Welcome to Pokhara. Here’s your book, a hammock, and a spliff and if you don’t leave the hammock all day we don’t mind, or blame you one bit. She’s like the stoner little sister of Kathmandu. Life moves slower and at a very relaxed pace compared to Kathmandu, but it is also a fairly large city.
We arrived here following our 20 day trek through the Annapurna Conservation Region. It was everything we needed and more. If you’re looking for a place with all the amenities of a city but with a very chilled out vibe, Pokhara is your hub to kill some time in.
The popular area for tourists to visit is called “Lakeside” and it’s exactly how it sounds. The main road runs alongside a large lake that is framed by a backdrop of snow capped mountains. From the bus station you’ll want to take a taxi to lakeside and if you walk a short distance outside the bus station parking lot you’ll be able to negotiate a much better rate. Start low and aim for 200 Rs.
The city itself has all the comforts and activities you could desire, from waterfront cantinas and restaurants to boat rentals and paragliding. Most popular are the pontoon sized paddle boats with larger groups and families and there’s the smaller canoe-like rowboats also. There are two sailboats for rent as well and if you’re lucky enough to be traveling with an old salt like Captain Matt, you’ll be one of the few people out catching the breeze and using wind power on the lake.
The hotel’s range from high rise midrange dwellings to tucked back budget numbers complete with hammocks and backpacker crowds. I highly suggest the latter as you’ll make fast friends and have lots of interesting cross culture discussion as well as the swap of travel advice. It’s unfortunate neither of us remember the name of the hotel we stayed at but its on the north end of the strip just off the main road to the left, right across the alley from The Yeti restaurant. It’s not the high rise but the single story right behind it. Nice gardens, clean and good people running the joint. You can also arrange jungle day hikes, paragliding, trekking, meditation courses, yoga and reiki activities through the hotel.
The people we met in Pokhara were some of the most fun, good timing and interesting types. Some of them had been at the hotel a short time and others were there for weeks with no intention of leaving anytime soon. It reminded me a little of Neverland, or Camp David in the best way. We got to take some fellow backpackers out sailing as well so it was a place that contained people that made it feel a lot like home. I could see why some of the other travelers had no intentions of leaving. Pokhara is now on the MUST list if we ever do return to Nepal. I insist it be on yours as well if you plan to travel there. No regrets.
We didn’t do a ton of sight seeing there, it was more so a place to catch some downtime after the epic hike but there is plenty to do, even for the most ambitious of travelers. The nightlife wasn’t bad either. We found a fooseball table and several venues with pretty decent live music by the end of the visit. All in all, Pokhara (Nepal in general) has made its was into my top ten favorite places list. If you ever visit there, I guarantee you’ll completely understand why it is beloved amongst all travelers of Nepal.