There is a good reason that Pokhara is popular among tourists. In this second biggest city of Nepal one can find amazing scenery, with the big Fewa or Phewa Lake being the center of attention. Furthermore, in Pokhara you can find lots of great restaurants and hotels. Most of all, Pokhara is a great place to wind down and relax. After our Everest Base Camp Trek we decided to go there for some recovery, lots and lots of eating, sleeping, and well… Netflix.
In this article we give our recommendations for your visit to Pokhara. We have also listed places that we wouldn’t recommend you to go, just to save you the effort. Read on about the things to do in Pokhara, and about the best restaurants and bars!
Things to do in Pokhara
Visiting the Peace Pagoda
High above Fewa Lake, you can find the World Peace Pagoda. Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji organization constructed this beauty to promote world peace.
This was definitely our highlight in Pokhara. It’s easily combined with a boat ride on the beautiful Fewa Lake, which is the second-largest lake in Nepal – here you can read about the biggest lake in Nepal. It cost about 500 rupees (5 $ USD) for one way, and 1000 rupees (10 $ USD) for a two-way boat ride to the Peace Pagoda. There are lots of boat companies to choose from. These all can be found along the edge of the lake.
Once you reach land after a peaceful boat ride, the climb up to the Pagoda is a 45-minute walk up. You don’t need to be in perfect condition to reach the Pagoda, but it’s still a long and quite a steep climb. But it’s definitely worth it!
The Pagoda itself is gorgeous, and the view over Pokhara is brilliant too. Near the Pagoda it’s also possible to order drinks and food at one of the many cafes and restaurants. There you’ll have an amazing view over the city.
Wake up early for sunrise at Sarangkot
From Sarangkot there is a magnificent view of various Annapurna Himalayan peaks. Most people come here before the sunrise, so they can witness this beautiful view.
We did the same, and woke up at 3.30 am, took a cab up to Sarangkot and waited for two hours to see the sunrise. Even though we were the absolute first ones there and had a very good spot, it eventually got very busy. Lots of people have the same brilliant idea and therefore it’s super crowded every single morning.
If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, start hiking down before the sun rise is finished. We did the same, and during our hike down we only saw local people. Apparently most people take the cab back too. However, the best part of Sarangkot for us was actually the hike down. Not only did we get to witness a part of the sunrise in peace and quiet, we also got to see lots and lots of other beautiful views – including a view of the amazing Fewa Lake from above.
Visiting Begnas Lake – Not as great as we thought
Although Pokhara is definitely a lot more relaxed and laid back than Kathmandu, it’s still very touristy. To be honest, after a few days we were a bit tired of hearing Dutch around us all the time. One thing that’s often great about traveling is that you can speak your own language with each other, and no one is eavesdropping –though, you never know for sure. So, when we heard that Begnas Lake is a place to go to enjoy some quite time, we thought we give it a visit on a day trip.
Boy, it couldn’t be more busy! Yes, perhaps there were less people than at Pokhara. However, it’s also smaller, so it gets crowded easily. There were no other Western people, but so, so many Indian and Nepali people. Maybe we were too late and it was already “discovered”, as reviews on Tripadvisor claimed it was a place to really relax, and that there was barely anyone there. This wasn’t really the case anymore.
Other than the lake, you can walk around and enjoy the landscape. We followed a little path along side the lake in the hope to find a quieter place for just the two of us. The only thing we found were people that were fishing, and a lot of trash in the water. So, that was very disappointing of course. There even was a very loud beep coming from somewhere in the woods behind the lake, and we had no idea what it was.
Eventually we went to the other side of the lake and had some drinks at a local restaurant that had a nice view over the lake. After that we gave up on Begnas Lake and went back to Pokhara. We would not recommend going here, unless you have time to kill.
Devi’s Falls – Not worth the visit
This waterfall sounds pretty cool, as it’s where the Pardi Khola stream vanishes underground. According to the local legends, the waterfall is named after David Falls, which is a reference to a Swiss visitor that fell into the sinkhole and drowned.
Well, this place is really not worth the visit. We rented mountain bikes and rode there from Lake Side, and honestly, it was really disappointing when we got there. For safety measures they have located a very large steel fence – really meters high- around it, meaning you can barely see the waterfall. Of course, safety first, but now there is just not much to see. Moreover, it was also super crowded, so it’s way too touristy and not even that interesting.
