Top Places to visit in Pokhara: Overview
You have landed on the right page if you are searching for the top places to visit in Pokhara. Pokhara is one of the most visited places in Nepal. Pokhara is popularly known as ‘Switzerland of Nepal’, and for good reasons. Pokhara gets a lot of buzz for its spellbinding natural scenery. With emerald lakes, verdant forests, and the backdrop of a heaven-kissing mountain range in the North, you are guaranteed to have unforgettable experiences.
Besides being beautiful on its own, Pokhara is a great transit for different short and long scenic trekking routes that can be done around Nepal. Also, Pokhara is the endpoint to relax after completing the world-famous Annapurna Circuit Trek (AC Trek). There are different treks—that range from easy to demanding—available for travelers of every energy level. You can simply enjoy a day or two in Pokhara relaxing at the lakeside and visiting nearby attractions or enjoying outdoor activities like hiking, paragliding, boating, zip-lining, bungee-jumping, etc.
Since I am a native of Pokhara, I know a thing or two about the top places to visit in Pokhara (Wait! I am not boasting by the way.), and can help you choose the right way to visit tourist places that are considered favorite in Pokhara; the best trekking trails to go for, and best itineraries to follow. Because it’s easy to fall into a tourist trap and spend extra time and money visiting worthless places or from the unnecessary extension of an itinerary by travel and tour agencies (BE AWARE!). In this Pokhara travel guide, I will present you with my best tips to make your vacation in Pokhara a memorable one. This travel guide to Pokhara will give you information on how to get to Pokhara, where you should start, what you should see and do, where you should stay, and a lot of information on different places to visit while you are vacationing in Pokhara.
How to get to Pokhara?
Pokhara, the second-largest valley in Nepal, lies in the western region of Nepal.
Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is the place that receives most of the international flights. Flying straight to Pokhara from Kathmandu on a domestic flight is the most convenient and fastest way—around 25 minutes flight duration—to reach there but little expensive (around $78) than other options (obviously).
If you are traveling on a budget, and if you are not on a tight schedule, buses can be an affordable option (around $8). But, traveling in Nepal by road can be unpredictable and irksome sometimes due to traffic jams—that you may encounter in between the journey—and bumpy roads. And you may have to wait hours before the journey resumes. You should be prepared for such circumstances.
Pokhara is a 7-hour drive (if there is no jam) west of Kathmandu and a 3-hour drive north of Chitwan linked by meandering and modest roads. Air-conditioned tourist buses (which I recommend) run their services from Kathmandu and are generally safe and clean in comparison to other means. All tourist buses depart at the same time from Sorhakhutte, near Thamel at around 7 AM daily. Book well in advance because a ticket might get sold out too quickly during peak tourist season and festival season in Nepal, which last from September to October.
Microbuses and local buses also offer their services throughout the day, but I don’t recommend them. You can hire a car or jeep from Kathmandu to reach Pokhara, but it can cost you as much as the plane fare (around $120, it can be less expensive if shared in a group). Taking Flight will be a better option instead. There are no subway and train services available to date.
Travelers from India may take a flight to Kathmandu first
and Pokhara from there. If you are planning to reach Pokhara from India by road, you may take either a direct bus from New Delhi to Pokhara or catch a bus from New Delhi to Chitwan and then Pokhara from Chitwan. But this long journey will be tiring and a waste of time—but it can be done on a tiny budget.
Getting around in Pokhara
Once you reach Pokhara, you can get a few options to travel within this city. You can hire a car/motorbike/bicycle. You can travel on a local microbus or a taxi. City buses/coaches are an affordable option as long as you are a
familiar rider and know where to exchange them (I don’t usually recommend them as they are time-consuming). Taxi can be quite expensive but a suitable option if you’ve got a lot of luggage or shopping bags. It can get less expensive as long as you are traveling in a group.
For visiting the top places in Pokhara (read further down to know how to narrow the list of the places to visit in Pokhara by avoiding worthless places), the cycle is the best way to get around. It’s advisable to download a map that can help you in many situations.
Since the vacation in Pokhara is centered around Fewa Lake (Phewa Lake), you don’t need any transport medium while visiting Lakeside areas.
Walking is the best option within the lakeside region.
Top places to visit in Pokhara
Pokhara is a travel hub for sights and hikes. It’s a nature lover paradise with some adventure-filled activities to go along with it. There is always a dilemma when choosing top places to visit in Pokhara that are really worth a visit and things to do there here that is really worth experiencing. You may fall into a tourist trap otherwise. Don’t pay extra for the official tour package trip. Relieving this dilemma, here is the list of the top places to visit in Pokhara.
