I now live on the Gold Coast in Queensland and love the lifestyle here. For as long as I can remember, travel has always been something I wanted to do. When I was 16 I officially caught the “travel bug”. I travelled with my cousins to Fiji for a two week holiday and we loved every minute of it.
When the Fiji holiday was coming to an end I felt this overwhelming sadness and didn’t want to leave. From then on, I knew that I wanted to keep exploring the world and experience more destinations like Fiji. One destination that I keep coming back to is the Himalayan country of Nepal.
Eight Incredible Visits to Nepal
The first time I visited Nepal was in 2009. To be honest, it wasn’t somewhere I ever thought about visiting. My best friend Bianca and I were planning a three month trip, volunteering in Asia and then going to Europe for a holiday. I wanted to go to India and Bianca wanted to visit Nepal.
We found a great volunteering project in Kathmandu with a company called Projects Abroad. Being in our early 20s and with limited travel experience, we thought volunteering with a company would be best for us.
Since 2009 I have been fortunate to go back to Nepal a further seven times. I still spend most of my time in Nepal volunteering and helping young children. Although, this is no longer through the Projects Abroad company.
Over the years I have met so many wonderful people who have led me to assist an NGO called In Giving We Receive. I find these children so inspiring and happily spend my time with them. But I have also spent time exploring Nepal, including a seven day trek to Annapurna Base Camp.
My Favourite Places in Nepal
Over the years my trips to Nepal have revolved around volunteering in schools, charity run after-school programs and spending time getting to know the children. Nepalese people have stolen my heart. I would go as far as to say that these experiences in Nepal have changed my life.
The time I spend in Nepal can vary, usually between one to two months at a time. I love to have plenty of time with the kids but also time to explore more of Nepal. I love exploring Nepal and discovering unique experiences.
Some of my favourite places in Nepal are Thamel, Annapurna Base Camp, Pokhara, Chitwan National Park and Nagarkot. If I had to narrow it down, though, my favourite spots would be Thamel and Annapurna Base Camp.
Thamel is the tourist hub in Kathmandu. Its streets are lined with colourful shops, small hotels and cute cafes. Even when the streets are busy, I always find walking around so relaxing. And then Annapurna Base Camp is just beautiful. It’s crazy being surrounded by the snow-capped Himalayas.
Top 10 Things To Do in Nepal
Two things that every traveller really needs to experience in Nepal is the culture and seeing the Himalayas. So all my suggestions will involve those:
1. Wander around the Narrow Streets of Thamel
Thamel is one of the most authentic areas of Kathmandu where you can experience the real Nepal. Not only is this a tourist hub where backpackers, luxury travellers and Chinese tourists flock but also a place to trace the history of this great city on a walking tour or just by following your nose.
2. Visit the Holy Pashupatinath Temple
The spectacular Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu was built in the 5th century and is now the largest temple complex in Nepal. It stretches from one side of the Bagmati River to the other. Visit this holy temple to discover one of the most important religious sites in Asia for the devotees of Shiva.
3. Marvel at the Buddhist Boudhanath Stupa
The Boudhanath Stupa is one of the top places to visit in Kathmandu, especially for those who love Buddhist culture. Construction on this stupa started after AD 600 when the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo, converted to Buddhism. The stupa represents the path towards enlightenment.
4. Discover the Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple)
Another holy temple in Kathmandu, the Swayambhunath Stupa is otherwise referred to as “Monkey Temple” as it became a bit of a tongue twister for visitors to pronounce. There is no denying the tranquility and spirituality of this stupa which overlooks parts of the Kathmandu Valley.
5. Tour the Narayanhiti Palace Museum
Join a tour of the Narayanhiti Palace which was once the residence of the King of Nepal. Explore the many rooms of the palace as a guide leads the way. The 52 rooms of the palace, otherwise known as “sadan”, are named after the 75 districts of Nepal and were built in Victorian styles.
6. Trek the Incredible Annapurna Base Camp
Many people come to Nepal to trek through the Himalayas and you simply have to experience these mountains on your visit. Trekking is what Nepal is famous for. There are so many different trails that suit all abilities. I trekked to Annapurna Base Camp and loved it. I highly recommend going!
7. Spend a Couple of Quality Days in Pokhara
Pokhara is a charming lakeside town located next to some of the biggest mountains in the world. It’s the perfect place to relax after your trekking adventures or time in the busy Kathmandu. But if you still seek adventure then you can go hiking, rafting and paragliding in Pokhara.
8. Watch the Sunset over the Mountains in Nagarkot
Nagarkot is another small town but much closer to Kathmandu. Here you can enjoy a short trip from the capital and discover a place with some of the best sunset views over the Himalayas. On a clear day you can look out at the Annapurnas all the way to Kanchenjunga on the Sikkim border.
9. Hike to the Oldest Palace of Nepal in Gorkha
Another destination full of history where you can visit the oldest royal palace of Nepal known as the Durbar. This was the original palace of the Shah dynasty which is still well maintained to this day. Discover sweeping views on your visit as the palace is perched majestically on a hill.
10. See the Wildlife of Chitwan National Park
This is the ultimate place to see some of Nepal’s best wildlife. Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, Chitwan National Park is one of the last ‘terai’ regions of Nepal and India. Here you can discover a lush landscape rich in flora and fauna. See the single-horned Asiatic rhino and Bengal tiger.
Wonderful Local People of Nepal
Most of my trips have been with my friend or husband. I haven’t spent much time in Nepal alone but I don’t think solos would run into many issues. Locals are so friendly and people in Kathmandu speak English. Whenever I need directions or suggestions, the Nepalese people help.
I feel lucky to have met so many people over the years. Everyone has such a genuine and caring soul, and they are eager to learn more about me and where I come from. I have even met shopkeepers in Thamel who somehow remembered me when I arrived back a year later and invited me for dinner.
For anyone who is planning to visit Nepal, I suggest you take some time during your trip to meet the locals and learn about their incredible culture.
Awesome Food Scene of Nepal
I love the food in Nepal and over the years the variety has really increased. Everyone definitely needs to try Nepal’s national dish, Dal Bhat. If you are lucky enough to have dinner at a local’s home this is what you will probably be served. But be aware that lots of local food can get quite spicy.
Need to Know Before you Go
I very rarely pre-book accommodation in Nepal because there are so many options, especially in Thamel. I usually like to visit the hotel first so I can see the room and often reception will give you a better price if you show up in person rather than booking online. I highly recommend this approach.
Nepal is a country rich in culture and tradition. I think everyone visiting should respect this. I always dress conservatively – having my shoulders down to my knees covered. If you are visiting Hindu temples, you should observe the signs. Many temples have areas where non-Hindu’s can’t go.
The best way to greet locals is by placing your palms together in the prayer position and saying namaste. You will meet many wonderful people here, experience incredible nature and have memories that will last a lifetime. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy visiting this special country.