Nepal is an amazing country with much more to offer than most people realize. I came to Nepal solely to hike in the Himalayas with my brother, Ben and then continue backpacking through to South East Asia. But, while trekking the Annapurna Circuit we heard about other adventures in Nepal like trekking with wild tigers & elephants or staying at a Buddhist monastery. I extended my visa (twice) and the one month trip turned into a 3 and a half month series of adventures. The best of my Nepal Itinerary is right here along with some great photos that I hope convince you to take your own backpacking trip to Nepal!
So you’re thinking about going to Nepal and are curious how long everything will take. The truth is Nepal is an amazing country but it’s not known for its infrastructure so be prepared for some long bus rides which means its better to stay in one place longer and really enjoy it! In case you are interested in how my 3 backpacking Nepal was split up here you go:
3 Month Nepal Itinerary
This is how I spent my time in Nepal. If I had to do it again I’d spend a lot more time in Pokhara but wouldn’t change anything else. The trip was amazing and you will certainly love your journey to Nepal too. Please comment below if you use any of my itinerary and let me know how it goes!
Trekking the Annapurna Circuit – 3 weeks
Pokhara – 5 days
Exploring Kathmandu Valley – 3 weeks
Bardia National Park – 4 weeks
Kopan Monastery – 1 week
Bus Transportation – 5 days
Lonely Planet Nepal is FREE on KindleUnlimited!
Nepal was such an amazing place that I already decided to go back in March! I’m leading a small expedition searching for wild tigers in Bardia National Park! Our early bird discount endson Christmas and we only have 3 spots left so if you’re interested please join our Facebook Event and fill out the Application today!
Scroll down or click on any of these photos to read more of my adventures in Nepal. You’ll find recommendations for where to stay and what to do. I’ve still got a few posts in the works about this magical country so be sure to subscribe too!
Kathmandu is worth spending at least a few days in and you’ll have to pass through if you’re flying in or out of Nepal. You’ll find amazing temples, monasteries, UNESCO sites and more. Don’t forget to rent a motorbike and take an adventurous ride to Nagarkot or Bhaktapur! Check out the places to visit in Kathmandu below to help plan your trip to Nepal.
Lonely Planet Nepal Himalaya is FREE on Kindle!
Places to visit in Kathmandu
- Swyambunath (Monkey Temple) – 200 Rs
- Durbar Square – 1000 Rs
- Pashupatinath (Hindu Cremation Temple) – 1000 Rs
- Nagarkot – beautiful village in nearby Himalayan Foothills
- Boudhanath (Amazing Stupha clos to great restaurants)- FREE
- Bhaktapur (Newar City near Kathmandu) – 1500 Rs
- Whoopee Land (amusement park) – Rs 100
- OR2K (Best Restaurant in Town)
Hindu sadhus at Pashupatinath
My favorite hostels in Kathmandu
Flying to Nepal means you’ll spend at least a few days in the capital, Kathmandu and you can find some amazing places to stay on any budget. I spent most of my time in Kathmandu on a backpacking budget and can confirm that the hostel culture here is amazing. My favorites were Wanderthirst and their sister hostel Fireflies near Thamel (they are run by my friend Shiva so be sure to him them Mike says hello if you stop by) I heard great things about a lot of hostels so just make sure you find one with good reviews and you’re sure to have a blast.
On the streets of Bhaktapur
Kathmandu has great hotels at amazingly low prices!
If you aren’t on a backpacker’s budget then you’re going to love Nepal because you can stay at the Best Hotels in Kathmandu for a fraction of what you’re used to paying back home. My brother and I absolutely loved the rooms and breakfast at Dom Himalaya, typically $60+/night but often discounted to $26 and $36 if you book in advance! We stayed here for 2 nights and it was the nicest hotel I’d stayed in for quite some time. Big comfy bed, great internet, delicious buffet breakfast, good water pressure and perfect for a couple or siblings.
This Nepali Phrasebook is less than $2 on Amazon!
Nepal is the perfect country for any backpacker. You can easily find cheap accommodation with hostels as low as $4 or $5 per night. I usually splurged and spent $10 to stay in a private room and then enjoyed cheap local meals for $1 or less! Keep reading or click on any of these photos to find out more about that adventure.
My favorite place in Nepal was Bardia National Park!
I completely fell in love with the village and wildlife in Bardia National Park. Perhaps I loved it so much because I never imagined that Nepal had such lush jungles. Or maybe it was hugging a baby elephant in the village!
The wildlife in Bardia National Park is simply fantastic. In just a few days of jungle trekking, I saw over a dozen wild rhinos, 4 elephants, and even a tiger! I’ve been fortunate enough to have a number of wildlife encounters before and this park is hands down the best I’ve seen throughout Asia. I guess that’s why I’m going back to help lead an expedition there in March! Want to join?
Hiking in the Himalayas
The Himalayan Mountains are the tallest in the world with the most famous of course being Mount Everest. Local Nepali’s refer to her as Sagarmāthā, Sanskrit for “peak of heaven.” We decided not to go trek to the Everest Base Camp because I’d heard it was quite crowded during high season and instead chose the Annapurna Circuit near Pokhara. There are many other treks you can do in the Himalayas with Manaslu being another popular yet not touristy trek.
