If you’re looking for things to do in Pokhara then it must mean one thing-you’re about to visit one of the most beautiful places in the world. Of all the things to do in Pokhara, trekking has to be one of the most popular. But if trekking isn’t your thing then not to worry, there are so many other incredible things to do here that you won’t ever want to leave. And many don’t!
After completing the Annapurna base camp trek, I spent a further week in this beautiful town. I had planned on leaving sooner but with so many amazing things to do in Pokhara I just couldn’t get away! After reading this comprehensive list I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the same.
I’ve started this post on things to do in Pokhara with a few trekking options for those that are feeling active. If climbing mountains in the Himalayas isn’t you’re thing then just skip straight on down to number two and I won’t mention it again-promise!
#1 Trekking – The Most Popular Thing To Do In Pokhara
There are so many options for trekking lovers in Pokhara, from super easy short walks around the lake and surrounding areas, to multi-day hiking trips that will take you up into the Himalayas. You should make the decision as to which trek to do based on your experience, ability and the time you can spare.
If you’re unsure then make sure you speak to one of the many tour operators that run trekking trips from the main street in Pokhara. They will be able to give you a whole wealth of information on the best treks to do so that you can make an informed decision. Find out why you should definitely take a guide, plus lots of other great tips for trekking in Nepal here.
I’ve given a summary of the three most popular treks from Pokhara below to help you make a head start with your planning!
Poon Hill Ghorepani Trek-The Easiest Multi-Day Trek From Pokhara
The Poon Hill trek is a favourite among trekkers with limited amounts of time, money or those who aren’t sure if multi-day treks are for them. I’d say this is a great compromise if you aren’t 100% sure about trekking, but still want to experience Nepal’s incredible mountains first hand.
This three-day trek passes through quaint villages, up many, many stairs, through forests and over rivers before finally ending up at an altitude of 3,200m. This is pretty darn high up for a three day trek, so you can imagine what kind of stair master workout you’re in for. Honestly though, it’s totally worth it for the view that awaits you at the top! And just keep in mind that incredible massage you’re going to get when you reach Pokhara.
Treks to Poon Hill Ghorepani start at around USD $150 pp. Make sure you get your trekking permit before you head off! Find out more about this here.
The Annapurna Base Camp Trek
This is by far the best trek I have ever done. In my opinion it’s the best thing to do in Pokhara, and even the best thing to do in Nepal!
It takes around 10 days to complete depending on how fast you want to go, and will take you through rice terraces, jungles, bamboo forests and alpine fields, over rope bridges hundreds of metres in the air, past glaciers and into the most welcoming tea houses. You’ll wake up to breath taking mountain views and fall asleep to the sounds of avalanches.
This is honestly one of the best things you will probably ever do. If you have the opportunity, book it now and don’t look back!
The Annapurna Circuit-The Hardest Trek From Pokhara
This 18 day trek is probably one of the most challenging yet inspiring things you will ever do. It takes you between some of the tallest mountains in the world, through some of the most diverse landscapes and quaint mountain villages, and some of the hardest weather conditions.
The feeling of accomplishment when you finish will be immense, and you’ll know you deserve a cold beer and a warm shower on your return to Pokhara!
Make sure you book through a decent trekking agency and take an experienced guide. These are not mountains to mess with!
#2 Take In The Views At The World Peace Pagoda In Pokhara
If you’ve managed to avoid monsoon season in Pokhara then head to the World Peace Pagoda and take in the absolutely incredible views. That’s not to say it isn’t equally impressing during the monsoon season, but you may not get quite the same views. If you are desperate to try, then head up there early when the clouds are less likely to have descended!
The Shanti Stupa, as it’s also know, is a symbol of peace for Nepal, and for Hinduism. You can see the huge white pagoda all the way from Pokhara lakeside, but you’ll want to get closer to enjoy it(and the views) properly. There’s a little village up there, so if you’re going up early to aim for the best views (or even sunrise views) then why not stop off for breakfast, or bring your own picnic.
It’s free to visit the World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara, but be a responsible tourist and take a little money for the donation box. That way hopefully it will still be there when you return (which you’ll want to do when you read the rest of the list of things to do in Pokhara!)
#3 One Of The Most Adventurous Things To Do In Pokhara – Go Paragliding
This is one of the most adventurous things to do in Pokhara, and something you should definitely add to your bucket list. I’ve been paragliding a few times, but here was by far the best.
