The trekkers paradise; for decades, Nepal has stood proud as one of the world’s most famous trekking destinations, and rightly so.
Epic Himalayan views, golden temple-topped hills and enchanting tribal villages pave the way along the rugged trails which lace this stunning country. There are very few places in the world where you can trek for days with nothing but incredible mountain views, grazing yaks and charming teahouses to punctuate your trip. From the popular trails to Everest Base Camp, the Annapurna Range and beyond, hiking in Nepal is as rewarding as it is challenging.
For those that like to get their adrenaline kick from something other are summiting mountains, Nepal offers up river rafting, bungee jumping into gorges, canyoning, climbing, mountain biking and kayaking. All set against a backdrop of unparalleled dramatic landscapes, this is just a selection of the heart-pumping activities on offer.
You’ll be fooled into thinking that the 800-kilometre stretch of mountains, home to eight of the world’s ten highest peaks is where all the action is in Nepal. However, venture south of the mountains, and you’ll find something completely different; a chain of national parks where tropical treetops, jungle tigers, rhinos and exotic birdlife await you.
Bookending every Nepal tour, the lively, culturally-fuelled city of Kathmandu presents travellers with medieval city squares, ancient stupas and the atmospheric Kathmandu Valley. Where narrow streets lined with wooden buildings and restaurants proclaimed as some of the best in Asia are Kathmandu’s speciality; Pokhara, Nepal’s second city, is heralded as the prettiest city in the country. Here, spectacular lakeside scenery, adventures galore and a tranquil atmosphere tick all the boxes whether it marks the end of a challenging three-week trek or it is just the beginning of your tour in Nepal.
Spiritually-inclined travellers will embrace Nepal’s open culture that invites you to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with Tibetan monks, stroll around ancient monasteries and to learn about its Hindu culture in remote medieval towns. Nature lovers and keen photographers will find it hard not to adore every aspect of Nepal.
As it is what most people come to do, this Nepal travel guide will delve deep into the trekking aspect of this wonderful country, gently touching on the alternative tours and everything else you need to know before you visit Nepal.
- The Best Time to Visit Nepal
- The Best Treks in Nepal & Unique Experiences
- Not Fussed About Trekking? Here are Some Must-See Destinations in Nepal
- How to Get Around on Your Nepal Holiday
- Types of Accommodation in Nepal
- Food & Drink in Nepal
- Nepal Trip Cost & How to Tailor to Your Budget
- The Best Festivals & Events in Nepal
- Regions Tours in Nepal
- Nepal Travel Quick Tips & Important Facts
- So, Are You Ready to Plan Your Dream Nepal Tour?
The Best Time to Visit Nepal
When you go to Nepal largely depends on what you plan to do there. Technically speaking, you can do a Nepal trekking tour year-round, but most travellers decide between two of the peak hiking seasons for optimal conditions – autumn (October to November) and spring (March to April). Whilst the trails can be more crowded during this time, the benefits far outweigh this.
Autumn is the most popular trekking season in Nepal as you’re likely to have the best visibility to take in the views, sunny days and mild temperatures. The downside to trekking in Nepal’s Himalayas during this season is that the trails will be busy and the teahouses fill up quickly.
Alternatively, spring is the second most popular time for a Nepal trekking package. With spring comes snowmelt, full rivers and blooming valleys. With mild temperatures and abundant wildlife, there are few downsides to trekking Nepal in spring besides busy trails and the possibility of hazy skies as you reach high altitude.
For those that prefer solitude and low off-season prices, winter is a great time to trek. However significant disadvantages to these months (December to February) include bitterly cold temperatures, shorter daylight hours and often-impassable trails.
Almost every trekking company in Nepal will advise against trekking during summer and the monsoon months (May to September) as landslides and leeches are rife in addition to soaring temperatures and high humidity often obscuring views.
The Best Treks in Nepal & Unique Experiences
Whilst we would love to list all of the unique and awe-inspiring trails in Nepal, it is simply not possible to. So, we are going to highlight a selection of the most popular and best treks in Nepal;
Everest Base Camp
Reaching a maximum elevation of 5,365 metres, the iconic Everest Base Camp tour takes between 12 and 16 days depending on how many acclimatisation days you have. Winding through mountain villages, forests and across famous suspension bridges, the trek to Everest Base Camp is one of the most popular in Nepal.
The trek begins with a hair-raising flight to the world’s most dangerous airport, Lukla, where you’ll land on a short trip between the mighty Himalayan peaks. An Everest Base Camp trip brings you face-to-face with one of the world’s tallest mountains on a journey you’ll never forget.
