Pokhara: From the Mountains to Beautiful Lakes

Pokhara: From the Mountains to Beautiful Lakes

Pokhara (/poːkʰ.ɾɑː/)


Pokhara is the capital of Gandaki Province and the headquarters of Kaski district which lies 200 km west from Kathmandu. It is considered as the tourism capital of Nepal because of the beautiful Phewa Lake, Annapurna Mountain Range scenery and for being the gateway to the most popular treks. In addition to these, it is also a home of many elite Gorkha warriors. There are several one day trips and short walks in this area.

"It is perhaps one of the few places on earth from where mountains above 6,000 meters can be seen unobstructed from an altitude of 800 meters within the distance of 28 km." Nepal Tourism Board.

The official currency of Nepal is Nepalese Rupee (NPR) where $1 USD is equivalent to Rs.133 NPR. The official language of Nepal is Nepali where 78% of the population uses Nepali as their first or second language. There are more than 120 languages spoken in different regions of Nepal. 

English is widely spoken all over the cities of Nepal where about 35% of Nepalese population can communicate fluently. But basic conversation would not be a difficulty around the country. 

Pokhara city has a humid subtropical climate. The summer averages between 25°C and 35°C whereas in the winter the temperature is between -2°C and 15°C. However, the elevation keeps the temperature moderate all throughout the year. 

How to get there?

There are three modes of transportation to reach Pokhara City.

  1. Plane

There are flights available from Kathmandu or other major cities direct to Pokhara. From Kathmandu, It usually takes 30 minutes from Tribhuwan International Airport. The average price of a single person for a one- way trip is $125 but it varies from seasons and airlines.

  1. Bus

There are two types of Buses leaving from Kathmandu to Pokhara.

  • Public Bus

The cheapest option if you are on a tight budget and not a morning person is the public bus which costs around $4, one- way. There are normal size buses and micro buses available which leave throughout the day from Kathmandu. These vehicles usually take the same amount of time as the tourist bus or even are faster because they make fewer comfort stops in between. But they are less comfortable than the tourist buses. They have old seats, no air conditioning, loud music and usually people and luggage filling the aisles. 

  • Tourist Bus

Tourist Buses usually leave from Thamel, Kathmandu at 7am and cost between $8 to $25. These buses are available both during the day and at night time. If you are traveling in the peak season or with a large group, pre booking is available via websites. There are ticket booking counters or one can ask the hotel’s reception to book the ticket for you. Tourist buses offer a free water bottle, onboard air conditioning and Wifi. They make frequent stops for lunch break and tea break. These buses are safer and comfortable but the time of travel will be similar, i.e. around 7 to 8 hours.

  1. Taxi 

You can reserve a taxi and travel solo from Kathmandu to Pokhara. You can leave Kathmandu whenever it suits you, there are taxis available everywhere. This will be time efficient and you can stop anywhere you want for lunch or for sightseeing. The trip will cost around $140. If you are good with bargaining, this will save you some bucks.

Visa Conditions

Most countries’ citizens can apply for an online tourist visa or visa on arrival while citizens of India are allowed freedom of movement in Nepal. The visitors require a valid passport of at least six months from the date of arrival and are allowed to stay in Nepal for a maximum of 150 days within the same year. On Arrival Visa fee for 15 days is $30, $50 for 30 days and $125 for 90 days. If you wish to extend your visa, it can be done for a minimum of 15 days which costs $45 and $3 per day for additional days. In the case of delay less than 150 days, additional $5 per day will be deducted as a late fine.

Unless holding a temporary passport issued by any European Union member state, Temporary passport holders are not eligible to apply for a visa. Citizens of SAARC member countries, except Afghanistan, can get a free visa on arrival for 30 days. Nationalities from China, Hong Kong and Macao may obtain a free tourist visa on arrival. 

For more information, you can visit Nepal Immigration Website.

Places to visit in Pokhara

  1. Bishwa Shanti Stupa aka World Peace Pagoda

Shanti Stupa is a stunning monument and a popular tourist destination located on the top of Anadu Hill. This striking landmark offers a marvelous panoramic view of Annapurna Mountain range and mesmerizing view of the Phewa Lake. Standing 115 feet above with a diameter of 344 feet, one can cycle through one of the trails, hiking for a couple of hours from Lakeside or take the road directly to the Stupa. There is no entry fee so you can enjoy the serenity and the peace as long as your heart desires.

  1. Pumdikot Shiva Statue

The 51 feet tall statue of Shiva is located at Pumdikot, the southern part of Pokhara, at an elevation of 1500 meters from the sea level. There are 108 shiva lingams around the statue. From that height, you can enjoy the maleficent view of the Annapurna Range, Mount Machhapuchhre, Mount Dhaulagiri and many other mountains on a clear day. The amazing view of Phewa Lake and the whole Pokhara City can be blissful for the visitors. Besides these, Paragliding, Hot air balloon and Ultralight flight is also available from Pumdikot. You can catch a ride from Lakeside to the statue or if you are hiking,it is only about an hour walk from the Peace Pagoda. This place is also free of cost to visit.

  1. Lakes

Pokhara is known as the Queen of Lakes as it consists of nine lakes in total. The most famous lakes are Phewa Taal (Lake), Begnas Taal and Rupa Taal. The remaining are Dipang Taal, Maidi Taal, Khaste Taal, Neurani Taal, Kamalpokhari and Gunde Taal. Phewa Taal is the second largest lake in Nepal and is the most famous tourist destination in Pokhara. We can see the reflection of Mount Machhapuchhre, Annapurna range and Dhaulagiri range in Phewa lake.The lake is also famous for Tal Barahi Temple as its central part. One cannot reach there without a boat. This lake is easily accessible as it is situated in Lakeside. There is a huge park near its shore where the visitors can relax, have a picnic and enjoy nature.

