Nepal is mountains, jungles, rivers, and ancient culture. This diversity means that you could spend a lifetime exploring the small Himalayan nation, but if you only have five days, you can get a taste for some of its best sites and experiences. From white-water rafting to chilling out beside a lake, here are some ideas for where to go and what to do with five days in Nepal.

Best Tips & Local Advice

  • Take domestic flights to save valuable time. The flights are scenic, too!
  • If traveling during the monsoon (June to Aug), stick to the cities and cultural sites
  • Trekking and water sports are best from March to May & September to November
  • Focus on one region: although Nepal's a small country, poor roads & mountainous terrain can lead to longer travel times and unexpected delays

#1 Explore the Ancient Cities of Kathmandu

Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu
Day Description Overnight
Day 1 Visit Swayambhunath Stupa and Kathmandu Durbar Square Kathmandu
Day 2 Visit Pashupatinath Temple and Boudhanath Stupa Kathmandu
Day 3 Discover the ancient city of Patan Patan
Day 4 Explore Bhaktapur Bhaktapur
Day 5 Day trip to Namo Buddha outside the Valley, Returning to Kathmandu Kathmandu

The Kathmandu Valley is so full of historical, architectural, and religious treasures that you don't need to leave (or go very far) to have a rich experience in Nepal. Spend the first three days checking out the most famous sites of Kathmandu: the Kathmandu and Patan Durbar Squares, Swayambhunath Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple and Boudhanath Stupa. Head to Bhaktapur and spend the night there, to experience the peace and quiet after the day-trippers leave. From Bhaktapur, take a trip up to Namo Buddha for breathtaking mountain views, fresh air, and a delicious organic lunch at the Namo Buddha Resort.

#2 Short Trek in the Kathmandu Valley

Views from the Dhulikhel district
Day Description Overnight
Day 1 Travel to Dhulikhel, on the edge of the valley, by vehicle and enjoy a scenic sunset Dhulikhel
Day 2 Trek to Namo Buddha, a sacred Tibetan Buddhist site Namo Buddha
Day 3 Trek to Balthali through picturesque villages and farmland Balthali
Day 4 Trek to Panauti, an ancient Newari town, then drive back to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 5 Sightseeing around Kathmandu Kathmandu

While five days isn't long enough to undertake any of Nepal's truly epic treks, it's certainly enough time to stretch the legs and get your blood pumping in the hills, with spectacular views. By sticking close to Kathmandu you can eliminate lengthy travel days. And you may be pleasantly surprised how quickly the city turns to scenic hills and pretty villages. For more details on this itinerary, see Balthali Village Trek via Namo Buddha and Panauti

#3 Adventure in Pokhara

Paragliding near Machhapuchhre near Pokhara
Tandem paragliding above Pokhara
Day Description Overnight
Day 1 Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Go Paddling on Phewa Lake Pokhara
Day 2 Head up to Sarangkot to go paragliding over Phewa Lake Pokhara
Days 3 & 4 White-water rafting on Seti River, Camping on the beach River camping
Day 5 Fly back to Kathmandu, Sightseeing in the city Kathmandu

Nepal is famous for its outdoor activities, and travelers who want a bit of a thrill should make a bee-line to Pokhara. Five days is plenty of time to enjoy kayaking on the lake, paragliding, white-water rafting and camping under the stars.

#4 Chill Out in Pokhara

Phewa Lake in Pokhara
Boats on Pokhara's Phewa Lake
Day Description Overnight
Day 1 Sightseeing around Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 2 Fly to Pokhara, Walk along the lake for sunset views Pokhara
Day 3 Sarangkot lookout with a short hike back down through traditional villages Pokhara
Day 4 Pokhara sightseeing, including Davi's Falls, Tibetan refugee colony and market Pokhara
Day 5 Return flight to Kathmandu, Sightseeing in the city Kathmandu

Although Nepal is (justifiably) famous for its active adventure sports, you don't need to be a super-fit athlete to enjoy the country. Pokhara is a super-chill city (especially in the Lakeside area) that rewards a bit of laziness with spectacular views and good food and shopping. Plus, there are enough sites of interest nearby to mix up the chilling out with some sightseeing.

#5 City, River, and Mountains

Rafters floating through the hills of Nepal
Rafters floating through the hills of Nepal
Day Description Overnight
Day 1 Kathmandu sightseeing Kathmandu
Day 2 Raft along the Trisuli River; drive to Bandipur Bandipur
Day 3 Spend the morning in Bandipur; drive to Pokhara later in the day Pokhara
Day 4 Sightseeing and/or activities in Pokhara Pokhara
Day 5 Flight to Kathmandu Kathmandu

If you want to experience some of Nepal's highlights--the culture of the city, the rush of the river, and the majesty of the mountains — then that is possible on a well-planned five-day itinerary. Start by sightseeing in Kathmandu — take your pick of a couple of its heritage and religious sites.

Then, raft along the Trisuli River, which runs parallel to the main highway between Kathmandu and Pokhara; a river trip minimizes the need to travel the whole way by road. Chill out in the hilltop Newari town of Bandipur, before driving to Pokhara. There, chill out by the lake, opt to go paragliding, or take a day hike into the hills. Return to Kathmandu by air, and enjoy the scenic flight (as long as you're sitting on the left-hand-side of the airplane!)

Map

Map of 5 Days in Nepal: 5 Great Itineraries
Map of 5 Days in Nepal: 5 Great Itineraries

Recent traveler photos

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

5 days in nepal: 5 great itineraries, Nepal - Sep 16 - Sep 21, 2018

Traveler: Marije d. - Local specialist: Amanda Delecca

The overall experuence was exactly what we hoped for.
Nice people, flexible when plans changed and had a lot to tell about places we visited.
We have done only 5,5 days in nepal, kthmandu to pokhara and some rafting in between an staying in a fantastisch riverside camp.
All perfectly arranged.
My only point of comment would be that the drive to and from the Famous Farm (which was fantastic to stay btw) was too long (due to the road conditions) related to the total time we where in Nepal.
Besides that, all perfect!

Long

Best of nepal, Nepal - Apr 25 - Apr 30, 2018

Traveler: Long W. - Local specialist: Raj Gyawali

We wanted a hassle-free trip and Raj and his team had certainly delivered. Everything was executed as communicated ahead of time with positive surprises threw in here and there. One certainly has to pay for this kind of service but it's nice that the result is as advertised. We had a short and easy trip and would really love to go back to Nepal to explore her natural beauty in the future.