Where to start
You probably already knew how to reach Pokhara (from above).
You will arrive at Pokhara domestic airport if you take a flight from Kathmandu. Head straight to the Lakeside (Fewa/Phewa Lake) which is a 10-minute drive west/30-minute walk distance.
If you take a tourist bus, you will arrive at the tourist bus park, near Rastra Bank Chowk. From here you can either take a taxi (if you have got a lot of luggage) or walk instead (just 10 minutes away).
Whatever transport medium you take, make sure to stay overnight at Lakeside.
1) Phewa/Fewa Lake
Put your luggage in a hotel room. Refresh yourself (maybe you want to take a brief nap or maybe take a bath or maybe some snacks/lunch). Depending on your arrival time, you may have time to start your Pokhara tour on the same day.
Phewa Lake, the second largest lake in Nepal, is a glimmering lake at the bottom of the verdant hill. Phewa Lake is one of the best places to visit in Pokhara. You can see the reflection of the mountain range (Fishtail mountain) in emerald water if you are lucky enough (on a clear day). With so many hotels, restaurants, and bars, you can enjoy the relaxing and romantic ambiance of Lakeside.
How to reach there: Already mentioned above (Read ‘where to start’ section)
Distance/Duration: Already mentioned above (Read ‘where to start’ section)
Direction: South–West from the center of the city.
Boating Opening/Closing Time: Depends upon season. Usually Morning – Late afternoon.
Boating Fees: Around $6 for one hour, $7 for two hours to $12 for a whole day, and the price in-between depending on the duration and how you want to do your boating—with rower/guide or self-guided. Life jackets are compulsory.
Best activities to do in Phewa Lake:
- Go sightseeing. Set out on foot to explore some walking tracks around the lake. Admire the lake.
- Boating/Swimming. You can’t come to Pokhara and not do boating in Phewa Lake, one of the popular things to do in Pokhara. While boating, pay a visit to Taal Barahi, (a Hindu temple) located on a small island on Phewa Lake.
- Sit down for coffee or beer in some cafe.
- Shop the souvenir.
- In the evening, hang out in some live music bars. Stroll through the lakeside at night.
- Sample some foods in a decent restaurant. You can easily find the international dishes of your choice from Asian to continental. Though Nepal is not much of a foodie destination. You can try Nepali staple food—dal (lentils), bhat (rice), and tarkari (vegetable curry). Don’t forget to try momo (believed to be of Tibetan origin but refined in Nepal, as I like to say) with a chutney that every restaurant serves.
Note: If you are interested in paragliding, don’t forget to book it in advance. There is no service of registration available at the spot. You will enjoy the bird’s eye view of the valley that depicts the emerald lakes and rolling hills beside the majestic view of the Annapurna mountain range in the North. You can even take paragliding lessons that come at different levels.
Paragliding Fee: Depends on the company and package you choose. Tentative amounts consist of:
For Foreigners: NPR 9500 for 20-30 minutes flight and NPR 12500 for 40-50 minutes flight.
For Nepali: NPR 8000 for 20-30 minutes flight and NPR 10500 for 40-50 minutes flight.
Note: Price includes VAT, video, and pick up and drop service within the valley. And the prices are subject to change with or without prior notice.
Paragliding Time: First flight–9:30 AM; Second flight–11:30 PM; Third flight–1:30 PM (Only if weather permits!)
Note: The schedules are subject to change with or without prior notice.
Location: Sarangkot for take-off and Pame, near Lakeside for landing). You will be received from your hotel/residential place by your company.
Age Restriction: At least 8 years of age.
2) Sarangkot View Point (Paragliding), Bindhyabasini Temple
Sarangkot, another top place in Pokhara, is a hillside that overlooks Fewa Lake and you can have panoramic views of the mountain range as well as the city. The most popular thing to do is to watch the sunrise over the mountain range from there. For this, you should start early. Another top thing to do from Sarangkot is paragliding.
How to reach there: You can rent a cycle, motorbike or taxi. There is no direct public bus service to Sarangkot. If you have hired a vehicle, then you should drive east towards Zero Kilometer, the name of the junction from where the Pokhara–Baglung highway starts. Once there, turn left and continue driving north until you reach the well-known Hindu temple called Bindhyabasini Mandir. You can see a sign alongside the road from where you have to head west. It’s about a 30-minute drive uphill.
