Information about Pokhara
Getting, from and around Pokhara
Tourist buses (NPR600-‐900, 6-‐7h) and crowded local buses/microbuses (NPR400-‐600, 6-‐7h) travel the 200km journey between Kathmandu and Pokhara almost every 15 minutes starting at 07:30 through late afternoon. Night buses are available, but the ride is painful. Greenline operates a convenient bus every morning between the popular tourist areas of Thamel in Kathmandu and Lakeside in Pokhara (USD23, lunch included). The road is winding with many switchbacks but offers wonderful views of hills and rural Nepalese lifestyle. The drivers will generally not drive too fast but some will calmly weave in and out of the stream of opposing traffic and slam on the brakes when a stop is required, making for a scary ride if you look out the front window. During the rainy season, there may be problems with the roads and flying may make more sense.
From Sunanli Border
Buses are available from the border town of Sunauli (NPR280-‐380, 8h). Prices have increased since October 2015. Expect to pay no less than NPR600. If you can travel to the nearby town of Butwal, you will have more options for travelling to Pokhara. A 12-‐seater vehicle will cost around NPR5,500 from Butwal to Pokhara.
By car from Kathmandu
Numerous travel agents are available in Thamel area. Prices vary depending on the type of car as well as the time of year (approximately $120 – $140). If you are planning to use air condition then get ready to pay an extra. A car can carry maximum 3 people comfortably. The price is based on number of trips but not based on number of people.
By Plane From Kathmandu
Yeti Airlines, Buddha Air, and Simrik Air are reputable airlines that operate regular flights (USD117, 40min) that can be purchased online and at the last minute. The flights offer the benefit of a bird's eye view of the countryside and of the panoramic mountains themselves. Airlines may ask for scanned copy of both sides of credit card if purchased online. Travel agents accept cash or bank transfers. Flights are almost always delayed for few minutes. A taxi from the Pokhara airport to Lakeside should cost NPR250 if negotiated in advance.
Getting around Pokhara
Pokhara is a fairly small city and can be easily traversed on foot. Walking is necessary to get to places where vehicles or bicycles can't reach.
By local transport
Minivans operate on most of the popular routes. These are crowded and uncomfortable but the fare is cheap and student 45% discounts may be offered.
Comfortable taxis are available to be hired.
Bicycles can be hired in a lot of shops in Lakeside (NPR100-‐300/day). Make sure the seat is not too hard, and try realigning the seat if it is set uphill way, instead of sloping down.
By motorbike or scooter
It is also possible to hire a scooter or a motorbike in Lakeside (NPR600+/day). You will have to buy petrol (NPR130/litre). Note that it is possible to reach Sarangkot or the World Peace Pagoda with an automatic motorbike or scooter despite the steep uphill road, but very tough going, maybe better getting a manual bike if this will be attempted.
Things to see and Do in Pokhara
Lakes & waterfalls
- Phewa/Fewa Lake (Phewa/Fewa Tal) (Just west of Pokhara). One of Nepal's most beautiful spots, Phewa Tal is surrounded by a combination of monkey-‐filled forests and the high white peaks. The reflections in the mirror-‐like water in the early mornings are something you must see at least once before you die. Hire a boat and row yourself across the lake (or hire a local to do it for you -‐ there are some fine times to be had on this lake, even in the middle of the night!)
- Begnas Lake (Begnas Tal) (13.3km southeast from Pokhara, along the Prithvi Rajmarg road). -‐ Out of town and away from the hustle, Begnas Tal is quiet, clean and peaceful. There are a few basic hotels to stay in and the odd refreshment shop. The walk along the road leading to Begnas Tal is fascinating, the seasonal rhythms of daily life in the country make great images.
- Rupa Lake (Rupa Tal) (15.0km southeast from Pokhara, along the Prithvi Rajmarg road). One of the more remote lakes in Pokhara with limited accessibility and hence more serene and unspoiled compared to the other lakes. A must visit for any nature lover.
- Dipang Lake (Dipang Tal) (12.7km southeast from Pokhara, along the Prithvi Rajmarg road). Beautiful lake where you can find wild lotus and wild swan. It is located about fifteen minutes walk from Sisuwa, the city centre of Lekhnath muncipality.
- Devi's Falls Corrupted from David's Fall after David's wife who died here on accidentally discovering a water-‐fall. NPR20.
