15 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Nepal

Jul 22, 2021

The land of the Himalaya, Nepal is best known for being the homeland of the Nepalese people and home to the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest. But the country is also a haven for nature lovers. The countryside is lush and thickly forested, with the city of Kathmandu nestled in the valleys of the Himalayas.

Nepal is best known for Mount Everest and the other major mountains in the area, as well as the expansive Himalayan range. But the country is so big that there are also lots of other places to visit, ranging from the remote and beautiful Mustang region to smaller villages perched in the mountains of the southern Terai region.

The places we list below are just the beginning; plan your trip with our list of the top attractions in Nepal.

Lumbini

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Lumbini: en.wikipedia.org

Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, has been a site of pilgrimage for almost 2000 years. Throughout history pilgrims have traveled to Lumbini, where the Buddha was born in the year 563 BC, as well as from South India and Central Asia. Worth seeing on the site include Lumbini Royal Palace, housing a small museum of Buddha relics. For many tourists the most memorable part of the Lumbini site is the Stupa, an ornate stone structure that contains some of Buddha's remains.

Kathmandu Durbar Square

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Kathmandu Durbar Square: en.wikipedia.org

As the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is a major tourism hub and the center of cultural and religious activity in the country. Famous for its majestic Durbar Square, surrounded by historic temples, the Kathmandu Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kathmandu's durbar square is notable for its backdrop of some of the country's largest and most historically significant monuments, most of which date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. A good option for a day trip from Kathmandu, or if you're looking to stay over, several heritage hotels cater to discerning tourists. The country is also known for its beautiful temples and shrines, most notably the sacred Boudhanath stupa, one of the largest in the world, which is built atop the remains of a 12th-century Tibetan temple. During the annual festival of Trishna or the "Bliss", held in March, tens of thousands of devotees make their way to this Buddha-headed statue to pay homage.

Boudhanath Stupa

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Boudhanath: en.wikipedia.org

Boudhanath Stupa is a Tibetan Buddhist stupa that dates back to the 7th century AD, just two years after the introduction of Buddhism to Nepal. It is the largest stupa in Nepal and the second largest in Asia, after the famous Bamiyan Stupa. The old stupa collapsed after a massive earthquake, while the new version was built between 1992 and 1997. The stupa stands 30 meters high, and is built entirely of sand, with walls 13 meters in thickness and a diameter of 100 meters. It has 15 tons of stones and 4 tons of wood. Inside there is a 50-meter-high throne in wood, inside which are three Buddhas. In the center is the seat of Dokham Rinpoche. At the top of the stupa there is a museum, housing various sacred objects associated with the Buddha, some of which are over 1,000 years old. The three-year-old female panda at the heart of the museum is called Boudha. The Nepalese people have built around the stupa various temples and pagodas, which were financed by donations from wealthy Nepalis. The view of the stupa from the top is truly spectacular, as the sun glitters on the lake of the stupa. After a spectacular view from Boudhanath Stupa, continue to Kathmandu and enjoy some adventure activities.

Kathmandu

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Kathmandu: en.wikipedia.org

Nepal is a fascinating destination with a fascinating history. Famous for its trekking, the country is also home to the third-largest religious site in the world, the Kathmandu Durbar Square, with its stupas and temples; the large Swayambhunath Stupa, which is the country's largest and tallest religious site; and the Ratna Park. Most of Nepal's people live a life of poverty, and the sights of the country are not well-known outside the country, but to see the culture, the religion, and the poverty, it is a unique experience.

Chitwan National Park

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Chitwan National Park: en.wikipedia.org

In 1970 Chitwan National Park became the first major UNESCO world heritage site in Asia. It contains more than 30 species of mammals, including rare Bengal tigers. With 65 waterfalls, 60 cave shelters and a diversity of wildlife, it's a must for nature lovers. Chitwan National Park has four districts, all populated by different ethnic groups. For a bit of respite, visit the village of Siddha, close to the park headquarters. You can hire guides for village tours, treks to caves and wildlife-spotting, visit the temples, visit the park headquarters or take a boat tour on the lake.