After being taken up to one of the best viewpoints in the area, you’ll be shown how to run off a mountain and fly. Literally. Don’t worry though, you’ll be strapped to an experienced guide who will be with you every step of the way, and make sure you’re safe and happy throughout.
There is a lot of adrenaline when you jump and land, but once you’re up in the air it is such a peaceful experience. You honestly just feel like you’re flying, and there is plenty of time while you’re up there to enjoy the surroundings. Our instructors explained how inland paragliding is different to coastal paragliding, as you can play in the thermals and often end up going up instead of down, giving you more time up there. It was amazing to watch the other paragliders playing around out there.
We booked through Sunrise Paragliding and can thoroughly recommend them. They were safe and professional throughout, and made the whole afternoon great fun too! Sadly, as we were there during monsoon season, we didn’t get quite as good views as you would if you did it during peak season. But that honestly didn’t ruin the experience at all, and we still got a view that would be pretty hard to beat.
Top Tip: If you’re planning on doing some paragliding while you’re in Pokhara then make sure you don’t book it for your last day here. If the weather is no good then they will re-schedule your trip to another day.
#4 Unwind With A Famous Pokhara Massage
You are on holiday after all! We chose to get a massage after our Annapurna base camp trek and it couldn’t have been more welcome. After two weeks of walking uphill my legs were crying out for some relaxation, and it was honestly one of the best massages I’ve ever had.
Sadly, as getting a massage is one of trekkers favourite things to do in Pokhara, there seemed to be quite a few ‘less professional’ looking places around. Make sure you do a little research before you go so you don’t end up for paying for something that leaves you more stressed than when you went in!
We enjoyed a relaxing massage at Jiva Spa and can thoroughly recommend them. If you want to leave feeling like a new person then these are the guys to go see!
#5 Take A Walk Around Phewa Lake, One Of The Best Free Things To Do In Pokhara
This is one of the best free things to do in Pokhara. Phewa lake is iconic in Pokhara, and there’s no way you’ll miss it on a stay here. It’s the best place to go to enjoy sunset, and the best place to be during the heat of the day.
The first place I headed after my 10 trek was Phewa lake, there is just something so serene and relaxing about the place. There are several different walking routes around the lake-pick a direction and go! Or you can just walk along the main stretch, take in the views and peruse the bar menus along the way to see if anything catches your attention.
#6 Find Your Inner Peace At A Yoga Class
Yoga is another of the most popular things to do in Pokhara, and should try and fit in at least one class while you’re here. A popular thing to do in Pokhara is to go to a yoga retreat, and there are so many different ones to choose from that you’ll be spoiled for choice. A lot of them have great views of the lake too, I can’t imagine anywhere more relaxing to quiet your mind.
There are also plenty of places to take a single class, so if you aren’t sure you want to invest days at a time to yoga and meditation galore, then why not just take a class or two. There are several yoga classes that take place next to the lake itself, so you won’t have to go far to get your fix.
#7 Row, Row, Row Your Boat
If lounging around next to Phewa lake isn’t enough for you, then why not take a boat out onto the lake. This is definitely one of the most romantic things to do in Pokhara (bar the bright yellow life jackets which you’ll have to wear, but safety first right!)
Seeing the views from the middle of the lake, in all it’s peacefulness, is one of the best things to do in Pokhara and something you should try and find time for if you can. There is even a sunrise boat tour, which is little more expensive than renting out the boat to row yourself but must be pretty awesome. Sadly we couldn’t quite make it out of bed on time, but perhaps the early risers among you will be a little more keen!
A boat trip will cost NPR 560 for one hour guided tour, plus NPR 20 per compulsory life jacket. It’s a little less to take the boats out on your own.
#8 Go Shopping In Pokhara
I probably spent way too much time shopping while I was in Pokhara. The trouble was, everything looked so good!
To start with, I needed a few bits and bobs for trekking that I hadn’t bought from home, so obviously I had to visit all the trekking shops dotted along the main street. Then when we got back, I felt like I deserved to treat myself a little.
You can find literally anything you want in Pokhara. It’s a lovely place to pick up some souvenirs or gifts for people back home. It’s also a great place to stock up on anything you’ve run out of if you’ve been backpacking for a while. There’s a well stocked pharmacy and places you can get your laundry done. It’s the perfect place to do a little reset!