Direction: South–West from Lakeside
Opening/Closing Time: Any time of the day
Admission Fee: Foreigner: Rs. 60 / Nepali: Rs. 30
Bindyabasini Temple lies en route to Sarangkot and is a good place to learn Hindu religious culture and tradition. If you are traveling on your own, you could stop here for a short visit either on the way to Sarangkot or while returning from there (if you are not going for paragliding and planning to return back the same route). You don’t have to travel farther since it lies on the way. Morning is the best time to observe devotees flocking to the temple though. If you stop here before reaching Sarangkot, you are going to miss the sunrise.
Location of Bindyabasini Temple: Along the highway just where the Sarangkot route starts to elevate to the west.
Best activities to do at Sarangkot:
- Watching the sunrise (You have to stay at Sarangkot. It’s up to you.)
- Admiring the beauty seen from the top, and relaxing
If you have booked for paragliding: You are likely to enjoy paragliding from Sarangkot hill. You will be received by the company from where you have booked. Before that, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the atmosphere around the lakeside. You can even visit the Taal Barahi Mandir, a Hindu temple early in the morning.
You are likely to do paragliding during mid-day. Depending on the duration of paragliding you opt for, you may land nearby the lake before 2 PM. This means that you have a half-day left to continue your exploration to Davis Fall (No. 3, below) on the same day if you wish. Otherwise, you can enjoy boating and swimming in Lake if you didn’t make it on your first day.
If you are not doing paragliding: You have got three options:
- You can go cycling to Sarangkot from Lakeside to view the alluring scenery that Pokhara has to offer which consists of mountains, green hills, and lakes.
- You can go for number 3 (below) i.e. International Mountain Museum; Davis Fall; Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave; Peace Pagoda:
- Return to the Lakeside, have some rest or food, then enjoy boating and swimming in Lake.
3) International Mountain Museum; Davis Fall; Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave; World Peace Pagoda: (On the same day)
If you don’t want to rush and make your vacation hasty, allocate one separate day for these locations. If you didn’t make it on your second day or if you want to do this trip on your second day instead, here you are:
International Mountain Museum
Nepal is home to 7 out of 14 peaks globally with an altitude greater than 8000 mt and Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. The museum exhibits the past and the present records and evidence related to mountaineering along with the development of mountaineering activities around the world. This museum also showcases the flora and fauna found in the natural habitat of the Himalayan region, descriptions of famous mountaineers, the culture and lifestyle of mountain people, geological information, etc.
How to reach there: It is located in Ghari Patan, Pokhara. You can walk up to the museum if you have time. You may hire a taxi or bike otherwise. You can reach Birauta Chowk on a local bus from Barahi Chowk lakeside, then take a walk from there. The route to the museum is quite confusing. It will be much easier if you download a map.
Distance/Duration: 2 miles from Lakeside; 10 minutes by taxi; 30-minute walk
Direction: southeast of Lakeside
Opening/Closing Time: 8 am–6 pm
Foreigner: Rs. 500
SAARC Nation: Rs. 250
Nepali: Rs. 100
Activities to do at International Mountain Museum:
- Explore different sections of the museum.
Davis Fall (Locally known as ‘Patale Chango’)
Davis Fall, one of the most visited places in Pokhara, is the fall that originates from Fewa Lake’s water. You can see a jet of water gushing down the gorge and disappearing within it. The force with which it falls causes steam of water to rise above forming a rainbow when sunlight strikes. You should be traveling during the rainy/monsoon season (June to September) for this spectacular view.
How to reach there: You can rent a cycle, motorbike or taxi. Public transportation is also available. The cycle can be an affordable and convenient choice since the next attraction that you will be visiting will be Peace Pagoda atop the hill and hiring a taxi comes with a hefty price tag while public transportation to the Pagoda is not common. Catch a bus from Barahi Chowk to Birauta. You have to change the bus from Birauta to reach Chorepatan where Davis Fall is located.
Distance/Duration: 2km north
Cycle: 15 minutes
Bike/taxi: 10 minutes
Direction: South from Lakeside
Opening/Closing Time: 5 am – 7 pm (during summer)
7 am – 5 pm (during winter)
Admission Fee: Rs. 30
Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave is the revered cave (by Hindus) near Davis Fall which follows the underground trail leading to the bottom of Davis Fall from where you can have a magnificent view of roaring fall from below. This cave holds special religious significance as there is a statue of Mahadev (Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu deities)—hence, the name. Watch your steps as you walk since the staircases are slippery.
