Pokhara is Nepal's second largest city and is one of the most enjoyable tourist locations in the world. Located 200km west of Kathmandu it's situated directly under the Annapurna mountain range.
The city is divided into two main sections: the tourist friendly Lakeside district which surrounds Phewa Tal (lake) and the commercial old city which sprawls out once you pass the dam.
If you are not looking for adventurous activities then Pokhara also offers some of the most scenic locations in all of Nepal to relax in. From sitting by the still lake reflecting the Annapurna mountains to visiting cultural villages there's plenty to enjoy.
For trekkers Pokhara is important as it is a popular start and end point for the majority of Nepal's treks in the central and western regions, which include all of the Annapurna based treks and the Upper Mustang treks.
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Pokhara is the starting/end point for the popular Annapurna circuit trek. It's also a great place to explore the Mustang region and several other popular trekking areas.
They are both in the district known as Pokhara. Lakeside is basically the main tourist area around the lake known as Phewa Taal.
Pokhara city itself doesn't offer too much for a tourist. There's a cinema that shows mainly Hindi movies (some international), a large supermarket, several local clothing stores, and many general stores.
Lakeside meanwhile offers countless activities from boating, trekking, climbing, hill walking, paragliding, restaurants and cafes.
Most of Pokhara's highlights are located in the Lakeside area (see directions below) or at least they are accessible from there.
Popular things to do in Pokhara include:
- Taking a paddle boat ride across the lake
- Visiting the world peace stupa
- Watching sunrise from Sarangkot
- Going paragliding
- Go Whitewater rafting or kayaking
- Take an ultra light flight
- Renting a motorcycle / bicycle
- Visiting Tibetan cultural villages
- Trekking along the Annapurna trails
- White water rafting
- Shopping / eating along Pokhara's lakeside
- Simply sitting by the lake!
- Visit Begnas and Rupa lakes
- Visit Pokhara's Old Bazaar
My guidebook to Nepal contains all this information, plus lots more to do in Pokhara.
One day in Pokhara: Start your day super early with predawn taxi trip up to Sarangkot for a spectacular sunrise. Head back to Lakeside for breakfast on a rooftop cafe/hotel overlooking the Annapurna mountains. Take a boat across the lake and climb up the hill to visit the world peace stupa and explore the area. Have a light lunch at a cafe near the top. Come back down and visit Devi Falls then take a taxi to the Mountaineering Museum. Take another taxi back into Lakeside and do some light shopping for souvenirs before a quick shower. Spend the evening in a pleasant lakeside restaurant by the lake or take in a cultural dance. Finish the night with a drink in one of the many popular bars.
Two - Three Days in Pokhara: There's plenty above in the one day itinerary that can be broken up over a few days while adding in some of the following. Take an early morning Paraglide or go Parahawking (arrange your tandem flight the day before). Visit some of the Tibetan villages / refugee camps. Go white water rafting. Spend a day on the Lake.
A week or more in Pokhara: Take a Paragliding course. Go on a trek. Visit Rupa and Begnas lake. Enroll in a Nepalese cookery course. Take a bicycle or motorbike trip. Enjoy a home stay in a Nepalese village.
Pokhara is very easy to navigate around. If you are just sticking to Lakeside it's simply a one road town (do checkout the guide to Lakeside Pokhara). Meanwhile here's a map of Pokhara to give you an idea.
There's a bus that leaves Lakeside to the old city every 20 minutes or so. It's probably easier to take that than a taxi. It's also possible to walk - 45 minutes. Most of the old city is just geared to locals. However you will find something's cheaper for very basic hotels, local style long term stays and food shopping.
By Bus: The Kathmandu bus to Pokhara leaves from just outside Thamel along Sorhakhutte (just north of Paknajol - 2018 Kantipath bus stop closed, all tourist buses now leave from Sorhakutte). There will be buses here for several destination including Pokhara. Most leave at 7am (prompt). The buses usually take 6 -8 hours depending on traffic/breakdowns - there's one stop for lunch. Price 700+ rps (barter when there.
Do read my full guide on taking a Kathmandu to Pokhara bus.
Greenline offer aircon buses with a free buffet lunch. The journey time is the same but it is a more spacious bus. Price USD$ 20.
Hotels and guesthouses can arrange tickets for you but will usually add on a commission charge.
From the map above you can see the Pokhara bus stop. From the bus stop either walk out and take a right towards lakeside (30-45 mins) or take a taxi (7 mins).
By Plane: Pokhara has it's own domestic airport very close to the city serving Jomson (trekking) and Kathmandu.
To book a flight either call into a travel agent or ask your hotel. The flight time is about 35 mins. There are several flights a day run by various domestic airlines. Price USD $120.
From the airport it's better to take a taxi to your hotel than walk. Although it is very close to the city the large boundary makes it difficult to navigate by foot.
If you need more information about Pokhara then be sure to read the travel guide to Lakeside in Pokhara
Unless you are on an extreme low-end long-term budget it's best to stay in the Lakeside area. The rooms here are clean, tourist friendly and within easy walking distance to all the attractions.
Please see the guide to Lakeside in Pokhara for accommodation recommendations.
Looking for more places to stay in Pokhara? Try my hotel search below for the best rates.
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