#9 Paddle Your Way Through White Water Rapids
If you’re a real thrill seeker then look no further. This is one of the most terrifying, awesome, adrenaline pumping things to do in Pokhara and should be high up on your bucket list of activities when you visit.
This whitewater rafting adventure is just 30 minutes from Pokhara’s Lakeside and will take you on the adventure of a lifetime through the Upper Seti River. We booked with Paddle Nepal, who were amazing, but there are several other tour operators in Pokhara. After driving through beautiful valleys with incredible views, you’ll arrive at the side of the river to be instructed on all things safety (which you’ll be pleased to know is taken very seriously.
They start you off gently, with some less intense rapids so that you can practice what you need to do as you tumble down them, and then it gets a little more intense as you start to reach the slightly more terrifying rapids! The rapids are class III – IV whitewater rapids and each raft is lead by an internationally certified professional raft guide, along with safety kayakers who stay with you throughout for extra safety.
You don’t need experience to do this trip, but you do need to be willing to get involved. Everyone of the raft has an important job, and when you start plummeting down the river you’ll understand why! Paddle Nepal will provide you with wetsuits and safety equipment, along with a delicious lunch. You just need to show up in decent footwear that will stay on your feet, swimwear, proper insurance that covers you for white water rafting and nerves of steel! Luckily you don’t need to remember all this, as they will brief you when you book and give you the full low down! It will set you back around $40 for a half day trip.
#10 Visit Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave In Pokhara
The caves in the hills that surround Pokhara are over 100 years old, and worth a little look if you have the time. Probably the best of these caves is Gupteshwar Mahadev, located on the road up to the Japanese Peace Pagoda.
Head down the (rather slippery) caves to the Lord Shiva temple, which is said to be over 600 years old. You can get a look at Davi’s Falls from here as it flows into an underground river below. Go slow, the path really is pretty slippy, and they don’t really do ‘health and safety’ here! The small cave has some interesting stalactites and stalagmites.
It costs NPR 100 for tourists.
#11 Cycle To Begnas And Rupa Lake
You can rent bikes in Pokhara for around 100 rupees an hour, and if you want to book for longer then try haggling for a better price. It’s always worth a try! The bikes aren’t in the best condition, so they’re probably only really good for getting around Pokhara and the surrounding area.
Begnas Lake and Rupa Lake are nearby enough to cycle to and are just as beautiful as Phewa lake. They aren’t surrounded by hotels and bars either, so they’re a little more quiet and off the beaten track. Take a picnic and make a day of it!
#12 Go Mountain Biking Through The Himalayas
I didn’t actually realise you could do this until I left Pokhara, but it sounds pretty cool if you’re into biking. The guys at Pokhara Mountain Bike Adventure have a range of trips set up for keen mountain bikers, or thrill seekers. They range from one day biking tours up to the peace pagoda (I can only imagine the leg burn!) to full on 16 day trips biking the Annapurna Circuit.
I honestly cannot see how anyone could mountain bike hills as steep as these, but I guess they must know what they’re doing! If you’re an experienced mountain biker then this may be the perfect trip for you. If you’re not then I would ask their advice before you book.
Still, it sounds like such an amazing way to see the mountains, and certainly makes me want to get good on a bike again! Their prices start from around $70 for half day mountain biking trips.
#13 Relax At The Pokhara Movie Garden
Pizza, wine and a huge screen in the garden playing great films. What’s not to love! If you’re looking for the ultimate in home comforts then head here for night and just relax. There’s a fun atmosphere here, and the film if free to watch if you’re buying drinks, food and popcorn.
It’s popular though, so make sure you get there early if you want a good seat! It’s open from 6pm-11pm, every night of the week and no matter what the weather. We’re pretty sure watching a film during a thunderstorm, with lightening flashes and thunder rumbling, would be one of the coolest experiences ever!
#14 Watch The Sunrise From Sarangkot Viewpoint
Not to worry if you don’t want to hike to Poon Hill, Sarangkot will make up for it. From the viewpoint here you’ll be treated to panoramic views across some of the most beautiful mountains in the Himalayas, including the huge Dhaulagiri peak (8167m), the triangle peak of Machhapuchhare, Annapurna II and Lamjung.