Pokhara

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Pokhara: en.wikipedia.org

Pokhara, one of the most popular of Nepal's many popular tourism destinations, is at the center of a network of lovely rivers and lakes which flow from a lovely, dramatic snow-capped mountain range. The most popular part of Pokhara, and one of the best tourist destinations in the country, is the eastern sector of the Phewa Lake. This is a semicircle of land containing the Imjatse Temple, and a large number of cheap guesthouses, restaurants and hotels. Imjatse is the largest Buddhist temple in Nepal, and its only temple with an opening for entry. Other popular places to visit are the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, just east of Pokhara, which is possibly the best-preserved temple fortress in the world, and the Changu Narayan. Many people like to travel between Pokhara and Kathmandu by boat through the Trisuli River. It's an exciting journey, especially at the end of the season when people have to use small landing stages along the river, which are a nice spot for a sunset drink.

Parsa

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Parsa District: en.wikipedia.org

Parsa (Nepal) is a charming but small market town in a remote corner of Nepal at the foot of the spectacular Himalayas. It has a fantastic location and the surrounding region offers fantastic opportunities for trekking, with the great Annapurna circuit and Kanchenjunga's giants, Mt. Everest and Mt. Gangapurna, both within striking distance. Parsa is the gateway to this area and serves as a convenient base for trekking expeditions. The Parsa area also has wonderful possibilities for those wishing to fly-fish in the crystal clear lakes around Pokhara. Of particular interest is Parsa Bala, the town just over the hill from the market town, with a large waterfall crashing into a pool and cascades dropping down the side of a hill. More challenging activities include rock climbing, mountaineering and backpacking. The region's easy access by road from Kathmandu also makes it the perfect location for those doing tours. The locals are very friendly and eager to assist.

Langtang Valley

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Langtang: en.wikipedia.org

Langtang Valley, straddling the border between Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous Region, is one of the world's most adventurous and remote mountain ranges, and is at the top of the must-visit list for travelers. A spectacular sight that's rarely seen outside of Tibet and Nepal, this landscape of incredible beauty is an arid expanse of surreal peaks and deep valleys. One of the main highlights of Langtang is the 10,410-meter (34,142-foot) Ganesh Himal, which at almost 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) is the highest mountain in the range. The Ganesh Himal also has the highest concentration of trekking routes in the region, and is surrounded by five glacier-fed rivers, including the Langtang Khola, the Tserko Kangri, and the Trisuli. The region is also home to the Himalayan giant, Bhote Koshi, the third-highest mountain in the world. Langtang National Park is at the center of the Langtang Valley and protects some of the most pristine alpine and sub-alpine landscapes in the region. It has many stunning viewpoints for climbers and is home to alpine flora and fauna. The park has beautiful trout streams, spectacular glaciers, craggy mountains, steep valleys and more than 90 mountain lakes. The scenery is often obscured by low-hanging clouds, but it is not impossible to see the Langtang range as high as 2,100 meters (6,965 feet).

Mount Manaslu

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Manaslu: en.wikipedia.org

The third highest peak in the world, towering almost 6,000 meters high, Mount Manaslu is one of the main reasons to visit Nepal. The base camp, at a stunning location deep in a valley in the Western Himalayas, is close to the stunning Poon Hill, where Western mountaineers summited in 1998 after a heroic effort. The top of the mountain is a Tibetan enclave, a place where the entire population is Buddhist, and there are some magnificent monasteries, many of which are open to visitors. The mountain is the highest one outside of the Himalayas and thus features plenty of ice. The last part of the ascent is the most physically demanding. The easiest way to reach the mountain from Kathmandu is via Kathmandu to Dharan, and then fly to Syabrubesi, before trekking up to Gorakshep, the main base camp, and then up to the summit. As this involves crossing the border into Tibet, and involves a permit, it can be expensive, so if you only wish to climb a mountain and don't intend to climb all of the 8000-plus other peaks in the Himalayas, it might not be the best use of your time or money.

Thamel District, Kathmandu

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Thamel: en.wikipedia.org

Located just behind Kathmandu's Durbar Square is Thamel, a bustling area of shops and markets. It's best reached by taxi or a walking tour to visit the Buddhist and Hindu temples around the district. The Shravasti Temple, just north of Thamel, is home to a long line of praying pilgrims. Dedicated to Vishnu, the Sravasti is one of the largest Hindu temples in Nepal, and provides a perfect introduction to the wonders of the Himalayas. Close by is the Kangchenjunga, one of the tallest peaks in the world and at 7,598 m the second highest in Asia after Everest. It can be climbed via an alternative southern route that follows along Nepal's high Himalayan plateau, and passes by Monju Tak, a small and remote temple which belongs to the Bon tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The cultural riches of Thamel don't end here. South of Thamel is the New Road, Kathmandu's small, shady tree-lined boulevard, where several shops sell Indian wares, such as clay and pottery, gems, sculptures and fashions. More shopping can be had in Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site 8 km (five miles) away.

