This is Part I of a two part series about my trip to Pokhara. Stay tuned for Part II 🙂
Everyone, including our travel agent who booked our tickets, asked us, “Why in the world would you want to go to Nepal for a holiday?”. Some guys also suggested that we should rather visit Sri Lanka or Thailand. Their reason: it’s cool these days :p
Having splurged on our honeymoon in Maldives, we were looking for a budget-friendly yet exciting option. Something which would not rip us off completely and would also leave us in awe. For some reason, I’ve always wanted to visit places that are not cliché. I mean, there was a time when the whole world was flocking over to Dubai. Then came a time when everyone would go to Thailand. Nowadays, Maldives is a popular destination. I’m not saying that I don’t find it cool to see these places. All I’m saying is that even though all of these countries are on my dream destinations list, I still feel like there are places out there that haven’t been explored much. These are the places that have immense potential to be something big, but haven’t gotten the chance yet and neither do we hear about them that often.
Pokhara – Nepal’s Treasure
Pokhara is a mirror to the Himalayas. – Lonely Planet
Pokhara, being one of the largest cities in Nepal, attracts several tourists from the world. Home to the popular Phewa Tal Lake, the city is perhaps the most scenic attraction and is known as the tourist capital of Nepal. A few miles away from the valley, the great Annapurna mountain range of the Himalayas is located, which is why Pokhara is the starting point for many trekkers from around the globe.
Pokhara is a nice, cosy city, almost opposite to what Kathmandu is (no offence!). I feel that it’s Nepal’s treasure, this city, because not only this place has been blessed with breathtakingly gorgeous views, but also has tons of activities that can be done here.
Getting to Pokhara is easy peasey lemon squeezy. Nepal visa is on-arrival and free for members of SAARC countries visiting for the first time. If you’re from Pakistan, then you can fly through an international carrier like Qatar Airways or Fly Dubai to Kathmandu. (I’ve blogged about the experience, its pro’s and con’s etc in an earlier post. Check it out!). From Kathmandu you can take a local flight to Pokhara which is only 30 minutes long and would cost you around USD 112 or cheaper (round trip, prices may vary later on).
Currently, there are three local airlines that fly during day time to Pokhara: Yeti Airlines, Buddha Air and Simrik Airlines. Because the flights operate only during the day, therefore if your flight reaches Kathmandu in the afternoon, evening or night, then you would have to spend the night in Kathmandu and take the flight to Pokhara the next day. I would recommend that you stay at least one day in Kathmandu and give the busy, crowded city at least one chance to surprise you with its rich cultural aura 🙂 You can read more about stuff to do in Kathmandu here.
Also, let me warn you that there are delays in domestic flights within Nepal, so keep lots of time margin in between so as to avoid missing any flight. Another thing that I’d like you to know beforehand is that the international and domestic terminals at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu are in separate buildings and there is a 3-5 minute walk in between the two terminals, so you can imagine why I am stressing upon the fact that you must keep some time margin in between flights.
Pokhara Airport, on the other hand, is the tiniest of all airports I have ever been to. It’s like, you walk out of your airplane, get your baggage from a man handling luggage, and literally just walk out of the airport onto the street. Also it is very cute in its own way 😀
Alternatively, if you want to save money (and I don’t know any other reason someone would go for this option), you can reach Pokhara via a 6 hour long bus ride subject to traffic jams 🙂
Accommodation in Pokhara is as convenient as ever. I would recommend that you find a place on Trip Advisor which is near to the lakeside if you are looking forward to be closer to all the major food outlets and shops. However, if you are looking for a place that is nestled in between the mountains, somewhere secluded then you can look into the resorts and other types of lodgings available a little further from the main lakeside.
I would highly recommend Hotel Middlepath and Spa for a stay closer to the market and lakeside. It is a very cute, cosy and clean B&B property located on the Middlepath Street almost 2-3 minutes walk from the main lakeside road.
They have clean and decent rooms, serve pretty satisfactory breakfast, have got beautiful outdoor courtyards for you to chill out with a book and chai, and offer spa services as well!
