Awarded Top 10 country to travel to in 2022About Best In Travel 2022
A trekkers' paradise, Nepal combines Himalayan views, golden temples, charming hill villages and jungle wildlife watching to offer one of the world's great travel destinations.
The Nepal Himalaya is the ultimate goal for mountain lovers. Some of the Himalaya’s most iconic and accessible hiking is on offer here, with rugged trails to Everest, the Annapurnas and beyond. Nowhere else can you trek for days in incredible mountain scenery, secure in the knowledge that a hot meal, cosy lodge and warm slice of apple pie await you at the end of the day.
Then there's the adrenaline kick of rafting a roaring Nepali river or bungee jumping into a yawning Himalayan gorge. Canyoning, climbing, kayaking, paragliding and mountain biking all offer a rush against the backdrop of some of the world’s most dramatic landscapes.
Medieval Cities & Sacred Sites
Other travellers prefer to see Nepal at a more refined pace, admiring the peaks over a sunset gin and tonic from a Himalayan viewpoint, strolling through the medieval city squares of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, and joining Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims on a spiritual stroll around centuries-old stupas and monasteries. Even after the 2015 earthquake, Nepal remains the cultural powerhouse of the Himalaya; the Kathmandu Valley in particular offers an unrivalled collection of world-class palaces, hidden backstreet shrines and sublime temple art. Nepal is also a great place to learn about everything from Tibetan Buddhism to how to make the best momos (dumplings).
There are few countries in the world that are as well set up for independent travel as Nepal. Wandering the trekking shops, bakeries and pizzerias of Thamel and Pokhara, it’s easy to feel that you have somehow landed in a kind of backpacker Disneyland. Out in the countryside lies a quite different Nepal, where traditional mountain life continues at a slower pace, and a million potential adventures glimmer on the mountain horizons. The biggest problem you might face in Nepal is just how to fit everything in, which is one reason why many people return here over and over again.
South of Nepal's mountains lies something completely different: a chain of wild and woolly national parks, where nature buffs scan the subtropical treetops for exotic bird species and comb the jungles for rhinos, tigers and crocodiles. Choose from a luxury safari lodge in central Chitwan or go exploring on a wilder trip to remote Bardia or Koshi Tappu, stopping en route to visit the birthplace of Buddha on the steamy plains near Lumbini. Whether you cross the country by mountain bike, motorbike, raft or tourist bus, Nepal offers an astonishingly diverse array of attractions and landscapes.
Nepal: Voted Top 10 Country as Best in Travel 2022
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The first stupa at Boudhanath was built sometime after AD 600, when the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, converted to Buddhism. In terms of grace and purity of line, no other stupa in Nepal comes close to Boudhanath. From its whitewashed dome to its gilded tower painted with the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha, the monument is perfectly proportioned. Join the Tibetan pilgrims on their morning and evening koras (circumambulations) for the best atmosphere.
The spiritual heart of Lumbini, Maya Devi Temple marks the spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama in around 563BC. In the adjoining sacred garden you’ll find the pillar of Ashoka, ancient ruins of stupas, and maroon- and saffron-robed monks congregating under a sprawling Bodhi (pipal) tree decorated with prayer flags. Buy your entrance ticket 50m north of the gate to the Sacred Garden, and remove your shoes at the gate.
The Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the crowning glories of Kathmandu Valley architecture. This perfectly proportioned monument rises through a whitewashed dome to a gilded spire, from where four iconic faces of the Buddha stare out across the valley in the cardinal directions. The site was shaken severely by the 2015 earthquake, but the main stupa sustained only superficial damage.
Kathmandu’s Durbar Sq was where the city’s kings were once crowned and legitimised, and from where they ruled ( durbar means palace). As such, the square remains the traditional heart of the old town and Kathmandu’s most spectacular legacy of traditional architecture. The square bore the brunt of Kathmandu's 2015 earthquake damage. Half a dozen temples collapsed, as did several towers in the Hanuman Dhoka palace complex, but it's still a fabulous complex. Reconstruction will continue for years.
The ancient royal palace of Patan faces on to magnificent Durbar Sq. This concentrated mass of temples is perhaps the most visually stunning display of Newari architecture to be seen in Nepal. Temple construction in the square went into overdrive during the Malla period (14th to 18th centuries), particularly during the reign of King Siddhinarsingh Malla (1619–60). It's well worth at least a half-day trip from Kathmandu.
Located outside the main compound, but easily accessible by bike, the impressive gleaming-white World Peace Pagoda, one of the world's greatest stupas, was constructed by Japanese Buddhists at a cost of US$1 million. The shining golden statue depicts the Buddha in the posture he assumed when he was born. Near the base of the stupa is the grave of a Japanese monk murdered by anti-Buddhist extremists during the construction of the monument.
With strong touches of Angkor Wat, this colourful fantasy due for completion in 2018 is already one of the most fascinating temples in Lumbini. The temple is surrounded by a square railing topped off by four 50m green snakes whose tails entwine at the corners. The compound itself has a vast outer wall decorated with intricate designs.
Close to the north end of the pond, this stunning and imposing wat (Thai-style monastery) is built from gleaming white marble. The blue-roofed meditation centre next door is another fine piece of architecture. Arguably the greatest compound in the monastic zone.
This elegant monastery is one of the most impressive structures at Lumbini. Reached through a gateway flanked by dogs of Fo, the elegant pagoda-style monastery looks like a small Forbidden City. Its perfectly manicured internal courtyard is an oasis of peace.