All you need to know about the city of Pokhara, Nepalby | October 24, 2023
Pokhara is the second most important city in Nepal. It succeeds in attracting many travelers due to its closeness to the Annapurna Range, of which you can get the most amazing views from the city.
Here you will find out everything you need to know about Pokhara and what to do in this unique place.
General information about Pokhara
At the center of Nepal lies Pokhara, the second most populated city in the country after the capital, Kathmandu, and the biggest in terms of area. It sits at an altitude of 822 m.
It gets its name from the Nepali word “Pokhari”, which means pond. Pokhara has a large number of ponds, the most famous being the Cluster of 9 Lakes, which are the reason for the name.
Pokhara has an important place in Nepal’s tourism industry due to its closeness to the Annapurna Range, which comprises three of the ten highest peaks in the world: Annapurna I, Manaslu and Dhaulagiri. People come from all over the world to trek to and up these mountains (the Annapurna Circuit).
How to get to Pokhara, Nepal
Pokhara’s airport, the Pokhara international airport (PIA), opened within the last year, with the first international flight arriving in June 2023. You can also fly to Pokhara from Kathmandu if that’s the airport you reach first.
If you don’t arrive directly in Pokhara, you’re likely to arrive in Kathmandu. From there you can rent a car, the drive usually takes from about 6 hours to 10. The final driving time will depend on the amount of traffic.
You can take a tourist bus to Pokhara from Kathmandu for a low price. It’s best to buy the ticket in advance, especially if you travel during the high season.
The Greenline Bus is more expensive and upscale and it includes a buffet lunch. It’s a good option if you have to spend a lot of time on the bus, but the price is around $25.
Lastly, as usual, there’s a public bus option that can take you to Pokhara from Kathmandu for $4.
What’s the best time to visit Pokhara?
The best times to visit Pokhara are during spring and autumn, the high season in the area. However, traveling in the dry winter can be considered if you have no desire to go trekking high in the mountains.
In contrast, Pokhara’s weather during the summer is rainy, humid and hot: Pokhara’s temperature can reach 38ºC in June, the starting month of the summer monsoon. This season lasts until September and it’s when most of the year’s rainfall takes place.
Read our guide to the best time to visit Nepal in case you’re visiting other cities besides Pokhara.
What to do in Pokhara
Phewa and the Cluster of 9 Lakes
The Cluster of 9 Lakes is one of Pokhara’s main attractions. They are the lakes Phewa, Begnas, Rupa, Khaste, Maidi, Dipang, Gunde, Neurani, Kamalpokhari and Pokhara Seti.
Right next to Phewa Lake you will find Baidam, or Lakeside, filled with restaurants, bars, shops and different accommodations.
Phewa and Lakeside are extremely important to the tourism industry of Pokhara. You can rent a boat or paddle boat to take you to the Taal Barahi Temple, located on a tiny island in the lake.
Davis fall and Gupteshwar Gupha
Davis fall and Gupteshwar Gupha are two other natural attractions in Pokhara. The waterfall, known locally as the Fall of the Netherworld (Patale Chhango), has its source in Phewa Lake. Gupteswar Gupha is a cave carved by the waterfall. There’s also a shrine dedicated to Shiva that you can visit while exploring this area.
Mahendra Gupha, the House of Bats for the locals, is a system of limestone caves. Supposedly, it was formed during the Great Ice Age. Today you can see stalactites and stalagmites lining the top of the caves. Beware: it gets crowded on the weekend, not making it a good time to visit.
World Peace Pagoda
The World Peace Pagoda (Pokhara Shanti Stupa) is a domed, white Buddhist temple with images of the Buddha on each side, facing the four cardinal points. It sits on the top of Anadu Hill on the south of Phewa Lake. It provides stunning views of the Annapurna range and it’s close to two traditional Nepalese villages: Pumdi and Bumdi.
The Old Bazaar and Bindhyabasini
The Old Bazaar (Purano Bazaar) is a traditional market 4 km away from Lake Phewa. From here you can also visit Bindhyabasini Mandir, Pokhara’s oldest temple.
Sarangkot is a small village close to Pokhara located 1600 m above sea level.
What makes it such an important attraction? It has probably the most amazing, impactful views of the Annapurna range. It’s best appreciated at sunrise, it makes the early rise totally worth it! It also has good views of Pokhara, including of the Phewa Lake.
Rent a car or a taxi to be able to reach the view tower in time. It’s also a good spot for paragliding!
The trek to Poon Hill is quickly gaining popularity because it’s ideal for amateur hikers who can’t manage the more difficult treks. It takes around 4 days.
There are restaurants and guesthouses following the trek. It’s mandatory to trek with a professional guide in Nepal from April 2023.
International Mountain Museum
The International Mountain Museum follows the history of the mountains, famous climbs, as well as that of the communities that have been living in this region for thousands of years. There are also exhibitions about the endemic flora and fauna.
A 5% entertainment tax was added to the price of admission in August, 2023.
Annapurna Base Camp Trek
The trek to the Annapurna Base Camp is extremely popular amongst fans of the sport. It takes from 6 to 12 days. It’s close to these mountains: Annapurna I, Annapurna South, Machapuchhre (the “Fishtail”) and Hiunchuli.
Pump up your adrenaline with some sports
Since Pokhara, and Nepal as a whole, has a high altitude, it’s now wonder that many people choose this location for some extreme sports. As if the tall mountains weren’t enough!
Here are some of the options available in the area:
- Mountain biking
- Bungee jumping
What do you need to travel to Pokhara, Nepal?
All travelers need to have a visa when entering Nepal. Citizens of eligible nationalities can apply online for a Nepal tourist visa. Learn more about the application process with our article on how to get a visa for Nepal.
If your passport belongs to a nationality not eligible for the online visa, you will need to apply in person at your nearest embassy or consulate.
No matter how you apply, all Nepal visas have to be shown on arrival at the airport so government officials can make sure everything is correct.
The Nepal travel requirements include:
- Having an approved visa
- A passport-size photograph taken within the same year
- Having a passport with at least 6 months validity and three blank pages
Having travel insurance isn’t mandatory, but it’s recommended.