A Complete Travel Guide to Pokhara, Nepal: All You Need To KnowWhat to do, when to visit, where to eat and where to stay in Nepal's adventure hub
The start of a great adventure
You travelled to Nepal for adventure, right?
Well, Pokhara might just be where it really starts.
Kathmandu is fascinating but Pokhara is lovely. Kathmandu is where to go as a tourist. Pokhara is where to stay.
You can easily laze the days away in Pokhara by eating amazing food and enjoying the lake and mountain views.
Break it up by going on beautiful half-day trips.
Or use the city as a base for more remote treks into the Himalayas – and beyond.
Pokhara was our favourite city in Nepal and we ended up staying a few more days than intended.
Let this travel guide show you why and how you can get the most out of your stay.
Where to stay in Pokhara:
- Luxury: The Pavilions Himalayas – Probably the best place to stay in Pokhara.
- Value for money: Three Jewels Boutique Hotel – Comfortable rooms at great value.
- Budget: Sacred Valley Inn – Cheap but without private bathrooms.
Table of contents
Why visit Pokhara
At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive to travel to Pokhara from Kathmandu.
If all you intend to do in Nepal is to catch a glimpse of Mount Everest and then head back to safety, then yes, Pokhara is in the wrong direction.
But if you want to experience authentic Nepalese culture and feel like you’re on vacation at the same time, Pokhara is exactly the place to be.
The treks in this part of the country are outstanding. Many are beginner-friendly, but experts won’t be disappointed, either.
Comfort is key to Pokhara’s success.
The Lakeside district is more or less made for tourism and for some reason it’s not awful. It’s great, actually.
Heavily touristed areas in countries that depend on tourism have a general tendency to be filled with annoying touts, scammers and loud, obnoxious offerings.
Pokhara is not like that.
Pokhara is a quaint town on the edge of a lake where you can chill out after an amazing trek while planning your next one.
Or don’t trek and just enjoy life slowly.
Relax by the lake, join a yoga class, shop for handicrafts and eat great foods.
Either way, Pokhara might be just what you needed.
Pokhara is located around 200 kilometres west of Kathmandu.
The city of Pokhara is situated a little lower than the capital with the elevation of the popular Phewa Lake being only about 800 metres above sea level.
In comparison, the average elevation of Kathmandu is about 1,400 metres above sea level.
Lakeside is where most tourists spend the majority of their time in Pokhara.
What to do in Pokhara
You don’t have to “do” anything in Pokhara, but there are plenty of options if you wish to get active and try something new.
Trekking in the nearby hills and mountains are obviously a huge drawcard for Pokhara. We went on the Panchase Trek and to Mardi Himal Basecamp.
Catch stunning mountain views
- On clear days it’s possible to watch the Annapurna range of the Himalayas from Pokhara if you have a good vantage point. We could see the peaks of the humongous mountains from our hotel’s roof.
- The views from the World Peace Pagoda are even better. Going here by sailing across the lake and hiking up is a popular option but you can also drive all the way.
- Sarangkot is nearby and offers one of the most spectacular sunrises you’ll ever see.
- You won’t get a better vantage point than by paragliding. Tours are safe and readily available.
The lake is the focal point of Pokhara for most tourists. Boats line up perfectly for photographs and it’s pretty easy to hire one to sail around the calm waters.
Tal Barahi Temple is located on a small island close to shore and is worth a visit.
Explore nearby caves
Check out Gupteshwar Mahadev, Bat Cave and Mahendra Cave for some spelunking action.
Get an adrenaline rush
If you’re into that kind of thing, it’s possible to go white water rafting, zip-lining or bungee jumping near Pokhara.
Your hotel or tour offices will be glad to assist you with booking.
Visit a museum
The International Mountain Museum for mountaineering achievements and The Gurkha Museum for British/Nepali military history.
- Options for local shopping are plentiful on Lakeside Road.
- Watch a classic film at The Movie Garden under the stars.
- Take a break by getting a massage from Seeing Hands.
