Pokhara is one of the favorite places in Nepal for practically all types of travelers. Pokhara's proximity to the Annapurna circuit long draws the visitors but the laid-back atmosphere is also one of many reasons people travel here.
This little pocket of peace is 200 km far from the ‘commercial capital Kathmandu’, and stretches along the shores of Phewa Lake which is filled with colorful bobbing paddle boats.
Pokhara, Nepal's second city, is laid-back, spiritually refreshing, and full of activities for every sort of traveler, in stark contrast to Kathmandu's chaos. It is one of those delightful cities that never fails to entice visitors, and where you can easily remain longer than you intended.
The city is surrounded by spectacular mountains and peaks bordering Phewa Lake and offers quite a range of outdoor activities; from some of the best trekking trails in the world to a variety of methods to unwind, whether you like yoga or a relaxing stroll. You can also take part in various adventurous sports, experience camping, or go for cultural appreciation.
Here, we have made a list of top activities to do in Pokhara so that your Pokhara holiday can be genuinely fun, relaxing, and thrilling.
Boating on Phewa Lake
Starting with the major attraction of the city, Phewa Lake which is the second largest lake in the country. It is the largest and most beautiful of the three lakes that contribute to Pokhara's beauty. It is known for its breathtaking views of the Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) Mountain, as well as the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges, which reflect in the crystal clear waters of the lake.
You can rent a boat with a boatman or paddle yourself, slowly making your way towards the lake’s center, taking in the spectacular views: the Annapurna range's snow-capped peaks on one side, Anadu Hill's densely forested slopes on the other. The only sound you can hear on the lake is the paddle lightly plunging into the water and a distant bird call. It's completely serene.
The lake is worth visiting any time of the day but sunset time would be top-notch. It would be a perfect activity to end your day offering both relaxation and very photogenic scenery.
The first thing we do is explore whenever we visit a new place. The white Himalayas, the blue freshwater lakes, and the high green hill surely are the most notable things in Pokhara. But, some landmarks here add history and appreciate culture to the natural setting of this beautiful city. While taking in the panoramic views of the surrounding Himalayas and hills, you can also explore some of the cultural, historical, religious, and architectural sites as given below.
A• Davis falls
Devi Falls, also known as Patale Chhango (in Nepali), is a magnificent waterfall where the Pardi Khola stream plunges below into a tunnel at the bottom. The tunnel is 500 feet long (150 meters) and runs 100 feet underground. According to folklore, a Swiss traveler named Davi was washed into the tunnel and drowned. The water flows and plunges over rocks and through gorges, providing visitors with a stunning scene. The water then travels over a cave known as Gupteshwor Mahadev.
B• Gupteshwor Mahadev cave
Opposite the Davis Falls lies the Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave. It is a sacred Hindu site with a hidden waterfall at the cave's end and interesting sculptures above ground. You'll see a well-preserved Shiva lingam in this temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Many shrines and statues dedicated to Shiva and other Hindu deities such as Paravati, Nageswor, and Saraswoti can be found inside the cave.
C• Mahendra cave
The Mahendra cave is a big limestone cave in Pokhara named after the former Nepali King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah. It's a 125-meter-long corridor that draws tens of thousands of visitors each year. It's built of limestone and creates electrical sparks when it hits the ground. As a result, it is also regarded as one of the top things to do in Pokhara.
D• Bat Cave
The Chamero (Bat) cave is close to the Mahendra Cave and is home to the nocturnal creature. Visitors are given a torchlight to see the bats due to the darkness. The cave's exit is deemed adventurous because the gap is narrow and attempting to emerge from there raises one's adrenaline level.
E• Tibetan Refugee Camp
There are four official Tibetan Settlements Camps in Pokhara: Tashi Ling, Tashi Palkhiel, Jampaling, and Parjorling. These locations offer a fascinating insight into their unique Tibetan cultures and histories. The villages are attractively decorated with prayer flags, adding to the overall attractiveness of the location. You may also buy handcrafted items such as jewelry, trinkets, carving and carpets, and souvenirs here.
F• International Mountain Museum
International Mountain Museum is one of the major attractions here in Pokhara. The entire location is a giant exposition of subjects relating to Nepal's mountains, their history, mountain climbing, mountaineers, cultures, and mountaineering lifestyles. The museum also houses a collection of flora and wildlife native to the country's Himalayan area. On a clear day, visitors will be treated to a spectacular view of the Annapurna mountain range in the northwest, which is fitting given the museum's theme. A 31-foot (9.44-meter) replica of Mt. Manaslu, the world's eighth highest peak, is also available to climb at the garden of the museum complex.
