Places to visit in Nepal
Nepal offers an exotic variety of chaos and calm – from the frenetic capital of Kathmandu to tiny settlements high in the mountains accessed only by foot. Most holidays will include culture and trekking (gentle or challenging) but we can also include some lesser-known locations as well as the wildlife attractions of Chitwan National Park. If you or your children have particular interests, let us know and we can recommend areas that might particularly appeal.
Nepal’s capital city is chaotic, crazy and colourful and will provide children of all ages with constant entertainment. From ancient temples and medieval squares to bustling narrow streets packed full of heady spices, ubiquitous Mt Everest souvenirs and religious artefacts, there is always something ‘happening’ in this energetic city.
Sip a chai tea overlooking the Bodhnath Stupa as devotees prostrate themselves on the courtyard. Take a hair-rising rickshaw ride through the traffic-logged streets dodging holy cows. Relax at the rooftop bar of the Rum Doodle Restaurant where many Everest summiteers have autographed the walls. Climb the vertiginous steps to the historic Swayambhunath Temple (dodging numerous monkeys on the way) for sweeping views over the city. And marvel at the re-building of historic Durbar Square post the 2015 earthquake.
At only 1,350m altitude is not a problem here and the choice of accommodation and restaurants is hugely varied. After a few days enjoying the sights (and scents!) of this colourful centre you can then choose to fly on to either Lukla (for Everest treks) or, for the Annapurna foothills, to Pokhara. Alternatively you may prefer to remain in the beautiful Kathmandu Valley and enjoy the many exciting activities and cultural sites found here.
All holidays to Nepal will start in Kathmandu as it is home to the country’s only international airport.
This beautiful lakeside town is Nepal’s second city and a total contrast to the bustle of Kathmandu. The heavenly backdrop of the magnificent Annapurna range lends an aura of calm over everything and being able to watch the sun rise over dramatic Machapuchare – or Fishtail – Mountain is one of the great highlights of Nepal. You can row a boat out on to Phewa Lake. Hire bikes and enjoy lush forest tracks and picturesque villages on two wheels. Take a cookery lesson and learn how to make delicious momos (Tibetan dumplings). Or just enjoy the laidback pace of life before embarking on a Himalayan trek into the Annapurnas which lie less than 20km away.
Most families choose to fly to Pokhara from Kathmandu as the road journey takes most of a laborious full day.
Royal Chitwan National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great addition to any holiday in Nepal. Mixed with cultural time in Kathmandu and mountain walks in the Himalayas, the addition of a safari in Chitwan makes for a perfect 2-week family holiday. Top of the wildlife-spotting list is the majestic Bengal Tiger, which although elusive, can still be spotted in the long grasses of the park. Rhino too are plentiful here along with elephant, crocodile and the world’s smallest mammal, the pygmy shrew.
Numerous activities can be enjoyed including jungle walks, river and jeep safaris, canoe trips as well as visits to an elephant breeding centre and local cultural villages. A night spent here, whether it is in a tented camp or a thatched lodge, deep in the jungle, with all its magical sounds, will stay with you and your children forever.
There are numerous locations in Kathmandu Valley that enjoy close proximity to Kathmandu yet feel a world apart from its riotous streets. The mystical medieval settlement of Bhaktapur is ideal for children as the views are stunning – without any of the labour of climbing a mountain to enjoy them. It is one of Nepal’s three royal cities and full of intricate palaces, temples and shrines – all with the magnificent backdrop of the snow-capped Himalayas. Children will love learning to haggle in the bazaars and there are endless craft and art shops to browse through.
Further along the valley are the historic hilltop towns of Nagarkot and Dhulikel, which offer gorgeous views. Here you can lace up your walking boots and hike across terraced hillsides and fertile wooded slopes with views of distant Himalayan peaks. A good suggestion – in order to avoid the cry of ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ – would be to take a transfer to one of the high points in the valley and then walk (or watch the children run wildly) down through the scenic fields and rural villages to your overnight location.
