Pokhara! One of those places where I have spent the most time in Nepal during each of my visits. I share plenty of memories with this city where I met some wonderful people whom I call friends now. May be it’s the nature, may be it’s the people, or may be it’s something else. I don’t know, but I have always enjoyed coming here again and again for various reasons.
Pokhara is well-known among visitors from all over the world as the ‘trekking heaven’ thanks to its close proximity to the Annapurna Range. Three of the world’s ten highest mountains – Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I and Manaslu are part of the Annapurna Range. Plenty of visitors come to Pokhara, spend a night or two and disappear in the mountains for a few days before returning and spending a couple of nights more.
But not everyone is into trekking. I mean, take my self as an example. I have never been to a trek before (yes, never). “Why don’t you try trekking?” Someone asked me once. “Next time, maybe,” was my answer. And to be very frank, I don’t know when the ‘next time’ will be. While most visitors travel to Pokhara to enjoy trekking, I have enjoyed my time in this city doing other activities.
You too could be like me who want to enjoy the time in Pokhara but aren’t up for trekking. In this article, I will list some of the best things you can do in Pokhara to help you get the most out of your time in the second largest city of Nepal.
1. A Bicycle Tour Around the City
I am more of a walker. I walk, I walk a lot. But on the suggestion of Joe of the Castle Resort, I made an exception. Joe suggested that a bicycle ride around the city would be fun, and I bought the idea.
Next day, I began walking around the Lakeside area and came across a place renting bicycles. After some bargaining, we agreed on a rate of 300 Nepali Rupees for 5 hours.
I took the bicycle and began my ride around the city. The last time I rode a bicycle was long ago but after a few minutes, I got the hang of it.
“Wow! This is much more fun than walking!” I thought with excitement. Slowly riding across the city on the steep roads, I stopped here and there to click some pictures.
Throughout the day, I visited a market, the Bindhabasini Temple, the Phewa Lake, and other places around the city. I have no idea how much distance I rode, but I rode the bike for almost four hours.
If you want to explore the city beyond the lakeside, I suggest you rent a bicycle and take a ride around. These bikes are economical, convenient and much more fun. And a few stares you score from the locals on the streets is a bonus!
Located at an altitude of over 1500m, the Sarangkot hill offers wonderful views of the Annapurna range and the city. In recent years, Sarangkot has become a hot spot for adventure lovers with Paragliding being the most popular activities you can perform from there. Take off from the hill, glide above the Phewa Lake and enjoy the jaw-dropping views around you.
You can choose between a short 15-minutes flight or a longer duration flight. All these flights are tandem and different organisers charge different amount. Make sure you ask more than one agencies and bargain. The organiser will usually pick you up from your hotel or from a pickup point in the lakeside and take you to Sarangkot in a vehicle.
Sarangkot is also a good option if you want to enjoy a day-hike.
3. Bungee Jumping
Still feeling adventurous? How about bungee jumping? Yes, you can do bungee jumping in Pokhara and calm the hunger for more adventure.
Now, I have not done it myself, but I have heard from other travellers that it’s not that exciting. I will not be the judge of that but if chances are, that if you have done bungee jumping before, it might not be that exciting when you do it in Pokhara. If you have not done it before, then it’s a good place to start.
A bungee jumping package can be booked with HighGround Nepal which includes pickup-drop and a t-shirt.
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4. Boating in the Phewa Lake
The famous Phewa Lake (also spelt as ‘Fewa Lake’ or referred to as ‘Phewa Tal’) is the second largest lake in Nepal. Surrounded by beautiful hills, Phewa Lake offers serenity in a scenic way.
Hire a boat and start sailing. Reward your self with some quiet moments as you sail across this beautiful lake. Appreciate the scenery and take some photos, too.
Another attraction besides the lake itself is the Tal Barahi Temple which is situated on a small island in the lake. Don’t miss it. I would also suggest that you include World Peace Pagoda in your schedule.
5. Visit the World Peace Pagoda
There are two World Peace Pagodas in Nepal. One is in Lumbini and another one is in Pokhara. The World Peace Pagoda is one of the most recommended places to visit in Pokhara.