If you ask them, they would also be happy to arrange any activities or taxis for you. Also, it is quite budget friendly so you won’t have to sell your kidneys to pay for the stay.
We stayed at the Hotel Middlepath for about 5 nights, had a great time, spent almost every day walking around the city, sight seeing, doing tours and adventure activities, after which we moved to The Pavilions Himalaya for 3 nights to relax, recover and get pampered. I have done a detailed review about both properties here and here, so you can check that out!
If you are looking for an option situated somewhere quieter and remote, having more of an isolated, natural and in-the-middle-of-heaven kind of feeling, then The Pavilions Himalaya, Raniban Retreat, Fishtail Lodge, Pokhara Grande and The Fulbari Resort could be options worth exploring.
During the whole stay, my favorite part of the day always used to be breakfast, lunch and dinner 😀 Being a huge foodie that I am, I absolutely L O V E D Nepal’s traditional food! From eating at roadside cafes to high-end restaurants, we experienced it all, and were stunned by every flavor that we had.
If you’re at the lakeside, there are so many cafes lined up on the Lakeside Road, that frankly, you would be overwhelmed by so many options! My most favorite, go-to place each and everyday for chai was Bamboo Bar and Cafe located along the lakeside. They had the best ginger tea and the most therapeutic views of the lake!
While we are discussing restaurants with gorgeous views, I must mention this heaven-like place call Boomerang Cafe also located along the lakeside. Eating your lunch/dinner has never been so soothing, just look at the natural decor, the idea of including the element of nature in every nook and corner. It just makes the whole experience magical, no?
If you’re into local food, you must try the vegetable thaalis at Punjabi Restaurant located at the intersection of Lakeside Road and Middlepath Street.
Once we had our dinner at our hotel (Middlepath), and we were served this scrumptious combo of Veg Pakoday and Dal Fry.
Also tried this fancy place called Or2k Restaurant at the Lakeside one day, and loved their fried rice and vegetable thaali!
The best thing about Or2k was their outdoor sitting area having a oh-so-serene view of the lake and the hills. We instantly fell in love with the scenery!
One handy pointer to Muslims: If you’re looking for Halal food in Pokhara, then your options are limited. There are only two places serving halal food, and we tried only one ’cause the other one was a bit far from our hotel. The one closer to the lakeside is called ‘Pokhara Halal Food Land’, and my god the food there is ahmazingggg! Whenever we felt drained from all the physical activities and adventures, and needed massive food, we would run to this place and eat like giants. Lol.
But the best food that I had in Pokhara, that I feel really touched me, was this yummy plate of Sel Roti and Vegetable Curry and its backstory: We had just landed from our Paragliding adventure, and on our landing site there was this old local lady who had set up a tiny stall and was serving this delicious traditional dish for ONLY NPR 50!
The roti or bread is made with rice flour and the curry was a delicious mix of potatoes, beans and lentils. A wholesome meal and finger lickin’ good honestly. If you really want to connect with a place and its people, you must try their basic, unlavish, staple food. You won’t find this in lavish cafes or restaurants, rather on the streets from local vendors and sellers. Indeed, the best food is street food. Something that struck a string in my heart when we bought this plate was what the woman who was selling this said to us: “Agar mazay ka samhaj ke khain ge tou mazay ka hi lagega.” (If you eat food with the intention of it being delicious then you will find it delicious) She was right. Food is for the soul, food should be eaten with a certain attention and mindset, giving it the respect that it truly deserves. Food is not something that should be eaten in front of the TV halfheartedly. Rather, it is something to be rejoiced and cherished with each and every bite. ❤️
To be continued…
 The Pavilions Himalaya is 25-30 minute long bumpy ride away from the main lakeside at Pokhara. You only choose this option when you just want to stay at the resort and do not wish to commute to the city centre that often.
 Raniban Retreat is a beautiful resort. The only drawback, is that you have to climb around 500 (?) steps to reach there. So obviously no one would want to do that daily. Again, only go for this option if you want to stay at the resort at all times.