Source: Simon Steinberger on Pixabay
Nepal is home to the very largest mountains in the world, and indeed nothing else will ever compare to this Himalayan nation after you have visited. Naturally, it should come as no surprise that the most popular activities in Nepal are mountain-based, however that should not deter older travellers or those with health problems, because many of the trekking routes into the himalayas are very accessible and cater to both the hardened mountain climber to the novice hiker and everyone in between.
Not only that, but Nepal has some really awesome historical sites and a rich and extremely welcoming culture and is a much more laid back place compared to it’s gigantic neighbour to the south, India, which at the best of times can be overwhelming to many travellers to say the least, and many find themselves unprepared for it. Book a cheap flight with Justfly to come experience this piece of travellers paradise for yourself!
Kathmandu is the nations capital, and it’s temperate climate much more agreeable than the hot plains to the south that stretch down into India.
This makes it a great starting point as it is easy to acclimatize, and the city lacks to claustrophobic urban jungles found elsewhere in Asia, such as Bangkok. Indeed, many of its buildings and temples date back hundreds if not thousands of years.
For a taste of Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist temples, Durbar square is simply unmissable, with its dozens of ancient temples and palaces dating back to 900AD. Likewise, the ancient capital of Bhaktapur lies about half an hour north of Kathmandu and showcases much of the same kind of fare, with temples devoted to Shiva, Vishnu and a whole collection of Buddhist ones that show how both of these religions intermingled into Nepal’s collective consciousness over time to the point where they sometimes seem indistinguishable.
Take your time here walking the back streets and feeling like you are in an Indiana Jones movie!
Not for the faint hearted, Pashupatinath is famous for it’s very open human cremations, just like Varanasi in neighbouring India, except this is on an infinitely smaller and much more agreeable scale. The temple here is perhaps unsurprisingly devoted to Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and death (but also creation). This is a site best visited in the radiance of the morning sun rise or the glow of the sun set, as orange and saffron clothed ascetics known as “Saddus” coat their bodies with the ashes of cremated people and meditate and practice yoga. It is a powerful scene that will certainly stay with you forever and give you an insight into how Hindu culture views death so very differently to western cultures.
Finally, for something a bit different, head to The Swayambhu Temple, otherwise known as the “Monkey Temple” for it’s cheeky locals residents who regularly steal tourists ice creams! But despite these mischievous comical monkeys, this is actually one of the most revered Buddhist sites in the country. The climb up towards the Buddhist stupa at the top of the hill is a little bit tough, but you will be well rewarded for the spectacular panoramic views of Kathmandu once you reach the top.
6 or 7 hours bus ride west of Kathmandu, lies the gorgeous city of Pokhara, legendary for all the right reasons for many years now in traveller’s circles.
The tourist district is quiet and chilled out located along the shores of the infamous lake that reflects the Annapurna mountains that serve as the town’s stunning backdrop. It is certainly one view that has lured many a traveller into staying for weeks or even months more than they originally intended.
Indeed, Pokhara offers a plethora of restaurants as well as meditation, yoga and thangka painting courses. Not only that, but it serves as the jumping off point for adventure sports such as kayaking, as well as trekking into the Himalayas.
The most famous trek of all is probably the Annapurna Circuit, which takes about 14 days to complete, but with tea houses offering accommodation and meals literally every 30 minutes, this is an extremely accessible trek to do, and one that nonetheless will still leave you wowed. Of course, there are shorter versions of this classic trek, as well as treks ranging from leisurely 1 or 2 day affairs and everything in between. All in all, Pokhara has virtually something for everyone, and acts as the perfect gateway to the Himalayas.
So, whether you are on a spiritual quest, or yearn to traverse the “roof of the world”, or want to delve into Nepal’s culture and ancient history, don’t be fooled by it’s tiny size compared to it’s big brother to the south, Nepal genuinely can deliver on all fronts, and with it being one of the cheapest nations in the world to visit, there are few if any reasons not to visit.