20 Beautiful Places In Nepal That Will Leave You Wonderstruck
The landlocked country of Nepal despite being quite small is blessed with myriad beautiful places. It is home to eight of the world's fourteen eight-thousander mountain peaks, and has plenty of other splendid places including valleys, forests, lakes, caves, temples, monasteries and palaces that offer jaw-dropping sights! Each of these is beautiful in their own way. Read on to discover more.
1. Everest Base Camp
All of us know that the highest mountain in the world - Mount Everest - lies in Nepal. While it is not possible for most of us to summit the mighty peak, a lot of people (over 30,000 per year) trek and reach the Everest South Base Camp that lies in the Khumbu region of Nepal. Although the path is full of perils, once the Base Camp at an altitude of 5,364 metres is reached, it offers astounding views of the magnificent Mount Everest and all the other adjoining mountains. No doubt it is one of the most sought-after treks by trekkers throughout the world despite being one of the most difficult. Kala Patthar, close to the base camp, is another famous viewpoint that offers similar views.
Location: Khumjung, Nepal Best time to visit: March to May and September-October Entry fee: The base camp lies inside the Sagarmatha National Park, and the Gaurishankar Conservation Area and entrance fees for both has to be paid. For the first one, it is NPR 1695 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 3390 for other foreigners (all inclusive of VAT), and for the second - NPR 226 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 2260 for other foreigners
2. Chitwan National Park
Lying in the southern Terai plains, a visit to Chitwan National Park is recommended not only for animal lovers but all people. The lush green forests, the lakes and the hundreds of species of animals and birds together combine to create a stunning landscape. It is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses critically endangered animals like the Royal Bengal Tiger, one-horned rhinoceros and gharial crocodiles. Expect to get more close to nature in the form of elephant rides, bird watching, canoeing and jeep safaris that take you deep inside the jungle.
Location: Subarnapur, Nepal Best time to visit: January to March Entry fee: NPR 850 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 1700 for other foreigners
3. Phewa Lake
The second largest freshwater lake in Nepal, Phewa Lake is very popular among tourists. It is vast and stupendous, surrounded by the Annapurna, Machhapuchhre and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges, forests on one side, and the Tal Barahi Temple which lies amidst the lake. Boating at Phewa Lake especially at sunsets is one of the must-do activities in Nepal, to witness the play of colours in the evening sky, the reflection of the mountains in the water and the lights of the numerous cafes and entertainment areas lining the lake, making for wonderful snapshots.
Location: Pokhara city, Kaski district, Nepal Best time to visit: September to November Entry fee: No entry fees, but rent has to be paid for hiring boats
A trip to Nepal is incomplete without watching the sunrise at Sarangkot, a village located at 1600 metres above sea level. It has a viewpoint that offers picture-perfect views over the city of Pokhara and Phewa Lake, and the Annapurna, Manaslu, Machhapuchhare, Dhaulagiri and Lamjung mountains that lie on all its sides. Good news for adrenaline junkies - paragliding opportunities are also available here!
Location: North-east of Pokhara, Kaski District Best time to visit: Throughout the year at sunrise or sunset except for cloudy days Entry fee: Around NPR 100
5. Sagarmatha National Park
Sagarmatha National Park lies in the north-eastern part of Nepal. The prime feature of the park is that it covers a wide area with altitudes ranging from nearly 3000m to as high as 8000m. Thus, this beautiful park has varying forms of flora such as dense forests in the lower regions, mosses and lichens in the high altitudes and with zero vegetation in the highest areas. It is known as the home of some of the tallest peaks of the world including Mount Everest. The Gokyo Lakes that lie inside the park at an altitude of around 5000m is believed to be the abode of Hindu God 'Nag Devata' making it a pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists. Several species of animals and birds also live inside the park. A must-visit for its picturesque topography.
Location: Namche, Province No. 1, Nepal Best time to visit: March to May and October-November Entry fee: NPR 1695 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 3390 for other foreigners
One of the biggest stupas in the world, Boudhanath has an aura and charm of its own. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is sacred for both Buddhists and Hindus alike. The exterior with the solid white dome, golden spire and numerous prayer flags paint a pretty picture along with the vibrant interiors decorated with Thangka paintings and containing large golden statues of the Lord Buddha and other Bodhisattvas. Should be visited both for its beauty and spiritual significance.
Location: Kathmandu, Nepal Best time to visit: During the Tibetan New Year - Lhosar in February, and at other times in the evenings. Entry fee: NPR 100 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 400 for other foreigners
7. Barun Valley
If you are in Barun Valley, you will see vast green meadows covered with flowers in a horde of colours on the one hand, while on the other, you will find mighty snow-dusted mountain peaks with numerous waterfalls. The place is so stunning it will leave you spellbound and make you feel like you are in paradise! Barun Valley even holds significance in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and has a National Park containing a diverse array of wildlife. The area around the incredible alley does not have any human habitation and is only visited by the few trekkers en route Makalu Base Camp.
