Top 7 places shouldn't be missed in Nepal

8, May 2023 |

By seeking out these attractions in Nepal, travellers can get a more authentic and intimate experience of the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the typical tourist circuit

Nepal, a landlocked country nestled between the Himalayas and the plains of the Indian subcontinent, is home to some of the world's most popular tourist destinations. However, for those who prefer to avoid the crowds and discover hidden gems, there are plenty of lesser-known attractions in Nepal that are worth exploring. These top 7 places offer a chance to experience Nepal's rich culture, history, and natural beauty without the crowds and commercialization that often accompany popular tourist hotspots.

Visit a hidden temple in the Kathmandu Valley

The Kathmandu Valley is renowned for its stunning temples and religious sites, but some lesser-known hidden gems are worth exploring. One such temple is the Kumbeshwar Temple, located in Patan. The temple's stunning pagoda-style roof and intricate carvings make it a must-see for any temple enthusiast. Another hidden gem is the Rudra Varna Mahavihar, located in the heart of the bustling Thamel area of Kathmandu. The temple's peaceful courtyard and intricately decorated prayer halls offer a serene escape from the city's chaos. Finally, the Nyatapola Temple in Bhaktapur is a towering masterpiece of Nepali temple architecture with stunning views of the surrounding town. While these temples may be lesser-known, they are no less impressive and offer a unique glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley.


Newari cuisine in Kirtipur

Nestled on a hill and graced with a panoramic view of Kathmandu and the Himalayas lies Kirtipur, a charming Newari town that often remains overlooked by visitors. Unlike its neighboring towns in the Kathmandu Valley, Kirtipur is still relatively unspoiled by tourism, making it a perfect escape for those seeking a taste of authentic local culture.

The town is divided into two distinct areas, one predominantly Hindu and the other Buddhist, reflecting the typical Newari tradition. Kirtipur boasts several magnificent temples, and its windows and doorways, adorned with intricate Newari carvings, serve as a testament to the town's rich artistic heritage.

But what truly sets Kirtipur apart is its reputation for having the most exceptional and authentic Newari cuisine in Kathmandu. Visitors can savor the delectable flavors and aromas of traditional Newari dishes while enjoying the town's relaxed and friendly atmosphere. A mere half-day trip from Kathmandu to the north or Patan to the east, Kirtipur is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, offering a glimpse into the heart of Newari culture and hospitality.


Go birding at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

For bird enthusiasts, a trip to the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is an absolute must. Located on the south-eastern border of the Terai, adjacent to India, the reserve encompasses mudflats, reed beds, and freshwater marshes on the floodplain of the Sapta Koshi River. With nearly 500 species of birds, including watercocks, Indian nightjars, and dusky eagle owls, as well as the critically endangered Bengal florican, the reserve is a bird-watcher's paradise. Additionally, the reserve is home to a range of other wildlife, such as elephants, spotted deer, and wild boar. Although it's not a well-known tourist destination, accommodations in the area can arrange fantastic bird-watching excursions for travelers. Don't forget to bring your binoculars to get the most out of your visit to this incredible wildlife reserve.


Enjoy tea on the plantations of Ilam

Although Darjeeling across the border in India is a renowned name in the tea industry, the tea plantations of Ilam are often overlooked. Although Ilam tea can be bought in Kathmandu, for a truly fresh cup, venture east to the town of Ilam itself. Here, you can immerse yourself in a hilly landscape of tea plantations and enjoy moderate hikes. The nearby forests are also a hotspot of biodiversity. Ilam serves as a great starting point for embarking on more challenging treks in eastern Nepal, such as the Lumba Sumba Pass trek. Don't miss the chance to explore this hidden gem of Nepal's tea industry and enjoy a cup of tea straight from the source.


Spot wildlife in Bardia National Park

For those seeking a wildlife and jungle experience in Nepal, Chitwan is often the go-to destination due to its proximity to Kathmandu and Pokhara. However, for a more authentic and less crowded experience, Bardia National Park in far western Nepal is a highly recommended alternative. The park boasts forest and grasslands, and the Karnali River—the last free-flowing river in Nepal—runs through it. With the chance to see elephants, rhinoceros, and the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger, Bardia is what many say Chitwan used to be like before becoming so popular.

Accommodation options are simpler but still adequate, and they are mainly located in Thakurdwara. To get there from Kathmandu or Pokhara, visitors can take a flight to Nepalgunj, followed by a two- to three-hour drive. For an adventurous approach, travellers can join a white-water rafting and kayaking tour of the Karnali River, which ends near Bardia and can be extended to spend more time in the park.


Shop for handmade crafts in Janakpur

Janakpur, a major city in the Terai region of Nepal, is a hidden gem that's often overlooked by tourists. However, it boasts some incredible attractions that are definitely worth a visit. The Janaki Mandir, constructed in the late 19th century, is a neo-Rajput style temple that stands out from any other temple you'll see in Nepal. Its unique architecture resembles something you'd find in the deserts of Western India rather than at the foothills of the Himalayas.

Another must-visit attraction in Janakpur is the Janakpur Women's Development Center, which showcases the talents of local women who create various forms of art, such as paintings, pottery, and textiles. These handicrafts are not only a source of livelihood for the women but also help to preserve traditional Nepalese art forms. If you can't make it to Janakpur, you can find these crafts at fair-trade shops like Mahaguthi and Sana Hastakala on Patan's Pulchowk Road in Kathmandu.


Check out the "Taj Mahal of Nepal"

Tucked away in the western hills of Nepal, between Butwal and Pokhara, lies the charming town of Tansen. It's known for its stunning scenery and unique attractions, which set it apart from other Nepali destinations. One of the town's most famous exports is the Nepali Dhaka cloth, which is used to create traditional garments like men's topi (hats).

While in Tansen, visitors can also explore the nearby Ranighat Palace, an enchanting late-19th-century neoclassical palace on the banks of the Kali Gandaki River. Built by General Khadga Shamsher Rana in 1897 for his wife, the palace was abandoned when the family fled Nepal a few years later. Recently undergoing restoration, the blue and white palace is now a fascinating place to visit and explore. While some may compare it to the Taj Mahal, it's a unique and interesting destination in its own right.

By seeking out these attractions in Nepal, travellers can get a more authentic and intimate experience of the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the typical tourist circuit. These underrated sites offer a chance to appreciate Nepal's unique cultural and natural heritage while avoiding the crowds and tourist traps of more popular destinations.

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