Nepal is one of the best countries in the world for white-water rafting not only because of the quality of the rafting itself, but also because of the spectacular mountain backdrop. There are a wide range of different rafting trips, many of which are only suitable for older children but some of which can be enjoyed by children as young as 6. This is a hugely exhilarating activity and one that the whole family will love.
Trekking in Nepal is amongst the best in the world and will appeal to more active families. The most famous areas for trekking are the Annapurnas and the Everest region, both of which offer sublime views and treks of varying levels of difficulty. The trek up to Everest base camp is wonderful and a real challenge for families with children aged approximately 12 or over. There are also numerous less well-known but possibly even more rewarding regions, which do not see nearly so many trekkers and which will appeal to those keen to get more off-the-beaten-track.
Different regions offer different accommodation styles. The more regular treks offer comfortable (though simple) tea houses whereas more remote treks will require camping, though this is fully serviced, so you don’t need to worry about putting up your own tents.
For younger families there are some wonderful walking opportunities, which can be tailored according to the fitness (and inclination) of the children. Many will love the camping aspect and consider this a real highlight.
As a last thought, there are also more imaginative options for family treks. For example we can arrange small horses for the children to ride (the horse will be led by a handler) or perhaps arrange a porter, who will happily carry a child up to 20kg in a back-pack.
The Annapurna Region
This stunning section of the Himalayas is justifiably popular with families of all ages due to its proximity to Pokhara as well as the numerous options for different levels and lengths of treks. These vary from day walks to gentle 3-4 day trips and on to more challenging treks lasting a week or longer at the higher altitudes.
A popular 3-4 day trek below 2600m (so there should not be any altitude sickness issues) can take in several fascinating rural settlements including the famous Gurkha village of Ghandruk where children can also visit the local school. The pace is very gradual as trekking in Nepal is all about enjoying the views, chatting to the locals en route and endless tea breaks.
Accommodation is usually in teahouses and all part of the fun. These are basically mountain lodges run by local families with some outside space for children to run around safely – or in colder weather everyone huddles around the central fire and swaps stories of their experiences in the mountains. The teahouses also double up as restaurants serving everything from local yak stews to western pizzas so everyone can be kept happy.
The Everest Region
Who does not want to catch a glimpse of the highest mountain in the world? Magnificent Mount Everest or Chomolungma in Tibet, Sagamartha in Nepal – Mother Goddess of the Earth – is the goal of most professional mountaineers, keen climbers, enthusiastic walkers and hardy little trekkers. The trek to Everest Base Camp is a tough but rewarding 2-week trip. It ascends to over 5,500m, walking over glacial terrain and high mountain passes culminating in a hopefully spectacular sunrise from Kala Pattar over the world’s highest summit.
For less ambitious and younger families, shorter yet equally enjoyable treks can still be taken in this region. For example, Everest can first be spotted from Namche Bazaar, a lively market settlement where yak herders and porters laden with heavy burdens mix with the international trekking scene. Here there are internet cafes, cake shops, pizzerias, backpacker hostels and (relatively) luxurious hotels. Namche is only a 2-3 day trek from the closest airport at Lukla – a hair-raising but stunning 1-hour flight from Kathmandu.
There are numerous opportunities for families to stop for a rest and something to eat in the many hillside settlements along the way. Accommodation can vary from high-class lodges to simple teahouses. The higher you trek however, the more limited the accommodation is and in more remote areas serviced camping is the best option.
Wherever they lay their heads, your children will never forget falling asleep nicely exhausted after an exhilarating day’s trekking (in reality only 4-5 hours after all the tea, snacks and toilet stops) to wake to the chanting from a nearby monastery, the emotive sound of yak bells and the cry of their herders and the clanging of a camp dish calling trekkers to a hearty breakfast.
Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.
Nepal in pictures
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