Most Popular Places to Visit in Nepal


Nepal is a South Asian country filled with massive mountains, natural beauty and life-changing adventures. It’s a hotspot destination for trekkers and mountaineers the world over as you’ll get breathtaking views of some of the world’s tallest and most stunning peaks in Nepal. While some are lured by the call of the mountains, others are simply intrigued by the diverse Nepali culture. Find out what are the most popular places to visit in Nepal.

1. Kathmandu City

Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and most travellers usually spend some time exploring the place. For several hundred years, Kathmandu was one of the three rival royal cities, along with Bhaktapur and Patan. One of the highlights of Kathmandu is the Durbar Square, the largest palace square and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can find temples and monuments of varying shapes, sizes, styles and faiths in Durbar Square. Though the attraction was severely damaged in the 2015 massive earthquake, it still remains a special place to visit.

Thamel is another hotspot for tourists. The bustling streets are popular for shopping and eating. In 2017, Thamel was declared a vehicle-free area to ensure the safety of pedestrians. You can find everything you need in Thamel from trekking gears to souvenirs. It’s also a nice place to indulge in local food or simply people-watch.

2. Boudhanath Stupa

Like Bhaktapur, the location of the stupa lies on the old trade route to Tibet and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boudhanath Stupa is one of the largest stupas in the world and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibet. The structure of the building consists of a giant dome, on top of which sits a Buddhist pyramid tower. The base of the stupa is decorated with pairs of eyes in each of the cardinal directions representing the all-knowing nature of the Buddha. Locally, the stupa is referred to as “Chorten Chenpo”, literally “Great Tower” or “Great Stupa”. No matter what pilgrims called it, they flocked to the monument in droves for worship and meditation. Surrounding Boudhanath Stupa is streets and narrow alleys lined with colourful homes and street vendors.

3. Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple)

Swayambhunath is the second most important stupa in Kathmandu after Boudhanath. The stupa features a stark white dome topped with a golden spire. It’s also called the Monkey Temple because of the hundreds of monkeys who scamper about the temple at night after the pilgrims have left. The area surrounding the stupa is filled with temples, painted images of deities and numerous other religious objects. This place of worship is an extraordinary spiritual experience with the fragrance of sweet incense in the air, exquisite intricate carvings and butter lamps adorning every space. You can take the stone stairway with 365 steps to reach the Swayambhunath Stupa or journey up the western side of the stupa. If you climb the stairway, you’ll see the ‘Lightning Bolt’, also known as ‘Vajra’ representing the symbol of the power of enlightenment, right in front of the stupa. From the top, you’ll get a spectacular view of the Kathmandu valley.

4. Chitwan National Park

Chitwan National Park is a wonderful place for wildlife sightings in a safari-like environment in the Terai Lowlands of south-central Nepal. Chitwan means ‘Heart of the Jungle’, the national park is known for its biodiversity and is home to rhinos, Bengal tigers, leopards, sloth bears, deer, buffaloes and others. If you’re a bird watcher, you’ll get to enjoy more than 500 species of birds in Chitwan National Park. You can opt for a jeep safari or an elephant safari to navigate through the park’s jungles and grasslands. Most tourists enjoy sitting in the back of an open jeep for the wildlife sightings. Just try to wear dark coloured clothes so as not to scare off the animals. While you’re in Chitwan National Park, check out the Elephant Breeding Centre.

5. Annapurna

The Annapurna Region is one of the most popular trekking regions in Nepal. You can opt for trekking routes ranging from a few days to a few weeks. The Annapurna Circuit is incredibly popular with trekkers and takes about 21 days to complete. This trek takes you through breathtaking sceneries of rivers, flora and fauna circling the Annarpurna range. Interestingly, the circuit is also known as the ‘Apple Pie Circuit’ as most of the tea houses along the route serve their own version of fried apple pie, a popular treat amongst hikers. There is another reason that the Annapurna Circuit is known as the Apple Pie Circuit and that’s because, whilst it is generally a strenuous trek, some of the more enjoyable parts are, as the old slogan goes, “as easy as apple pie”.

6. Pokhara

Set at the base of the foothills and surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world, Pokhara is one of Nepal’s most scenic cities. For trekkers, Pokhara is the gateway to the Himalayas and the starting point for treks to Jomsom and the Annapurna region. It is the second-largest city in Nepal but definitely a lot less crowded than Kathmandu. Hailed as the ‘jewel in the Himalaya’, Pokhara is loved for its pristine air, spectacular backdrop of snowy peaks, blue lakes and surrounding greenery. Best-known for its stunning view of the Annapurna range, Pokhara is one of the few places on earth where you can see mountains above 6,000m without any obstruction. Clustered with lakeside hotels, restaurants and shops, Pokhara is an ideal location to relax and rejuvenate. In recent years, Pokhara Valley has also grown as a destination for adventure sports such as paragliding, boating and mountain biking. One of the highlights of Pokhara is Phewa Lake or Fewa Lake, a semi-natural freshwater lake. The beautiful scenery at Phewa Lake will leave you mesmerised.

7. Lumbini

Lumbini, located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal, is one of the holiest places for Buddhist pilgrims. The sacred area is the birthplace of Lord Buddha in 623 BC. Thus, you’ll be walking in the footsteps of the Buddha as you explore the region where he spent his childhood as Prince Siddhartha. Span over a large area, you’ll find more than 30 monasteries, meditation centres, and landscaped parks. Lumbini is an incredibly spiritual place and the tranquillity of the site is felt the strongest in the Sacred Garden that surrounds the central Mayadevi Temple. Millions of pilgrims and monks visit Lumbini for a spiritual awakening journey; people will simply sit under trees, next to ponds or in dedicated centres to meditate. Lumbini is definitely worth a visit to gain a deeper understanding of the early years of Buddha’s life.