If you want to see the mighty Everest mountain up close but without all the trekking, you can take an Everest Base Camp Helicopter tour.
A close second to one of the best Nepal trekking experiences, the Annapurna tour takes between 12 and 18 days reaching a maximum altitude of 5,416 metres.
For those that want to go hiking in Nepal for its sublime scenery then the Annapurna Circuit trek is perfect. Passing through subtropical forests, barren plateaus and one of the world’s highest trekking passes, Thorong La, Annapurna stuns trekkers with its Tibetan-influenced culture and breathtaking mountain scenery.
On this tour, you’ll take on the classic Annapurna region trek over 20 days.
Annapurna Base Camp
A little more demanding than the circuit trek, the Annapurna Base Camp trek -commonly known as the ABC trek in Nepal- can be conquered in seven to ten days so is often favoured by those that want to explore other parts of the country in addition to trekking. The Annapurna Base Camp trek only reaches an elevation of 4,130 metres so is a better option for those worried about severe altitude sickness.
Again, like with the Everest Base Camp trek, you can also do an Annapurna Base Camp helicopter tour to see the sights if you’re not keen on trekking.
Featuring spectacular mountain scenery and authentically rich Tibetan culture, this 14 to 18-day trek circumambulates Nepal’s eighth-highest peak, Mount Manaslu, at an altitude of 5,115 metres.
Having only opened in 1990, the Manaslu trek receives a fraction of the foot traffic that the Annapurna and Everest tours do so the intricacies such as Mani walls, charming monasteries and original suspension bridges are all the more ruggedly authentic.
Take in the heights on this Manaslu Circuit Nepal tour package.
Hit hard by the 2015 earthquake; this area is on the rebound back to reinstating its title of one of the most popular trekking routes in Nepal. What the Langtang Valley trek lacks in super-high Himalayan peaks, it makes up for in raw Tibetan culture, natural diversity and jaw-dropping mountain scenery.
The lower altitude at 4,984 metres and short length (seven to ten days) of this trek makes it a perfect Nepal trip for those that want to do some trekking and some Kathmandu sightseeing.
Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
One of the best short treks in Nepal, the Ghorepani Poon Hill trek takes around four to seven days to complete reaching an altitude of 3,210 metres. On the Poon Hill trek in Nepal, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Annapurna ranges, pass through local Gurung villages, and begin the trek just 45 minutes from the heart of Nepal tourism, Pokhara.
Often added as an extension to the Everest Base Camp trek, this route takes you up to 5,360 metres to the village of Gokyo, home to six stunning emerald lakes. Taking around 10-12 days to complete, you’ll encounter the longest glacier in the Himalayas, views of the world’s highest mountains including Everest and Lhotse and majestic high-altitude wetlands.
Trek around the beautiful Gokyo Lakes in Nepal on this 12-day Gokyo Valley trek.
Not Fussed About Trekking? Here are Some Must-See Destinations in Nepal
Chitwan National Park
The ‘other’ side to Nepal that few travellers tick off, Chitwan National Park sits on the humid lowland plains of south-central Nepal. Staking a claim as one of the best wildlife-viewing spots in Asia, Chitwan is the place to don your safari shirt, climb aboard your jeep and head off in search of the elusive tiger.
From guided walks through the jungle to local village visits and birdwatching for exotics, there’s plenty to do here. A seven-hour drive or short flight from Kathmandu or Pokhara, it is easy to extend your Nepal tour with a night or two on safari in Chitwan.
Old Kathmandu is an open-air museum of magnificent pagodas, temples, shrines and more. Dating back to Medieval times, the architecture in this city celebrates the era of Nepal’s royal family. At the gateway to the maze of medieval streets, you’ll find Durbar Square marking the centre of the city. Durbar is one of three royal squares in the Kathmandu Valley, all of which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.
An accumulation of sights, sounds and smells, Kathmandu’s atmosphere can be an overwhelming experience. Take it steady on a Kathmandu tour with a local guide to uncover the many marvels of this city.
Patan & Bhaktapur
Sitting alongside Kathmandu as the three city-states that jostled for eventual power over the Kathmandu Valley, Patan and Bhaktapur are two extremely atmospheric cities.
Patan, home to the fascinating Durbar Square and Patan Museum, is a city of Newari traders where Nepal’s finest collection of palaces, temples and Buddhist courtyards are found. Bhaktapur, which is also home to a vast Durbar Square surrounded by palaces and intricate temples, is a city which retains its age-old simplicity where the locals’ daily lives transform the city into a living museum.
