How to spend 2 weeks in Nepal: Kathmandu round trip
If you’re thinking of planning a 2 week Nepal itinerary, you’re in the right place. I'm so excited to share this guest post, which has been created exclusively for The Travelista by Louise Watsham, my friend and fellow female traveller. Having spent over 8 months living, working and travelling in Nepal, it's safe to say Louise is a Nepal expert. Based on her own experiences, she's poured all her travel knowledge into this ultimate 2 week Nepal itinerary, which will start you off with 3 days in Kathmandu through to Pokhara, The Himalayas and Chitwan. This would also make an ideal Nepal backpacking itinerary as part of a larger trip. Over to Louise!
Is two weeks enough time in Nepal?
Two weeks in Nepal is the perfect amount of time to really soak in the diversity of the landscape, people and the culture. There is only one international airport in Nepal, Kathmandu but there are plenty of domestic flights to help you reach other destinations in next to no time, whilst operating on a tight schedule - although I do recommend you get at least one tourist bus if you can - it’s an extreme sport in itself!
The following 14 day Nepal itinerary itinerary includes; how to deal with the culture shock of colourful Kathmandu, what to do in Pokhara, Nepal’s lake city and an easy Himalayan trek with some jaw dropping views. Then it's on to Chitwan for some tiger spotting. Let’s get started…
The Ultimate 2 Week Nepal Itinerary
3 Days in Kathmandu
Day 1 - Arrive in Kathmandu
Flying into Kathmandu can be a little overwhelming to say the least, the streets are a narrow labyrinth of ancient architecture shrouded by prayer flags, people, animals, bikes and cars. The first time I visited, I was somewhat hesitant to even leave my hotel, but I soon learnt that it’s the perfect place to ‘get lost.’ Nepalese people are incredibly friendly so finding your way back won’t be too much of a challenge. Relax and attempt to absorb the atmosphere of the weird, wonderful and touristy Thamel.
Top Tip: Try to sort your Nepali visa before flying into Kathmandu. Immigration is somewhat of a nightmare and queuing is the last thing anyone wants to do after a long-haul flight.
Where to stay in Kathmandu:
Day 2 - Kathmandu City Tour
Ease yourself in gently into the chaos of Nepal’s capital city by visiting the following religious monuments:
- Swayambhunath - also known as the Monkey Temple, this is a very old religious site, this Buddhist complex has an iconic stupa, temples & many shrines.
- Boudhanath - Located about 11 km from the centre and northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, this Buddhist stupa's massive mandala makes it one of the largest stupa’s not only in Nepal, but the world
- Kopan Monastery - Kopan Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery near Boudhanath, on the outskirts of Kathmandu boasting the most stunning architecture and views over Kathmandu Valley.
- Pashupatinath - visit this famous and sacred Hindu temple just before sunset as dusk is the perfect time to soak in its spirituality. Pashupatinath has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 and it’s here you can witness Hindu cremation along the sacred banks of the Bagmati river and Sadhu’s (Hindu holy men) performing their religious daily duties.
Day 3 - Explore the Historical Old Towns of Kathmandu
I love spending time exploring the perfectly preserved historical ‘old towns’ in Kathmandu, especially Bhaktapur which has three major squares full of towering temples that comprise some of the finest religious architecture in the country. Cultural life is also proudly on display here and it’s another perfect place to ‘get lost’ along narrow winding alleyways whilst witnessing artisans weaving cloth and chiselling timber. There are plenty of roof top restaurants which are the perfect places to see Bhaktapur in all of it’s glory.
Whilst on the focus of Kathmandu’s heritage and history, be sure to visit Kathmandu Durbar Square. It’s also a must to visit Durbar Square where the city’s kings were once crowned and legitimised. The square remains the traditional heart of the old town but it sadly bore the brunt of Kathmandu's 2015 earthquake damage. Half a dozen temples collapsed, but it still remains a fabulous complex.
Day 4 - Fly to Pokhara
3 days in Kathmandu is usually enough for most people and I imagine most will be relieved to be leaving the madness of it all. Take an early morning domestic flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara, which takes about 25 minutes. It's best to go early morning to minimise your chance of delays. With Nepal’s mountainous terrain comes very unpredictable weather, so it’s your best bet to arrive early to avoid a back log of flight delays. It also means a much higher chance of seeing stunning vistas of the Himalayas (and maybe even Everest) mid-flight.
Once you have arrived in the Lake City, take a Pokhara city tour to witness stunning sites such as:
- World Peace Pagoda
- Devis Falls
- Boating on Begnas Lake
Make sure you stay in Lakeside where all of the action is and where you’ll have exceptional views of Phewa Lake.
