I always wanted to visit Nepal for its majestic Himalayan beauty, outdoor activities, and historic towns. On December 2021 while visiting Bangladesh from Canada, we finally got the opportunity to visit Nepal and Bhutan.
We booked three flights for our combined Nepal-Bhutan trip. Dhaka to Kathmandu via Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Kathmandu to Paro via Druk Airlines, and from Paro to Dhaka also via Druk Airlines.
The journey from Dhaka to Kathmandu via Biman Airlines was quite comfortable. However, they lost one of our check-in baggage and made it a terrible experience in the end. We spent a lot of time at the airport for the baggage and were really disappointed with the carelessness of Biman Bangladesh Airline.
Tip: Try to take only carry-on baggage if you can.
Day 1- Kathmandu (Thamel)
We pre-arranged airport pickup via our hotel and our driver picked us up from the greeting area. Our hotel was located in the central Thamel area which is quite popular among tourists. After checking in, we went out for dinner. There was a restaurant right across from our hotel with lovely settings bustling with tourists. We took a table by the fireplace and had a romantic candlelight dinner. Considering the December cold, dinner beside the fireplace felt very comfy.
After dinner, we went for a walk and checked out a few shops along the way. As our luggage was missing we decided to buy some clothes from the local market. After bargaining at a few shops, we bought two dresses and proceeded to our hotel.
We returned to our hotel around 9PM and arranged our next day Kathmandu sightseeing trip with the help of a hotel tour guide. He helped us book a car with a local driver for the whole day at 3000 INR.
Day 2 - Kathmandu (Sightseeing)
The Kathmandu Valley is home to one of the densest concentrations of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world and we decided to visit as many as we can on a single day.
Swayambhunath Stupa (Admission fee NPR.50 per person)
Our first stop was Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple) which is the most popular and ancient temple. The 2,500-year-old monument is a holy site replete with symbols and is located on a hill overlooking the city. It’s a 350-step climb to reach the top and you’ll encounter plenty of monkeys along the way. We were also lucky to observe a local wedding in the temple.
Tip: These monkeys are very confident and they are not afraid of humans, so beware of just how close you get to them!
Our second stop was Durbar Square which is known for its majestic architecture, dozens of temples, idols, open court, and more. All foreign nationals visiting Kathmandu heritage sites have to pay a certain entrance fee to get inside the area. The fee varies between SAARC countries and other countries. We paid NPR.150 per person to get inside Durbar Square.
Pashupatinath temple is one of the sacred Hindu temples located on both banks of the Bagmati river on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. This place is considered a sacred place where many choose to be cremated. The cycle of reincarnation is thought to be broken and Nirvana will be reached if the deceased's body is immersed in the river three times prior to cremation.
It feels strange being a spectator while families are mourning and bodies are burning, so it’s something to think about before you go.
Upon reaching there we learned, access to the temple itself is restricted for Hindus only, but the complex is open to all visitors for a certain entrance fee. It cost us NPR.100 to get into the area.
Our last stop was Boudhanath Stupa, also called Baudha in a local accent. The Boudha Stupa is semicircle shaped which dominates the skyline and contains the relics and remains of Buddha. The ticket was NPR.100 per person.
Day 3 - Pokhara (Long bus ride)
We took Greenline bus to travel to Pokhara - one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nepal. Greenline operates a convenient bus every morning between popular tourist areas of Kathmandu to Pokhara and costs 50 USD for two one-way tickets. Although it was an 8 hours-long journey, we did not get bored due to the beautiful scenery along the way. We booked Hotel Annapurna for our stay at Pokhara. The hotel provided us a great mountain view room and we get to capture the majestic view of Machapuchare, which is also known as Fishtail Mountain.
After checking in to the hotel, we went for walk to check out the surrounding area. It was a busy tourist area lined up with small shops, roadside food stalls, and many restaurants. Nepal is a country consisting of people from different backgrounds and ethnicity and this is reflected through the food. You will get a great variety of food here made with local produce, veggies, and meat and flavored to perfection.
