The year 2021 has dawned with a lot of promise and positivity. With the vaccines rolling out people are ready to travel once again and visit their dream destinations. The pandemic in the past year dealt a crushing blow to the world economy. The year was devastating for the tourism and hospitality industry. With travel restrictions in place in most countries, these two sectors suffered greatly. But hope is in sight as the Covid vaccines are out and many countries are inoculating their citizens. Hopefully, in 2021, the international travel industry will get the much-needed boost it needs.
Are you making travel plans already? If you are searching for the Best Nepal tours here's one that might interest you. The Best of Nepal Tour offers you a 360-degree travel experience in Nepal. You get to travel to the most popular destinations in the country and experience the best activities on offer. Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan, and Lumbini, the four important places on the tourism map of Nepal are included in your itinerary. If you are still undecided, here are the 15 Best Reasons to Choose Best of Nepal tours.
Discover the ancient and urban hubs of Kathmandu.
You begin your journey from Kathmandu, Nepal's capital city. The city is a mix of the old and the new with concrete high rises and traditional buildings covering the city's landscape. The city is busy, chaotic, and energetic. Modern glass-covered shopping malls stand beside ancient temples and squares dotted with shrines. Some localities have existed for thousands of years. A walk through the streets of Ason and Mangal Bazaar will let you discover hidden gems and heritage sites that lie off-grid from the popular tourist routes. Thamel and Jamsikhel have many pubs and nightclubs where the young and the rich love to party.
Pashupatinath Temple and a lesson in mortality
The holiest Hindu temple and a UNESCO Heritage Site, the Pashupatinath Temple only allows Hindus within its threshold. Non-Hindus can explore the grounds outside the temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva one of the three major gods in the Hindu pantheon. Arya Ghat, a Hindu cremation site is located right below the temple, beside the river Bagmati. Stand on the eastern bank of the river and watch the dead being given the final send-off by the relatives. The priests perform rituals before the corpse is lit up on a pyre and consigned to ashes. The sight may be a bit unsettling but it does remind you of your mortality and make you ponder about the temporal nature of human existence.
Boudhanath and Tibetan culture
Boudhanath, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Nepal's biggest stupa, is also in your itinerary. The white-domed stupa topped by a square tower with the eyes of the Buddha painted on the four sides is a stunning structure. Said to hold the remains of the Kasyapa Buddha, the stupa is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
A large Tibetan colony lives in the vicinity of the stupa. There are monasteries, art galleries, curio shops, and restaurants close to the stupa. You can light a prayer lamp and complete a kora(circumambulation) turning the prayer wheels while visiting the stupa.
Explore the medieval city of Bhaktapur
Kathmandu Valley has three medieval cities – Patan, Bhaktapur, and Kathmandu. Each of these old cities has a sprawling palace or durbar square filled with pagoda roofed temples and palaces. Bhaktapur has one of the best-preserved and largest durbar squares. Taumadhi Square, Dattatreya Square, Durbar Square, and Pottery Square have the main attractions for tourists. The exquisite Palace of 55 Windows, Nyatopole Temple, Dattatreya Temple, Pujari Math, Golden Gate, etc., adorn this ancient kingdom.
A taste of Juju Dhau, the King of Yogurt
The Newars of Bhaktapur is known for producing dairy products. The city is home to Juju Dhau or the King of Yogurt. Famous and relished by valley denizens Juju Dhau is a rich and creamy yogurt prepared from buffalo milk mixing honey. Only produced in Bhaktapur, a taste of this yogurt is a must if you are visiting this old city.
Pottery at Pottery Square
The Pottery Square in Bhaktapur is lined with pottery shops and ancient dwellings of the local potters. On a sunny day, the square is filled with raw terracotta pots left out to dry. The potters can be seen spinning the old traditional wheels, molding lumps of clay. If you wish the potters allow you to try your hand at working with clay and creating a vase or a pot. He will guide you through the process for a fee.
A taste of Newari cuisine
Kathmandu is home to the Newar community. Most of the wonderful art found in the city's ancient temples and palaces have been created by Newari artisans. A trip to Kathmandu allows you to learn more about their rich culture and heritage. Add a food and village tour to your itinerary and experience their interesting lifestyle and cuisine.
