Ancient Cities of Nepal

Nepal is synonymous with mountain trekking and boasts some of the most impressive, challenging hikes in the world, but there’s so much more to this land-locked, Himalayan country then trekking. Culture and religion are the bedrock of Nepal and our Ancient Cities of Nepal itinerary delves deeper into the country’s rich, ancient heritage.

At a glance
  • Immerse yourself in three ancient Kathmandu Valley Kingdoms
  • Spend a night in a mountain homestay with a Nepalese family
  • Experience a day in the life of a Tibetan monastery
  • Kick back in the serene, lakeside city of Pokhara
  • Embark on mountain hikes with expansive Himalayan vistas
  • Wonder at ancient temples and skilled artisans in Patan
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Kathmandu - 2 nights

Kathmandu, Nepal’s historic capital, is an intoxicating feast for the senses. The scent of incense mingles with heady spices and fuggy scooter exhaust, while merchants shout to make themselves heard above the beeping of motorbike horns. Cars and pedestrians share space with cows in streets lined with ancient temples and internet cafes. It’s an all-engrossing whirlwind of ancient-meets-modern, so be prepared for a sensory overload! The 2015 earthquake brought huge damage to much of Nepal, including crucial areas of Kathmandu, but the country endures and rebuilding continues at a pace in this resilient city.

Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu

Upon arrival in Kathmandu you’ll be met by your guide who will accompany you to your hotel. Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these. The rest of your day will be at leisure.

Day 2 - Historic tour of Kathmandu, Newari architecture in Kirtipur, Chobar Gorge

Includes:

Surround yourself with Kathmandu’s fascinating history on a morning walk to several significant sites. Wander around Durbar Square (the traditional heart of the capital), where the city’s kings were once crowned, and through a labyrinth of lanes lined with shrines, temples, teahouses and markets. See the Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu’s Royal Palace); Itum Bahal, which boasts the largest ‘bahal’, or Buddhist monastery courtyard, in the old town; and the intricately carved Kumari Chowk, home to the young Kumari or living goddess. Hike to UNESCO-listed Swayambhunath (the Monkey Temple) to see a fascinating mix of Buddhist iconography and Hindu deities, and the extraordinary eye mural that stares down over the Kathmandu Valley.

In the afternoon, head out to the UNESCO-listed Newari town of Kirtipur, where traffic-free streets are dotted with ancient temples and beautifully preserved Newari buildings. On your way back to Kathmandu, stop at Chobar Gorge where legend tells how Manjushri, the god of wisdom, emptied the valley of water.

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Panauti - 1 night

Once a major trading centre with an imposing royal palace, Panauti is now a quiet, well-preserved town peppered with classic Rana-era mansions and intriguing ancient temples. Built at the confluence of three streams, it is considered sacred, and pilgrims flock to the Tribeni Ghat to bathe in the holy waters. Also along the sacred riverside is the 13th century Indreshwar Mahadev Temple - a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva - which is an excellent example of traditional Newari architecture.

Day 3 - Temple wanders in Bhaktapur, Panauti homestay

Includes:

Head out early for Bhaktapur: one of the Kathmandu Valley’s former royal cities, and home to some of the finest religious architecture in Nepal. Although many ancient buildings were destroyed during the 2015 earthquake, the city still boasts more temples than neighbouring Kathmandu and there’s plenty to see. Wander through narrow streets to see courtyards filled with fired clay pots, women sitting weaving cloth, and craftsmen carefully chiselling timber into furniture and statues.

After losing yourself among Bhaktapur’s alleyways, continue to Panauti where a group of families have established a joint home-stay program. Spend the night as the guest of a local family in a typical home, where you’ll learn to cook local dishes as you help prepare dinner, before settling down to enjoy the meal together.