How to reach there: It’s on the opposite side to Davis Fall. Just a few meters southwest
Distance/Duration: 5-minute walk
Direction: South from Lakeside
Opening/Closing Time: 9 am–5 pm
Admission Fee: Rs 50
Activities to do at Davis Fall and Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave:
- View the waterfall (from above) and explore the park.
- Shop the souvenir if you want.
- Explore Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave on the other side of the road. You have to walk across the path flanked by souvenir shops to reach there.
- Explore the cave, and statues of Hindu deities.
- View waterfall (same Davis fall but this time from below!)
After finishing your exploration at Davis fall and Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, head to the World Peace Pagoda atop the hill.
World Peace Pagoda
World Peace Pagoda is the white-colored stupa constructed by Japanese Buddhist monks in 1973 in order to promote peace and happiness in the world. It sits atop a verdant hill overlooking Phewa Lake. You can relish the scenic view of the Annapurna Mountain range as well, besides the lake, Sarangkot tower, and the city itself.
How to reach there: There are numerous routes available. It’s easy to get confused while choosing the route. It depends….
If you are tight on schedule, hire a motorbike/taxi/jeep:
There are no local bus services available to reach World Peace Pagoda. If you have a rented a vehicle, from Davis Fall head to the west towards Pumdi Bhumdi along the highway. After riding for a few miles, you will meet the junction from where you have to hit the road that is elevated and leads up the hill to the North. You have to climb the staircase from the parking lot for about 10 minutes to reach the attraction.
If you are not in a rush, there are three options:
- Riding and Hiking:
If you are already in Davis Fall, Chhorepatan, you can start your hike from a few distances away to the west at the base of a hill.
If you are in Lakeside,
- Either, take a minibus to Chhorepatan (past Davis Fall) and then hike the trail uphill to Pagoda. The trail starts at the base of a hill just a few meters away west along the highway.
- Or, take a minibus up to Damside Park. Once there hop off and walk (southwest) to the footbridge over the river called Pardi Khola. Cross the bridge and follow the trail up to Pagoda. (Usually, I don’t recommend this route for solo travelers due to safety reasons and some confusing trails.)
- Boating and Hiking:
This is the most popular route to reach Peace Pagoda where you take a boat to the other side of the lake (you can row yourself or hire one to do the job), park your boat there, and walk the trail through the forest to the top. But this can be quite expensive because you have to reserve the boat for hours. You have to make your setting here whether you will follow the same trail back while returning.
- Cycling: You can continue your journey from Davis Fall on cycle;
From Davis Fall (Chhorepatan):
45 minutes on cycle
15 minutes by taxi plus 10 minutes to climb the staircase to reach the main attraction.
1 hr hike from Chhorepatan
From Fewa Lake (Boating):
30 minutes to reach the other side of the lake on a boat and 45 minutes climbing up the hill.
Direction: South–West of Pokhara
Opening/Closing Time: 9 am–5 pm
Admission Fee: Free. If you are in your vehicle, you have to pay a small parking fee of 10 rupees.
What to do at the World Peace pagoda?
- Admiring the beauty seen from the top
- Just relax at some restaurant or cafe sipping drinks, and enjoy the quiet, calm surroundings.
4) K.I. Singh Pul, Gorkha Memorial Museum, Mahendra Cave, and Bat Cave (On the same day)
K.I. Singh Pul and Gorkha Memorial Museum
K.I. Singh Pul and Gorkha Memorial Museum lie on the way to the Bat Cave. So, it’s convenient to explore the Museum. Stop at the K.I. Singh Pul, a Seti river bridge, to view the deep Seti river gorge. Nearby this location lies the Gorkha Memorial Museum, a short stopover to discover the history and achievements of Gurkha regiments.
How to reach there: You can rent a cycle, motorbike or taxi. Hiring a taxi is a convenient but expensive option. For a cheap option, you can travel on local buses. If you travel on a local bus, you have to hop off at K.I. Singh Pul. Visit Seti river gorge and Gorkha Memorial Museum and again hop on another bus to Mahendra Cave. It will be time-consuming unless you have your own transportation means.
To reach there, first, you have to catch a bus from Lakeside (assuming you are there) to Chipledhunga or Mahendra Pool, the main market area of Pokhara. Then from there, you have to exchange bus to K.I. Singh Pul.
