Pokhara, is the second largest city in Nepal and the gateway to Annapurna. It’s also known as the ‘adventure’, or ‘tourism’ capital. This sprawling city is actually nine times larger than Kathmandu! The area of Lakeside is the tourist hub. It’s a great place to unwind, or go adventure crazy! How you feel might depend on whether or not you’ve already completed your trek! But either way, you should consider spending at least a day in Pokhara before you return to Kathmandu.
The culture of Lakeside is a vibrant, yet laid-back blend of East and West. Choose from many adventure sports, including paragliding and whitewater rafting. Soak up the stunning mountain scenery. Float in a boat on the lake. Enjoy the lazy summer vibe, the many yoga studios, and small luxuries like good coffee!
Pokhara has changed significantly over recent years. More and more luminous bars and coffee shops have appeared on Lakeside, and it’s more expensive than ever before. Yet you’ll still witness a very different way of life and find cows randomly wandering the streets. You’ll marvel at the lack of vehicle accidents despite the chaos – it just works!
Even if you’ve only got a day in Pokhara, you can pack it full of great activities. These are my favourites!
Phewa Tal (Fewa Lake)
Pokhara’s most stunning feature is Phewa Tal. Even more incredible for it’s mirror reflections of Machapuchare (Fish Tail) and the Annapurna mountains. Rent a colourful wooden boat, then row out into the lake and experience pure tranquility. From the water, enjoy beautiful sunset views of the Shanti Stupa to the South, and Sarangkot and the Annapurna massif to the North.
A very popular paragliding spot, Sarangkot (1,600m/5,249ft) also makes for a super day hike. As you climb 800m/2,625ft from Lakeside, stop to enjoy stunning views of Phewa Tal. From the top, reach out as if to touch Machapuchare (Fish Tail – 6,993m/22,943ft). Then have some lunch in Sarangkot village overlooking Pokhara. Or watch the paragliders launch and fill the sky with colour!
Shanti Stupa (World Peace Pagoda)
Perched on the hill opposite Sarangkot at 1,100m/3,609ft, this shrine was built as a symbol of peace. You’ll find much more impressive Buddhist stupas in Kathmandu. But this one is situated overlooking Phewa Tal. Sadly, there have been many reports of attacks on the short climb up to the stupa, so I don’t advise you to go alone. In fact it’s much safer to take a taxi.
The International Mountain Museum
I really enjoyed my trip to the International Mountain Museum. Having already faced the exciting challenge of trekking in the Nepal Himalaya, I felt a connection with the mountaineers. It was really interesting to read their stories and imagine what it must have been like to summit the Himalayan giants with such crazy equipment, or lack of!
The ‘Real’ Pokhara
In Lakeside you’re far removed from Nepali life and the real Pokhara, but it’s not as far away as it seems. Just a few minutes of exploration will open up a different world. Nepal is an amazing country, for its people as much as its mountains. Away from the tourist trail, you’ll see how people really live and you’ll love them for their warm spirit and unfailing resilience.
Gateway to the Annapurna
Our Annapurna Treks including Ghorepani Poon Hill, Annapurna Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit start and/or finish in Pokhara. So it’s possible to meet us in Pokhara, or stay longer to enjoy more of what this city has to offer.
How will you spend a day in Pokhara before or after your trek? Get in touch with us to discuss options!