Location: Koshi Zone, Sankhuwasabha district Best time to visit: March to May and September to November Entry fee: NPR 1695 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 3390 for other foreigners for entering the Makalu-Barun National Park.
8. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
When you are in Nepal, a visit to one of its Durbar Squares is a must. These are the public areas containing centuries-old royal palaces and adjoining temples, gardens and other monuments from the times when Nepal was three separate kingdoms. Unfortunately, most of these historical places have suffered a lot of damage in earthquakes, but due to reconstruction efforts, they are still worth visiting. The Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a great place to visit if you have a penchant for history. The entire area consists of four main squares where you can spot temples dedicated to various Hindu deities like Bhairava, Pashupatinath, Krishna and Shiv-Parvati, gates like Lion Gate and Golden Gate, the 55 Window Palace, statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, and many such beautiful structures portraying the intricate artwork of the craftsmen back then. Old is gold, as they say!
Location: Bhaktapur, Nepal Best time to visit: All times Entry fee: NPR 500 for residents of China and SAARC countries, NPR 1500 for all other foreigners
9. Panch Pokhari
Panch Pokhari literally translates to a group of five lakes, located close to each other at an altitude of 4100 metres. It is considered to be a consecrated place by both Buddhist and Hindu devotees who throng the lakes during Janai Purnima (Raksha Bandhan). The site is beautiful and offers a peaceful retreat, away from the bustling crowd of Kathmandu city nearby.
Location: Bhotang, Sindhupalchowk District Best time to visit: March to May and September to November
10. Annapurna Base Camp
The Annapurna Base Camp, lying at an altitude of 4130m, gives you close enough views of the Annapurna Massif, Manaslu, Gangapurna, Machhapuchhre and many other mountain peaks without actually summiting them. The trek to the Annapurna Base camp is not easy, but throughout the path, you will be greeted with astonishing views that include everything from villages, paddy fields, beautiful rhododendron trees, dense subtropical to alpine forests, rivers and waterfalls and massive snow-covered mountains. The path passes through the Annapurna Sanctuary which is the abode of a zillion wildlife species. A lifetime experience indeed!
Location: Central area of Nepal, north of Pokhara Best time to visit: October-November Entry fee: NPR 226 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 2260 for other foreigners for entering the Annapurna Conservation Area
Lumbini is the place where Queen Maya gave birth to Lord Buddha and hence is an important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. The prime attractions of the holy town include a temple dedicated to Mayadevi, a sacred pond, a Bodhi tree, a museum containing manuscripts from Buddha's times, a pillar to commemorate emperor Ashoka's visit to the place and several monasteries and temples. Over 100,000 visitors from all over the world visit Lumbini every year. The spiritual aura of the place will rejuvenate your mind.
Location: Rupandehi District, Nepal Best time to visit: During Buddha Jayanti in April-May Entry fee: NPR 16 for Indians, NPR 100 for residents of other SAARC countries, NPR 200 for other foreigners. The museum has separate entry fees of NPR 50 for all foreigners.
12. Langtang National Park and Gosaikunda Lake
Langtang National Park seems to be the closest area to Kathmandu that lets you see the unique Himalayan biodiversity from up close. Elevations vary to a great extent inside the park, thus enabling you to witness a diverse array of vegetation and wildlife. Think of pretty blooms such as rhododendrons, lush green areas of oak, sal and hemlock trees, grassy meadows and creatures like red pandas, leopards, and wild boars.
The Gosaikunda Lake inside the park holds extreme religious significance to the Hindus, so much so that the treacherous monsoon trails does not deter pilgrims from taking a dip in the lake in August during Janai Purnima. There are multiple myths and legends associated with the lake; for instance - the lake was formed when Lord Shiva hit the mountain with his Trishul for some drinking water after he had swallowed poison and became the Neelkanth! The lake remains frozen for a major part of the year, so chances are you might be able to walk on it!
Location: Helambu, Nepal Best time to visit: September-October Entry fee: NPR 1695 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 3390 for other foreigners
13. Upper Mustang
Upper Mustang lies north of the Himalayan mountain ranges, and you will find the culture here to be vastly different from the rest of Nepal. This is because the place was separate from the rest of the country and an independent kingdom until the 18th century. The place was even a part of an ancient trade route between India and Tibet. If you are lucky enough to get a chance to visit Upper Mustang (because the number of tourists are restricted), you will witness a lovely land with snowy mountains, hills in colours like yellow, orange and brown, numerous caves, the Gandaki river, the sacred Muktinath Temple revered by Hindus and Buddhists alike, and get a taste of the dominant Tibetan Buddhist culture. For people averse to the idea of trekking, the place is accessible by jeep or flight, however, exploration of the kingdom has to be done on foot or mountain bikes.