We didn’t even take any photos there, because all you could see were big steel bars before the waterfall. Of course, now we regret it. Because, when we look the waterfall up online now, you only get beautiful photos of the waterfall with only a tiny, little fence in front of it. It’s quite deceitful and we wish we could share a photo of how it actually looks.
The most fun we had that day was actually mountain biking and meeting lots of local kids along the way. Therefore, we do recommend to hire mountainbikes or motorbikes and to explore the surroundings of Pokhara.
Paragliding is a popular activity in Pokhara. The beautiful Himalayas make gorgeous surroundings for silently floating in the sky. As we were a bit too lazy, and we found it a bit too expensive (about 85 $ USD for 20-minutes and 120 $ USD for 45-minutes paragliding), we decided not to do it. However, it’s certainly a good way to take in the amazing views!
It’s possible to paraglide the whole year round!
Where to sleep
Most tourists stay in Lakeside, as here you can find lots of restaurants, shops and bars. There are many types of hotels in Lakeside; there is something for the budget traveler, but also for the luxury seeker.
Luckily we found an absolutely amazing hotel in Pokhara, with a great view over the mountains and amazing WiFi. After a trek, you just want to wind down, have a good bed, and enjoy some good old fashioned technology-based entertainment.
Hotel Orchid is located in the centre of Lakeside, only five minutes walking from the main street. We had a basic, but comfortable room. It had our own little balcony with amazing view, and our own bathroom with hot shower and toilet. We payed about 2000 rupees per night (20 $ USD).
If this is a little above your price range, there is certainly another option for you. Hotel Travel Inn offers various rooms with prices ranging from 10 $ USD to 25 $ USD. Furthermore, the reviews are very good and promising!
Where to eat
There are so, so many spots to eat in Pokhara, so best is just to leave your hotel/hostel/guesthouse and go out to explore the possibilities. But, we will share our favorite ones here, since we definitely ate out every day for three times and found a lot of great spots.
First of all, you can find some great places for breakfast (and probably lunch & dinner too) during your hike back from Sarangkot. Most of them were called Lake View, and a lot of them are located perfectly on the edge of the hill. This means you have an amazing view over Pokhara and Lake Fewa!
Furthermore, in Lakeside there are loads of places to eat of have cocktails. Most restaurants offer the deal of buy one get one free.
OJU Guesthouse (obviously it is also a guesthouse) is a very simple, cute place, with great bread made with olives, cheese or walnuts in it. The lady that works there is very sweet and didn’t really speak English well, but you can just write down your order on her notepad. It is also very cheap. We ate there twice and both times it was around 400 rupees (4 $ USD) for two people.
Sacred Valley is another great place to have breakfast, and also happens to be a guesthouse. Here we had very good pancakes! The prices were also certainly reasonable, and it was a cute place to sit and relax.
Also a great place to eat breakfast (or lunch). Although a bit more expensive than the previous two recommendations, the quality certainly lives up to the price. Their blueberry smoothie was to die for, and they had great sandwiches. The place is also very cute and cosy.
Cafe Concertto was great for Italian food (something you start craving after a few weeks in Asia). Mostly, we liked their pizza with tuna. We only tried one pasta there, and that wasn’t all too special. Other than that it’s really a great place with good service. It’s a bit pricey for Nepali standards though.
This was a very good restaurant, but also a bit too pricey if you’re on a budget. The food was delicious though, and definitely worth a visit for at least one night. They offer all kinds of local and international food, and their cocktails were very tasty.
This place is a lot cheaper, but certainly not less tasty than the other mentioned restaurants. They had a lot of good vegetarian options – luckily this is the case almost everywhere in Nepal – and the food was good quality. Here they only offer Indian cuisine.
In most restaurants you can order cocktails. And like stated above, it’s often buy one, get one free.
At Club Amsterdam and Busy Bee Café you can often enjoy live music with your drinks. Busy Bee Café was the most fun on a Friday and Saturday. Another place where you can enjoy some music is the Old Blues Bar, where there are often local cover bands.
Pokhara is definitely worth the visit when you’re in Nepal. It’s a place to relax and enjoy the beautiful lake. If you’re looking for some more action, we would recommend going to Chitwan National Park or Bardia National Park. Of course, a combination would be ideal: going to Pokhara after a trek and having a rest, then visiting one of the two national parks for some exciting jungle walks.
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