This trip combines the main cultural and natural highlights of Nepal's three main regions—Kathmandu, Chitwan, and Pokhara. You'll spend a night in the hilltop village of Nagarkot and the ancient cities of Bhaktapur and Patan, then head south to experience the wildlife, jungle, and birthplace of Buddha. Finally, you'll have a couple days in Pokhara to relax and enjoy some adventure before departing.

Highlights

  • Catch views of the Himalaya from the hilltop village of Nagarkot
  • Explore the ancient cities of the Kathmandu Valley
  • Take a wildlife safari in Nepal's famous Chitwan National Park
  • Visit Lumbini, the Birthplace of Buddha

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu, Drive to Nagarkot Nagarkot
Day 2 Sunrise from Nagarkot, Drive or Hike to Bhaktapur Bhaktapur
Day 3 Explore Bhaktapur & Patan, Overnight in Patan Patan
Day 4 Fly from Kathmandu to Chitwan Chitwan National Park
Day 5 Explore Chitwan: Safaris, Wildlife, and Relaxation Chitwan National Park
Day 6 Drive from Chitwan to Lumbini Lumbini
Day 7 Explore Lumbini, Fly to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 8 Explore Pokhara: Adventure & Relaxation Pokhara
Day 9 Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu, Depart!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Kathmandu, Drive to Nagarkot

The view from Nagarkot, a popular village on the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley
The view from Nagarkot, a popular village on the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley

As you fly into Kathmandu, you'll have beautiful views over the city, the Himalaya, and of the terraced fields below. After going through customs, a representative will be waiting to greet you and guide you through the initial culture shock of Kathmandu’s narrow, winding streets as you drive (one hour) to the village of Nagarkot situated in the hills northeast of Kathmandu. This is the ideal way to escape the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu on your first night!

Instead of driving the entire way to Nagarkot, you can also opt to hike for 2-3 hours to reach the village and the hotel where your luggage will be waiting. It's a moderate uphill hike through villages and farm fields with beautiful views of the surrounding valleys; a great way to stretch your legs after a long flight.

Day 2: Sunrise from Nagarkot, Drive or Hike to Bhaktapur

Sunrise of the Himalaya from Nagarkot
Sunrise of the Himalaya from Nagarkot

Get up early to catch the sunrise over the Himalaya—a beautiful sight, followed by a great breakfast! After breakfast, you can either be driven straight to Bhaktapur from Nagarkot (1 hour) or you can hike there (4 hours). Hiking is downhill and passes through the village of Changu Narayan, one of the Kathmandu Valley's UNESCO World Heritage sites. The famous temple in this small town is the least-visited such site in the valley, making it a special place to visit given fewer crowds. The temple dates back to the 13th-century and is believed to be the oldest temple in Nepal.

Although Bhaktapur was extensively damaged in the 2015 earthquake, most of the impressive buildings—including the tallest temple in the Kathmandu Valley and 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 3: Explore Bhaktapur & Patan, Overnight in Patan

Morning dawns on the temples of Bhaktapur's Durbar Square
Morning dawns on the temples of Bhaktapur's Durbar Square

In the morning, you'll explore the temples and courtyards of Bhaktapur. After that, you'll be driven to Patan, about an hour by car. If you like souvenir hunting, Patan is the best place in the Kathmandu Valley to do this. The town is full of traditional Newari craftspeople, so you can find shops selling Buddhist thangka paintings, metal statues, all kinds of jewelry and brass and copper cookware.

Patan doesn’t contain as many hotels as central Kathmandu (although the number is growing quickly), but that’s to the discerning traveler’s advantage. A number of local heritage buildings have been turned into boutique guesthouses with a lot of charm.

Day 4: Fly from Kathmandu to Chitwan

Looking out over the river in Chitwan
Looking out over the river in Chitwan

This morning, you'll get up early for your flight to the famous Terai region of Nepal, Chitwan National Park. You'll find that the landscape and culture are totally different from Kathmandu or the Himalaya. The name 'Terai' refers to the extensive plains in the southern part of Nepal—this area is the most northern extension of the great Gangetic plains of India, land that was won and lost in decades of struggle and shares both Indian and Nepali characteristics and culture.

Upon arrival at the airport in Chitwan, you will be picked up by a representative from your lodge and get to the lodge in time for lunch (unless you choose an afternoon flight) and a briefing about the activities available in the time you have left this afternoon and what’s on tomorrow.

