The first time I visited Pokhara, I absolutely knew that I was going to come back. The lake and mountain views were enough to make me fall in love, never mind the charms of the friendly people, vibey restaurants and cafes, and the abundance of things to do and see. And as I predicted, less than two years later I came back to do my Yoga Teacher Training at Pokhara Yoga School and spend some more time in my favourite place in Nepal.
In Lakeside, the tourist district that spreads along the Phewa Lake, there are various eateries that make a variety of Nepalese, Asian and Western foods. Whether you’re travelling with a group or solo, there is plenty to eat, see and do around here, so I’ve made a list of my Top Ten Things to do in Pokhara to give you some ideas of how you can spend your time in this magical little city.
10. Eat momos and drink chai
So first things first: food! While there are many tantalising restaurant options in Lakeside, I suggest you try Nepal’s #1 comfort food - momos - first. I usually wouldn’t go looking for these Nepalese dumplings on the main tourist road, though. When it comes to eating a favourite dish of the local people, I think finding the spots tucked away in side streets are often the best (and cheapest!) Momos are usually filled with ‘buff’ (buffalo meat) or vegetables, and come with a spicy sauce. If you want to treat yourself like a local, then wash down your dumplings with a cup of sweet masala chai (spiced black tea with milk).
9. Go boating on Phewa Lake
If you like a bit of exercise you can rent a wooden boat and paddle yourself around this stunning lake (bring some friends in case your arms get tired!) Or, if you prefer to relax and let someone else do the work, then there is the option to rent a boat with someone to do the rowing for you.
Some spots around the lake you can visit include; a small waterfall and the Barahi Hindu Temple on an island on the lake. Otherwise you can just enjoy being out on the water, and if the weather is right you can find a nice quiet spot somewhere along the shore to take a swim.
8. Hike to the World Peace Pagoda
Another must-see that can be accessed by rowing across Phewa Lake from Lakeside is the World Peace Pagoda, AKA Shanti Stupa. This Buddhist monument and spiritual site can be seen on top of the hilly ridge that runs around the lake. When accessing it from the lake shore by boat, it usually takes about 45 minutes to hike up through the forest up to the pagoda. There you’ll find panoramic views and a chance to bask in the ambiance of this monument to world peace.
7. Go tandem paragliding
If boating and hiking monuments of peace doesn’t sound like enough action for you, then perhaps paragliding will give you the adrenaline boost you crave. Pokhara is a haven for paragliders, and there are countless companies in Lakeside that offer tandem flights. And wow, nothing quite compares to the experience of seeing the world from above as you soar through the air. From so high up, everything down below looks like a little toy town that has come to life. On a clear day you’ll see the Himalayas, but even if the visibility is not completely clear you’ll still be mesmerised as you look down upon the lake and farmlands down below. Most paragliding pilots are also happy to do some acrobatic moves up in the air if you need an extra thrill.
6. Explore by scooter
Another adventurous option is to rent a scooter and ride wherever your heart desires! You can explore villages and farmlands all around Phewa Lake, and beyond. There’s also another lake about a half-hour drive from Lakeside district, Begnas Lake, which is much less touristy and off the beaten track. But who knows what you could discover if you have a scooter with a full tank of gas?
5. Visit temples and monasteries
If you are in search of solace or want to get a glimpse into the more spiritual aspects of life in Pokhara, make a trip to one of the city’s temples, monasteries or shrines. Within walking distance of Infinity Resort there are at least two such sites. One is the Pema Dechenling Monastery, with its big golden Buddha statue that watches over the lake serenely. Another is Kunga Dorje Sanag Terling Monastery, outside of Happy Village, which is located about 20 minutes walk away from the resort. Remember to wear more modest clothes when you go to the temples and monasteries, and cover up your legs and shoulders.
4. Chill in a hammock by the lake
When all you need is a lazy day to chill with your companions or to read a book, there are dozens of restaurants and cafes in Lakeside that have a hammock, or comfy cushions waiting for you. Two examples are Krazy Gecko and Juicery Cafe. Many places have a fairly wide selection of juices, smoothies, coffees, teas and other drinks to order. In the busier months of spring and summer time, you can meet many travellers in these types of hangout spots, but of course the locals are here all year around and are always keen to have a chat with a friendly face.
3. Listen to live music
You might be surprised to find out that oldschool rock music is a big deal in Nepal. In general, people here love to sing and play music whenever they get the chance, which means there are plenty of talented musicians around. To find out about where you can catch performances, just ask staff at local cafes or check out the Pokhara Noticeboard Facebook group.
2. Watch the sun rise or set at Sarangkot
About 10km away from Lakeside lies the village of Sarangkot. It’s higher up than the main parts of Pokhara and if you go there by foot from Infinity Resort it takes around two hours to hike. From Sarangkot you’ll get unbelievable views of Pokhara and surrounds, and of course, the majestic Himalayas in all their snow-topped glory.
1. Rent a bicycle and explore
Bicycles may not be the fastest way of getting around, but they sure are faster than walking and they let you make quick stops to take a closer look at things along your way. A bicycle will also give you more opportunities to stop and talk to locals, who are really the best source of information if you’d like to get to know a place better. Besides, when you have free time in Lakeside, there’s no need to rush around. The best way to enjoy it is to take your time, and let this part of the city reveal its magic to you as you cruise along the streets. All you need to do is step outside and open your eyes.