You can explore both of these cities on a Kathmandu day tour.
Adored for its laid-back charm, calm lakeside ambience and adrenaline-fuelled activities at your fingertips, Pokhara is a city that accommodates every kind of visitor. If Pokhara trekking, white-water rafting or paragliding are on your list, then you’ll find yourself in the right place here.
A six-hour bus journey from Kathmandu, Pokhara’s backdrop of white peaks, waterfalls and the Phewa Lake make it the perfect spot to either begin a multiple-day trek or do a few day hikes. The journey from Pokhara to Muktinath Temple is a long but rewarding adventure that many travellers find themselves on.
See the sights of Pokhara, Kathmandu and Chitwan on this 8-day Nepal trip package.
How to Get Around on Your Nepal Holiday
As far as getting around Nepal, the extensive domestic air travel network with multiple daily flights to major destinations serve you well. Public buses trundle along every paved road possible; bear in mind, whilst cheap, they are very slow and often uncomfortable on long journeys.
Ultimately, luxury tourist buses are the best way to travel around the country and can be booked through any travel agency in Nepal. If you’re looking for luxury trekking in Nepal, then flights, private cars and luxury tourist buses will be your go-to.
If you have spare spending money, seal the deal of the most unforgettable Nepal trip and book an Everest Base Camp helicopter tour (cost varies)!
To Guide or Not to Guide?
This is a big question many people will ask themselves when planning a Nepal tour. The result will likely be down to personal preference and trekking experience. If you’re planning on tackling a popular route such as Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna Circuit in the high season, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a guide for logistics management and route guidance. However, it’s very important to note that Nepali guides bring so much more to your trip than just logistics.
Travelling with a local trekking guide can transform your Nepal holiday package into a rich, culture-packed experience that will leave you with a deep insight into life in Nepal as well as a close friend. Not only will you have the comfort of an experienced local guide, but you’ll also take out a chunk of the headache-inducing planning that comes with trying to trek independently.
Our Local Designers in Nepal go beyond the service of a standard trekking agency in Nepal and excel when it comes to filling your trip with unique experiences, cultural activities and warm friendliness. From the outset, when you specify your budget, preferences and interests, they will tailor your Nepal tour to suit you. Whether you travel with a guide on public transport or in a private car, rest assured that they will be with you every step of the way to ensure the best possible Nepal experience.
Types of Accommodation in Nepal
Teahouse trekking culture is one of the reasons that Nepal is one of the best hiking destinations in the world. On any Nepal trekking tour, you’ll be spending a majority of the nights resting your head and tired legs in these small mountain lodges spaced along popular trails, especially so in the Annapurna, Everest, Manaslu and Langtang regions.
For home-cooked meals, a comfortable bed and socialising with other travellers by the open fire, teahouses will be your go-to. The teahouses consist of very basic yet comfortable beds and hot showers in shared bathrooms. Costing between three and five dollars per night, teahouses are incredibly affordable. Each night and morning, you are expected to buy and eat your meals at the teahouse, hence the budget price of the rooms.
Tip: Most teahouses will expect you to order your morning meals the night before so be prepared.
As you venture into more remote areas, you may find that scarce electricity, outside squat toilets and cold showers become more frequent.
For those looking to trek Nepal’s more remote areas will find that camping treks are an option which can be organised through any travel agency in Kathmandu. However, despite being even more basic, you’ll find that there is an added cost and complexity that comes with planning a camping trek. Camping treks are much less popular than teahouse treks.
Hotels & Backpacker Hostels
In the tourist destinations of Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan, you’ll find that accommodation ranges from budget guesthouses to five-star hotels. The backpacker district, Thamel, in Kathmandu is where you’ll find the best selection of hotels and restaurants to book into. Generally, family-run guesthouses and homestays will be your best option, especially for those looking to immerse themselves in the local culture.
Of course, if it is comfort you are looking for, then along some of the more popular trails such as Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit, you’ll find star-rated hotels with western menus and added luxuries.
Food & Drink in Nepal
Vegetarian-friendly, cheap and tasty; that’s the simple way to sum up Nepal’s food. Less spicy than the rest of the Asian continent, the food consists of a number of simple, delicious dishes. Due to the strong Hindu culture, you’ll find vegetarian dishes make up the majority of the menu. However, meat-eaters will rejoice in the Kathmandu Valley as the indigenous Newari people are keen on water buffalo, goat and wild boar meat in their food.