The best time of day to be here is at sunrise, when the mountains glow pink and the air is fresh. It’s also when you stand the best chance of seeing them during the monsoon season (though you may also just be met with a sad grey mist!)
There are a number of chai stalls and tea houses near to the viewpoint which serve fresh tea or coffee. It really is the ideal way to see in the morning.
You can hire a taxi to take you to the lookout point (NPR 500+) super early in the morning. Just make sure you book it the day before so you don’t have to run around finding taxis in the dark! The other option is to stay there for a night. We had a really relaxing evening away from the buzz of Pokhara itself, and actually really enjoyed our little ‘vacation’ in the mountains!
#15 Visit A Temple Or Three
One thing that Nepal certainly isn’t lacking in is temples. They are everywhere, and Pokhara is no different. You could spend a whole day just hopping from temple to temple if you have the time. We never saw two the same for the whole time we were there. Below I’ve listed a few that you might want to check out.
– Tal Barahi Temple
– Bindhabasini Temple
– Bhadrakali Temple
– Bhimsen Temple
– Jangchub Choeling Monastery.
Where to stay in Pokhara
The main area is to stay in Pokhara is by the lake, where most of the action takes place. The further you go from the lake, the more peaceful it gets, but the further you have to walk to see the lake at sunrise!
We stayed at Yeti House and can recommend them. The place was clean, cheap and in the perfect location. The staff were friendly and helpful and we felt incredibly welcome here. The rooms were basic but nice, and there were some lovely outdoor areas to relax and enjoy a beer and a few games of cards. They held our bags for us while we went trekking, and arranged a room for our return, helped us book onward buses and gave us so much advice on things to do in Pokhara.
Where To Eat And Drink In Pokhara
THE BEST PIZZA EVER! This is the oldest Italian restaurant in Pokhara and serves the best pizza here by a long shot. We came here for a treat meal out after our trek and it didn’t disappoint. But you will pay for the beautiful setting and the history with mains starting from around NPR 400. It’s honestly worth it!
A little bit hard to find, which probably makes it all the better! This Tibetan restaurant is welcoming and homely. In fact, it feels like you are going round to dinner at a local families house! The momos were delicious, as was the chow mein! Prices here are a little cheaper than some of the other restaurants we’ve mentioned, but that doesn’t mean the food isn’t just as tasty.
This place was recommended to us and seems really popular with backpackers. It’s a great place for vegetarians and vegans as they have a wide choice here, and I don’t drink coffee but apparently it’s amazing! I’ll let you decide on that one! It’s great for breakfast, our came to around NPR 350 each, and coffee was NPR 150.
Getting To All The Things To Do In Pokhara
Luckily, a lot of the best things to do in Pokhara are centred around Phewa lake, so if you stay somewhere pretty central then you should have easy access to most of the main attractions. Some things, however, are a little spread out and you’ll need alternative transport. If you find you can’t walk then here are a few other options.
Hire A Scooter
It’s possible to hire scooters from lakeside operators, which cost around NPR 800 – 1200 per day. We would recommend you only do this is you’ve been on a scooter before, as the roads here are not in the best conditions, and a lot of them are mountainside roads that are narrow and windy. You’ll be able to assess whether or not it’s something you want to give a try by observing the roads as you travel around Nepal. Obviously, it should go without saying, WEAR A HELMET!
Hire A Taxi
For some reason the taxis in Pokhara are more expensive that most other places in Nepal. We were pretty shocked when we realised we couldn’t get from A to B for the ‘normal’ amount, and ended up using them way less than normal.
When we did need to use a taxi (to get to Sarangkot for example) we did a whole lot of haggling before we got in and agreed a price beforehand. Make sure you have some change on you for doing this, taxi drivers hate it when you haggle down the price and then hand them a note that’s impossible for them to give change for!
Further Reading Before Your Visit To Nepal
We have a heap of essential reading before you visit Nepal, be sure to give it a browse before you go!
Backpacking Nepal: The ultimate read before you head off on the adventure of a lifetime to this incredible country
Chitwan Jungle Safari: Don’t miss out on your chance to see tigers, rhinos and elephants in the wild
Things To Do In Chitwan: The best things to do in Chitwan National Parks – Spoiler, there’s more than just jungle to see here!
Eco-Friendly Travel Products: Don’t leave home without these eco-friendly travel products that will transform the way you travel.