Bhutan (Thimphu - Punakha - Paro)

Nepal Trip - Kathmandu - Pokhara - Annapurna

I always wanted to visit Nepal for its majestic Himalayan beauty, outdoor activities and historic towns. In December, 2016 while visiting Bangladesh from Canada, we finally got the opportunity to visit Nepal and Bhutan.

Flights

We booked three flights for our combined Nepal-Bhutan trip. Dhaka to Kathmandu via Biman Bangladesh airlines, Kathmandu to Paro via Druk airlines and from Paro to Dhaka also via Druk airlines.

The journey from Dhaka to Kathmandu via Biman airlines was quite comfortable. However, they lost one of our check-in baggage and made it a terrible experience at the end. We spent a lot of time at the airport for the baggage and was really disappointed with the carelessness of Biman Bangladesh Airline. Tip: Try to take only carry on baggage if you can.

Day 1- Kathmandu (Thamel)

We pre-arranged airport pickup via our hotel and our driver picked us up from greeting area. Our hotel was located in the central Thamel area which is quite popular among tourists. After checking in, we went out for dinner. There was a restaurant right across our hotel with lovely settings bustling with tourists. We took a table by the fireplace and had a romantic candle light dinner. Considering the December cold, dinner beside fireplace felt very comfy. 

After dinner, we went for a walk and checked out few shops along the way. As our luggage was missing we decided to buy some clothes from the local market. After bargaining at few shops, we bought two dresses and proceeded to our hotel.

We returned to our hotel around 9PM and arranged our next day Kathmandu sightseeing trip with the help of a hotel tour guide. He helped us booking a car with local driver for the whole day at 3000 INR.


Swayambhunath Stupa

Day 2 - Kathmandu (Sightseeing)

The Kathmandu Valley is home to one of the densest concentrations of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world and we decided to visit as many as we can on a single day.

Swayambhunath Stupa (Admission fee NPR.50 per person)
Our first stop was Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey temple) which is the most popular and an ancient temple. The 2,500 year old monument is a holy site replete with symbols and located on a hill overlooking the city. It’s a 350 step climb to reach the top and you’ll encounter plenty of monkeys along the way. We were also lucky to observe a local wedding in the temple.

Tip: These monkeys are very confident and they are not afraid of humans, so beware of just how close you get to them!



Prayer wheel at  Swayambhunath temple


Swayambhunath Stupa


Wedding ceremony in the Temple

Durbar Square
Our second stop was Durbar Square which is known for it's majestic architecture, dozens of temples, idols, open court and more. All foreign nationals visiting Kathmandu heritage sites have to pay a certain entrance fee to get inside the area. The fee varies between SAARC countries and other countries. We paid NPR.150 per person to get inside the Durbar Square.

Durbar Square

Pigeons at Durbar Sqaure

Pashupatinath temple
Pashupatinath temple is one of the sacred Hindus temples located on the both banks of Bagmati river on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu. This place is considered a sacred place where many choose to be cremated. It is believed that if the body of the deceased is dipped into the river three times before cremation, this will break the cycle of reincarnation and allow the person to reach Nirvana.

It feels strange being a spectator while families are mourning and bodies are burning, so it’s something to think about before you go.

Upon reaching there we learnt, access to the temple itself is restricted for Hindus only, but the complex is open to all visitors for a certain entrance fee. It cost us NPR.100 to get into the area.

Pashupatinath temple
Boudhanath Stupa
Our last stop was Boudhanath Stupa, also called as Baudha in local accent. The Boudha Stupa is semicircle shaped which dominates the skyline and contains the relics and remaining of Buddha. Ticket was NPR.100 per person. 


Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa

Day 3 - Pokhara (Long bus ride)

We took Greenline bus to travel to Pokhara - one of the most popular tourist destination in Nepal. Greenline operates a convenient bus every morning between popular tourist areas of Kathmandu to Pokhara and costs 50 USD for two one way tickets. Although, it was a 8 hours long journey, we did not get bored due to the beautiful scenery along the way. We booked Hotel Annapurna for our stay at Pokhara. The hotel provided us a great mountain view room and we get to capture the majestic view of Machapuchare, which is also known as Fish tail mountain.


Machapuchare Mountain

After checking in to the hotel, we went for walk to checkout the surrounding area. It was a busy tourist area lined up with small shops, road side food stalland many restaurants. Nepal is a country consisted of people from different backgrounds and ethnicity and this is reflected through the food. You will get a great varieties of food here made with local produce, veggies, meat and flavoured to perfection.