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Neydo Monastery - 1 night

The settlements and villages of the wider Kathmandu Valley are a world away from the bustling capital, and offer a fascinating insight into local life. The Neydo Tashi Choeling Monastery, a Tibetan-style monastery on a hillside near Pharping, is home to nearly 200 monks. Unlike most of the monasteries in Nepal, Neydo Tashi Choeling is a relatively new building, constructed in 2006, with the remit of preserving the central rituals and beliefs of the Neydo tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Day 4 - Artisan Newari villages, Neydo Tashi Choeling monastery stay

Includes:

Journey to the historic Newari villages of Bungamati and Khokana, where life has remained virtually unchanged for generations. Bungamati’s residents are keeping the region’s wood-carving traditions alive through their work, and the main square is dotted with workshops and showrooms. Nearby Khokana has earned a reputation for producing high quality mustard oil using age-old methods.

Continue south to the Neydo Tashi Choeling monastery, where you’ll spend the night in their comfortable guest house. Staying overnight immerses you in the daily lives of the resident monks. You can join them in the main hall for the early morning and evening ceremonies, meditate and eat alongside them, and soak up the spiritual silence. There are various walks you can make to a number of nearby, smaller monasteries too, which enrich your experience even further.

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Bandipur - 2 nights

Rolling over a 1,030m high ridge above the road linking Kathmandu to Pokhara, Bandipur is a beautifully preserved Newari town, virtually untouched by modernisation. Cobbled streets weave past nostalgic, narrow shops. Houses with intricate balconies and carved wooden features are festooned with flowering plants. As well as its wealth of 18th century architecture, Bandipur is blessed with breath-taking views across the valley towards the Himalayas, and offers excellent trekking in the surrounding hills.

Day 5 - Monastery morning, cable car ride, Bandipur hilltop village

Includes:

Early risers can join the resident monks for morning prayers if they wish, before leaving the monastery and heading north west. As you get further from the bustle of Kathmandu, the views open out to reveal an expanse of mountains and rolling countryside. Pass the Trishuli River and the massive Marshyangdi Hydroelectric Project powerhouse en route, and glimpse ancient stone villages backed by steep rice terraces and towering mountains.

At Kuringtar, ride the exhilarating cable car up the hillside to the Manakamana Temple, dedicated to the goddess Bhagwati, who Nepalis believe has the power to grant wishes. Stroll around the temple, enjoying the phenomenal views, before taking the cable car back down and carrying on to Bandipur, where the rest of your day will be at leisure. Many of the traditional buildings around the bazaar have been transformed into cafes and restaurants, where you can easily while away the hours watching the bustle go by.

Day 6 - Hiking around Bandipur, temple or village visit

Includes:

The forested hillsides surrounding Bandipur are packed with tempting hiking trails, and one of the most popular is a gentle, 20-minute trek west to Purano Kot: an old fort and small temple. A new temple has been built nearby, and locals believe that praying here during times of drought will bless the farmers with rain.

If you’re looking for a longer trek, the small village of Ramkot is a two-hour hike west, passing through the timeless villages of Muchuk and Mukundeswari en route. The residents of Ramkot, who belong to the Magar tribe, still live in traditional round houses and rely on healers and shamans for their well-being.

Depending on your mood and energy levels, you can explore the hills all day, or just head back to town to relax.

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Pokhara - 3 nights

Undoubtedly one of Nepal’s most photogenic cities, laid-back, lake-side Pokhara is backed by spectacular views of the ruggedly-beautiful Annapurna mountains. It sits on a historic trade route between India and Tibet and, until the mid-1960s, was only accessible via a two-week trek from Kathmandu. Mule trains can sometimes be seen walking the old paths, laden with trade goods from remote regions of the Himalayas. In recent years, Pokhara has become the adventure sports capital of Nepal, offering world-class paragliding and white-water rafting, as well as being a major starting point for treks into the Annapurna’s.

Day 7 - Mountain drive to Pokhara, Bindyabasini Temple, Seti River Gorge

Includes:

Take the main Prithvi Highway west to Pokhara, keeping your camera handy to snap the views of the steep, rocky gorges on the road between the Madi River and vast Seti Valley. There’ll be time to freshen up at your hotel before heading out on a gentle afternoon’s exploration, wandering around the delicately gilded 17th century Bindyabasini Temple, and peering into the Seti River Gorge.

