Nepal has a unique blend of Hindu and Buddhist cultures. It is also home to Mount Everest, and wherever you look, you’ll find stunning sceneries dotted with monasteries, temples and palaces.
Most visitors fly into Kathmandu. Another, great option is to combine Nepal with Tibet and arrive from the border crossing in Zhangmu. It is only a few hours by minibus from Zhangmu to Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is the capital city and Nepal’s arts centre. Here, you can get up to everything from trawling temples, visiting the National Museum for a dose of Nepali history, or supporting independent enterprises by shopping at fair trade centres. Also go on a day trip to Nagarkot and be blown away by the breath-taking view of the Himalayan range over sunrise.
Next, hop on a short minibus ride to Bhaktapur, one of Kathmandu’s sister cities. Go on a Four Square exploration: Durbar Square for the 55-windowed constructed by King Jitamitra, Taumadhi Square for the Nyatapol Temple, Dattatreya Square for the many residential temples, and Pottery Square which, as the name suggests, houses a multitude of potters hard at work.
Then, head to Patan, also known as Yala (named after the King Yalamber), where you can get your wallets out again - this time to purchase the many handicrafts and souvenirs made by renowned artists and craftsmen. Yala is also known for its arts.
Pokhara is where you can take a break from all the monasteries and temples, and enjoy some of Nepal’s best natural landscapes. Go on a scenic cable car ride here, or drive out to Sarangkot village, which is highly recommended, to check out the gorgeous sunrise. You can also view three of the ten highest mountains in the world from here.
If you’re up for some wildlife, wind your way down to Chitwan National Park, home to over 43 species of mammals, including the Bengal Tiger, and the endangered hispid hares. The unfortunate bit is that this national park is only a small fraction of what it used to be - a colossal jungle land which was home to over 800 rhinos, at one point.
Wrap up your Nepal experience at Lumbini, which was the birthplace of Buddha himself, so find some spiritual equilibrium from the many stupas, monasteries, meditation centers and bahals in the region. You can also go on a day trip to Tilaurakot, where Buddha spent his early years.
From Lumbini, you can make your way to India.
(This itinerary is based on our Nepal Backpacker CheatSheet, a visual guide available for free download. We offer Backpacker CheatSheets for many more countries.)