Road side food stall
While walking on the street, we found some agencies for outdoor activities. As Pokhara is a best place to do trekking, boating, paragliding and many more adventurous outdoor activities, we decided to do paragliding in the next morning. We visited few agencies, learned about their service, pricing and finally booked Team 5 for paragliding.

Day 4 - Pokhara (Paragliding!)

We went to Sarangkot mountain by car and started paragliding from there with the help of Team 5 agency. It was my first time paragliding and I absolutely loved every bit of it!.


Paragliding

At afternoon, we took a boat ride in Phewa lake. We rent a boat with driver for 1 hour and it cost us around NPR. 420 in total with the life jacket. The lake was surrounded by natural beauty and took us far away from the bustling of the city.


Boat ride at Phewa Lake

After boat ride, we stopped at a well decorated restaurant for dinner. The restaurant and it’s environment was outstanding but the food was below average compared to the price.

Tip: Don't get attracted by the live music playing, restaurant bustling with tourist usually serve better foods compared to highly decorated restaurant with handful of customers.

Day 5 - Australian Base Camp (Trekking!)

Next morning, we started our trekking toward Australian Base Camp. This trail is a part of the greater Annapurna circuit trail however, you do not need any trekking permit. It was the most adventurous part of our Nepal trip. We hiked through forest, small villages, tea houses in the hillsides trail. After 3 hours of trekking, we reached at Australian Base Camp in the afternoon. Upon reaching there, we were amazed with this gorgeous view of the mountain.


Australian Base Camp

We decided to stay in a tea house for the night. After checking in to the room and enjoying a relaxing late lunch we went out to view the sunset. From sunrise to sunset, the colors keep changing and offers an incredible views.


Sunset at Australian Base Camp
Sunset - Fish tail mountain 

Due to unbearable December cold, we could not stay outside for long after sunset. We returned to our tea house and had a hot dinner with tea before going to bed. However, w
e could not sleep well throughout the night because of extreme cold weather. We took four blanket to survive in the night, but still felt chilled!.

Day 6 - Australian Base Camp to Dhampus village

We wake up before dawn to view the sunrise. It was unlike anything I have seen in my life. The red sun rising behind the Himalayan mountain range was one of a kind which can't be explained in any words or photos.


Sunrise from Australian Camp

After breakfast, we started hiking towards Dhampus Village. The village was full of natural beauty, little hillside houses and green fields. The trek towards Dhampus provided us an insight into the typical village life. Farmer's were working in the hill without any advanced machinery and few women were gossiping and washing clothes. It was a peaceful environment there.


Dhampus Village

View of Annapurna Mountain range from the trail

We lost track of our hiking trail at one point and somehow ended up in the main road. We came across a local wedding there with hundreds of people dancing and singing. We kept walking on the main road and w
ith the help of a local finally found the trail again. After couple of hours of trekking down we finally reached the bus stop in late afternoon.



Last stop in our trail - to go beyond this you need a special permit

Day 7 - Pokhara

It was our last day in Pokhara and we decided to visit couple of places near the city. We booked a cab for the whole day and visited Shanti Stupa, Bat Cove, Devis Falls and few souvenir shops.

Shanti Stupa

Shanti Stupa is the first World Peace Pagoda in Nepal, which was built to promote world peace and prosperity. We walked around the Damside tip of the lake and hiked up to the pagoda. Upon reaching there, we began to walk to the base of the World Peace Pagoda, took off our shoes and made our way up to the first golden statue. The sky was clear and we got a great view of the Machapuchare Mountain and the city of Pokhara from the top.


Santi Stupa

After Shanti Stupa, we went to Bat Cove, and Devis Falls. There were several souvenir shops at Devis Falls and we bought few souvenirs from there. Later, we took our lunch at a roadside food stall, just in front of falls and while crossing the road, met with few little girls dolled up for New Year festival.


Souvenir shop at Devis Falls

Girls dolled up for festival

At the evening, we attended the festival just beside our hotel, and enjoyed their cultural evening. The festival lasted whole night with loud music and dance.

Pokhara Street Festival


Day 8-9: Back to Kathmandu - Fly to Bhutan

We returned back to Kathmandu the next day and finished all the the preparation for our next journey. At evening, we visited nearby shops and went out for dinner. Next morning, at the airport we collected our lost luggage and flew to Bhutan - The land of the Thunder Dragon.

Santi Stupa - Dec 31 2016






Comments