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Pokhara is Nepal's second city located by Phewar lake which is a popular spot for trekkers going to and from their treks in the Annapurna range. Pokhara is extremely beautiful in its own right, as you can see some of the huge peaks of the Annapurna range including Machapuchare (or 'Fishtail mountain') towering over the town and the lake.
Pokhara is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nepal, and Lakeside in particular is a tourist haven, with many shops, bars, restaurants as well as trekking supplies. The World Peace Pagoda, which stands on nearby hill next to Phewar lake, is a great spot to view Pokhara and the Annapurnas. Paragliding is also popular here, where several companies can take you to nearby Sarangkot for the thrill of jumping off the hill amongst a spectacular landscape, to land beside Phewar lake.
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Pokhara is one of the main bases for trekking in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas. Many tour operators work out of Pokhara and it's hard to avoid them. Popular treks include the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) and the Annapurna Circuit.
Trekking around Pokhara is not so hard, depending on your level of fitness and the time of year. During the winter months trekking should not be taken lightly as the weather can become hazardous. Altitude sickness is a real danger and several people do die every year. You don't really need to worry too much about Altitude Sickness if you are sticking to the lower reaches of the Annapurna treks. The majority of altitude sickness only occurs above around 3,500 metres. Poon Hill, the highest point of the 4/5 day Ghorepani loop, is around 3,210 metres, so you shouldn't experience any problems. Having said that, the best thing to do is listen to your own body - take everything at your own pace and rest regularly.
It is possible to hire almost all of your trekking gear in Pokhara before setting off on a trek, and this can be really handy if you're backpacking, as it saves you the extra weight of carrying a four seasons sleeping bag through tropical South East Asia or any other scorching destination. However, it's definitely best to bring your own tried-and-tested walking boots along, as blisters and aches can really ruin your trekking experience. Equally, knock-off sleeping bags and jackets may snugly see you through the shorter and lower treks, but it's best to have the real deal if you're going on a longer trek ie. ABC or the Annapurna Circuit.
The Annapurna Circuit
A typical Annapurna Circuit Trek would take 16 to 21 days. It will take you from Pokhara through lush valleys to rocky villages. You should stay two nights acclimatising at the town of Manang where there are several day trips to keep you occupied. From there its into more mountains and rough terrain. Finally you will cross the highest point the Thorung Pass at 5,415 metres. It's down mountain from their to Kagbeni and Jomson, back through green valleys and waterfalls to Tatopani and some well-deserved hot springs.
Altitude sickness can be a serious problem on Annapurna Circuit Trek so caution should be taken.
The typical cost of hiring a guide is around US$13 per day, and they will pay for their own food and accommodation out of this. A porter is roughly half this price depending on experience. When choosing a guide it's important to remember that you are 'hiring' him/her. You will be spending time together over a few days or weeks. Maybe it will just be the two of you. It's important that you will get along, and have trust in each other. While male guides are the most common, female guides are also available for female trekkers (see Chhetri Sisters Guest House in Lakeside). Two facts regarding guides and porters: a guide will not carry things, a porter may not speak good English.
For females travelling alone, there are several trekking companies with female guides. This can be a great idea if you're a single female, and, to be honest, trekking is so incredibly social that you'll meet others almost instantly.
It's important to make sure that you bring plenty of cash on the trek (there are dozens of ATMs in Pokhara to inspire all kinds of souvenir consumption). You'll need cash for meals when you trek - and you definitely don't want to go hungry when you're heading uphill for 6 hours at a time.
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Winters can involved bitterly sub-zero temperatures in and around the city. Most local guest houses and restaurants offer open fires and gas heaters for their customers. During the day it can be clear and sunny, making walking around quite hot, yet standing in the shade will bring you shivers. It rarely snows in Pokhara itself, yet in the surrounding Himalayans you can see the snow drifting in from the comfort of your restaurant of hotel window. Summers can get quite hot and dry. Humidity is low. While some of the surrounding ice-capped mountains may give a false illusion of a freezing day from the city, you may find yourself baking in a t-shirt and shorts. A dry dusty season kicks off in December/January making mountian spotting a little hazy. After that there are several months of high rain fall which offers days of good viewing, but can be cloudy. Peak tourist season starts in September/October with June and July also being good months.
No trains link Pokhara to the rest of the country.
It's a ride that lasts about 5 hours from Kathmandu, and be sure to get a good road map and travel during the day. If you hire a driver and travel by car directly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, this will usually take around 6 hours. Having said that, there are often hold ups along the way, so just sit back and enjoy the scenery - you'll get there in the end.
Regular local buses cost about Rs 300 to and a Greenline tourist bus costs about 900, there are other tourist buses too at a slightly lower cost. The journey officially takes about 6 hours, but Kathmandu traffic can add several hours on.
The Greenline Bus Company is a great service (US$30 at last check), and the cost of the ticket includes a really tasty buffet lunch in the lovely River Side resort along the way. Buses leave from very near to Thamel and the Royal Palace.
It is not so big to warrant hiring a car. Though if you arrive by car you wil be glad to know traffic is a lot less substantial than in Kathmandu.
A bus from the lakeside to the city proper would cost around Rs 5-7.
Pokhara is easy to traverse by foot. Lakeside is a 30-minute walk, barring stop offs along the way. To get to the city proper it might be easier just to hop on a bus and walk from there.
It is possible to hire a motorbike or Bicycle to drive around for the day. The average cost is about Rs 500, not including fuel. Insurance is never mentioned. A few dealers will try it on with you if you do not have a drivers license, but there are plenty more to chose from.