Phewa Lake

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Phewa Lake: en.wikipedia.org

Set in a volcanic landscape of ever-green mountains in the far west of the country, the Phewa Lake area includes the country's most spectacular national parks and wilderness areas and offers great hiking. It is home to the traditional Newar people, whose colourful culture mixes with Western influences. A visit to one of the nearby towns, Kathmandu, gives a great introduction to the culture of Nepal, and how the country is adjusting to new traditions and the advent of tourism. Key locations include the UNESCO-listed Phewa Tiger Reserve, home to an amazing variety of wildlife including Bengal tiger, Himalayan black bear, a variety of deer, jungle cat, sambar and wild pig. Other parks include Tiger Hill and Terai forests, which have a mixed variety of species including antelope, rare primates, marbled murrelets, woodpeckers and dragonflies.

Patan

Photo of Lalitpur, Nepal
Lalitpur, Nepal: en.wikipedia.org

Located some 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu, Patan has always been a minor city, overshadowed by its neighbors: the capital city of Kathmandu to the north and the Indian city of Varanasi to the south. Patan is best known as a center for craftsmanship, particularly for its silver and bronze arts. Among the Patan buildings worth a visit are the 17th-century Mahaboudha Temple, housing the old Buddha images; the Gandhara Mahavihar or monastic university, dating from 1133 AD; and the Ajit Harischandra Temple (also known as the Buddha Vihar), housing the 28 life-size statues of Siddhartha Gautama. Patan has its own airport and is a major stop on Nepal's inter-city bus network, with regular buses running between Patan and Kathmandu.

Bhaktapur

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Bhaktapur: en.wikipedia.org

Nepal's capital city, Bhaktapur (pronounced Bah-kah-poor) has a history going back over 1,000 years. With its spacious pathways and green parks, Bhaktapur is a pleasant town to wander around, watching the Hindu and Tibetan temples being built as they've done since the 16th century. Bhaktapur's sole attraction of note is the 10th-century Patan Dhoka, a painted wooden pagoda on the banks of the Bagmati River, which is packed with gods and sacred icons. Its intricate carvings depict Hindu mythology as well as scenes from the royal lives of the Kings of Nepal. A short distance west of Patan Dhoka is Mero Park, which is home to an array of traditional Hindu and Buddhist shrines. A visit to this park includes a visit to a prayer tower, and you can buy a drink from the street hawkers. Here, as in most other parts of the city, religious offerings of incense and flowers are given to the local deities.

Swayambhunath

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Swayambhunath: en.wikipedia.org

Swayambhunath is the name given to the tallest stupa in the world. It stands at a height of 195 feet, as shown by the Koraput pillar at the base of the structure. Over the past several years, the stupa has undergone a restoration project to preserve it. Stairways are now fixed around the base of the stupa and, most importantly, it is now accessible without any walking difficulties. At the base of the structure is the Sri Chakra Mantra Temple, with its unusual designs and symbolism. On the far eastern side of the stupa is a viewing platform offering a stunning view over the nearby Kathmandu Valley. Swayambhunath and the nearby Pashupatinath, which is approximately 5 kilometers away, are accessible by road.

The Kathmandu Valley

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Kathmandu Valley: en.wikipedia.org

The Kathmandu Valley (Dharan), 15 miles west of Nepal's capital, is one of the world's best-preserved ancient cities. A maze of narrow, winding streets crammed with temples and palaces, the valley was known to the world as the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the central figure of Buddhism. Its fascinating Hindu ruins were first uncovered by Western archaeologists in the 18th century. The town of Kathmandu itself is a chaotic place, but in the valley there are small villages with a slower pace. A visit to the Thamel and Durbar Squares is a must, as is a walk along the Budhi Gandaki River in the jungle-filled foothills west of town. Also worth a visit is Swayambhunath, a famous stupa that stands over the Bagmati River.