  1. Museums

If you are a lover of history and want to gain some local cultural experiences, Pokhara has some awesome museums for the visitors. These museums offer unique opportunities to dive into the rich cultural heritage of the region.

  • Gurkha Memorial Museum

It is dedicated to the history and achievements of the Gorkha warriors. The bravery and courage of these soldiers can be observed through the artifacts showcased in the museum which provides an understanding into their training and way of life.

  • Pokhara Regional Museum

Located in the heart of the city, Pokhara Regional Museum showcases the history and culture of Pokhara region by displaying a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits. This museum provides a glimpse into the rich history of the area and the locals by displaying the ancient tools and weapons, traditional costumes and musical instruments and many other antiques.

  • International Mountain Museum

If you are a lover of mountaineering and adventure sports, this place is a must- visit for you. It features a collection of exhibits that showcases the history and culture of mountaineering and the Himalayan region. The International Mountain Museum provides a unique and fascinating insight into the world of mountaineering by displaying historic climbing equipment to multimedia exhibits.

  • Annapurna Natural History Museum

Last but not the least, Annapurna Natural History Museum is dedicated to the flora and fauna of the region. It features an extensive collection of preserved animals, including rare species of birds and animals, and a variety of plant specimens. Interactive exhibits make the experience both educational and enjoyable for visitors of all ages.

  1. Caves

There are many caves in Pokhara but the main ones are Mahendra Gufa (Cave), Chamero Gufa (Bat Cave) and Gupteshwor Mahadev Gufa.

It is a large limestone cave with Lord Shiva’s shrine situated inside. It is accessible by taxi from Lakeside which takes about 30 minutes. There are limestone sculptures with an electric line located on the rocks which guides the visitors to explore the 200 meters long cave. 

Another must visit cave for the tourists is the Bat Cave. This is a limestone cave that is crawling and covered with bats. It is a 20 minute taxi ride from Lakeside and is situated next to a forest and is a peculiar habitat for chattering bats across its walls and ceilings. The cave lacks electricity so one needs to be very careful not to slip on the path as the water frequently leaks through the ceilings. The visitors must move slowly because the track is paved with sharp stones. The ideal time to view the bats is spring as 51 species of bats are found in Nepal where 11 types are in Pokhara.

This cave mostly attracts Hindu devotees because it is a holy shrine of Lord Shiva. There are two parts to the cave however, only the initial part has been given access for the visitors due to the safety concerns. The other part is a 100 meters long waterfall which is the adjacent part of Devi’s fall. There is a small road which is dangerous so people are limited in how far they can travel. There is a sacred cowshed in the cave as well. Due to the monsoon season and the heavy rainfall, the cave may be closed between June and September.

When to visit Pokhara?

October and November is the peak season to visit Pokhara because of the pleasant weather and clear blue skies. You can see the panoramic view of mountains and it is the most popular time for trekking and outdoor activities. Between March and May, the tourists flow will be fewer than the peak season but the weather is still favorable although the visibility may vary. From June to September, it is the monsoon weather so a big no-no to visit. There is rainfall almost everyday making it very hard to travel.

Customs and Traditions

Unlike Kathmandu which is mainly dominated by Newar communities, Pokhara is the home to Gurungs and Magars communities. There are different other communities like Brahmins, Chhetries, Newars, Rais but it is still dominated by Gurungs and Magars communities. Since Pokhara is a tourist hub, there are many festivals celebrated in Pokhara. There are street festivals for 5 days every year on Nepali and English New Years. There are free concerts on main streets, in public parks, food stalls throughout the streets of lakeside, and many fun games. 

Holi is another main festival where all people gather on streets and play with water and different colors. Same as in the New Year, there are local artists performing on stages, many cultural dances are shown and varieties of food to explore which will blow out your taste buds with different spices and recipes. So, make sure to visit Pokhara during festive seasons if you want to make the most out from your trip to Nepal.

Traveling around Pokhara

Pokhara is a small city in comparison to Kathmandu. You can book a taxi which will show you around all the tourist destinations in a package or you can go hiking to the hills. There are many hills surrounding Pokhara Valley so it will be more fun if you are a hiker. You can also rent a scooter for a cheaper price and roam around by yourself. In addition, there are different travel guides available with great package deals if you want to explore more of this beautiful place.

Places to stay in Pokhara

There are literally hundreds of hotels starting from Lakeside. If you want to stay in a 5 star hotel or stay in a backpackers hostel, many options are available online or you can just roam around and ask personally. The starting price of a room per night is $10 on a budget hotel and if you want to stay in a luxurious one, it can start from $100 per night.

Places to eat

Starting from Street No. 1,Lakeside to the end of Pame, the streets are filled with restaurants, cafes, pubs, you name it. If you want to eat locally, or eat at KFC, you can find anything your heart desires within a walk away. Even if you do not want to walk and eat in your room, there are many local online delivery sites which will deliver your food to you from your favorite restaurants.


People who visit Nepal never miss to visit Pokhara at least once. This vibrant city captures your heart right away. You will never regret visiting this place, who knows you never want to leave this beautiful city. Pokhara will give you the best experiences of your lifetime, which includes dazzling nightclubs, lovely sceneries, helpful people, different outdoor activities, delicious food and most importantly nature healing. So, make sure to come to Pokhara and experience it all by yourself!