Balthali Village Trek via Namo Buddha and Panauti

This three-day trek starts just a short drive from Kathmandu city, on the edge of the valley rim. It passes through small farming villages, where you can experience the lifestyle of local people, along with lush green forests, ancient temples and terraced farmland. Add to this the stunning snowy peaks visible in the distance, and this is the perfect introduction to trekking in the Himalayas!

Highlights

  • Stay in some of the finest hotels and lodges in the Kathmandu area
  • Explore well-preserved Newari architecture in the village of Panauti
  • Relax amid traditional farming villages with spectacular Himalayan views
  • Experience the sacred atmosphere of Namo Buddha, one of Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest sites

Overview

Rated one of the best short treks in Nepal, this itinerary has been specifically designed for the traveller looking to experience some of the best accommodation in Nepal. While much of this could be done on a smaller budget (by substituting Dwarika for cheaper options), this would, in a way, detract from one of the main highlights of this trip. That being said, Namo Buddha Resort and Balthali Village Resort are fairly affordable, so this trek is a great way to experience some top-notch accommodation at a moderate price (excluding Dwarika's!).

Detailed itinerary

While the trek itself takes 3 days, this 5-day itinerary includes your arrival and departure days.

Day 1: Arrival in Nepal, sunset in Dhulikhel

View from breakfast

After arriving at the airport, head to Dhulikhel, a town high on the rim of the Kathmandu Valley. Stay at one of Nepal’s premier resorts, Dwarika’s Resort Dhulikhel, or one of the simpler guesthouses around the town if you’re on a smaller budget. Dhulikhel’s location means it’s a great spot from which to enjoy sunrises and sunsets over the Himalayas, which aren’t too far away.

Day 2: Trek to Namo Buddha

Namo Buddha
Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery

After a lazy morning with a late breakfast with stunning views, head to Namo Buddha, one of the most sacred Tibetan Buddhist sites in Nepal. Lunch today will be picnic-style along the trail.

Today’s walk will be around three hours, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the high-quality accommodation, both at Dwarika’s Dhulikhel and the Namo Buddha Resort, your stop for the night. Arriving here around mid-afternoon, you can just relax, or head to a lookout point close by for a stunning sunset. The resort is a sustainable, eco-friendly place that is famous for its excellent food, all organic and grown on-site. Day-trippers come from Kathmandu just for the food!

Day 3: Trek to Balthali

Villages
Orange groves and villages

After a delicious breakfast with a panoramic view, take a short walk downhill to the famous Namo Buddha stupa. It is only small, but it is extremely important to Tibetan Buddhists, as it commemorates Siddhartha Gautam’s act of offering his body to a hungry tigress, which is said to have contributed to his ability to achieve enlightenment and, ultimately, Buddha-hood. A short walk above the stupa is the newly built Tibetan Buddhist monastery perched on the hilltop.

From here, continue walking through fields and orchards to the quiet village of Balthali, with a picnic lunch along the way. Here again there are amazing views of the mountains, farmland, and villages. Overnight at the Balthali Village Resort.

Day 4: Trek to Panauti, drive to Kathmandu

Village fields
Trekking through fields and villages

After one last breakfast with this spectacular view, start the trek to Panauti. Most of today’s trail is along a dirt road, passing beautiful small villages, terraced fields and amazing views. Finish at the Newar town of Panauti, where you can explore before or after a delicious local lunch, depending on how quickly you trekked down from Balthali.

Panauti is one of the best-preserved Newari towns in the country, and has been spared any earthquake damage over the years because of the popular belief that it is built upon a single, large rock. The town is built in the signature Newar style, with pink brick and carved wooden temples beside the river. After exploring, give your feet a rest by hopping into a car for the drive back to Kathmandu.

En route, stop at Bhaktapur, one of the three ancient cities within the Kathmandu Valley. Lying 14 kilometers east of Kathmandu city, Bhaktapur was founded in the 9th century, and the old city plan is shaped like a sacred conch shell. Not only because of its famous carved peacock windows but also due to its museum, Bhaktapur is the centre of traditional Nepalese wood carving.

After touring Bhaktapur, continue to Kathmandu and check into one of the nicest hotels in town, Dwarika’s Hotel. The place is not just a hotel, but practically a museum of traditional arts and crafts, with unique antique furniture and fittings in each room. If you’re on a tighter budget, there are numerous other boutique hotels around the city that offer a similar charm without the price tag.

Dwarika’s is conveniently located a short walk from the Pashupatinath Temple. Head there for dusk, to see local Hindus performing their evening puja, before heading out for a final dinner in the city.

Day 5: Departure

Depending on the time of your flight, there may be some time for souvenir shopping in the morning. The tourist hub of Thamel is a great place to head, as here you can find all kinds of products, from traditional handicrafts to outdoor clothing. Don’t forget to bargain!

Accommodation

Dwarika
Inside one of Dwarika's suites

While cheaper lodgings can be found in some of the villages passed through on this trek, it is recommended not to scrimp on accommodation on this itinerary. The hotel and resort options listed in this itinerary are among some of the finest in Nepal. They are not just a place to rest at night, but beautiful all-round experiences, with peaceful grounds, prime views and delicious food. You will likely remember the accommodation on this trek as much as the beauty of the surroundings—and that’s really saying something!

However, if you are looking to do this trek but would like to cheaper alternatives for accommodations, one of our specialists will be able to make a few good recommendations. 

Best season

This trek can be done year-round, although during the monsoon (June-August) the air will be hazy and you will be less likely to get good Himalayan views. Because this trek does not climb very high in altitude (the highest point is Namo Buddha, at 1750 meters) it is an ideal trip to undertake in the winter, when the skies will be clear and the lodging cozy.

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Balthali village trek via namo buddha and panauti, Nepal - Apr 19 - Apr 23, 2017

Traveler: reyan h. - Local specialist: Amanda Delecca

Amanda was extremely helpful, the trip was very well organised and she was prompt to answer any queries we had

Balthali village trek , Nepal - Feb 15 - Feb 19, 2017

Traveler: Julia T. - Local specialist: Mads Mathiasen

The trip was well planned! Only thing is i wished that the porter and guide where treated more as guests than employees of the hotel. In our night at dhulikhel, the employees said that our guide & porter could only eat when they ate. While we had hot shower and luxuriously a heater, our guide and porter only had cold water. The disparity was not nice to witness

Mads was patient in answering my questions, proactive, had suggestions to my problems.