- World Peace Pagoda Opened in 1999 atop a hill just south of Phewa Tal, the Stupa is the first Peace Pagoda to be constructed in Nepal and offers great views of the Annapurna Mountains, including Fishtail, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna South, and Annapurna III. This is a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset over Pokhara. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi to the base of the Peace Pagoda (NPR1000 return, including waiting). If you want to go on foot, you must first get to the southern side of Phewa Tal, either by walking around the lake or rowing across the lake. Then take a very steep hike (no switchbacks!) through the forest (watch out for leeches during the monsoon) or from the road that passes Devi's Fall, turning right at the end of Chhorepatan. To hike to the top: From the small fork road behind the bakery in Damside, go south 200m, past a few hotels to the road bridge over the big canal. Go southwest along smaller road to the cable bridge over the creek, notice the "peace" sign on bridge anchor cement. Cross, then go up steps to rite, hence main walking trail to left along rice fields.200m to a small temple and water tap. Notice another peace sign and arrows pointing zig zag up behind tap. Follow the zig zag trail through the forest to steps and continue up them to the top of the ridge spur, follow the USA style tree "blazes" (notches in the tree trunks) wherever things get confusing. Follow the large trail through lovely forest with monkeys at times. Warning: there have been reports of a few robberies. Reach forested ridge top at a mudhole/saddle, hence trail crosses over to north side, through more nice forest. Look for tree markers. gradually up until you reach open main ridge, within sight of Peace Pagoda. A few small cafes and a hotel here, then steps up to top. It should take around 35min from the hotels near the road bridge over the big canal.
- Sarangkot The perfect pre-‐trek warm-‐up. Head up Sarankot in the late afternoon (be prepared, it's steep and hard work) find yourselves a warm guest house before sunset, go up the top for sunset and again for sunrise... you won't be disappointed. You can rent a motor bike for under NPR700 and take yourself to the top. The road is rough, but traversable. Great views, spectacular images and a great way to get a taste of what it's like to be trekking. Sarangkot south slope trail. A killer run/polewalk workout. Go north through Lakeside about 5km, through Kare, around corner to SediBogar village. Park bike/moto at the Caravan Restaurant (last spot to buy water/snacks)—the stopwatch starts here. Follow stone road 1+km directly north towards Sarankot's forested slopes, past houses, to school. Don't try to ride a moto or bike up this road, too rocky. road ends to rite (east) of school, follow trail behind, east (right) into seasonal creek gully, then 100m up it trail goes off a bit to left and soon the gruelling stone steps begin. Take water! Follow steps all the way, follow the arrows carved into stones where confusing, cross 3 new 4x4 roads but stay on stone step trail, way up you'll come out on the 4x4 road along north to Kalipani and Naudada villages at a restaurant/school three quarters of the way up, follow road 100m left to the parasail jump off, then continue up obvious steps to Sarankot village (hotels/cafes/shops) and up cement steps to lookout tower. Morning views are best. Sometimes a ticket taker asks for top admission fee of NPR20 but a simple trick of just running by, saying you are on the clock may help you to dodge the toll. This trail takes at least 52 minutes from the bottom at Caravan park spot. Knee jarring decent takes 40 minutes, or possible to take taxi or even hitch a ride in a parasail truck going down. Absolutely brutal workout!
- Hiking / Trekking -‐ For information on trekking in the Pokhara region, including popular treks and suggested itineraries, Most trekking routes of Annapurna region starts from Pokhara including Annapurna Base Camp / Sanctuary, Poon Hill, Mardi Himal, TAAN Model Trek, Khopra Ridge Trek and Jomsom -‐ Muktinath.
- Boating / Canoeing -‐ Just hire a boat or canoe and go out in the water for a day. Canoes can be difficult to steer on the flat lakes. Row boats are extremely overpriced at NPR400 per hour.
- Whitewater Rafting / Kayaking / Canyoning -‐ including Lessons -‐ 1-‐10 day adventure expeditions on beautiful Nepali rivers. There are many operators offering trips.
- Hearts & Tears Motorcycle Club -‐ Tours & Lessons Learn to ride custom bikes.
- Mountain Biking: Consider these fun bike rides:
- Around Phewa Lake Sarankot/Naudada/Hemja loop: 3h hard from Lakeside is a fast time. Go towards downtown (Mahendrapul) from Lakeside, turn north at "Zero Kilometre" along the main road to Baglung. Be careful as it's crowded. Ride about 5–6km north, slowly up, past the nasty old bus park, to the Sarankot Road junction, turn left (west). The climb time starts at the fork 50m further. Follow paved road up incredibly steep climb, 1st gear almost all the way. You'd rightly doubt a rental bike could do it. Good pavement mostly, climb zigs past houses and ends at a small village on a saddle. It takes around 40min from bottom. From here you can park bike and hike up old ridge trail to Sarankot, but for this loop continue west along rocky jeep road along mountains south slopes, past parasail place and onwards, rolling ascent to Kalipani village and after and hour or so jeep road hits the "hi-‐way" at Naudada village on ridgetop. From here good pavement zigs steep down to valley bottom, then its a long gradual decent to Hemja village, and back into Pokhara.