Bike/taxi: 10 minutes from the main city
20 minutes from Lakeside
Public buses: 25 minutes from the main city
50 minutes from Lakeside
Direction: North of the main Pokhara city
Opening/Closing Time: 9 am–5 pm
Mahendra Cave and Bat Cave (Bat Cave is also known as Chamero Gufa)
These caves are located on the outskirts of Pokhara at Batulechaur. These caves lie close to each other (about 10 minutes apart).
You don’t get to walk long in Mahendra Cave. Surprisingly, it’s too short and you may not feel this place is worth a visit. The cellphone’s torch works fine too. But Bat Cave offers you a unique experience since you will see hundreds of bats hanging along the roof inside the cave. You have to carry a torchlight. There is a narrow exit point from where visitors often try to come out. But, Be aware! It’s really tough and you may get stuck over there and your clothes get dirty.
How to reach there: You can rent a cycle, motorbike or taxi. Public transportation is also available. Cycling can be exhausting on a sunny day. Hiring a taxi is a convenient but expensive option. For a cheap option, you can travel on local buses.
For this, first, you have to catch a bus from Lakeside (assuming you are there) to Chipledhunga or Mahendra Pool, the main market area of Pokhara. Then from there, you have to change the bus to Batulechaur.
Note: If you want to visit K.I. Singh Pul and British Gurkha Museum too, follow the directions above. Because these attractions lie on the way to Bat Cave.
Bike/taxi: 45 minutes from the main city
Public buses: More than an hour
Direction: North of the main Pokhara city
Opening/Closing Time: 9 am–5 pm
Note: Since there is not much to see and do around Mahendra Cave and Bat Cave, I personally don’t recommend you to visit these places (You can find these places in the list of ‘top places to visit in Pokhara’ over the internet though). If you have visited Gupteshwor Cave near Davis Fall (which I recommend), it becomes redundant because you will get the same feeling except for Bat Cave where you can get a different experience by seeing hundreds of bats hanging down the roof of the cave.
5) Begnas Lake and Rupa Lake
Begnas offers a similar experience to Phewa Lake. Begnas also lies on the outskirts of Pokhara in Lekhanath. This place is less crowded and less busy than the Phewa lake. So that you may enjoy the tranquility offered by this lake. But to experience this serenity, you have to go around the lake to reach the northeast side of the lake. It gets a lot easy if you have your own transportation means. I don’t recommend this unless you are on a leisurely vacation and want to spend some quality time in nature. If you are tight on schedule, you may skip this attraction. It’s up to you.
Rupa Lake—far from the bustling city—lies at more remote distances than Begnas. Few people make it up to Rupa Lake. But it’s worth a visit if you really want tranquility to relax in nature. You will see an emerald lake almost untouched by human civilization. You will not see too many people here. Just do boating/swimming/relaxing.
How to reach there: Having your private means of transportation is convenient for traveling to these attractions. These lakes are located in the same place called Lekhanath. The distance between Begnas and Rupa Lake is about 6 km (10 mins drive).
You can rent a cycle, motorbike or taxi. Public transportation is also available. First, you have to reach Prithvi Chowk or Chipledhunga and take a bus to Lekhanath. Depending on the route of the bus, you may have to exchange bus at Taal Chowk and head east from there. There are also direct bus services available to Begnas Lake. I don’t recommend public transport for long distances as these are often crowded, grimy and slow.
To reach Rupa Lake you have to return back to Sisuwa Chowk and drive south from there. Download a map for this, since the routes to this lake can be confusing.
Bike/taxi: About 30 minutes from the main city
Public buses: One hour/ Sometimes even more
Direction: East of the main Pokhara city
Accommodation and Food
Hotel accommodation can be easy to find at Lakeside. They range from normal to luxurious. You can find plenty of hostels, guest houses, and homestays if you opt for budget options. You can even choose your place to stay on Airbnb. Hostels provide you the opportunities to meet other interesting travelers from around the globe, and share your experience with them; while homestays give chance to stay with locals, also you get a chance to learn about their culture and tradition from up close. You can stay at the same hotel throughout your trip and still be able to explore various places in Pokhara.
Where to eat
From typical Nepali dishes to Asian to Continental, you can find an array of culinary delights. Whether dine in some top-notch restaurant or some decent restaurant, the choice is yours to make your dining experience a memorable one. You should get out of the Lakeside area if you want to save some cash by having cheaper eateries.
This is the end of the list of top places to visit in Pokhara and a travel guide for Pokhara. Here I have listed most of the possibilities you can have while traveling to Pokhara. You might get overwhelmed by these possibilities and get confused as to which one to follow. Relieving you with these confusions, I have prepared the best itineraries to follow while you are in Pokhara.