Trekking the Annapurna Circuit
The Annapurna Circuit was a close second for my favorite place in Nepal and is the second most popular trek in Nepal taking you into the roof of the world. The trek crosses Thorong La a staggering 5416m above sea level. Air is thin but the views and villages up there are out of this world.
Many backpackers head off on the Annapurna Circuit without a guide but my brother and I decided to hire a local guide and porter and we highly recommend it! The trip was much more enjoyable having a knowledgeable guide and without carrying all of our gear! More than once he led us on a beautiful sunrise hike that we would never have found otherwise and we didn’t have to worry about finding accommodation on the trek. We took just over two weeks to cross from Chame to Manang and up to the Thorong La Pass (5416m) before heading then back down to Muktinath, Tatopani and finally Poon Hill. The 160km trek took us from views of 8000m high giants like Annapurna and then down into remote villages with gorgeous waterfalls in the Himalayan foothills.
The Osprey 55L Farpoint is perfect for backpacking in Nepal.
Osprey is my favorite hiking backpack brand. Get this one Amazon for as low as $135!
Staying at Buddhist Monastery
Kopan Monastery was an oasis of calm between my adventures in Nepal. I loved waking up every day to Buddhist meditation and not having to worry about anything other than the Dharma. My week was full of pleasant strolls through the garden with a good book, thoughtful debates, discussions and picturesque views of Kathmandu Valley. The monks here are warm and welcoming to outsiders but the best part is they run regular introductory courses for just a few dollars per day.
Motorcycle Drive to Nagarkot
After a week of meditation and a few days back at the Wanderthirst in Kathmandu, I convinced a few of my new friends from Kopan Monastery to rent motorcycles for a few days and drive to Nagarkot. We’d heard of this Hotel at the End of the World situated in the rolling Himalayan foothills and just a half-day drive from Kathmandu. On the way out we stopped for some lunch and to sample the famous yogurt in Bhaktapur.
Don’t forget to try yogurt in Bhaktapur!
Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is worth visiting if you want to see a less crowded version of Kathmandu’s Durbar Square for Rs 1500 fee.
From here we drove to the world’s tallest Shiva statue (144 ft!) then turned back into the mountains towards Nagarkot. The drive got windy and roads worse than anything I’d seen driving across India on the Rickshaw Run. Potholes and sharp switchbacks were tricky to navigate but we made it to the Hotel at the End of the World and found a stunning view. There was even a short Nagarkot trail that had a number of beautiful viewpoints.
The owner of Hotel at the End of the World suggested we drive north to get back to Kathmandu along the F26 highway. Although the roads somehow got even worse this drive was one of my favorite experiences in Nepal. The valley was filled with farming villages, rice fields, and authentic Nepali villages. It prepped me for the drive across Vietnam which I’ll be writing about next!
Nepali Men Playing Games in the Streets of Bhaktapur
Other Adventures in Nepal
The drive to Nagarkot was my final adventure in Nepal and although I found plenty of amazing places to see in Nepal, I didn’t get to explore everywhere I wanted to. Below you’ll find a few adventures that I’m aiming for on my next trip to Nepal. I think the first one will be backpacking the Manaslu Circuit next!
Getting ready to go to Nepal? Watch the movie Everest!
Go to Pokhara
Pokhara is Kathmandu’s sister city and where most expats in Nepal live. The lakeside city is closer to the Annapurna, Mustang and Manaslu regions and while still very much catering to foreigners, lacks a lot of the touristy things people get frustrated with in Kathmandu. Its cleaner and a great place to stay if you want to relax or get ready for a hike. Its further west so also makes a great jumping off point for some other adventures.
Did you know that Nepal is often referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World?
Go Trekking in the Everest Region
Whether you simply want to fly into Lukla and trek to Everest Base Camp, climb the whole mountain or venture off to the three passes trek hope to one day, the Everest Region is great for trekking. You could skip the most dangerous airport in the world by adding a few extra days of trekking along the Jiri Route but I think the flight would be an exciting ride too!
Explore Rara Lake
My friends over at The Wanderthirst Hostel first told me about the beauty of Rara Lake. Then when I spent a month with Wild Trak Adventures in Bardia National Park the locals yet again told me how it was one of Nepal’s most beautiful hikes. Rara Lake is very remote in Nepal’s far Western region making it perfect for adventurous travelers.
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan is Bardia’s touristy cousin closer to Kathmandu. Both national parks are part of the Terai region which is rich in jungle wildlife but Chitwan has many more hotels and restaurants. Plus it’s a half day drive instead of a full day from Kathmandu. Word has it that rhinos have been seen walking down the main road in Chitwan National Park!
Visit Buddha’s Birthplace – Lumbini
The truth is I heard that Lumbini was “a bit of a let down” and decided not to visit. I asked lots of other backpackers in Nepal about Lumbini I heard that Buddha’s birthplace isn’t very impressive to look at but quite culturally relevant. It’s a good place to go meditate, learn about Buddhism or just relax.
If you’re still reading then bravo and thank you! I hope you’ve enjoyed my summary of backpacking through Nepal. If you enjoyed this post please share it by clicking the buttons on the left and don’t get to subscribe. You can pin the image below on Pinterest too!
Disclaimer: This is the internet and It is safe to assume that links and content contained on this webpage provide compensation to the website’s owner. The opinions are my own and the information here is accurate as of November 2017. All photos in this post were taken Mike Still and all rights are reserved.
Lonely Planet Nepal is also FREE on KindleUnlimited!