- Dobindy Pass ride. Dobindy Pass ride.A fun up and back hillclimb to a pass on pavement southwest of Damside. Take paved road south from Damside to Birota area then turn right (west) along main road, the "hi-‐way to Syangja and Tansen, gradually down towards Devi's Falls, continue west to the Chorepatan area to base of climb. The steep bends begin here, road climbs steadily, though not too steep, along south side of Peace Pagoda ridge, up to a few villages, then after a short steep decent into a forest for last climb up to the pass at Dobindy village. At least, it'll take just under an hour from Lakeside. From here you can continue west through scenic rolling country towards Syangja town, but it's usually possible to zip back down to hotel in about 35min. Beware; this road is getting more crowded, and sometimes with lots of buses & trucks in the wrong lane.
- Tibetan Refugee Camp - Go for a bike ride down to the airport way, on the way to the Tibetan settlement where there is a nice little monastery, a school, and refugee jewellery and craft stalls. Be prepared to ride all the way uphill on the return trip to Lake area and it is wise to take a rest halfway if you want to avoid suffering from cramps and weariness the following day, from the long ride.
- Paragliding Don't miss soaring around Lake Pokhara and the Annapurnas with Lammergeyer eagles or huge Gryffon vultures to guide the way!
- Tandem: There are several companies that organize tandem flights (no experience required) ranging from 30 minutes -‐ 1.5 hours, as well as cross-‐country. You will find advertisements on the main road as well as most guest houses and hotels. Cartel prices starting at NPR8500 per 1/2 hour. Sunrise Paragliding, the original company operating there, is also one of the best.
- Lessons: All the paragliding centres also offer lessons. A beginners course costs about USD120 per day including equipment rental. You will need a course of at least 15 days before you can obtain an international paragliders license.
- For Experienced Pilots: Pokhara is a rewarding location for experienced cross country and/or acrobatic pilots. Any of the paragliding schools will be able to help you with logistics such as equipment hire, transfers to take-‐off, advanced training & folding of reserve parachutes.
- Parahawking / Vulture Restaurant: No you don't eat the vultures! Due to vultures eating dead cows that have been injected with a drug that helps the cows in old age but poisons the vultures when they eat them after their deaths, the population of certain species of vulture has collapsed in many parts of Asia. A charity group has set up a kind of cow hospice for cows coming to the end of their lives. They look after the cows but ensure they don't have any of the drug that kills the vultures. When the cows eventually die they are given as food to the vultures. Trips are arranged to view such early morning vulture feasts. To find out more and to be emailed if a cow should die, visit Blue Sky Paragliding.
- Ultralighting: Avia Club Nepal specializes in airborne adventure -‐ sports.
Lakeside is a popular tourist destination beside Phewa Tal (lake) in Nepal's second largest city Pokhara. The main areas of Pokhara are broken up into Lakeside, Damside and the old Pokhara. Within Lakeside there's now a north Lakeside and a South Lake side. It's all quite easy to navigate as tourist buses drop most tourists off at Damside. After that it's an easy walk or taxi though the end of Damside the start of south Lakeside and into the ongoing development of north Lakeside. For most people it's just "Lakeside" -‐ which consisted of quiet main road that runs alongside Lake Phewa Tal in Pokhara.
Did you know? Phewa Tal is also known as Fewa Lake, Phewa Lake and Lake Phewa Tal. It's a freshwater lake made famous for it's reflection of mount Machhapuchhre and that section of the Annapurna Range. Phewa Tal also generates a lot of electricity for Pokhara through it's dam.
Take an early morning breakfast on a hotel rooftop and watch the Annapurna mountains put on a show Watch as the paragliders fly down from Sarangkot to north lakeside nearly every morning On a fine day walk the quite main road enjoying the music from stores while the Annapurna mountain range stretches out in front of you Leisurely shop without the raucous hard sell that's found in Kathmandu Stop off at many of the great cafes during the day for tea overlooking Lake Phewa Tal Take a rowing boat out onto Lake Phewa Tal or hire a rower and make a day trip to the World Peace Pagoda Arrange any number of white water rafting, mountain biking, motor biking, trekking or paragliding activities from the many agents at Lakeside Chill out at a number bars around lakeside Enjoy a movie in one of the cafes or bars at night Pack a lunch and some water for a trek out around and past north Lakeside These are just some of the things to do around the Lakeside area in Pokhara. Again, there's a lot more to do around Pokhara and the surround area from visiting Tibetan villages to actually paragliding yourself.