Changu Narayan, the oldest temple in Nepal
Changu Narayan is situated in a wooded area far away from the city. This ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, known as the 'Preserver' by Hindus. The stone and metal carvings and woodwork at this ancient temple is amazing. Vishnu's different avatars can be seen sculpted in stone and carved in wooden beams and walls. On a stone pillar, you will find the oldest inscription discovered in Nepal. Written in Sanskrit, the inscription dates back to 464 AD. This temple is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Himalayan Sunrise from Nagarkot
Located to the east of Kathmandu valley, the hilltop settlement of Nagarkot lies 32 km away from the city. A popular weekend gateway, Nagarkot set amidst lush green forests and traditional farms offer a pleasant respite from the chaos of Kathmandu city. There are many resorts along the ridge, offering great views of the hills and the Himalayan mountains. On a clear day, one can spot Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain peeking from behind an unbroken stretch of snow-covered Himalayan peaks. Do not miss out on Nagarkot's magical sunrise. The sun slowly rising and lighting up the snowy peaks is a sight to cherish.
Wildlife safari in Chitwan
Visit Chitwan National Park, the first national park of Nepal. The park is home to the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger, and a host of rare tropical flora and fauna. The rhinos roam freely in the national park area and it's easy to spot them ambling down a path or grazing with a herd. The tigers are a bit elusive, but your guide will know where one can be spotted.
An astounding 584 species of birds are found in Chitwan which makes the park a haven for bird watchers. An elephant breeding center inside the park will give you a glimpse of mother elephants and their calves. An elephant safari around the jungle will take you to the marshes where marsh muggers and crocodiles sun themselves on the sandy banks. Glide on a traditional dugout wooden canoe in the Rapti River and enjoy nature.
Tharu Village Tour
Sauraha, where Chitwan National Park is located, has several Tharu settlements. Tharu is an indigenous community with a unique culture different from those of the hill dwelling Nepalese communities. Explore one of the villages and get an insight into their lifestyle and culture. The villagers daily organize a cultural program for visitors in the evening.
Pokhara, the city by the lake
The Best of Nepal Tours is incomplete without a visit to the lakeside resort of Pokhara. Framed by the beautiful Fishtail Peak (Machhapuchhre) and the Annapurna Massif, this beautiful city offers a lot of outdoor activities. You can go boating on Phewa Lake, hike up to the viewpoint of Peace Pagoda or Sarangkot. From Sarangkot you can enjoy 360-degree views of the Annapurna Range, Dhaulagiri, and Manaslu. The must-visit sites include Gupteshwar Cave, Davis Falls, Bindyabasini Temple, Tal Barahi Temple, and International Mountain Museum. A visit to the Tibetan Refugee Camp will offer you an insight into how the Tibetans who fled from Tibet have built their lives here. There are many souvenir items on sale at the camp.
Ghorepani Poonhill Trek
Trekking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Nepal. The majority of tourists arrive in Nepal to trek along its famed Himalayan trails. With 8 of the world's highest mountains located in Nepal, trekking and hiking along the trails of Nepal lead you to the base of these mountains.
Best of Nepal Tours itinerary includes a trek along the Ghorepani Poon Hill trail. One of the most popular and easy treks in Nepal, the Ghorepani Poonhill Trek is an ideal family trek and can be done by kids (8years and older) and the elderly provided they are physically fit and have strong legs. The trail meanders past one of the world's largest rhododendron forests which explodes with colorful blooms in spring. The highlight of the trek is the hike to the viewpoint of Poon Hill, the most popular Himalayan viewpoint in the Annapurna Region.
A quick ascent to Poon Hill from Ghorepani at dawn will let you enjoy a magical sunrise with panoramic views of the Himalayas.
Villages of the Gurkha Warriors
The Annapurna Trek will also take you to Gurung and Magar villages where entire generations of Gurkha soldiers live. The world-famous valiant Gurkha soldiers of the British and Indian armies mostly come from the hills of the Annapurna Region. Passing through the villages you may encounter ex-army men who may have stories to tell of the battles they fought in far off lands. Some of the teahouses along the trail are run by retired army men and if you are lucky enough you may get to stay at one of these.
Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha
Nepal is a mystical land blessed with sacred Buddhist and Hindu sacred sites. Lumbini, where Lord Buddha was born lies in the Terai region of Nepal. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the must-visit sites in Lumbini include the Maya Devi Temple, Sacred Garden, Puskarini Pond, and the many monasteries built by Buddhist countries.
