Around the Kathmandu Valley
In many ways the Kathmandu Valley is Nepal. Created from the bed of a sacred lake by the deity Manjushri, according to Buddhist legend, the basin is a patchwork of terraced fields and sacred temple towns that showcase the glory of the architects and artisans of Nepal. Sadly, the area also bore the brunt of the 2015 earthquake.
Far from the earthquake epicenter, and almost unaffected by the disaster, Pokhara ticks all the right boxes, with spectacular scenery, adventure activities, and accommodation and food choices galore. Whether you’ve returned from a three-week trek or endured a bus trip from hell, Lakeside Pokhara is the perfect place to recharge your batteries.
Around the Ring Road
There are several interesting sights just outside the Kathmandu Ring Rd, all accessible by public transport or by rented bike or motorcycle, and all easy day trips from the capital. Pashupatinath and Bodhnath rank amongst Nepal's most famous religious sites and both escaped the worst of the earthquake's destructive force.
Bound by the Indian states of Bihar, Sikkim and West Bengal, the eastern Terai is broadly a mirror image of the west. The rolling hills of the Mahabharat Range are squeezed between the dry eastern plains and the Himalaya. The Mahendra Hwy cuts east to meet the Indian border at Kakarbhitta, providing easy access to Sikkim and Darjeeling.
It was in Lumbini, around the year 563 BC, that one of history’s greatest and most revered figures, Siddhartha Gautama – better known as the Buddha – was born. It’s no great surprise to learn that the World Heritage–listed Lumbini is of huge religious significance and attracts Buddhist pilgrims from around the world.
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park is one of the premier drawcards in Nepal, and there was little damage to areas visited by tourists in the 2015 earthquake. The World Heritage–listed reserve protects over 932 sq km of forests, marshland and rippling grassland, and is home to sizeable wildlife populations. It’s little wonder this place is so popular.
The Valley Fringe
Beyond Bhaktapur the landscape starts to rise, revealing views north to the rugged mountain wall of the Himalaya, which is rarely visible from the bottom of the valley. Technically, most towns are outside the valley, on the roads to Langtang or the Tibetan border, but it is easy to visit these places on day trips or overnight stays from Kathmandu.