Explore the cultural and natural highlights of the Kathmandu and Pokhara valleys, with an additional day in Kathmandu. Begin with Kathmandu's main cultural sites before driving to Pokhara, stopping en route at one of Nepal's most picturesque villages in Bandipur. After exploring Pokhara, you'll have some time back in Kathmandu to relax and sightsee before catching your return flight home.

Highlights

  • Get lost in the bustle of Nepal's sprawling capital, Kathmandu
  • Experience the Niwari culture in the medieval village of Bandipur
  • Explore the peaceful lakeside city of Pokhara and enjoy an evening boat tour
  • Wander Bhaktapur and marvel at the impressive Nyatapola Temple

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Explore Kathmandu: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, & Patan Durbar Square Kathmandu
Day 3 Drive from Kathmandu to Bandipur Bandipur
Day 4 Drive from Bandipur to Pokhara, Evening Boat Tour Pokhara
Day 5 Explore Pokhara: Guided or Self-Guided Day Tours Pokhara
Day 6 Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu, Overnight in Bhaktapur Bhaktapur
Day 7 Depart Kathmandu  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu!

The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa
The cityscape of Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa

Flying into Kathmandu, you'll have views over the valley, the Himalaya, and the terraced fields below. After completing customs, a representative will be waiting to greet you outside the airport and to guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets to your hotel.

Once you've settled in, head out and explore the city. Kathmandu Durbar Square is a great place to start your exploration, where you'll walk through narrow alleyways teeming with small shops, ancient temples, and local restaurants. If you want to stretch your legs, Swayambhunath, the white stupa rising above the valley, is the perfect spot to catch the sunset over the valley.

In the evening, the tourist hub of Thamel is a good place to grab your first meal, with a variety of restaurants to chose from offering both Western and local Nepali dishes.

Day 2: Explore Kathmandu: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, & Patan Durbar Square

Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll be picked up by an English-speaking guide for a full-day tour of the Kathmandu Valley, visiting three sacred sites: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Patan Durbar Square.

This day fits quite a bit in—helpful for maximizing your time in Kathmandu—but doesn't overload you with too many sites. You can spend as much time as you like at each temple (this is a private tour just for you), although most people tend to spend an hour. For lunch, you'll stop at one of our recommended local restaurants. 

Return to your hotel in Kathmandu in the late afternoon and meet your trekking guide who will go over details for tomorrow's adventure.

Tour length: 7-8 hours (including transfers)

Day 3: Drive from Kathmandu to Bandipur

Evening views from Bandipur of the Himalaya
Evening views from Bandipur of the Himalaya

After breakfast, you'll start the overland trip to Bandipur in the early morning to avoid traffic in Kathmandu. Arrive in Bandipur for a late lunch and explore the charming village for the rest of the day. Before sunset, you may want to climb the nearby hill to watch the beautiful shapes of the foothills as they change color.

Bandipur
Bandipur is a living museum of Newari culture, a beautifully preserved village crowning a lofty ridge above the highway stop of Dumre. Its winding lanes are lined with traditional Newari houses. Time seems to have stood still here, although it has taken a lot of effort to preserve the magic while developing the town as a destination. Despite its proximity to the epicenter of the 2015 earthquake, Bandipur escaped with only minor damage, though a number of village houses collapsed

Driving time: 6 hours

Day 4: Drive from Bandipur to Pokhara, Evening Boat Tour

Phewa Lake against the backdrop of the Annapurnas, Pokhara
Phewa Lake against the backdrop of the Annapurnas, Pokhara

After enjoying the sunrise and early morning, you'll leave Bandipur behind and travel overland to Pokhara, one of the enchanting places to view the Phewa Lake and the magnificence of Machhapuchhere (6,977 m) rising behind it create an ambiance of peace and magic. En route, you can take a detour to Begnas Lake, a beautiful spot for a short walk or boat tour.

After arriving in Pokhara, we will check in to our hotel and then head out to explore the lakeside and then relax over dinner.

Pokhara Valley

At 827 m, Nepal's second largest city is situated in a tranquil valley along the banks of Phewa Lake. It's the starting point for many of Nepal’s famous treks and rafting destinations. The valley surrounding Pokhara is home to thick forests, gushing rivers, clear lake and the world famous views of the Himalaya.

Driving time: 3 hours (79 km)

Day 5: Explore Pokhara: Guided or Self-Guided Day Tours

Boats along the shore of Phewa Lake
Boats along the shore of Phewa Lake

Today, you'll have a full day in Pokhara to relax or enjoy a variety of activities. You may want to explore the cafés and restaurants, go shopping, or perhaps do something more adventurous like paragliding or mountain biking.

Day 6: Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu, Overnight in Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square

After breakfast, you may have time to do more sightseeing, relax, or check out one of Pokhara's many coffee shops. About 1.5 hours before your flight, you'll be picked up from your hotel and taken to the domestic airport to catch your quick flight back to Kathmandu. 

Once in Kathmandu, you'll be driven to Bhaktapur (20 minutes). Although extensively damaged by the 2015 earthquake, most of Bhaktapur's impressive religious buildings, including the tallest temple in the Kathmandu Valley—the five-story Nyatapola Temple—remain standing in this medieval Newari city. The town is known for its production of fine Newari crafts, especially pottery, which you can see drying in the large town squares.

Day 7: Depart Kathmandu

The all-seeing eyes of Buddha at Swayambhunath
The all-seeing eyes of Buddha at Swayambhunath

It's time to say farewell to Nepal. Enjoy your last moments in Kathmandu with breakfast in a café, a final stroll through the narrow alleys and templtes, and some final souvenir shopping. A driver will be waiting for you at your hotel to take you to the airport for your return flight home. It's best to be at the airport at least 2 hours prior to departure.