G• Tal Barahi Temple
The Tal Barahi Temple is the most prominent religious monument in Pokhara city. Tal Barahi Shrine, also known as 'Lake Temple' or 'Barahi Temple,' is a Hindu goddess Durga temple that sits on a little island of Phewa Lake. It is a two-story pagoda-style temple built by Kaskeli King Kulmandan Singh in 1416 B. S. The temple is only accessible by boat and is a wonderful spot to unwind and see religious ceremonies being performed. So, allow yourself to be immersed in the absolute silence of the location.
Hike to the World Peace Pagoda
The giant white World Peace Pagoda on the Anadu Hilltop is one of the major attractions in Pokhara. It is one of the 80 and 2 World Peace Pagodas in the world and Nepal respectively. When visiting Pokhara, one cannot miss catching sight of this white Shanti Stupa. People come here to see the views of Phewa Lake and Pokhara below, and on a clear day, you can even see the Annapurna Himalayas. It is also a spectacular site for sunrise and sunset viewing. You may drive or hike or cycle up here. If you are planning to hike, you can boat across Phewa Lake and climb for an hour to reach here.
Viewing the sunrise from Sarangkot
Who would not want to watch the first strike of the sun over the white Himalayas marking the beginning of another beautiful day? Probably no one. While you are in Pokhara, the must-not-miss thing to do is watch the sunrise from the Sarangkot hill station. The dawn over the Annapurna and Machhapuchhre (Fishtail) mountains from Sarangkot is the most magnificent sight in Pokhara. The hill station also offers a wonderful view of Pokhara city, surrounding valleys, and the Phewa Lake.
You can take a two-hour hike or a 30-35 minutes cab drive from the city center to the vantage point. You can also spend the night in one of the lodges available there and watch the exact moment of the sun rising the next morning.
Take part in Adventure
Pokhara may undoubtedly be described as a region of adventure. Different forms of adventurous acts in Pokhara will satisfy the desires of adventure thrillers with a variety of possibilities, ranging from easy to the most difficult. Take a look at these Top Adventurous Things to Do in Pokhara and what they are like to live in, and then go on an adventure.
A• Trekking & hiking
Trekking or hiking are common adventurous activities in mountainous terrain. And Pokhara's climate and atmosphere are ideal for these activities. The trip to the Annapurna range, in particular, made these activities more frequent and common. So, depending on your physical fitness, you can choose the finest trekking or hiking trail for you.
Poon Hill, Mardi Himal, Annapurna Base Camp, Muktinath, Upper Mustang, Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek and other treks are all accessible from Pokhara. Some of the day and short hikes in Pokhara are Shanti Stupa Hike, Sarangkot Hike, Pumdikot View Tower Hike, Thulakot Hill Hike, etc. Trekking and Hiking allow you to experience high altitudes, stay in villages, see the best panoramic views, and do many other things.
Paragliding is always included on the list of the finest adventurous activities to do in Pokhara. Pokhara Paragliding tours will primarily depart for the Sarangkot vantage point. The 30-45 minute trip is a fantastic chance to get a bird's eye perspective of Pokhara and the surrounding hills.
The view of some of the world's tallest mountain ranges, such as Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Machhapuchhre, will make you succumb to the creator's remarkable skill. Silver lakes and rivers weave their way through lush forests, hills, and valleys. It's a worthwhile experience to see all of that in a single image. A paragliding journey is something that everyone should attempt at least once in their lives.
C• Bungee Jumping
Bungee jumping is certainly one of the many daring activities available in Pokhara as there is the first and only tower bungee here. With a 70-meter vertical drop and a 3-minute free fall, you will get the most amazing view of Pokhara valley, lake, and surrounding mountains. Only 25 kilometers and a comfortable 20-minute drive away from Pokhara Lakeside in Hemja, the jump site offer the Himalayas, lush cliffs, and fast-flowing river views that will steal your breath away.
D• Zip Lining
Pokhara boasts one of the world's longest, steepest, and tallest zip lines, making it one of the most dangerous adventure activities in the city. The zip-line begins in Sarangkot (1600m) and ends in Hemja village (960m) with a 1.8-kilometer zip line and a 600-meter vertical drop at 120 km/h. Along with the adrenaline experience, you will get to see the Annapurna range, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhare, Lamjung Himal range, and the beauty of Pokhara valley. So, if you are an adventure junkie and seeking an adrenaline rush, don’t miss this one.
