Nepal is the ultimate destination for mountain lovers. The Nepali Himalayas is the roof of the World, home to Mount Everest — the highest peak on earth.

Travelers who venture to this country soon discover that many more sights and experiences in this country, worth the long journey from home as well.

Nepal is home to medieval squares, for people who love to get lost in old cities. Sacred Tibetan Buddhist & Hindu sites for those who love to go a spiritual stroll. And, highland regions beyond Everest that offer great treks & stunning landscapes.

Is Nepal on your bucketlist? Inspire your trip with these must-visit places and top things to do for first-time travelers.

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1. Pokhara

Pokhara is the second largest city of Nepal after Kathmandu. Three out of the ten highest mountains in the world — Annapurna I, Dhaulagiri, and Manaslu — are near Pokhara, which makes it a popular gateway to the western side of the Nepali Himalayas. It’s a beautiful place to visit even if you’re not keen on trekking. This scenic lakeside city is surrounded by hills that make perfect viewing decks to see the Annapurna mountains from afar. Paragliding is very popular here and reportedly one of the cheapest in the world.

How to go — Most travelers arrive in Pokhara by land from the capital, Kathmandu. The 200-kilometer journey takes around 6 to 7 hours by bus. Traveling by plane is the quickest way to get there. Kathmandu-Pokhara flights take only 40-minutes. This route is served by Nepal Airlines, Gorkha Airlines, Sita Air, Tara Air, Buddha Air, Simrik Airlines or Yet Airlines.

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2. Annapurna Region

Lying on the western half of Nepal, the Annapurna region is one of the major trekking destinations in the Himalayas. Popular treks in the region include the Annapurna Circuit trek, which circles the Annapurna Range, and the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek up to the Annapurna Base Camp, which offers a stunning 360-degree view of the snow-capped Annapurnas.

How to go — Pokhara is the gateway to the Annapurna Himalayas. You can either join an organized tour or go on an independent trek. If you only have a couple of days to spare, the trek to Poon Hill and back to Pokhara can be done in 4 days. The Annapurna Sanctuary Trek to Annapurna Base Camp may take as quick as 6 days to around 10 days. Meanwhile, the Annapurna Circuit usually takes about 15 to 20 days.

3. Mount Everest Region

Mount Everest, the Earth’s tallest, stands on the eastern side of Nepal. Even if you do not plan on trekking all the day to the summit, you’re assured of seeing incredible views of Everest, Lhotse and the other jagged peaks of this breathtaking region.

How to go — If you’re up for the hike, go on a trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC). The quickest way to get there is to fly to Lukla Airport (LUA), high on the Himalayas. From Lukla, it usually takes around 8 days to trek to the base camp. And, four days to get back down. The easier way to see breathtaking views of the Himalayas is to go on a mountain flight from Kathmandu that can get a close enough view of Mt. Everest and other supertall peaks in te region.

4. Kathmandu Valley

Kathmandu is not just Nepal’s capital and largest urban jungle, it is also one of the country’s major spiritual and cultural center. At its heart lies the Kathmandu Durbar Square with its historic palaces, temples and public spaces. This site along with six other groups of monuments and buildings in Kathmandu Valley is recognized as a World Heritage Site.

How to go — Kathmandu is the primary flight hub in Nepal. Popular destinations with direct flights to Kathmandu-Tribhuvan International Airport include Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Dhaka, and select cities in India, China & the Middle East. Flights are served by AirAsia, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Cathay Dragon, Etihad Airways, Himalaya Airlines, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, Nepal Airlines, Qatar Airways, Silk Air among others. Flight duration from Bangkok to Kathmandu is around 3 hours and 30 minutes.

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5. Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur found an hour east of Kathmandu is another ancient city packed with fascinating heritage buildings linked by a maze-like network of narrow cobbled streets and squares. Head farther east to Nagarkot and enjoy a panoramic view facing Mount Everest and the Himalayan mountains.

How to go — Bhaktapur is just 45 minutes by car from Kathmandu. Once you are in the old city of Bhaktapur, most attractions are easily reached on foot. From Bhaktapur, it’s another 1 to 2-hour drive to the highland village of Nagarkot.

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6. Nagarkot

7. Lumbini

8. Chitwan National Park

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9. Bandipur

Bandipur is the perfect place to break the long journey between Pokhara and Kathmandu. This small hilltop village is home to traditional Newari-style houses that have been transformed to charming cafes and lodges. Go on a trek around town for picturesque views overlooking the Nepali countryside. A glimpse of the Annapurnas can even be seen on a clear day.

How to go — Bandipur is found between Kathmandu and Pokhara. To get there from Kathmandu, ride a bus or charter a car to Dumre, a town found along the highway. Travel time takes about 3 to 4 hours. From Dumre, the ride uphill to Bandipur takes only 30 minutes. If you are coming from Pokhara, the drive to Dumre takes 2 to 3 hours.

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Places to visit in Nepal

Note: Destinations featured above are not listed by rank.

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