Namaste! If you are planning a trip to Nepal, you’ve come to the right place! From jungles and impressive wildlife to charming little villages, amazing landscapes, and ancient temples. Our 3 weeks in Nepal itinerary includes the best things to do, our favorite places to stay, recommendations for restaurants, and tips on how to get around when you go backpacking in Nepal.
Spending 3 weeks in Nepal is the perfect amount of time to explore the country, do some short treks in the mountains and visit the cultural highlights. Are you ready? Let’s go…
Tip: if you are traveling solo or would like to join an organized trip, definitely check this website. They have really great adventure tours through Nepal. Super cool!
Read also: Nepal: everything you need to know
Backpacking in Nepal: our 3 weeks in Nepal itinerary
START Kathmandu | END Kathmandu
DURATION 28 days
METHOD OF TRANSPORT Bus & Taxi
BEST TIME OF YEAR October – November & March – April
WHEN DID WE GO September – October 2019
HIGHLIGHTS Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan National Park, Bhaktapur, Nagarkot
We decided to go backpacking in Nepal and flew from Malaysia into Kathmandu, which is Nepal’s largest city and capital. With a mix of temples, dust, and honking traffic, it was the perfect place to start our 3 weeks in Nepal. You hate it or you’ll love it, we loved it!
Our favorite area in Kathmandu was Thamel, the backpacker’s hub of Nepal. Here you find plenty of cozy restaurants, small souvenir shops and it has a great atmosphere. Kathmandu is the perfect base to explore all the nearby highlights, the cultural sites, visit the ancient temples, or hiking to Everest Base Camp.
Recommended stay in Kathmandu
- 2-4 days
Where to stay in Kathmandu
Things to do in Kathmandu
- Visit the Swayambhunath Stupa or the Monkey Temple (entrance fee Rs 200 per person + Rs 400 for the taxi ride from Thamel, a 5-minute drive)
- Witness open cremations at the Pashupatinath Temple, the famous and sacred Hindu temple (we didn’t go inside the temple, but if you like to do it there is an entrance fee of Rs 1000 per person)
- Go early in the morning to Boudhanath Stupa, one of the holiest sites in the world (entrance fee Rs 400 per person)
- Have a yummy breakfast or coffee afterward with great views on Boudhanath Stupa at Himalayan Java Coffee Bar
- Visit Kathmandu Durbar Square and wander around the small streets like the old hippie Freak Street (entrance fee for Durbar Square is between Rs 800-1000 per person)
- Take a day trip to the amazing UNESCO World Heritage City of Bakhtapur (we stayed here 2 days/1 night which we highlight at the end of this itinerary, but if you’re short on time we would recommend going here by day trip from Kathmandu, entrance fee Rs 1500 per person to enter the historic part + Rs 1000 for the taxi ride from Kathmandu)
- Wander around Thamel, Kathmandu’s backpacker’s district. It’s the place to be to enjoy the many cozy bars and restaurants or to find some extra trekking equipment
Where to eat in Kathmandu
Note: all places we mention below are located in Thamel, which is also the best area to stay in Kathmandu
- OR2K (our favorite lunch spot, a vegetarian restaurant with lots of vegan options, cozy atmosphere, and a wonderful place to chill out. Fav picks: Alice Buddha Bowl, hummus plate, and the smoothie bowls)
- Sarangi (cheap fresh and healthy food, wide vegetarian & vegan menu, MSG-free, and a cozy rooftop terrace. Fav picks: quinoa salad, hummus plate, vegetable curry, and the farmer’s plate)
- Mitho (our favorite dinner spot,
- New Orleans (great atmosphere with live music, wide menu with more western food, vegetarian-friendly. Fav picks: vegetable paste
How to get to Kathmandu
- From Kathmandu International Airport, by taxi, 30 minutes, prices are around Rs 700-750/one-way
Pre-book your airport transfer for only $10
- If you find a local taxi on the street outside the airport, prices are around Rs 500/one-way
The next stop in our 3 weeks in Nepal is Pokhara. After a few days of sightseeing and exploring Kathmandu, it’s great to arrive in the peaceful town of Pokhara, which is located about 7-8 hours from Kathmandu by bus.
The bus ride was quite rough and not for every kind of travel. Some travels might consider taking a flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara as it is faster, safer, and easier.
Pokhara is the perfect place to chill out and soak up the incredible mountain views. We walked around the lake, rented a kayak, or wanted to go paragliding (it got canceled due to bad weather).
There are many great activities to choose from in Pokhara. But most importantly, Pokhara is the place where all travelers go before starting one of the amazing treks in the Annapurna Region.
We chose to do the 5-day Mardi Himal trek and the 4-day Poon Hill trek. If you have more time, you could also consider doing the famous 16-day Annapurna Circuit.
Reads also: Must do: Poon Hill Trek in Nepal
- 3-5 days
Where to stay in Pokhara
Things to do in Pokhara
- 4D/3N Poon Hill Trek (trek prices are around $250 per person incl accommodation, meals, permits, guide & transport)
- 6D/5N Mardi Himal Trek (trek can be done in 5-7 days depending on how fast you go or the time you want to spend in the mountains, prices are around $350 per person incl accommodation, permits, guide, porter & transport)
- Go paragliding! (30-45 minute flight, prices are around $70-90 per person incl transport, equipment, pilot & photo material afterward)
- Watch sunrise/sunset over the Himalayas from the Sarangkot Viewpoint (entry fee of around Rs25-100 per person, we had this included in our trek and stopped along the way)
- Have a relaxing walk along the Phewa Lake and take a healthy break at The Juicery Cafe
- Rent a kayak and paddle on the beautiful Phewa Lake at the foot of the Annapurna Mountains
- Hike up Shanti Stupa or also known as the World Peace Pagoda, a Buddhist monument located on Ananda Hill (2,5 hike which you can do on your own, take a boat in Pokhara town to cross Phewa Lake and start your hike from the opposite side of the lake, prices for a boat are around Rs 700 per person/one-way, 10 minutes)
- Get some extra clothes/equipment from one of the many trekking stores in Pokhara town and hop into one of the many great restaurants afterward
Where to eat in Pokhara
- For our favorite places to eat in Pokhara, be sure to check out our article about 5x vegan-friendly restaurants in Pokhara.
