Whether you’re en route to trek the Annapurna or just taking in some beautiful panoramas, if your Nepal adventure takes you west of Kathmandu, chances are you’ll spend a little time in the pretty lakeside town of Pokhara. Lucky you – it’s a great place to chill out, with out-of-this-world mountain views and a lively social scene. We asked our Himalaya Destination Manager Steve Wroe for his perfect Pokhara day.
Pokhara sits at a lower altitude than Kathmandu and has a lovely sub-tropical climate, so getting out for a walk in the morning air is a good way to start the day. Heading to the gleaming-white Peace Pagoda that sits above town makes for a good walk. You can catch a boat across the lake and then follow the forest trail for a couple of hours. It’s an impressive structure, but the real treat is the view across the lake back towards Pokhara, with the Himalaya rising in the background.
The Mountain Museum is also worth a go. Original gear from Himalayan ascents… displays on the history of Himalayan climbing… lots of info and artefacts on culture and geology of the region – a great place to stop by if you’re just about to set off on a trek.
Many visitors limit themselves to picking up outdoor gear, and there are some bargains to be had on trekking gear among the shops on the lakeside road. But it’s also worth looking beyond the technical kit – Pokhara tends to be more laidback than Kathmandu, so browsing for souvenirs and gifts is a good option here. Take a look, for example, around Dhukuti, which sells arts and crafts produced by village cooperatives around the country.
With good value pizza and pasta, La Bella Napoli is a reliable Pokhara lunchtime standard. Those wanting something a little more local could do worse than the Hungry Eye. It serves up good Nepali fare and has an unbeatable lakeside location.
Inevitably, every visitor winds up drifting down to the dreamy shores of Phewa Lake. Keep your fingers crossed for a breeze-free day – the mirror reflection of the Himalayan peaks is really quite something and the lake is at its serene best when the wind dies. Take a boat out, row a little and laze a lot – when the weather’s good there are few more peaceful places to be. But if that sounds a little too much like hard work, the lakeside is home to plenty of cafes and bars. Grab a coffee or a well-deserved post-trek gin and tonic and just kick back.
Sitting on a ridge above Pokhara, Sarangkot is a short taxi ride and 30-minute walk away, or if you’re feeling energetic a three-hour uphill hike from lakeside. Come at sunrise or sunset, it doesn’t really matter – the cool air makes for cloud-free skies, and the panorama is astonishing, simply one of the best you’re ever likely to see. Dhaulagiri, the perfect pyramid of Machhapuchhare and Annapurna II all line up and take on the spectacular colours of the sun. There are a couple of cafes to linger at and take in both the views, as well as watch brave/foolhardy visitors paragliding back down to Pokhara.
Moondance is a perennially popular lakeside restaurant, and with good reason as it’s got a very welcoming vibe and serves up good food. It’s at its best when you’ve just returned from a trek – a very easy place to over-indulge and work your way through the menu! As a bonus, there are pool tables upstairs.
Keep the night going by heading to the Busy Bee. A cramped stage plays host to live bands belting out questionable rock covers, with an up-for-it crowd and a nice little courtyard garden you can retreat to. Cheesy but great fun.
Thanks Steve! Have a look at our Nepal tours here. If you’ve got any Nepal tips, drop us a comment below or continue the discussion on Twitter or Facebook. For our contacts list click here or email us here.