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Pokhara

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Travel Guide Asia Nepal Pokhara

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Introduction

VIew of Pokhara

VIew of Pokhara

© All Rights Reserved daveh

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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Neighbourhoods

  • Lakeside - a popular place for hotels and sporting action
  • Damside - a quieter place for peace and boat trips

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Sights and Activities

Trekking

Mountains in Nepal

Mountains in Nepal

© All Rights Reserved TLWH

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 Annapurna Base Camp - A typical trek here would take 10-15 days. Here the trail starts in forest as you ascend high into the mountains. Fom a village called Bamboo you continue upwards through valleys and avalanche territory. Machhapuchhare base camp rises up to you destination of Annapurna Base camp at an altitude of 4,130 metres.
  • Poon Hill - 6 days - This is along the APC trek. Poon hill is a look out point and a great sunrise spot for the Machhapuchhare range. Over recent years, Poon Hill has become a well-established viewpoint and, if you make it for sunrise you certainly won't be alone - there's even a tiny tea stand! But don't let this put you off. It's a spectacular panoramic view and the light falling across the Annapurna range changes swiftly as the sun climbs in the sky. This moment is pretty perfect as a free-standing experience, but accompanied by a mug of hot chai, it becomes something no less than epic. You'll need to get up ridiculously early and set off before 5:00am to make it for dawn at Poon Hill (a head torch and gloves are an absolute necessity).
  • Tatopani - 4 days - Again this is along the APC and is famed for its hot springs and raging river.
  • Royal trek - 4 days - this is an easy going trail made famous by Britain's Prince Charles who completed it. The views of mountain ranges are breathtaking throughout. The Royal Trek is brilliant for families, and for walkers who would prefer to stick to lower altitudes.
  • Phewa Tal trek - 1 day - an easy going yet early start trek around Pokhara's lake.

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.

Other Activities

Paragliding in Pokhara

Paragliding in Pokhara

© All Rights Reserved TLWH

  • Paragliding - Para-gliding from the top of Sarangkot is one best places in world to take flight. Snow capped mountains, a still reflective lake and spectacular scenery make for an incredible experience. There are at least 5 companies to choose from, all with slightly different offers. But essentially they all cost the same US$85 for 30 minutes of tandem flying. There are options to take longer flights, but most feel 30 minutes is good. You can also choose between different types of flight. Some will whisk you up high into the thermals above Lake Phewa, so high that you may even be able to see Machapuchare. Others will take you on sweeping cross country flights over the landscape. Both will be brilliant, so it's completely up to you. Also available from Maya Devi Village is Para Hawking. A similar para-gliding experience but with hawks flying alongside you. Not for the vegetarians though, as you must hold clumps of buffalo meat to temp the birds to follow you.
  • Micro flights - For US$120 you can take to the air in a mini two seater plane and circle the mountainside for 30 minutes at dawn for a spectacular sunrise. There are different prices and times available.
  • Boating - There is nothing quite a tranquil as taking a small rowing boat out into the still waters of Lake Phewa Tal. You can hire a boat with a man to take you, or you can paddle yourself. A return trip to the Peace Pagoda is Rs 500 while an all day trip is Rs 900. Kayaks are also available for rent.
  • Rafting - The local Seti and Kali Gandaki rivers offer great rafting trips. Trips can be arranged as day excursions or up to five days full on camping trips.
  • Shopping - Kathmandu may have the edge in artifacts and trinkets, but there's nowhere else in Nepal that can top Pokhara for counterfeit trekking stores. There are dozens of outlets lining lakeside's main road. All selling the latest Chinese and local rip offs of Northface and other trekking companies' gear. All this at rock bottom prices. If buying it's worth checking the goods out very well beforehand. A good all weather jacket that could cost €400 can be grabbed for €40, but the stitching may mean it will only last a month. Pull and Tug everything you are thinking of buying, and you may come away with a bargain.

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Events and Festivals

  • Between mid and late January the paragliding companies around Pokhara hold a competition for both professionals and beginners alike. Air-acrobatics, precision skills and other para gliding specific events are held for everyone to view.
  • Deepawali, also known as Tihar, lasts from 26 - 30 October 2009. This is the Festival of Lights, and the equivalent of Indian Diwali. Over this period, you'll find the Nepali people beaming, drinking and dancing as they enjoy five days of festive feasting and family gatherings. It's a great time to be in Nepal, with amazing 10ft festival swings made of straw and wood, popping up throughout the Himalayan foothills. The first day is officially dedicated to the worshipping of crows and the second day is devoted to dogs (who get glamorous makeovers with garlands of flowers). The third day is usually the most celebrated of all, with families performing holy puja with chanting, red tika, and candles. It is dedicated to Laxshmi, the goddess of wealth, as well as to the sacred cows. The fourth day is officially a singing and dancing day (why don't we have one of these?), and, finally, the fifth day honours brothers and sisters - watch out for the pink festival hats. The whole thing is just plain great, and so heartwarming. Wonderful Nepali people at their wonderful Nepali best.
  • Around the 28th December to 4th January there is a week long New Year's festival and parade organized by the central and local governments along with local communities. The celebrations include a parade featuring local costumes and elephants, music festival, food fares and various games that tourists can participate in as well.

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Weather

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.

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Getting There

By Plane

There are daily flights to Pokhara Airport (PKR) from Kathmandu, arranged easily via local tourist agents. Ohter destinations include Delhi, Jomsom, Manang and Lucknow.