How to get in Pokhara
- From Kathmandu, by tourist bus (we booked it via our hotel), 7-9 hours, prices are around Rs 800 per person
- From Kathmandu you can also take a short domestic flight, 25 minutes, prices are around $80 per person
Chitwan National Park
Time to relax! Our Nepal itinerary was quite heavy with crazy bus rides and 2 hikes in the Annapurna Mountains, so we decided to go to Chitwan National Park.
Chitwan National Park is a beautiful national park to go on a safari that very few people actually know about. It used to be a private hunting playground for Nepal’s royal family (until 1950), but now it’s a place where you can spot some of the last remaining Bengal tigers, leopards, and Indian one-horned rhinos.
We spotted several rhinos from very close and much other wildlife like crocodiles, elephants, and deer during a game drive and morning jungle walk. Must do when you plan your Nepal itinerary!
But the thing that made our whole safari experience complete, was our stay in the beautiful Sapana Village Lodge. Every morning with sunrise we saw the resident elephants grazing and having a bath in the river next to the lodge. So magical!
Recommended stay near Chitwan National Park
- 1-3 days
Where to stay near Chitwan National Park
Things to do in Chitwan National Park
Note: All prices listed below are organized by Sapana Village Lodge + to enter Chitwan NP you’ll need to pay a permit of Rs 2000 ($17) per person which is valid a whole day
- Go on a jeep safari ($240 for a half-day or $295 for a full day + permit)
- Visit a Tharu village, who are the original tribe of this region ($8 per person incl guide, 2-hour visit, no need for a permit for this)
- Enjoy a morning jungle walk where you will spot rhinos and other wildlife ($45 per person, incl breakfast picnic + permit)
- Stay a night in the Jungle Tower inside Chitwan NP ($75 per person incl dinner and guide + permit)
Where to eat
- We ate in the restaurant of Sapana Village Lodge which serves the best healthy and fresh vegetarian food (Best vegetable pasta ever, incredible views over the park, romantic setting)
How to get in Chitwan National Park
- From Pokhara, by tourist bus (we booked the Mountain Overland Bus), 5-hour drive, prices are around Rs 750 per person
After Chitwan, we returned back to Kathmandu for 1 night and took the bus the next morning to Bhaktapur.
Bhaktapur is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a beautiful city full of ancient culture and art. Definitely worth adding one or two nights here to your Nepal itinerary.
When you walk through the small streets, you feel like you’re in some kind of a museum. Stunning architecture, old temples, traditional squares, and lovely handicrafts. One of our most favorite places in Nepal!
Recommended stay in Bhaktapur
- 1-3 days
Where to stay in Bhaktapur
Things to do in Bhaktapur
- Visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (entrance fee Rs 1500 per person, you can re-entry the temple a week-long + a part of this fee is used to fund repairs following the earthquake in 2015)
- Walk along the 55 Window Palace located on Bhaktapur Durbar Square which offers great photo opportunities
- If you’re into art, be sure to visit the National Art Gallery too (entrance fee is Rs 150 per person incl all three exhibits)
- Stroll around Pottery Square and Dattatreya (Temple) Square (our favorites!)
- Go early to the Taleju Temple and sit on the steps to watch the hustle and the local daily life
- Enjoy the best mountain views in the afternoon with a coffee or cocktail from the rooftop terrace of The Garuda Bar
Where to eat in Bhaktapur
- The Garuda Bar (wonderful terrace overlooking the old city of Bhaktapur and stunning sceneries of the mountains, a bit more expensive menu but a great choice of cocktails and bites)
- Peaceful Restaurant (a local restaurant with great vegetarian options, cozy atmosphere to have dinner)
How to get in Bhaktapur
- From Kathmandu, by taxi, 45-minute drive, prices are around Rs 1000/one-way
- With the local bus, it’s a bit more challenging, as you need to take 2 buses, prices are around Rs 130 per person
Our 3 weeks in Nepal itinerary ended in the beautiful mountain village of Nagarkot. Nagarkot is located on the rim of Kathmandu valley (2195m) and famous for its breathtaking panoramic views. You’ll need to be lucky with the weather (what we didn’t have) but it’s still a lovely place to do some short hikes. We wish we could have stayed longer here…
Recommended stay in Nagarkot
- 1-3 days
Where to stay in Nagarkot
Things to do in Nagarkot
- Take one of the many hiking trails or you could even walk from Kathmandu to Nagarkot
- Watch the sunrise from Hotel Country Villa and sunset from the market place (where the bus arrives)
Where to eat in Nagarkot
- We had lunch and dinner in our hotel Country Villa, but you could also easily enter here as a guest. They have a really nice and wide menu for lunch and dinner and you get insanely beautiful views included!
How to get in Nagarkot
- From Bhaktapur, by local bus, 1-hour drive leaves every hour, prices are around Rs 55 per person
- You could also go by taxi but that’s way more expensive, prices are around Rs 3000/one-way
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