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10 unique day trips in Nepal to spice up your holiday

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micro-adventures, 1-day hikes and unique day trips in Nepal

Nepal may be known as the land of epic treks and adventures, but you’re always likely to find yourself with the odd spare day, however precisely you like to plan your holidays.

Sure, you can spend the day strolling around Kathmandu or Pokhara with a map, stopping to refuel with a momo every now and again, or you can choose something that shows you a different side of Nepal and its culture.

Here’s a rundown of 10 of our favourite unique day trips in Nepal, from Kathmandu to Pokhara and beyond;

All tours listed are operated by our partners at Royal Mountain Travel – one of Nepal’s leading locally-based tour operators. Read more about who they are and the good they do for Nepal’s communities and environment here.

Experiences starting from Kathmandu

1. Cooking in Kathmandu

Dinner at the Kathmandu cooking class

Nepal’s culture is largely built around food, and sitting down for a meal with a local family is a great way to get to know the people. This is an experience where you’ll also get involved in the preparation and cooking, so you can understand the flavours and techniques involved, and maybe take a couple of traditional recipes back home with you…

Your host family will pick you up from wherever you’re staying in Kathmandu and take you to the local market, where you’ll buy groceries and spices for lunch. You’ll learn about the ingredients and the different spices that make the food taste so unique.

Dal Bhat is the national dish of Nepal, and the one you’re likely to be making. It’s a little different wherever you go, but the fundamentals are the same – steamed rice, a lentil dal and whatever pickles, breads and side dishes the family want to add. You’ll be helping prepare and cook the various ingredients, before taking your seat at the table for a delicious family dinner.

* available to book most days as a group tour via Viator (est. $45pp), or contact Royal Mountain Travel for a private experience (est. $55pp for 2 people).

2. Temples and Stupas of Kathmandu Valley

A golden stupa in Nepal

Nepal’s history, culture and architecture have been shaped over centuries by religion, and by ancient kings devoted to Gods and Goddesses. On a private day tour, you can see a lot of sites in not a lot of time, plus you’ll have a local guide to explain the stories behind the places, and a comfortable ride to and from your hotel.

You’ll visit some of holiest sites in the Kathmandu Valley, giving you the chance to take in magnificent temples and stupas, and to gain an insight into Nepal’s past. The main highlights are Pashupatinath, Boudhanath and Patan Durbar Square, but you’ll also visit some super-local and lesser-known sites along the way.

* available to book most days as a group tour via Viator (est. $35pp), or contact Royal Mountain Travel for a private experience (est. $85pp for 2 people).

3. Kathmandu Valley Community Day Hike

Signpost on the Kathmandu Valley Community Day Hike

Take a day away from the city to explore the diverse landscapes and traditional communities of the Kathmandu Valley. Over this 10km route, you’ll traverse the hills which have always shielded Kathmandu and the ancient capitals of Nepal, looking down on civilisation on one side whilst enjoying magnificent views of the Himalayas on the other.

Along the way, you’ll pass through indigenous communities like the Tamang, who have lived around the valley for centuries and maintain many of their traditions and way of life. The hike ends in Panauti – a beautiful old Newari town – where you’ll enjoy a freshly prepared lunch at a Community Homestay, and can get to know these innovative families a little better.

* available to book most days as a group tour via Viator (est. $65pp), or contact Royal Mountain Travel for a private experience (est. $79pp for 2 people).

4. Panoramic Panauti - Cycling Tour

Panauti bike tour

Started by 3 young guides from the community, the Panauti Bike Station offer cycling tours to show you the ancient towns and beautiful scenery in this peaceful part of the Kathmandu Valley.

After driving out of Kathmandu, you’ll ride from the historic town of Panauti and into the lush countryside, where you’ll see sweeping green valleys and rivers, as well as having views of the distant Himalayan mountains. You’ll visit the picturesque old villages of Sunthan and Khopasi, passing through orange and silk farms along the way, as well as visiting the nearby hydropower station and enjoying some freshly-made Masala tea.

Depending on how fast you go, the tour should take 4 hours and is a relatively easy ride. You’ll be accompanied by a local guide, and will be given a well-maintained mountain bike with a helmet.

The Panauti Bike Station provide opportunities and training for local youngsters, and promote sustainable tourism in the area. It’s a great way to see local life this part of the valley, whilst helping an enterprise which really aims to do some good for its community.

* available to book most days through Royal Mountain Travel (est. $60pp).

5. Changu Narayan to Nagarkot Hike

view of the Nagarkot valley covered in cloud

30km east of Kathmandu, Nagarkot is a famous old hill town, best known for it’s views of 5 of the 10 highest mountains on the planet; Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8516m), Cho Oyu (8201m), Makalu (8463m) and Manaslu (8163m). You’d be incredibly lucky to see all five as the views are dependent on the weather, but the landscape is pretty jaw-dropping all the same.

You’ll travel part-way by road, before trekking the final 14km through the hills and past a few Tamang and Newari villages where you can see rural life unfolding. You’ll follow the route through a forest and terraced fields, stopping for lunch at a local community homestay.