Apart from the above list of adventures to choose from, there are many more to keep adventurers entertained. Due to several water resources in Pokhara, a variety of water sports is also available such as whitewater rafting, canyoning, and kayaking. Not only that, but Pokhara also provides the opportunity to experience hand gliding, sky diving, paramotoring, mountain biking, para-hawking, ultralight flight, hot air ballooning, and other activities round out the list.
Yoga and Meditation Retreat
Pokhara has a plethora of yoga studios and meditation sessions as well as teacher training. Some locations have direct lake views and easy access, while others are in the hills nearby providing a variety of yoga programs throughout the year. You can have the sessions tailored to your needs or join a group. It would be the best treatment for your long trekking days in the mountains helping you to relax and unwind.
The above list shows how this renowned tourist attraction offers a diverse range of culture and leisure activities. Besides this, there are many other things to do here including exploring the markets, pagodas, cafés, and restaurants serving exquisite Nepalese cuisine, going for some handicrafts shopping, enjoying the live music, cycling to the Begnas and Rupa Lake, getting foot and hand massages, taking the cooking and singing bowl class, and many more.
Best Time to Visit Pokhara
Pokhara can be visited any time of the year but spring and autumn are the most pleasant and busiest periods. Pokhara's atmosphere is quite pleasant throughout these months, with bright skies, little rain, and moderate temperatures. However, monsoon season is to be best avoided, especially if you are planning for hiking or trekking journeys. There will be a lot of rain in this area. Below is the Best Time to visit Pokhara in detail:
Autumn (September, October, November)
Autumn is regarded to be the ideal hiking season because it is neither too hot nor too chilly. But, it is also the best time for other activities as the weather is quite consistent during this period. The landscape in the autumn looks almost unreal, with snow-capped mountains seemingly painted on a blue backdrop. You will get to enjoy the lovely natural colors, more wildlife, and the natural beauty that nature has to offer. Also, the biggest festivals of Nepal, Dashain, and Tihar fall during this season bringing additional joy to your journey.
Winter (December, January, February)
Pokhara will see a freeze over the winter. On the north side, it is surrounded by mountains. It causes temperatures to plummet to as low as 5 degrees Celsius. December, January, and February are the months to visit if you want to experience Pokhara's chilly and refreshing weather. Winter is also the best time for winter sports. As a result, for adventure thrillers, now is the best moment to immerse yourself in the action.
Spring (March, April, May)
Green pastures, rhododendrons, and flowers in blossom begin to appear once the winter is done marking the beginning of spring. The clear sky and atmosphere make you may see the spectacular sunrise from the Sarangkot hilltop, a clear city view from World Peace Pagoda, and mountain ranges from any point in the city.
Summer/Monsoon season (June, July, August)
Summer is Nepal's hottest season, but it is also the rainiest, bringing monsoon rains. During the monsoon season, fewer tourists will want to visit because heavy rains disrupt the tour. However, if you are a rain-loving individual, you will appreciate the vacation. Also, when it rains, the landscape, which includes massive mountains, lakes, and waterfalls, looks stunning. However, it is best to avoid the months of monsoon if you want a perfect tour, especially if you are hiking and trekking or participating in adventurous sports such as paragliding, mountain biking, etc.
You can arrange your journey to Pokhara according to your comforts and preferences as each season provides unique natural pleasures in terms of biodiversity, vegetation, natural beauty, and wildlife, among other things. But we recommend autumn and spring to see most of Pokhara in a relaxing setting.
Ways to Reach Pokhara from Kathmandu
Pokhara has its own domestic airport, however, you must fly from Kathmandu International Airport to get there. Flight is the quickest mode to reach Pokhara city, taking only 30 minutes in good and stable weather. Flights between Kathmandu and Pokhara are available every day operated by Simrik Air, Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines, etc.
The road is also the greatest option for getting to Pokhara. The city is well-connected to adjacent cities and the capital, Kathmandu, by highways.
To go to Pokhara, you can easily take a tourist or local bus from Kathmandu. You can also hire a private vehicle through a tour operator and have a laid-back drive along with the wonderful sights and landscapes that the route has to offer. The drive takes about 6-8 hours depending upon the vehicle you choose.
Pokhara isn’t called Shangri-La in and of itself without a reason. After all, it checks all the boxes: magnificent landscape, adventurous activities, stunning sunrise and sunset, tranquil lakes, wonderful treks, significant landmarks, and a plethora of lodging and dining options.
Apart from its natural and cultural beauty, Pokhara is also the gateway to Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Base Camp Helicopter Tour, Upper Mustang Trek, Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek, Singuchuli Peak Climb, Poonhill Short Trek, and many more. You will undoubtedly have the finest vacation possible if you try out these many things to do in Pokhara!