- Relax even more by taking a yoga or meditation class. Or consider going on an extended retreat or become a teacher yourself with teacher training.
Where to stay in Pokhara
Most people will find it convenient to stay in or near Lakeside as this is where most shops, restaurants and tour offices are located.
Air conditioning shouldn’t be needed unless you visit Pokhara in the summer.
There are a lot of guesthouses in Pokhara and new ones spring up all the time.
The best ones tend to get booked early for the high seasons of autumn and spring, though. But it should always be possible to get a room somewhere if you just show up.
The Pavilions Himalayas
The Pavilions Himalayas is located in picture-perfect settings among layered rice terraces.
From the looks of it, it’s the most luxurious place to stay in Pokhara.
Each house comes with a private day bed and amazing views. The infinity pool is stunning, too.
Value for money
Three Jewels Boutique Hotel
Three Jewels Boutique Hotel offers a basic but comfortable place to stay in Pokhara at an unbeatable price.
It’s clean, has a beautiful garden and is located perfectly near to the lake and all of the activities.
Sacred Valley Inn
If Three Jewels is fully booked or you just want something even cheaper, Sacred Valley Inn might be it.
Here it’s possible to save money by not having your own private bathroom, although ensuite rooms are available, too.
People rave about the high level of service (organise treks, do laundry, arrange transport etc.) and we really like the look of all the surrounding greenery.
The rooms are spacious and there’s a big rooftop area.
Where to eat in Pokhara
Eating in Pokhara is a delight.
The restaurants and cafés in this city are great and we feasted on everything from Nepali food, Indian masala dosas and Middle Eastern falafels to vegan buddha bowls, smoothie bowls and raw desserts.
We can recommend visiting:
- am/pm organic cafe for smoothie bowls and coffee.
- Umbrella Cafe for their huge vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu.
- Little Windows for tasty quality foods.
- The Juicery Cafe for lake views and cold-pressed juices.
- Ayurvedico Cafe for their delicious cakes.
- OR2K for Middle Eastern food.
- Marwadi Restaurant for Indian food and masala dosa.
How to get around in Pokhara
You can easily walk around Pokhara if you’re staying by the lakeside.
There are broad sidewalks on Lakeside Road and the quieter side roads feel safe.
Hiring a motorbike
If you feel comfortable driving yourself in Nepal, it’s possible to hire a scooter or motorbike in Pokhara.
If you wish to visit Sarangkot or the World Peace Pagoda, make sure to ask the rental place if the engine is strong enough as the roads are quite steep.
Grabbing a taxi
Taking a taxi is generally quicker and more comfortable than a bus if you’re going outside of town.
Make sure to negotiate the fare – the better the car, the higher the price.
How to get to Pokhara
Pokhara doesn’t have an international airport (yet), so you need to touch ground in Kathmandu first if you’re travelling to Pokhara from outside Nepal.
Driving can take anywhere from 6 to 9 hours, depending on the traffic conditions.
From Kathmandu to Pokhara, we whizzed by and the trip only took 7 hours.
On the way back, we got stuck in a traffic jam going into Kathmandu and the trip was much closer to 10 hours.
Bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara
Taking the bus is the cheapest and most popular option for reaching Pokhara from Kathmandu.
- Tourist buses cost around 7 USD / 6 EUR and usually have air conditioning. If you’re travelling in high season (autumn or spring), it can be a good idea to buy a ticket in advance.Most tourist buses leave Kathmandu from Kantipath Road just north of Thamel early in the morning. This is the option we chose.
- Greenline Bus is a more luxurious bus option at around 25 USD / 22 EUR with an indoor waiting room, buffet lunch and included travel insurance.
- Public buses are the cheapest way to get from Kathmandu to Pokhara at around 4 USD / 3.5 EUR. If you don’t get a seat on one of the tourist buses, you can go with a public bus later in the day. But be prepared for a less comfortable journey.