You’ll also have distant views of Bhaktapur, and visit the Jalpa Devi Temple and Peace Buddha Park en-route.

Once you’ve reached Nagarkot, you’ll have time to explore and could even choose to stay a night or two, if you have time.

* available to book most days through Royal Mountain Travel (est. $80pp).

6. Nagi Gompa Shivapuri Hike

prayer flags on nagi gompa hike

This lovely little day-hike takes you north of the city and into the beautiful Shivapuri National Park, before finishing at the Tibetan Buddhist nunnery at Nagi Gompa.

After a short drive, you start walking from the village of Budanilkantha, home to a famous temple of Lord Vishnu. The route is moderate with a couple of pretty steep sections, and you’ll be walking through oak, rhododendron and bamboo forest for much of the route.

There’ll be plenty of wildlife to spot along the way, and once you’re at the top you’ll get a glimpse of life at the convent, as well as spectacular views of Kathmandu Valley and distant peaks such as Ganesh Himal, Langtang-Lirung and Dorji Lhakpa.

* available to book most days through Royal Mountain Travel (est. $45pp).

7. Ancient Towns of Kathmandu Valley tour

A goat relaxing in Bhaktapur (cr. Paul Cowey)

Get away from the bustle of Kathmandu for the day, and take a peek back in time at two of Kathmandu Valley’s most beautiful old towns. The 6-hour private tour starts with a drive to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Bhaktapur. Once home to wealthy kings, this opulent Newari town has largely preserved its intricate temples and shrines, which surround vast, open squares in the old centre. During the Malla Dynasty, the Kings of Bhaktapur became obsessed with wrestling, and chunky carved wrestlers can be seen throughout the town.

You’ll continue to the tiny town of Panauti, surrounded by lush green hills and holy rivers. You’ll see impressive Hindu and Buddhist temples, before joining a local family for a delicious Newari lunch. The homestay you visit is part of an initiative started by the local women of Panauti, bringing direct benefits to their community and offering you an unforgettable and authentic experience.

* available to book most days as a group tour via Viator (est. $35pp), or contact Royal Mountain Travel for a private experience (est. $85pp for 2 people).

Experiences starting from Pokhara and Bandipur

8. Australian Camp Hike

Community at Australian Camp

Easily accessible from Pokhara, the Australian Camp sits on the edge of the Annapurna Range, surrounded by rolling green hills and valleys. From here, you have an unobstructed view of the Annapurna, Machhapuchhre and Manaslu massifs, giving you a Himalayan experience without the long days of trekking.

It’s also a chance to get a glimpse of local life in the Annapurna foothills, as you pass through a number of small villages where you can stop for lunch and soak up the peaceful atmosphere.

Open year-round, it involves around 4-5 hours walking and requires a moderate level of fitness.

* available to book most days through Royal Mountain Travel (est. $90pp).

9. Hemjakot Village Hike

A house in Hemjakot village, Nepal

Travel from Pokhara on a day-hike into the foothills of Macchapucchare (Fishtail Mountain). Your destination is the charming village of Hemjakot, where you’ll enjoy a traditional Nepali welcome and a delicious home-cooked lunch, as well as the chance to experience rural life in this part of the Himalayas.

It’s a relatively easy 2-hour hike,  and you’ll ascend along stairways cut into the jungle and into the hills below one of Nepal’s most famous peaks. The village is surrounded by lush green valleys with a backdrop of distant mountains, giving it a peaceful, serene atmosphere. I found that write my essays tasks became a more interesting process for me after being inspired by these landscapes, as after such a journey, the words just seem to flow onto my paper.

The people of Hemjakot are of Tibetan descent and have farmed this land for hundreds of years, but they have truly embraced being part of the Community Homestay Network. It gives them the chance to meet and learn about people from all over the world, as well as supporting their income. It’s not uncommon for you to be met by various members of the community carrying Tikas and garlands, keen to show you their homes and their way of life. You can even help with some of their daily tasks if you’re feeling energetic!

Before you return to Pokhara, you’ll be treated to a hearty lunch, freshly cooked by your community host using ingredients from their farmland.

* available to book most days through Royal Mountain Travel (est. $75pp).

10. Ramkot Village Hike

a warm welcome on Ramkot, Nepal

The final micro-adventure on our list starts from Bandipur – a small, historic Newari town on the edge of Bandipur Tiger Reserve and National Park. It’s a 5-hour round trip that gives you stunning scenery and a glimpse into rural Nepali life. You’ll hike through green hills and steep cliffs, past terraced fields and tiny villages where life goes on much as it has for centuries.

Your destination is the Magar village of Ramkot – the Magar people are descended from Mongol interlopers and are known to be hard working, honest and welcoming. You’ll have some time in the village and enjoy a picnic lunch with a mountain view before heading back to Bandipur.

* available to book most days through Royal Mountain Travel (est. $50pp).

Innovative tours and day trips are popping up all over Nepal, showing different sides of our country and giving you the chance to make those spare days of your holiday into something memorable.

If you need help or advice on planning your perfect Nepalese adventure, feel free to get in touch with our team or head straight over to our friends from Royal Mountain Travel.

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