Day 5: Explore Chitwan: Safaris, Wildlife, and Relaxation

One-horned rhino, an endangered species, inside Chitwan
One-horned rhino, an endangered species, inside Chitwan

Today, choose from a variety of activities or take the day to relax and explore on your own.  You can make the most of your day with a full day of jungle safari activities, spending time with Nepal’s majestic elephants in the dense jungle in search of wildlife or taking a river safari in traditional carved-out wooden canoes to spot wildlife and birds along the river banks.

Wildlife in Chitwan include the greater one-horned rhinoceros, spotted deer, hog deer, sambar deer, and barking deer as well as a wide variety of birdlife. With luck, there is always the chance of glimpsing the leopard, sloth bear and Royal Bengal tiger (although it is very rare to spot a tiger these days, recent spottings have occurred!). 

Day 6: Drive from Chitwan to Lumbini

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After breakfast in Chitwan, you have a 3-4 hour drive to Lumbini. Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Kapilavastu district of Nepal near the Indian border, where Queen Mayadevi is said to have given birth to Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. The Buddha lived between roughly 563 and 483 BCE.

Lumbini is one of four magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha, the others being at Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar. As of 1997, Lumbini is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The holy site at Lumbini has ruins of ancient monasteries, a sacred Bodhi tree, an ancient bathing pond, the Asokan pillar and the Mayadevi temple, where the precise place of birth of Buddha is located. From early morning to early evening, pilgrims from various countries perform chanting and meditation at the site.

Lumbini is also home to the Crane Sanctuary, a place abundant in culture and birdlife. Be sure to take binoculars to catch a glimpse of the Eurasian Wigeons, Eurasian Marsh Harriers, and the Booted Eagles.

Day 7: Explore Lumbini, Fly to Pokhara

Reflections of the temple on the lake in Lumbini
Reflections of the temple on the lake in Lumbini

In the morning, you'll have time to enjoy the sunrise and explore the temples around Lumbini. You'll then be transferred to Bhairawa airport for your flight to Pokhara. Upon arrival in Pokhara, you'll be transferred to the hotel by private car.

Day 8: Explore Pokhara: Adventure & Relaxation

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 9: Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu, Depart!

Sunset in Patan Durbar Square
Sunset in Patan Durbar Square

After breakfast, you'll be transferred to Pokhara's domestic airport for your flight back to Kathmandu. If you're flying back home from Kathmandu today, you need to ensure your flight departs no earlier than 11 am to ensure you'll have enough time to catch it. (The earliest you can arrive back in Kathmandu will be around 9:15 am.)

Recent traveler photos

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Nepal's classic highlights - 9 days, Nepal - Apr 15 - Apr 23, 2019

Traveler: Sean C. - Local specialist: Amanda Delecca

We appreciate Amanda for her timely replies and great recommendations while working around our budget. She provided us with important tips such as the need for face mask due to dust and currency change opportunities. She made it a point to meet and greet us at the beginning of the tour and came to see us off at the end as well.

The entire trip was seamless. The guides and transport were on time. We especially appreciate that arrangements could be made for us to have the same guide and driver... read more

We appreciate Amanda for her timely replies and great recommendations while working around our budget. She provided us with important tips such as the need for face mask due to dust and currency change opportunities. She made it a point to meet and greet us at the beginning of the tour and came to see us off at the end as well.

The entire trip was seamless. The guides and transport were on time. We especially appreciate that arrangements could be made for us to have the same guide and driver wherever possible. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Mata Chan, Panauti and Kasara Resort, Chitwan National Park.

White water rafting at Trishuli was good for beginners to try out the activity. It was rather mild and although the water looked muddy, it was fun!

Maya Devi temple in Lumbini is indeed worth a visit but staying overnight was unnecessary. Half a day would suffice. If there was a flight out to Kathmandu in the evening after the visit, it would be better as we waited all day for our flight back to Kathmandu in the late afternoon of the following day. We could have covered 1 more town or activity in that 1 day. The visit to the pilgrimage site would be better in the early morning or later afternoon as it was really hot at mid day.

Overall a well organised trip. We felt safe and didn't have to worry about anything. Great job, kimkim!! Thank you!

Alan

Nepal's classic highlights - 9 days, Nepal - Dec 30 - Jan 13, 2019

Traveler: Alan W. - Local specialist: Amanda Delecca

We had an excellent trip trekking strting at POKHARA - Panchase - Bhadure -Sarangkot our tour guide Chhirig CAP Lama was extraordinary helping us all along. Others Ngima,Santa and Karma were also friendly and helping. we enjoyed our trek immensely.
National Park Chitwan Jungle Villa resort , our guide was DUKHI RAM CHOUDARY who had an excellent knowledge of the animals and village . He seemed very passionate and helpful. We thoroughly enjoyed the National Park and recommend people to go and visit anytime.