There are two ways to reach the Pagoda. As I mentioned above, you can choose to visit it during your boating ride in Phewa Lake. The boat will take you to the beginning of the way to the Pagoda and you will start hiking. After hiking for about an hour, you will reach the World Peace Pagoda.
Another way of reaching the Pagoda is by taking a taxi. The taxi will drop you at a place from where you will have to walk about 10 to 15 minutes to reach the Pagoda. If you wish to take the same taxi to return, better make prior arrangement with the driver.
Hold your breath as you reach the top. You are about to observe some breathtaking views. Not only the Pagoda is a beautiful place itself, the scenery you get to observe from here is spectacular. Admire the panoramic view of the mountains, the lake and the city from the Pagoda.
If you get here on time, the World Peace Pagoda offers very beautiful sunset and sunrise view, too. Just plan your visit accordingly and wish the weather to be in your favour.
Travel Tip: Although Nepal is considered a safe country to travel even for solo travellers, there have been reports of attacks on tourists on the way to the Peace Pagoda. Be cautious, especially if you are visiting the Peace Pagoda alone during early morning or late evening times.
6. Visit Temples/Monasteries
Pokhara is home to some beautiful and historic temples. Some of these temples include the Tal Barahi Temple, Bindhabasini Temple, Sitaladevi Temple, Bhadrakali Temple, Bhimsen Temple, and the Jangchub Choeling Monastery.
Referred to as one of the oldest temples in Pokhara — the Bhimsen Temple is situated right in the busy street named after the temple itself — the Bhimsen Marg.
Located on a small hill a few minutes away is the famous Bindhyabasini Temple. Climb a few stairs and reach the temple to either offer a prayer or to simply enjoy some views. When I visited the temple, there were a few marriage ceremonies taking place. As mentioned before, I was invited to attend one of these ceremonies.
Located near the Baglung highway on the outskirts of Pokhara is The Jangchub Choeling Monastery. Surrounded by beauty all over, this Buddhist monastery offers some peaceful time. You can also visit Tashi Ling Tibetan Settlement.
Visit any of these temples/monasteries and observe the rituals. Dress modestly and remember that you have to take your shoes off before you enter.
7. Attend A Yoga/Vipassana/Meditation Session
Okay, here’s a confession: I have never been to any yoga or meditation session. I have met a number of people during my travels who talk a lot about the benefits of yoga and meditation.
If you are into these activities, Pokhara can offer you many options where you can perform them. The Purna Yoga Retreat near The Castle Resort is one of the famous places for yoga in Pokhara. There are many other places around Pokhara where you can enjoy your yoga and meditation experience.
Another activity I get suggested to do a lot is Vipassana — which means to see things ‘as they really are.’ Vipassana is believed to be one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation.
You can join a 10-day Vipassana session where you will learn its basics and perform sufficient practice to experience its benefits. During this duration, you will go on a food and a social media diet as you will be served basic food and not be allowed to use your phone.
Once again, I have never attended a Vipassana session neither I intend to do that. If you have no prior experience, make sure you read about it and understand it before you join a session.
8. Visit the Methlang Village (some hike involved)
Joe, his friend Govinda and I were sitting at the dinner table when they suggested that I should pay a visit to Methlang. They told me that this small village can be reached by a short hike of around 40 minutes from The Castle Resort (which in turn, is a short hike of 10-15 minutes from the lakeside).
Methlang offers some amazing views of Pokhara, Phewa Lake, and the Annapurna mountain range. Reaching here before sunrise will reward you with even more beauty to absorb, I was told.
Hoping to catch the sunrise, I woke up at about 4:30 am. It had rained at night, unfortunately, and the weather was cloudy. It was highly possible that I would not be able to view the mountain range clearly. But as I was already awake and ready, I decided to go for the hike anyway.
Slowly hiking through the dirt road, I reached the Methlang village in about one hour. The sky wasn’t clear yet and not only I missed the sunrise, I couldn’t see the mountain range quite clearly, either.
Despite this, I enjoyed hiking to Methlang and coming back. The views from the village are amazing and I’m sure that if the weather was clear, I would have enjoyed a better view.
If you are up for a short hike to catch some beautiful views, go visit Methlang. I was told that some hotels or tour organizers also offer pony treks to Methlang which should be worth a shot if you aren’t in the mood of walking up there.