Where to stay in Pokhara
- Silver Oaks Inn (£)
Day 5: Adventure in Sarangkot
Start the day by catching the spectacular Sarangkot sunrise. Getting up at the alarm may be a struggle but I promise you, you won't be disappointed. Watch the famed and magnificent sunrise and see the view of the Annapurna range. Watch in wonder as the colours dance over the top of the mountains, displaying nature in its rawest form. This is a must-do in Nepal. Spend the rest of your day relaxing or get the adrenaline going with one of these incredible flight activities;
- Paragliding from Sarangkot: it’s back up to Sarangkot but this time to jump off it and glide with the eagles and hawks over Phewa Lake. Try and get an early morning flight as you’ll get a much better chance of seeing the mountains whilst paragliding. Best company: Fly Nepal
- Ultra Light Flight: Fly from Pokhara Airport for any time upward of 15 minutes. You will see Phewa Lake, World Peace Pagoda, the Himalayas and beyond. Book your flights with Pokhara Ultralight (the best Ultralight company)
If extreme sports isn't for you, spend the day relaxing before your trek. Head to Byanjan restaurant for the best food, service and views.
Top tip: There are plenty of adequate trekking shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara, stacked with North Face and Marmot outdoor gear to kit you out for your trekking adventure. Although I advise you wear your trekking boots in before you start your climb!
Day 6-9: Poonhill Trek
Poonhill Trek is a short and relatively easy trek into the Annapurna region. This trek is suitable for those who do not have much time to spend and you don’t have to necessarily be that fit, you just need a burning desire to observe the beauty of the majestic Himalayas and a good camera! The trek will start from Pokhara and take you to Nayapul and Ulleri (1960m, trekking for 6-7 hours) and you will stay overnight at a Lodge or Tea House
Day 7: From Ulleri you will trek to Ghorepani (2874m, 5-6 hours) and spend overnight at a Lodge or Tea House sampling some of the finest local food and drink
Day 8: From Ghorepani you will eventually reach Poonhill for sunrise, and then onto Tadapani and Ghandruk (1939m, 7-8 hours trekking), overnight at a Lodge or Tea House
Day 9: Now it’s time for the hard part, the descent! From Ghandruk you will pass through Kimche and Nayapur, and then transfer back to Pokhara
Day 10: Post-Trek Relaxation
Time to relax! Go and chill in one of the bamboo bars with an Everest beer along the banks of Phewa Lake or book a ‘trekkers massage’ at the spa at Bagaincha Wellness Resort
Day 11: Travel from Pokhara to Chitwan
Once you have recovered from your Poonhill trek, it’s time to venture into the Nepalese jungle. Chitwan, a National Park, is one of the premier draw-cards in Nepal that very few people actually know about. This World Heritage–listed reserve protects more than 932 sq km of forests, marshland and grassland containing sizeable animal populations, making it one of the best national parks for viewing wildlife in Asia. You'll have an excellent chance of spotting one-horned rhinos, deer, monkeys, and some of the more than 500 species of birds. If you’re extremely lucky, you may spot a leopard, wild elephant, or sloth bear – though it’s the once-in-a-lifetime chance to spot a majestic royal Bengal tiger that is the premier attraction.
Take the tourist bus from Pokhara to Chitwan, which takes 4-5 hours. Arrive in Chitwan at your jungle lodge, and take a village tour on Ox Cart to visit local Tharu people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Chitwan area, and witness their daily way of life.
Where to stay in Chitwan:
Day 12: Boating along the Rapti River and Jungle Safari
Rise early for a river boating adventure along the Rapti River (be sure to look out for crocs!) Then do one of the jeep jungle safaris to and you might be lucky enough to spot rhinos and tigers.
Day 13: Fly from Bharatpur to Kathmandu
Go early morning bird watching (160 species of migratory birds visit Chitwan annually) before checking out of your jungle lodge and transferring to Bharatpur Airport for a short flight back to Kathmandu (again, the earlier the better). I strongly recommend heading straight to the Garden of Dreams as soon as you’re back in the centre of Kathmandu, it’s an absolute gem amongst the madness of the Capital city.
Day 14: Fly out of Kathmandu
Flight out of Kathmandu Airport. End of 14 day week Nepal itinerary.
The Best Time to Visit Nepal
Everest season is typically late April to early May, but not everyone is looking to summit the tallest mountain in the world! If you are more content looking at the Himalayas then the best time for clear vistas is September, October or January through to early April.
About The Author - Louise Watsham
Louise is the Executive Director of Dream Heaven Adventure, a trekking and tour agency born in Kathmandu Valley and now boasting an international team of travel specialists committed to providing a superior service to those visiting Nepal. Whether you seek Himalayan trekking, mountaineering, gentle hiking, rafting, jungle safari, Nepal city and cultural tours, Dream Heaven Adventure have it covered. Email email@example.com
Check out more of my travel guides and itineraries.
What did you think of this ultimate 2 week Nepal itinerary? Have you visited Nepal or are you in the process of planning your own trip? If you found this post useful or inspiring, please leave a comment in the discussion box below! Jess