhara lives mostly at the pace of all the tourists coming and leaving the city. Everyday, several buses full of tourists arrive in the city. You’ll notice something, the locals and the tourists are in separated buses, and on the tourist buses, you can see “TOURISTS” written in big letters on the windshield.
With my backpacker mentality, when I was booking bus tickets, I always asked to get in a local bus, not the tourist ones (it’s cheaper, and more authentic!). But it wasn’t possible, all the ticket sellers told me “No sorry, you have to use the tourist buses“. I found out later why it wasn’t possible to get in a local bus. Sometimes, there are protests in the country (especially during elections). When it occurs, people decide to rebel, and in order to be heard, they damage everything on their way : shops, buildings, cars… and also buses!
Despite themselves, in the past, some tourists in buses ended up being stuck in the middle of big gatherings with smoke bombs, etc… To remedy the problem, the governement created tourist buses. Therefore “TOURISTS” is written in big letters on the windshield, there are only tourists in thoses buses, and if a protest happens, those buses stay untouched by the locals. Those buses are more expensive, faster, and above all safer!
What to do in Pokhara
If you want to stay in shape before of after your trek, it’s possible in Pokhara! You can hike up to see Shanti Stupa, in the heights of the city. It’s a buddhist monument located on Ananda Hill, at an altitude of 1100 meters. From my hostel in the city all the way to Shanti Stupa, I had to walk for two hours and a half, including at least one hour just hiking up. Once you’re on top of Ananda Hill, next to Shanti Stupa, you can admire Pokhara, the Annapurna and the Fewa lake. By the way, if you’re into hiking, or if you know someone into hiking, here are the best gift for hikers!
There’s also Sarangkot, a village at an altitude of 1593 meters exactly. The main reason to go there is the nice view once you’re up on top : Pokhara, the Annapurna… From my hostel, once again it took me two hours and a half to go all the way up (this time I wasn’t alone, which means I could have been faster). To get in the village, you’ll have to pay 50 rupees (0.40€) for the tourists, 20 (0.15€) for the locals.
And also Davis Falls, a little waterfall in the city. The entrance fee is 30 rupees (0.25€), and many teenagers are there, in the small garden surrounding the waterfall.
Just in front of Davis Falls, Gupteswar Gupha. It’s a cave where there’s not much to see… I don’t know why many locals and tourists go there, but those caves are pretty humid. It’s 100 rupees (0.85€) to get in.
Other things to do in Pokhara
You can also go sightseeing Pokhara with a local guide. Click here for more info. You can spend a day hiking at Annapurna Foothills. Click here for more info. Finally, you can go paragliding. Click here for more info.
I guess you got it, Pokhara is a place where you don’t spend much time. Travelers usually stay there for one night before starting a trek, and two or three nights to rest after a trek. You’ll have to go there if you wanna trek the Annapurna.
How to get to Pokhara
I took a bus to get there. I paid 1000 rupees (8.30€) my bus ticket from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Otherwise there’s an airport at Pokhara. Click here to check the latest flight prices.
Wanna go to Nepal? Check the visa policy of Nepal here. Citizens from all Western countries can get a visa on arrival, if you arrive by plane at the Kathmandu airport (most likely). For a 15-days visa, you’ll have to pay 25 US dollars. For a 30-days visa, the cost is 40 US dollars and for a 90-days visa, the price is 100 US dollars. If you wanna get in the country overland, go in an embassy beforehand or you can apply for your visa here.
How to get around in Pokhara
Pokhara is not a big city, you can walk.
Where to stay in Pokhara
If you’re traveling on a budget, the Forest Lake is a great hostel. Click here to book your stay. Looking for a mid-range hotel? The Hotel Blossom is not expensive, however the service is excellent. Click here to book your stay. If you’re into top-of-the-range hotels, I suggest to stay at the Rupakot Resort. Click here to book your stay. Otherwise click here to check what are the hotels available in Pokhara.
Finally, if you prefer to stay in an apartment, click here to check the apartments available on Airbnb.
Other things to do in Nepal
I didn’t write about it, but I’ve also been to the Chitwan National Park, very famous in Nepal. I was with two girls. We started our day on a canoe, then we walked around in the park, in the middle of hair grass. We had two guides with us, one was walking in front of the group, the other one behind us. Because there are tigers in the park (we saw tiger footprints several times on the floor).
We saw rhinos a few times, but no tigers. The day in the park was 4700 rupees (almost 40 euros), expensive for what it was, and we spent a night in a hostel not too far. From Pokhara, a bus goes there every morning. I paid 650 rupees (5.40€) for the six-hour ride in the bus. And from the park, you can go back to Kathmandu by bus for 600 rupees (5 euros).
Pokhara travel tips
- Traveling soon? Check my travel resources page! This list of travel accessories can also be useful!
- Do not go to Nepal without a travel insurance, especially if you’re gonna trek in the mountains! Here’s why buy travel insurance!
- Want a tailor-made trip to Nepal? Get a free quote here!
- Check the latest flight prices to go to Nepal.
- Here’s what to pack for trekking in Nepal.
- Check this guide if you wanna do the Annapurna Basecamp trek.
- If you don’t have a lot of time, you can do the Poon Hill trek.
- I was supposed to trek the Annapurna, but for some reason I didn’t… So that means I gathered a lot of information about trekking in Nepal. The locals will try to sell you a trek with a guide “because it’s indispensable, otherwise you’ll get lost, etc…” Bullshit! All the people I met in Pokhara, who were coming back from their trek, told me it was easily doable alone, and with all the indications, it’s impossible to get lost.
- I met several girls who did the trek on their own, with no guide, and who told me they had absolutely no problem. Ladies, you don’t need to be accompanied! Anyway, from what I understood, you’ll walk part of the way with other people since you’ll meet travelers during the trek.
- For a reason that escapes me (I didn’t trek!), many guesthouses will give you free accommodation during the trek, only if you have dinner at their place.
- Always use a VPN when traveling. I use ExpressVPN and I love it. Here’s why use a VPN when traveling.
- Nepal is a cheap place to travel.