By Train

No trains link Pokhara to the rest of the country.

By Car

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.

By Bus

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.

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Getting Around

By Car

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.

By Public Transport

A bus from the lakeside to the city proper would cost around Rs 5-7.

By Foot

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.

By Bike

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.

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Eat

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.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Hidden Paradise Guest HouseSedi Bager 7 lake side on the way to Pame BagarGuesthouse-
Hotel ABCLakeside-6Hotel-
Hotel Grand HolidayLakeside-6Guesthouse87
Hotel MandalaLakeside-6 LakesideHotel84
Hotel SnowlandPokhara Lake Side - 6 NEpal Pokhara Lake Side -6 NepalHotel-
hotel travelinnLakeside-6 BaidamApartment85
Mountain Prince LodgeSarangkot-3Guesthouse-
New Pokhara LodgeLakesideHotel89
Pokhara View Garden HotelLakeside BaidamHotel87
SuperviewSarangkot-3Hotel-
Green Peace ResortSedi Bazaar PokharaGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel Mount FujiLakeside, Pokhara-6HOTEL85
Hotel View PointGaurighat, Lakeside, Pokhara-6HOTEL-
Pacific Guest HouseShivamandir marg, Gaurighat Lakeside Pokhara-6Hostel94
The North Face Innlakeside-6, Pokhara kaski, NepalGUESTHOUSE91
Cosy Guest Houselakeside - 6 Pokhara, KaskiGuesthouse-
Trekkers InnLakeside, Pokhara Sheva Marga, GaurigatHOTEL79
Hotel AngelBaidam-6, Lake Side, Pokhara, Nepal Opposite Royal PalaceHOSTEL-
Karma Guest HouseLakeside 6Guesthouse92
Pushpa Guest Houselake side, pahari marga, pokhara nepal. pokhara nepalGUESTHOUSE90
Rustika Guest HousePOKHARA-6, LAKE SIDE GAURIGHAT HOUSE NO.32GUESTHOUSE-
Harvest Moon Guest HouseLakeside PokharaGUESTHOUSE86
The Silver Oaks InnLakeside-6HOTEL-
Panoramic View Guest HouseSarangkot-3, PokharaGUESTHOUSE-
Haus NepalPokhara - 8, Nayabazar KaskiGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel Splendid ViewGaurighat 06 PokharaHOTEL-
Hotel Fewa Holiday InnLakeside, Pokhara-6.Hotel-
Nepali Cottage GuesthouseParahi Marga Lake Side Pokhara-6GUESTHOUSE77
Hotel Himalayan InnLakeside, Pokhara-6HOTEL-
The Mountain House PokharaLakeside 6 , PokharaGuesthouse93
Hotel Grand HolidayLake SideHotel-
New Solitary LodgeLakeside, Pokhara-6 LakesideGUESTHOUSE71
Diplomat Apartments, PokharaDristi marg, Shanti Patan, LakesideAPARTMENT-
Mount Kailash ResortLakeside-6Hotel-
Hotel Lake StarBarahi Path, Lake Side, PokharaHOTEL-
Pokhara Star Innlakeside 6 mansawar roadHOTEL-
Hotel Tibet HomeDihikopatan DihikopatanHOTEL-
Raniban RetreatRaniban Retreat World Peace PagodaHOTEL84
Hotel Himalayan InnLake Side, Baidam, Pokhara-6 00977-61-466042Hotel-
Green Peace LodgeLakeside, Pokhara-6 NorthBaidam roadGUESTHOUSE-
Butterfly LodgeLalu Pate margh, Lake sideHOTEL-
Hotel Celesty innOff Baidem RoadHotel-
Hotel YokohamaLakeside, Dikopatan Khaharepath-6GUESTHOUSE-
Hotel TaraShivalaya Marga Lakeside - 6HOTEL-
Sweet Dream Guest HouseBaidam RoadGuesthouse-
R&R Guest HouseBarahi Street Lakeside 6GUESTHOUSE-
Hotel BienvenueLakesideHotel-
Mountain View Lodge & ResaturntSarangkot -3HOTEL-
Hotel SerenityLakeside-6, Pahari Marg BaidamHOTEL-
Hotel HimsagarPokhara LakesideHOTEL-
Hotel Bougainvilea43 Samiko Patan MargaHOTEL-
Hotel Lake HouseKhahare , Lakeside PokharaHOTEL-
Royal Guest House PokharaShivaMandir Marg , Gaurighat, LakeSide, Pokhara-6,GUESTHOUSE-

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Work

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.

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Keep Connected

Internet

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.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

There are two main mobile operators in Nepal. Government run NTC (Nepal Telecom Company), and private Ncell (previously called Spice Mobile and Mero Mobile). Both operators allow tourists to buy SIM cards for about 200NRs in Kathmandu and most major towns.

Post

Nepal Post is the Postal Service Department of the Nepali Ministry of Information and Communications and the national post office of Nepal. Services are terribly slow, especially to international destinations. Post offices are generally open Sunday to Thursday from 10:00am to 5:00pm, and on Friday until 3:00pm, although some offices keep longer hours. For packages, it is recommend to use international courier services like DHL, TNT or UPS.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 28.263611
  • Longitude: 83.972389

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This is version 48. Last edited at 10:13 on May 31, 13 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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