The key to getting the most out of a short one-week trip to Nepal is to hone in on the activities and sights that interest you most. From cultural attractions to trekking to exciting outdoor adventure activities, these suggested itineraries give you the chance to see and do the best of Nepal.
Trip planning and tips
- Although Nepal is geographically not very big, due to poor roads and mountainous terrain, the travel times can be longer than you'd guess based on distance. Don't over-stuff your itinerary or you'll regret it--and maybe even miss your flight.
- When your itinerary is short, flying between Kathmandu and Pokhara, or Kathmandu and Chitwan (Bharatpur) saves valuable time. They're very scenic trips, too.
- The season should determine (at least in part) what you see and do in Nepal. If traveling during monsoon (June-August), stick to the cities and cultural sites. Trekking and water sports are best in the spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November). The jungle national parks get seriously steamy for much of the year, so visit in the winter (December-February).
#1 Adventures in Kathmandu & Pokhara
|Day 1||Take a customized Kathmandu city tour on the back of a Vespa with Vespa Valley, from the main temples and sites to lesser-known street art and food stops|
|Day 2||Sightseeing in Kathmandu; Boudhanath and Pashupatinath in the morning, Patan in the afternoon and evening|
|Day 3||Fly to Pokhara; relax by the lake or take a short hike up to the Peace Pagoda in the afternoon|
|Day 4||Adventure activities in Pokhara: paddle on the lake in a small wooden boat or take a kayaking lesson; cycle around the lake|
|Day 5||Hike up to Sarangkot, or have a go at paragliding|
|Day 6||Fly back to Kathmandu|
|Day 7||Sightseeing Bhaktapur|
Kathmandu and Pokhara both present very different views of Nepali life and landscape, so if you want to begin to understand the diversity of the country in a week, it's a good idea to check out both cities.
Kathmandu offers a wealth of cultural activities, from the Buddhist sites of Swayambhunath and Boudhanath to the sacred Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, and of course the grand Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur.
Pokhara is less congested, less urban, and a whole lot more chilled out. The Lakeside area — where most travelers like to stay — is situated on the shores of the pretty Fewa Lake. The Annapurna Himalayas lie just beyond the hills surrounding Pokhara, and the pointy fishtail peak of Machchapucchare is often visible from the town. In Pokhara, you can go paddling on the lake, try paragliding from Sarangkot, or go on a short hike or two.
#2 Short Trek in the Hills
|Day 1||Sightseeing and overnight in Bhaktapur, for old Newari culture|
|Day 2||Hike Bhaktapur to Dhulikhel, and enjoy a stunning sunset|
|Day 3||Hike to Namo Buddha, a Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage town|
|Day 4||Hike to Balthali through picturesque villages and farmland|
|Day 5||Hike to Panauti, an ancient Newar town|
|Day 6||Return to Kathmandu by vehicle|
|Day 7||Sightseeing in Kathmandu|
While you'll need more than seven days for any of Nepal's truly epic treks, a week is long enough to get a taste for trekking and see some 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.
Kathmandu hasn't long been the congested metropolis it is today; the city is surrounded by farmland etched into the hills and rural communities. By trekking between Dhulikhel and Panauti, you can see how the majority of ordinary Nepalis live while enjoying the backdrop of snow-capped peaks and lush forested hills.
#3 City & Safari
|Days 1-2||Sightseeing in Kathmandu, including Buddhist and Hindu temples and old palaces, and an early morning scenic Everest flight|
|Day 3||Drive to Trisuli River for white-water rafting fun; continue to Chitwan and arrive in the evening|
|Days 4-5||Safari activities in Chitwan|
|Day 6||Fly Bharatpur to Kathmandu; stay overnight in Bhaktapur for a more mellow Kathmandu experience|
|Day 7||Bhaktapur sightseeing|
Wildlife and bird lovers should aim to spend a large proportion of their time in the Chitwan National Park. Here, you can see one-horned rhinoceros, gharial crocodiles, elephants, deer, a huge variety of birds, and possibly even a Royal Bengal Tiger. The highlight, though, is definitely the rhinos, because successful breeding and conservation programs have meant there are over 600 of the giant creatures within the park.
At Chitwan, you can take a safari on foot, in a Jeep or by bullock cart, all guided by expert naturalists. You can also take a canoe on the river, which is particularly attractive at sunset. Luxury lodge accommodation is available in the main hub of Sauraha, as well as near Barauli village. Alternatively, you can stay in a rural homestay in either place, which will give you a greater insight into life on the Nepali Terai.
After a couple of days sightseeing in the capital, either fly from Kathmandu to Bharatpur (recommended) or drive the six or so hours along the highway. Alternatively, if you fancy getting a bit wet, you can do half a day's white-water rafting on the Trisuli River (two hours from Kathmandu) and be met at the end for the rest of your road journey to Chitwan (about three hours).