Lakeside is brimming with international and local restaurants. The choice is nearly endless. From Steakhouses to Pizzerias: it is all there. The quality is usually high though in the lesser know establishments your version of a Calzone may differ to the local one. Head off down the side streets to half your cost of meals by eating at real local places. Daal Bhat is the mainstay but fried chicken, burgers etc are also not much of a hassle. The bakeries are a good place to stock up on travel foods for bus journeys and hikes. While the Supermarkets offer a wide selection of canned and packaged goods. Including locally made trekking bars.
|Hidden Paradise Guest House||Sedi Bager 7 lake side on the way to Pame Bagar||Guesthouse||-|
|Hotel Grand Holiday||Lakeside-6||Guesthouse||87|
|Hotel Mandala||Lakeside-6 Lakeside||Hotel||90|
|Hotel Snowland||Pokhara Lake Side - 6 NEpal Pokhara Lake Side -6 Nepal||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Travel Inn||Lakeside-6, Baidam||Hotel||84|
|Mountain Prince Lodge||Sarangkot-3||Guesthouse||-|
|New Pokhara Lodge||Lakeside||Hotel||89|
|Pokhara View Garden Hotel||Lakeside Baidam||Hotel||87|
|Green Peace Resort||Sedi Bazaar Pokhara||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Mount Fuji||Lakeside, Pokhara-6||HOTEL||87|
|Hotel View Point||Gaurighat, Lakeside, Pokhara-6||HOTEL||88|
|Pacific Guest House||Shivamandir marg, Gaurighat Lakeside Pokhara-6||Hostel||91|
|The North Face Inn||lakeside-6, Pokhara kaski, Nepal||GUESTHOUSE||95|
|Cosy Guest House||lakeside - 6 Pokhara, Kaski||Guesthouse||-|
|Trekkers Inn||Lakeside, Pokhara Sheva Marga, Gaurigat||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Angel||Baidam-6, Lake Side, Pokhara, Nepal Opposite Royal Palace||HOSTEL||-|
|Karma Guest House||Lakeside 6||Guesthouse||94|
|Pushpa Guest House||lake side, pahari marga, pokhara nepal. pokhara nepal||GUESTHOUSE||88|
|Rustika Guest House||POKHARA-6, LAKE SIDE GAURIGHAT HOUSE NO.32||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Harvest Moon Guest House||Lakeside Pokhara||Guesthouse||87|
|The Silver Oaks Inn||Lakeside-6||HOTEL||-|
|Panoramic View Guest House||Sarangkot-3, Pokhara||Guesthouse||-|
|Haus Nepal||Pokhara - 8, Nayabazar Kaski||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Hotel Splendid View||Gaurighat 06 Pokhara||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Fewa Holiday Inn||Lakeside, Pokhara-6.||Hotel||-|
|Nepali Cottage Guesthouse||Parahi Marga Lake Side Pokhara-6||GUESTHOUSE||85|
|Hotel Himalayan Inn||Lakeside, Pokhara-6||HOTEL||-|
|The Mountain House Pokhara||Lakeside 6 , Pokhara||Guesthouse||92|
|Hotel Grand Holiday||Lake Side||Hotel||-|
|New Solitary Lodge||Lakeside, Pokhara-6 Lakeside||GUESTHOUSE||86|
|Diplomat Apartments, Pokhara||Dristi marg, Shanti Patan, Lakeside||APARTMENT||-|
|Mount Kailash Resort||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Lake Star||Barahi Path, Lake Side, Pokhara||HOTEL||-|
|pokhara star inn||Mansawar Road Lakeside Jarabar||Hotel||-|
|Hotel Tibet Home||Dihikopatan Dihikopatan||HOTEL||-|
|Raniban Retreat||Raniban Retreat World Peace Pagoda||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel Himalayan Inn||Hotel||-|
|Green Peace Lodge||Lakeside, Pokhara-6 NorthBaidam road||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Butterfly Lodge||Lalu Pate margh, Lake side||HOTEL||-|
|Pokhara Star Inn||lakeside 6 mansawar road||HOTEL||-|
There are nearby monasteries that will take a volunteer. There are also Tibatan refugee camps and a mass of NGO's helping them, getting work there is quite easy. Though pay is not so easy to find. The paragliding companies often advertise internationally for qualified instructors and may be worth checking out.
There are many internet cafés in Pokhara. The problem is finding a fast connection. Most charge Rs 60 per hour, though that number is falling. For cheaper rates try the new part of the city (the non-touristy local part), where rates can drop to Rs 25 per hour. There are a few with modern flat-screen computers with a fast "ish" connection, just be sure they have a generator for the power outages.
WARNING: There is a growing number of Nepal-born computer viruses. Many anti-virus programs do not take submissions from Nepal, and so they are rarely detected. Be careful with your photographs and memory cards.
See also International Telephone Calls
There are many phone booths around Pokhara offering reasonably cheap international calls. Again, the new part of the city is substantially cheaper to make calls. The mobile network in Nepal is very poor for international calls and text messages. Roaming is available but depends on your mobile network's partnering with local mobile phone operators.
The postal service is good, if a little annoying at times. Be prepared for a shortage of high value stamps or maybe no stamps today! Still, most people report parcels getting home fine. Courier services such as DHL and FedEx are expensive. Asian courier like DPEX is substantially cheaper, has good records and tracking facility.
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