Due to the strong neighbourly influence, in the bigger tourist areas like Kathmandu, you’ll find many restaurants serving Indian and Tibetan food.
On trekking routes, teahouses serve up noodle soups, fried rice, omelettes and porridge as staples. In more touristy areas, you’ll also find western options but be prepared to pay significantly more for them.
Dal Bhat is one of the most common dishes served up in Nepal. It is a lentil soup with added rice and lightly-curried vegetables. Another common dish is momos which are Nepalese dumplings. In some teahouses, you’ll be served up yak steak and apple pie which will be a delight after a long day on the trail.
Tip: If you book your trek through a travel agency in Nepal, you’ll be given two options. One is to have the cost of your meals included and the second is to pay as you go on the trek. Whilst the latter means carrying cash, it will also be the cheapest option as you’ll only pay for what you eat.
Nepal Trip Cost & How to Tailor to Your Budget
Several factors can influence the cost of your Nepal trekking tour; these include and are not limited to;
- The trekking route you pick
- How long you trek for
- The season you trek in
- Type of accommodation you choose
- Food and drink expenditure
- If you have a guide or trek independently
- Number of extra activities and tours you do
Accounting for all these different factors whilst thinking about trekking gear, what to pack and how to train for your trek can make planning a Nepal tour a little stressful.
This is where our Local Designers in Nepal come in to take the headache of planning your dream trip away. With Designer Journeys, designing your Nepal trekking tour is simple. Working with a Local Designer, you can design a trip that suits your budget, travel style and activity preferences and relax in the knowledge that everything has been taken care of for you – whether or not you choose to trek with a guide or independently!
A custom tour doesn’t have to blow your budget. It simply enables you to have the experience you are looking for that is further enhanced by local knowledge that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
As an example, this 16-day Everest Base Camp tour costs US$2,728 per traveller and includes;
- 15 nights accommodation
- 14 guided activities and tours
- 14 breakfasts, 12 lunches and 15 dinners
- Airport transfers
- Domestic flights
- Ground transportation in the form of a private driver
- Entrance fees
- Licensed English-speaking guides
- Trekking permits
You can easily make a more budget-friendly or luxurious trip by changing a few elements of your itinerary. Whatever you’re looking for, let our Local Designers in Nepal make it happen. Start your Nepal trekking journey by browsing our range of fully-customisable Nepal tours and clicking ‘customise’ to be connected to one of our Local Designers who will tailor the trip to you. Better yet, if you can’t find your perfect trip in the gallery, you can ‘design your own Nepal trip’ from scratch!
The Best Festivals & Events in Nepal
If you can tear your eyes away from the stunning Himalayan scenery, then wandering into a local festival will perhaps be the highlight of your Nepal trip. With the sheer number that take place all over the country throughout the year, you’d be hard-pushed not to find yourself at a special event. Whilst most are religious, onlookers are always welcomed warmly!
The Festival of Colours – ‘Holi’ (February/March)
A festival that we are familiar with all over the world due to the pictures of powder-paint-covered smiling faces which are often circulated around this time of year. Holi is one of the most colourful and lively events of the Hindu calendar which celebrates the arrival of spring.
Even with its religious roots, Holi is all about messy, fun and amazing experiences. It is a mess of powder paint, colourful water bombs and a mass of smiling rainbows!
The Nepalese calendar is around 57 years ahead of the western calendar we know. Due to Nepal’s numerous religions and diverse groups within its population, it’s possible to celebrate the New Year nine times in any one year. In April, the National New Year is a day for all to celebrate and is marked by family gatherings, exchanging gifts and street parties.
In some cities, like Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, wooden chariots, decorated views and red powder paint are at the centre of these thrilling celebrations!
‘Gai Jatra’ (August/September)
Translating to ‘Holy Cow!’, Gai Jatra is one of the most entertaining festivals on the Nepalese calendar. Despite being a festival dedicated to those that have lost their lives over the last year, this festival is anything but sad or gloomy. In fact, the Nepalese don’t wallow in grief; they celebrate life with pranks, humour and cow parades through the streets by families who have lost a member during the year.
After the cow parades, those celebrating dress up, don masks and sing and dance to make a mockery of death with light-hearted fun.
Indra Jatra (September/October)
Taking place annually over eight days in Kathmandu, this festival celebrates the ‘Lord of the Rain’ (Indra) and the end of the monsoon season. One of the Hindu Gods, Indra is in charge of thunderstorms and rain, rides a white elephant and carries a lightning rod.
