Nepal in 3 weeks: travel itinerary + tips

by suitcasestoriesbe
Nepal travel itinerary and tips

Namaste! If you are planning a trip to Nepal, you’ve come to the right place! From jungles and impressive wildlife to charming little villages, amazing landscapes, and ancient temples. Here’s the ultimate travel itinerary for Nepal in 3 weeks including the best things to do, our favorite places to stay, recommendations for restaurants and tips on how to get around. Spending three weeks in Nepal is the perfect amount of time to explore the country, do some short treks in the mountains and visit the cultural highlights. Are you ready? Let’s go…

Tip: if you are traveling solo or would like to join an organized trip, definitely check this website. They have really great adventure tours through Nepal. Super cool!

Read also: Must do: Poon Hill Trek in Nepal

Nepal in 3 weeks travel itinerary + tips

Kathmandu

When you go to Nepal, you’ll be flying into Kathmandu, which is Nepal’s largest city and capital. With a mix of temples, dust and honking traffic, it’s the perfect place to start your trip and wander around the small streets. You hate it or you’ll love it, we loved it! Our favorite area to stay was Thamel, the backpacker’s hub of Nepal. Here you find plenty of cozy restaurants, small souvenir shops and it has a great atmosphere. Kathmandu is the perfect base to explore all the nearby highlights, the cultural sites, visit the ancient temples or start your trek to Everest Base Camp.

Recommended stay

  • 2-4 days

Where to stay

Things to do

  • Visit the Swayambhunath Stupa or the Monkey Temple (entrance fee Rs 200 per person + Rs 400 for the taxi ride from Thamel, 5-minute drive)
  • Witness open cremations at the Pashupatinath Temple, the famous and sacred Hindu temple (we didn’t go inside the temple, but if you like do it there is an entrance fee of Rs 1000 per person)
  • Go early in the morning to Boudhanath Stupa, one of the holiest sites in the world (entrance fee Rs 400 per person)
  • Have a yummy breakfast or coffee afterward with great views on Boudhanath Stupa at Himalayan Java Coffee Bar
  • Visit Kathmandu Durbar Square and wander around the small streets like the old hippie Freak Street (entrance fee for Durbar Square is between Rs 800-1000 per person)
  • Take a day trip to amazing UNESCO World Heritage City of Bakhtapur (we stayed here 2 days/1 night which we highlight at the end of this itinerary, but if you’re short in time we would recommend going here by day trip from Kathmandu, entrance fee Rs 1500 per person to enter the historic part + Rs 1000 for the taxi ride from Kathmandu)
  • Wander around Thamel, Kathmandu’s backpacker’s district. It’s the place to be to enjoy the many cozy bars and restaurants or to find some extra trekking equipment

Where to eat

Note: all places we mention below are located in Thamel, which is also the best area to stay in Kathmandu

  • OR2K (our favorite lunch spot, a vegetarian restaurant with lots of vegan options, cozy atmosphere and a wonderful place to chill out. Fav picks: Alice Buddha Bowl, hummus plate, and the smoothie bowls)
  • Sarangi (cheap fresh and healthy food, wide vegetarian & vegan menu, MSG-free, and a cozy rooftop terrace. Fav picks: quinoa salad, hummus plate, vegetable curry, and the farmer’s plate)
  • Mitho (our favorite dinner spot,
  • New Orleans (great atmosphere with live music, wide menu with more western food, vegetarian-friendly. Fav picks: vegetable paste

How to get in Kathmandu

  • From Kathmandu International Airport, by taxi, 30 minutes, prices are around Rs 700-750/one-way
  • If you find a local taxi on the street outside the airport, prices are around Rs 500/one-way

Pokhara

After a few days of sightseeing and exploring, it’s great to arrive in the peaceful town of Pokhara. It’s located about 7-8 hours from Kathmandu by bus. Pokhara is the perfect place to chill out and soak up the incredible mountain views. Take a walk around the lake, rent a kayak or go paragliding, there are many great activities to choose from. But most importantly, Pokhara is the place where all travelers go before starting one of the amazing treks in the Annapurna Region. We chose to do the 5-day Mardi Himal trek and the 4-day Poon Hill trek. If you have more time, you could also consider doing the famous 16-day Annapurna Circuit.

Reads also: Must do: Poon Hill Trek in Nepal

Recommended stay

  • 3-5 days

Where to stay

Things to do

  • 4D/3N Poon Hill Trek (trek prices are around $250 per person incl accommodation, meals, permits, guide & transport)
  • 6D/5N Mardi Himal Trek (trek can be done in 5-7 days depending on how fast you go or the time you want to spend in the mountains, prices are around $350 per person incl accommodation, permits, guide, porter & transport)
  • Go paragliding! (30-45 minute flight, prices are around $70-90 per person incl transport, equipment, pilot & photo material afterward)
  • Watch sunrise/sunset over the Himalayas from the Sarangkot Viewpoint (entry fee of around Rs25-100 per person, we had this included in our trek and stopped along the way)
  • Have a relaxing walk along the Phewa Lake and take a healthy break at The Juicery Cafe
  • Rent a kayak and paddle on the beautiful Phewa Lake at the foot of the Annapurna Mountains
  • Hike up Shanti Stupa or also known as the World Peace Pagoda, a Buddhist monument located on Ananda Hill (2,5 hike which you can do on your own, take a boat in Pokhara town to cross Phewa Lake and start your hike from the opposite side of the lake, prices for a boat are around Rs 700 per person/one-way, 10 minutes)
  • Get some extra clothes/equipment from one of the many trekking stores in Pokhara town and hop into one of the many great restaurants afterward