Location: Dhawalagiri zone, northern Nepal Best time to visit: June to September, as the place, lies in a rain shadow area Entry fee: NPR 54,985 is the price of the permit that is required to visit Upper Mustang
14. Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinath is one of the best and holiest temples in the country and this is clearly evident from the plethora of tourists, as well as locals visiting it every day. The temple is the abode of the national deity of Nepal - Lord Pashupatinath (an avatar of Lord Shiva) and gives you a fine example of the pagoda style architecture. Actually, it is not a single temple but a cluster of as many as 518 temples, monuments and ashrams. The main temple is, however, accessible only to Hindus.
Location: Kathmandu, Nepal Best time to visit: All months except on Shivaratri and Teej when it remains excessively crowded Entry fee: Free for Indians, NPR 1000 for other foreigners
15. Siddha Gufa
Unlike most of the places listed here that requires you to trek and reach high altitudes, Siddha Gufa requires you to go underground! The largest cave in Nepal, it can be reached either from Bandipur or from Bimalnagar, the former being more popular among tourists. Once you go inside the cave, you will see an amazing topography consisting of stalagmites, stalactites and limestone formations. It is dark inside with hardly any sunlight penetration, so you will require torches to look around. The entire unique experience will give you the feels of a real explorer!
Location: Bimalnagar, Tanahu District Best time to visit: Any time Entry fee: Around NPR 100
16. Tilicho Lake
Another high altitude lake in Nepal, Tilicho Lake is mostly visited by trekkers trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp or Muktinath. Standing at an elevation of 4919m above sea level, the crystal-clear turquoise lake is surrounded by glaciers and mountains in colours of brown and white - Muktinath peak, Nilgiri, Khangsar and Tilicho; it surely makes for a sight to behold! Tilicho Lake was even the site of a high-altitude scuba dive, but no living creature was detected inside the lake. It is, apparently, one of the largest ever lakes in the world situated at such an altitude.
Location: Annapurna, Manang District Best time to visit: March to May and September to November Entry fee: NPR 226 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 2260 for other foreigners for entering the Annapurna Conservation Area inside which falls the lake
17. Kopan Monastery
Nepal has a zillion monasteries, and Kopan monastery is said to be one of the most beautiful. Lying on a hillock and in front of a large Bodhi tree, the place offers scenic views of Kathmandu city and the nearby mountains. It is also a great place for meditation and learning about the principles of Buddhism and life in a monastery. The courses are available to all people irrespective of race, caste or religion.
Location: Budhanilkantha Municipality, Kathmandu Best time to visit: Any time of the year in the mornings
18. Rara Lake and National Park
Rara National Park is the smallest in Nepal and quite contrastingly, borders the Rara Lake which is the biggest and deepest freshwater lake in the country. Despite being small compared to other national parks, it houses over 1500 species of flora and fauna including indigenous Himalayan creatures like snow leopards, red pandas, Himalayan Tahr and Himalayan black bear. The place is hardly frequented by tourists, thus enabling it to retain its pristine state.
Location: Parts of Mugu and Jumla districts, Nepal Best time to visit: April-May and September-October Entry fee: NPR 1695 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 3390 for other foreigners
19. Poon Hill
This one is for all of you inexperienced hikers as Poon Hill is also popular among those facing time shortage as the trek takes just 5 to 6 days. The highest elevation is 3210m at the summit of the hill and offers stupefying views of some of the highest Himalayan peaks such as Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Machhapuchhre. Apart from the mountains, on the path, you can expect to see Rhododendron trees, chirping birds, waterfalls and typical Nepali villages. The prime benefits are the availability of lodges throughout the path, and you won't have to deal with problems like altitude sickness due to the low elevation.
Location: Ghorepani, North-Central Nepal Best time to visit: March to May and September to November Entry fee: NPR 226 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 2260 for other foreigners for entering the Annapurna Conservation Area
20. Shey Phoksundo Lake
A visit to Shey Phoksundo Lake, Nepal's second deepest lake, will transport you to another world! The alpine lake is encircled by mountains in colours of green and white - some covered with forests, some with snow, and a Buddhist village named Ringmo lie on its southern side. Just as much as the site, the trail leading to it is equally amazing. Think about viewing rivers and steep waterfalls, rocky cliffs, juniper and pine forests and also animals like musk deer, blue sheep, Himalayan tahr, etc, within the Shey Phoksundo National Park as it lies. You can even stay in accommodation in the village, from where you can wake up to a splendid sunrise atop the mountains! Besides, don't forget to go and explore the many monasteries and stupas in the area.
Location: Dolpo District, Nepal Best time to visit: March to November Entry fee: NPR 1695 for residents of SAARC countries, NPR 3390 for other foreigners
So, these were our choice of the top 20 must-visit places in Nepal (ranked in no particular order) that includes some of the best national parks, lakes, temples, palaces, etc. in the country, some well-known, some not so well-known. This is not a comprehensive list, and the country has a lot more to offer. Choose according to your preferences and plan a trip, you will have memories to cherish for a lifetime!