Things to do in Nepal (That Aren’t Trekking)
Think of Nepal, and you’re probably thinking snow-capped mountains and epic treks. This country is home to Everest, after all, as well as some of the most famous mountain treks in the world. But there’s so much more to Nepal than the Himalayas. Here are some other amazing things to do in Nepal…
Kathmandu is the chaotic capital of Nepal. For many, it’is little more than a jumping off point for a trek, but it’s worth spending a couple of days exploring this vibrant city too. From the intoxicating warren of bustling alleyways in the Old Town, to the endless amazing foodie opportunities, there’s so much to see and do.
Don’t miss a trip to some of Kathmandu’s incredible temples. Swayambhunath, aka the Monkey Temple, has epic views of the city – not to mention plenty of monkeys. Pashupatinath is a sacred Hindu temple where you can watch cremations being performed, while the white and gold stupa at Boudhanath is not to be missed!
Safari in the Jungle
It’s not all about the altitude in Nepal. The country might have the second highest average elevation in the world, and some of the world’s highest peaks, but Nepal’s topography is actually pretty varied. Head down to the flat region of Chitwan and you’ll be at about 415m above sea level.
This lush, jungle-filled region is home to Nepal’s first national park, where you can exchange your trekking gear for khakis and head out on safari. At Chitwan national park you can spot one horned rhinos, elephants, and – if you’re lucky – the elusive Bengal tiger, as well as numerous bird species. This is a region of hot, dense jungles, rich forests, grassy plains, and rivers; totally at odds with most images of Nepal.
Birthplace of Buddha
India may be more famous as the homeplace of Buddha, but he was in fact born in Nepal. The site at Lumbini is an important pilgrimage spot for Buddhists, and is an amazing insight into a huge part of Nepal’s culture.
The site is housed within huge grounds dotted with parks, temples, and monasteries. Many of the temples here were donated or built by Buddhist communities from other countries, and were built in the different styles of those communities. The Chinese temple is very different to the Thai one, and so on. So exploring each one is like taking a tour of Buddhism around the world.
Live the Culture at a Homestay
For a true insight into the Nepali culture and cuisine, you can’t beat a homestay. Visit a small town that doesn’t see too many tourists and stay with a local family for a glimpse of authentic homelife. I can personally recommend Panauti Community Homestay, where I had a fantastic experience. As well as exploring a quiet town and temples that aren’t overrun by tourists taking selfies, you can experience real life in Nepal. Your host might give you cooking lessons, dress you in a traditional sari, or simply show you around their town. It’s the perfect way to experience a more authentic side of Nepal.