Where to eat

  • OR2K (great chill-out spot to have lunch or dinner, views over the lake and terrace with a lovely cozy atmosphere, fav picks: buddha bowl and vegetable pasta)
  • Umbrella Cafe (lovely vegan and vegetarian restaurant, great menu with lots of yummy healthy food, fav picks: kombucha, vegan platter, vegan pizza, all their salad bowls)
  • Little Windows (absolutely love this place, great views overlooking Pokhara town, wonderful vegan/vegetarian food and super fresh, fav picks: green juices, hummus platter, buddha bowl,
  • The Juicery Cafe (wonderful setting at the lake, local vegetarian/vegan restaurant with lots of healthy options like cold-pressed juices, buddha bowls, organic coffee, homemade vegan desserts)
  • Moondance Restaurant (more expensive prices compared to the other restaurants but beautiful interior and cozy atmosphere)
  • Friendly Cafe (a cheap local restaurant with lovely staff and amazing traditional food, fav picks: vegetable dal bhat and curries)

How to get in Pokhara

  • From Kathmandu, by tourist bus (we booked it via our hotel), 7-9 hours, prices are around Rs 800 per person
  • From Kathmandu you can also take a short domestic flight, 25 minutes, prices are around $80 per person (check Skyscanner for the best prices and options)

Chitwan National Park

Time to relax! Chitwan National Park is a beautiful national park to go on a safari that very few people actually know about. It used to be a private hunting playground for Nepal’s royal family (until 1950), but now it’s a place where you can spot some of the last remaining Bengal tigers, leopards and Indian one-horned rhinos. We spotted several rhinos from very close and much other wildlife like crocodiles, elephants, and deer during a game drive and morning jungle walk. Must do when you go to Nepal!

But the thing that made our whole safari experience complete, was our stay in the beautiful Sapana Village Lodge. Every morning with sunrise we saw the resident elephants grazing and having a bath in the river next to the lodge. So magical!

Recommended stay

  • 1-3 days

Where to stay

Things to do

Note: All prices listed below are organized by Sapana Village Lodge + to enter Chitwan NP you’ll need to pay  a permit of Rs 2000 ($17) per person which is valid a whole day

  • Go on a jeep safari ($240 for a half-day or $295 for a full day + permit)
  • Visit a Tharu village, who are the original tribe of this region ($8 per person incl guide, 2-hour visit, no need a permit for this)
  • Enjoy a morning jungle walk where you will spot rhinos and other wildlife ($45 per person, incl breakfast picknick + permit)
  • Stay a night in the Jungle Tower inside Chitwan NP ($75 per person incl dinner and guide + permit)

Where to eat

  • We ate in the restaurant of Sapana Village Lodge which serves the best healthy and fresh vegetarian food (Best vegetable pasta ever, incredible views over the park, romantic setting)

How to get in Chitwan National Park

  • From Pokhara, by tourist bus (we booked the Mountain Overland Bus), 5-hour drive, prices are around Rs 750 per person

Bhaktapur

After Chitwan, we returned back to Kathmandu for 1 night and took the bus to Bhaktapur the morning after. Bhaktapur is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a beautiful city full of ancient culture and art. Definitely worth to stay one night or two. When you walk through the small streets, you feel like you’re in some kind of a museum. Stunning architecture, old temples, traditional squares, and lovely handicrafts. One of our most favorite places in Nepal!

Recommended stay

  • 1-3 days

Where to stay

Things to do

  • Visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (entrance fee Rs 1500 per person, you can re-entry the temple a week-long + a part of this fee is used to fund repairs following the earthquake in 2015)
  • Walk along the 55 Window Palace located on Bhaktapur Durbar Square which offers great photo opportunities
  • If you’re into art, be sure to visit the National Art Gallery too (entrance fee is Rs 150 per person incl all three exhibits)
  • Stroll around Pottery Square and Dattatreya (Temple) Square (our favorites!)
  • Go early to the Taleju Temple and sit on the steps to watch the hustle and the local daily life
  • Enjoy the best mountain views in the afternoon with a coffee or cocktail from the rooftop terrace of The Garuda Bar

Where to eat

  • The Garuda Bar (wonderful terrace overlooking the old city of Bhaktapur and stunning sceneries of the mountains, a bit more expensive menu but a great choice of cocktails and bites)
  • Peaceful Restaurant (a local restaurant with great vegetarian options, cozy atmosphere to have dinner)

How to get in Bhaktapur

  • From Kathmandu, by taxi, 45-minute drive, prices are around Rs 1000/one-way
  • With the local bus, it’s a bit more challenging, as you need to take 2 buses, prices are around Rs 130 per person

Nagarkot

Last but not least, be sure to add Nagarkot on your list! Nagarkot is located on the rim of Kathmandu valley (2195m) and famous for its breathtaking panoramic views. You’ll need to be lucky with the weather (what we didn’t have) but it’s still a lovely place to do some short hikes. We wish we could have stayed longer here…

Recommended stay

  • 1-3 days

Where to stay

Things to do

  • Take one of the many hiking trails or you could even walk from Kathmandu to Nagarkot
  • Watch the sunrise from Hotel Country Villa and sunset from the market place (where the bus arrives)

Where to eat

  • We had lunch and dinner in our hotel Country Villa, but you could also easily enter here as a guest. They have a really nice and wide menu for lunch and dinner and you get insanely beautiful views included!

How to get in Nagarkot

  • From Bhaktapur, by local bus, 1-hour drive leaves every hour, prices are around Rs 55 per person
  • You could also go by taxi, which is more expensive, prices are around Rs 3000/one-way

Now you’ve read the ultimate 3-week itinerary for Nepal with all the best things to do + tips, you might be ready to go. Following websites we highly recommend, can help you plan your trip:

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