While walking on the street, we found some agencies for outdoor activities. As Pokhara is the best place to do trekking, boating, paragliding, and many more adventurous outdoor activities, we decided to do paragliding the next morning. We visited a few agencies, learned about their service, and pricing, and finally booked Team 5 for paragliding.
Day 4 - Pokhara (Paragliding!)
We went to Sarangkot mountain by car and started paragliding from there with the help of the Team 5 agency. It was my first time paragliding and I absolutely loved every bit of it!.
In the afternoon, we took a boat ride on Phewa Lake. We rent a boat with a driver for 1 hour and it cost us around NPR. 420 in total with the life jacket. The lake was surrounded by natural beauty and took us far away from the bustling city.
After the boat ride, we stopped at a well-decorated restaurant for dinner. The restaurant and its environment were outstanding but the food was below average compared to the price.
Tip: Don't get attracted by the live music playing, restaurant bustling with tourists usually serve better food compared to highly decorated restaurants with a handful of customers.
Day 5 - Australian Base Camp (Trekking!)
The next morning, we started our trekking toward Australian Base Camp. This trail is a part of the greater Annapurna circuit trail however, you do not need any trekking permit. It was the most adventurous part of our Nepal trip. We hiked through forests, small villages, and tea houses on the hillside trail. After 3 hours of trekking, we reached at Australian Base Camp in the afternoon. Upon reaching there, we were amazed at the gorgeous view of the mountain.
We decided to stay in a tea house for the night. After checking in to the room and enjoying a relaxing late lunch we went out to view the sunset. From sunrise to sunset, the colors keep changing and offer incredible views.
Due to the unbearable December cold, we could not stay outside for long after sunset. We returned to our tea house and had a hot dinner with tea before going to bed. However, we could not sleep well throughout the night because of the extremely cold weather. We took four blankets to survive in the night, but still felt chilled!.
Day 6 - Australian Base Camp to Dhampus village
We wake up before dawn to view the sunrise. It was unlike anything I have seen in my life. The red sun rising behind the Himalayan mountain range was one of a kind that can't be explained in any words or photos.
After breakfast, we started hiking toward Dhampus Village. The village was full of natural beauty, little hillside houses, and green fields. The trek towards Dhampus provided us an insight into the typical village life. Farmers were working on the hill without any advanced machinery and few women were gossiping and washing clothes. It was a peaceful environment there.
We lost track of our hiking trail at one point and somehow ended up on the main road. We came across a local wedding there with hundreds of people dancing and singing. We kept walking on the main road and with the help of a local finally found the trail again. After a couple of hours of trekking down, we finally reached the bus stop in the late afternoon.
Day 7 - Pokhara
It was our last day in Pokhara and we decided to visit a couple of places near the city. We booked a cab for the whole day and visited Shanti Stupa, Bat Cove, Devis Falls, and a few souvenir shops.
Shanti Stupa is the first World Peace Pagoda in Nepal, which was built to promote world peace and prosperity. We walked around the Damside tip of the lake and hiked up to the pagoda. Upon reaching there, we began to walk to the base of the World Peace Pagoda, took off our shoes, and made our way up to the first golden statue. The sky was clear and we got a great view of Machapuchare Mountain and the city of Pokhara from the top.
After Shanti Stupa, we went to Bat Cove and Devis Falls. There were several souvenir shops at Devis Falls and we bought a few souvenirs from there. Later, we took our lunch at a roadside food stall, just in front of the falls, and while crossing the road, met with a few little girls dolled up for the New Year festival.
In the evening, we attended the festival just beside our hotel and enjoyed their cultural evening. The festival lasted the whole night with loud music and dance.
Day 8-9: Back to Kathmandu - Fly to Bhutan
We returned back to Kathmandu the next day and finished all the preparation for our next journey. In the evening, we visited nearby shops and went out for dinner. The next morning, at the airport we collected our lost luggage and flew to Bhutan - The land of the Thunder Dragon.