The tourist bus stopped halfway for a lunch break where the obvious choice is a buffet with dal bhat. It was actually really good. The “toilet” facilities weren’t though… Remember to bring your own toilet paper.
If hiring private transport, you’ll drive the same road to Pokhara as the big busses so it won’t be much quicker.
The advantage might be that you can squeeze in between traffic that the bigger busses can’t and take breaks when you need to.
Private cars are around 150 USD / 133 EUR (up to four passengers) and jeeps with room for a few more people run about 250 USD / 222 EUR per one-way trip.
It is possible to fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara.
Flights leave from Tribhuvan Airport and the trip only takes around 30 minutes.
Prices generally hover around 100-150 USD / 89-133 EUR but can vary greatly.
Be aware that flights are often delayed by weather conditions.
When to visit Pokhara
When to visit Pokhara is very much dependent on your desire to go trekking.
Summertime in Pokhara is rainy and winters are very dry.
Autumn and spring are the most popular times to visit Pokhara but consider winter as well. Especially if you don’t need to go up high in the Himalayas.
Summer monsoon (June, July, August)
80% of the yearly rainfall falls in the monsoon season between June and September. So remember to bring a raincoat!
Foliage is very green, and if you don’t intend to trek a lot there might be great reasons to visit Pokhara in summer.
It’s hot and you can get great deals on accommodation.
Autumn (September, October, November)
The autumn months are the most popular time to visit Pokhara (and Nepal in general). And for a good reason.
Trekking conditions are optimal for most treks with mild temperatures, dry conditions and clear mountain views.
We visited Nepal in early October and experienced little rain ourselves and loved the mild climate.
Winter (December, January, February)
If you want fewer people on the trails, the winter months are supposedly amazing.
Just bring some extra layers if you intend to go up high as temperatures quickly drop below freezing.
Maximum temperatures in Pokhara can still reach 20°C in winter.
Spring (March, April, May)
With average temperatures going up and the snow melting from the high trails, spring is the second most popular season to visit Nepal and Pokhara (after autumn).
Rhododendrons are blooming making the trails super beautiful at this time of year.
Our best tips for visiting Pokhara
- The electrical outlets in Nepal generally feature two or three round prongs, fitting most European appliances. The standard voltage is 230 volts and 50Hz. We always travel with a universal power adapter (adlink).
- How long to stay in Pokhara really depends on your travel tempo. We really loved the city and decided to stay longer than we intended. Spend at least two days here and more if you use it as a base to some awesome treks in the area. If you’re a digital nomad looking for a temporary home in Nepal, Pokhara is a great bet.
- Pokhara is beautiful. Make sure to bring a good camera! Here’s our guide to lightweight photography gear for high-quality travel content.
- Wifi in Pokhara is widely available. Most hotels and restaurants are connected but it’s not super fast. If you need to stay connected while on the road, consider buying a local SIM card with data.
- Credit cards are mostly used at upscale places, so you’ll need to carry cash for restaurants, shops and services. You’ll seldom be far away from an ATM and/or a place to exchange money.
- Pokhara sometimes experiences power outages/blackouts. Most hotels have backup generators but it’s worth planning to charge both the camera and phone when the power is on.
- The tap water in Pokhara is not drinkable. It’s fine for showering or brushing your teeth but for drinking water, you can bring your own water filtration system (adlink) or buy filtered water. If you go for the latter, we recommend you have a refillable bottle (adlink) and then buy the biggest water containers (to save on the plastic).
- Respect the local culture and remember to be respectful when photographing people, especially people in the mountain villages and around places of worship.
- Don’t support animal exploitation. You can also go vegan (it’s really easy in Nepal). Start by visiting some of these amazing restaurants and cafes with vegan options.
Thanks for reading
Thanks for getting all the way to the end!
We hope this Pokhara guide has been useful.
What do you think about Pokhara?
If you’ve visited already, it would be awesome to hear your best tips in the comments.
If you haven’t been yet, please don’t hesitate to ask us anything! We’re glad to help.