9. Visit International Mountain Museum and/or Gorkha Memorial Museum
Do museums interest you? Then there are two museums you will love to visit in Pokhara. Located near the airport, the International Mountain Museum houses plenty of information about mountains. This includes the highest peaks, the stories and struggles of people who ascended them, the different casts of Nepal found in different regions, beautiful pictures and a lot more. So what if you don’t trek, at least you can learn a lot about mountaineering at this museum.
The second museum you can visit is the Gorkha Memorial Museum. It details the history of Gorkhas — from their first confrontation with the British army up to today when they are employed arund the world in armies. If you enjoy reading about military, Gorkha Memorial Museum is where you should go.
10. Visit Begnas Lake
Begnas Lake is a freshwater lake around 16 KMs from Pokhara city. Situated at an altitude of 650 m (2,133 ft), it’s the second largest lake in the Pokhara valley with a surface area of 28 km2.
If you want to get a little farther from Pokhara, Begnas Lake is one of the best options for you. You can hire a taxi, rent a vehicle and drive yourself, or even better, take a local bus to reach there. If you prefer the local bus, you will have to reach Prithvi Chowk first and from there you will find a bus to Begnas Lake.
The lake is beautiful and less busier than Phewa Lake where you will appreciate the views and quietness.
11. Mingle with Friendly Locals
Nepalis are mostly friendly and cheerful. So take the opportunity and start talking. Talk with them, mingle with them. Ask for their photo before they ask you! Women might feel shy but I am sure you will get lovely photos of them. Men, well, they might feel shy, too! But again, this makes a good, natural photo.
This is exactly what I used to do every time I would go for a walk or a bike ride around the city. This way, I was invited for lunch in a house. I was even invited to attend a marriage ceremony taking place in the Bindhabasini Temple (although it’s highly possible that they thought I was their photographer).
Right, so you get the idea. Nepalis are friendly and I am sure you will love getting to know them more. Just make sure to draw a line if the conversation goes too much into booking a tour or activity with them, unless, of course, you want to book a tour.
12. Attend A Movie Night
Evelyn — the girl from Switzerland I met in Tansen – and I were enjoying the view from our homestay. We were talking about our time in Nepal and she told me she had been to Kathmandu and Pokhara before coming to Tansen.
She pulled out an orange piece of paper and handed it over to me. It had a few dates and movie names written on it.
“What’s this? I asked Evelyn.
“It’s the [weekly] schedule for movies to be shown at the Blind Tiger,” she told me.
“Blind Tiger, huh?”
“Yes. Take your dinner there or simply buy a drink or two and enjoy the movie there. They begin at 8 PM every night.”
“Sounds good. I will check this out for sure.”
I hope our conversation already gave you an idea about this ‘movie night’ thing. There are some places like The Blind Tiger and Movie Garden where they host movie nights. Buying a beer, a plate of momo, or ordering your dinner is your ‘ticket’ to watch the movie.
Go enjoy a movie night. It’s fun and you also get to meet people from different countries.
13. Just Relax in the Nature
Pokhara valley is blessed with the beauty of nature. When you are done with all these activities, it’s time to take a break and relax.
There are many places where you can enjoy being near the nature. The Castle Resort is one such place which offers beautiful views of the Phewa Lake and surrounding hils. There’s an outdoor pool where you can relax and there are rooms where you will appreciate the serenity.
Beside that, there are other places you can stay at near Phewa Lake or away in the hills. Take your pick and enjoy the slow life.
Things You Can Do in Pokhara, Nepal: Summing Up
From a bicycle tour around the city to a boating ride in the Phewa Lake to a short hike to the World Peace Pagoda — there are many interesting things you can do in Pokhara. These activities have nothing to do with trekking – for which Pokhara is well-known.
Besides doing these activities in Pokhara, I also had an honor of being invited to a Nepali wedding. Thanks to an offer made by Myriam – my lovely friend from Luxembourg – I also paid a visit to Ropain – the rice planting festival. If you too get a chance to attend any local activities, make sure you take that chance.
That’s all, folks. This was Parvez and you were reading the list of things you can do in Pokhara on Parvezish. I hope you found this article worth your time and I’d like to thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others. Can this article be improved? Do share your suggestions.