Inside the Maya Devi Temple, a stone slab marks the exact spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Gautama Buddha or Prince Siddharth on her way to her maternal home. Outside the whitewashed temple the Ashoka Pillar, a huge iron pillar has inscriptions in Brahmi script and Pali language stating that the spot was where the great teacher Sakyamuni Buddha was born. The Ashoka Pillar dating back to 249 BC was erected during Emperor Ashoka's pilgrimage to Lumbini. Puskarini Pond where the infant Buddha was given a ritual bath lies near the temple.
Many Buddhist countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, China, etc., have built monasteries using their traditional style of architecture.
The ruins of the Shakya Kingdom in Tilaurakot where Sakyamuni spent his early days as a royal prince are also worth visiting. The site lies a few kilometers from Lumbini.
Best Seasons for Best of Nepal Tours
Barring monsoon or summer season, the Best of Nepal Tours can be done any time of the year. As Nepal receives heavy monsoon rains during the summer season (June-August), traveling becomes difficult during this time. Though city tours can be done, trekking in the mountains and taking a wildlife safari would be impossible. As the Terai region (including Chitwan and Lumbini) lie in the tropical zone, it would be hot and humid during summer making travel extremely uncomfortable.
The ideal seasons for the Best of Nepal Tours are spring and autumn. This trip is also doable in winter but it will be a bit cold in the mountains during this time. The days are warm and pleasant and the skies remain mostly clear in the spring and autumn months. During these seasons, some of the biggest festivals are celebrated – Holi (the festival of color), Bisket Jatra (a chariot pulling festival) in spring; Dasha, Tihar (festival of lights), Indra Jatra (street festival) in autumn.
During winter, trekking on the Ghorepani Poon Hill Route will be cold and freezing at night. But the trail will have fewer crowds and teahouse owners offer discounts during winter which is off-season.
Accommodation during the tours
Kathmandu and Pokhara offer a range of accommodation facilities– budget to high end. From cheap hostels for backpackers, cozy and affordable boutique hotels for tourists on a mid-range budget, to luxurious five-star hotels for high-end clients - the cities offer a variety of options. In Chitwan, beautiful jungle lodges and resorts located inside or near the park offer great facilities for tourists. Lumbini also has a range of hotels and lodges to suit all budgets.
Accommodation while trekking will be at teahouses. Teahouses are guesthouses or small mountain lodges run by local families. Most of the time teahouses are large family homes where the guest rooms are offered to travelers who need a place to stay. These teahouses are basic and utilitarian and cannot be compared with city hotels.
A room may have twin beds divided by a bedside table. Mattress, pillow, and blankets are provided by the teahouse. Most of the teahouses along the Ghorepani trail come with attached bathrooms. You will be charged extra for hot showers, WiFi connection, and charging your electronic devices.
How to prepare for your trip?
First of all, check your passport to find out if it's going to expire. To be eligible for a Nepal visa your passport should have more than six months of validity. Next, do some extra research online about the places you are going to visit. It pays to have some information about your holiday destination.
It will be prudent to book your international flight in advance, especially if you are traveling during the high season (spring and autumn) when the demand for tickets is quite high. If you book your tickets early you may also get a discount.
As trekking is involved, train yourself physically by exercising regularly (jogging, cycling, swimming, etc.). Include stair climbing in your regimen as there are a lot of staircases along the trek route. You can go for long hikes to nearby hills or forests carrying a backpack. Eat healthily and build up your stamina and endurance level. You can use your hiking boots during your hikes to break in if you have bought a new one for this particular trip.
Go through the packing and gear list provided by the agency with whom you book your trip. As you will be traveling in different climatic zones you will have to choose your clothes thoughtfully. It will be cold in the mountains, pleasant in the valleys, and humid in the Terai plains. Try not to wear clothes that are too exposing, especially when you visit a shrine or a sacred place. Respecting the local culture will help you gel with the locals and make your trip more pleasurable.
The Best of Nepal Tours offers you the best of everything that Nepal has to offer to a vacationer looking for a great holiday. Trekking, historical tour, cultural immersion, food tour, wildlife safari, and many more outdoor activities, this is the perfect tour you can book post-Covid.