One of the highlights of the festival is seeing Kathmandu’s living goddess, the Kumari, a title given to a lucky Nepalese girl aged between two and four. Masked dancers, the goddess parade procession and beautifully decorated houses make it a special festival to take part in.
Dashain (Late September/October)
Spanning 15 days of the Nepalese calendar, Dashain is one of the biggest cultural festivals in Nepal, celebrated by both Hindus and Buddhists. This joyful fun fair of music, kite flying and colourful processions of statues of Nepalese and Hindu Gods celebrate the triumph over good and evil.
Tip: Animal sacrifice is a Dashain tradition, so bear this in mind if you are sensitive to these cultural practices. Most sacrifices take place on the eighth day.
Regions Tours in Nepal
There are so many wonderful experiences to choose from in Nepal. Here’s a selection of the most popular Nepal travel packages;
- Classic 14-day Nepal Bhutan Tour – Experience two wonderfully spiritual countries in one trip.
- 16-Day Everest Base Camp Tour – Experience the number one trekking trail in the world.
- 18-Day Incredible Annapurna Circuit Itinerary – Trek through the world’s biggest pass and the world’s deepest gorge on this bucket-list ticking tour.
- 15-Day Langtang Region Nepal Holiday Package – The scenic landscapes of the Langtang Valley and the azure waters of the Gosaikunda Lake await you.
- Ultimate 12-Day Gokyo Trek – Experience one of the most beautiful trekking routes in the world and the view of five 8,000-metre peaks.
- 10-Day Poon Hill Trek & Kathmandu Trip – Take on this short trek in the Annapurna region and finish your trip with a city break in the capital.
- 12-Day Manaslu Nepal Trek – Challenge yourself by walking 140 kilometres in 10 days on this teahouse-based trek.
- 3-Day Chitwan Safari – Venture into the jungle for three days on this exciting safari trip.
- 6-Day Kathmandu Holiday – Immerse yourself in the arts and culture of this eclectic city and the surrounding Kathmandu Valley.
- 7-Day Kathmandu & Pokhara Tour – Encounter the finest UNESCO World Heritage Sites of these two cities over a week.
Nepal Travel Quick Tips & Important Facts
Don’t get caught out and make sure you read up on these tips before you think about Nepal travel;
- VISA: All tourists need a visa before entering Nepal.
- MONEY: The national currency of Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee (NPR). At the time of writing the exchange rate was 1 USD:116 NPR.
- TIPS: There isn’t a strong tipping culture in Nepal, but you should always tip trekking guides and porters 10-15%.
- EXCHANGE ON LEAVE: It’s illegal to take Nepalese Rupee out of the country, and you won’t be able to exchange it anywhere, so make sure to spend it or exchange it.
- PERMITS: You will need trekking permits before you begin any trek in Nepal. Our Local Designers can sort these for you.
- CLOTHES: Buy your hiking clothes and gear when you get to Kathmandu, the trekking capital of the world, has oodles of affordable shops to take advantage of.
- ALTITUDE SICKNESS: Channel the tortoise, take it slow and steady and listen to your body.
- BE RESPECTFUL: Nepal is a country of scenic beauty and many cultures, be respectful of people and nature always.
- RIGHT-HAND WORLD: In Nepal, the left hand is considered the hand that aids toilet matters so always use your right hand only to eat.
- TEMPLE CUSTOMS: Including respectful dress, temples have rules, so make sure to adhere to instructions on signs within temples.
- NO PDA: Keep public displays of affection to a minimum.
- SOCIAL ETIQUETTE: To greet locals, you must place your palms together in a prayer style and say ‘namaste’ or ‘namaskar’.
- WATER SAFETY: You cannot drink the tap water in Nepal unless you want to be very ill, so bear this in mind with washed salads and fruit as well as brushing your teeth.
So, Are You Ready to Plan Your Dream Nepal Tour?
Colourful cultures, breathtaking Himalayan scenery and more await you in Nepal. Your Nepal trekking tour can be tailored to you, whether you want a simple day trek or a multiple-day trekking experience through the Himalayas.
Our Local Designers in Nepal are ready and waiting to tailor your trip to suit your budget, travel style and interests. Simply, browse our range of fully-customisable Nepal tours or tap ‘Design your Own Nepal Trip’ to start from scratch! Either way, you’ll be connected with one of our trusted Local Designers who can work with you to design your dream Nepal trip!