Day 8 - Annapurna mountain day trek, panoramic views from Sarangkot Hill

Includes:

Pokhara is the starting point for exploring the epic Annapurna mountains on foot, but you don’t need to pack a tent and disappear into the peaks for days (unless you want to!), as there are a number of scenic day treks through the foothills. The day trek to Sarangkot Hill offers, without doubt, the most incredible view of the Annapurnas. On a clear day, the multiple mountain panorama includes Machhapulchhare – also known as Fish Tail Mountain due to its distinctive shape (6,997m), Hiunchuli (6,441m), Annapurna I (8,091m), Annapurna III (7,555m), Annapurna IV (7,525m) and Annapurna II (7,937m). An impressive roll call!

Drive just outside Pokhara to Naudanda, where the trek begins. From there it’s a fairly gentle three-hour hike, following a gently undulating ridge. Stop along the way, and at the top of Sarangkot Hill, to capture the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, low-lying lakes, and small villages. Having absorbed the vistas, and taken endless photographs, return to Pokhara and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.

Day 9 - At leisure in Pokhara

Includes:

Spend a day at leisure soaking up Pokhara’s laid back atmosphere, or get active on a walking trail around the town. Take a short two-hour trek into the surrounding countryside to local villages, or opt for a more challenging day hike higher into the mountains. Thrill-seekers can go white-water rafting on the Upper Seti River, or paraglide on thermals above Sarangkot Hill. If all that sounds a bit too energetic, opt for a visit to a nearby Tibetan community, or perhaps stroll to the lake, hire a paddle boat and gently scull across the still water. For the ultimate experience, and an unbeatable close-up view of the Himalayas, book a once-in-a lifetime helicopter flight to Annapurna Base Camp.

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Patan - 1 night

Across the Bagmati River from Kathmandu, Patan is the oldest of the valley’s three ancient kingdoms. Also known as Lalitpur, meaning ‘City of Beauty’, it’s a well-known hub for craftsmen and artisans, and has the finest collection of temples in the whole of Nepal. Around Patan’s Durbar Square you can see the richly-decorated 14th century Royal Palace of Patan, the 17th century Krishna Mandir, and the Taleju Temple dedicated to the four-headed Hindu goddess Taleju Bhawani. A short walk away is the Golden Temple, or Kwa Bahal: a beautiful monastery decorated in brass and bronze.

Day 10 - Patan temple & artisan tours

Includes:

Fly to Kathmandu on to Patan, where you can spend the afternoon strolling through the town’s narrow alleyways, marvelling at the distinctive architecture and ancient sites. Visit the excellent museum packed with bronzes, sculptures and archive photos in the Royal Palace of Patan, and the Indian-style Krishna Mandir temple built entirely from carved stone, as well as some of the city’s other 180 extraordinary temples and monasteries. Wander between local artisans’ workshops, admiring the traditional metalwork and thangka paintings, before strolling back to your hotel for an evening at leisure.

Day 11 - Depart Kathmandu

Includes:

Check out and transfer to Kathmandu Airport for your onward flight.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 5 - 6
First Class £1,195US$1,565 £1,028US$1,346 £949US$1,243

Traditional Comfort

The Traditional Comfort hotel, just outside the busiest area of central Kathmandu, showcases a stylish fusion of Newari craftsmanship and contemporary design… See more

Panauti Homestay

Houses in Panauti are generally fairly narrow, multi-storey buildings with a central stairway. Rooms are simply furnished, but clean, comfortable and typical of the households in which you are staying...

Neydo Monastery

Tucked away in the Himalayas, Neydo Monastery is a guesthouse situated next to Neydo Tashi Choeling Monastery. Comprising of 23 comfortable and attractive rooms, all with modern bathrooms...

The Old Inn Bandipur

On a quiet square in the heart of peaceful Bandipur, the Old Inn offers homely accommodation, traditional charm and the chance to step out of time for a while and enjoy the mountain views… See more

Glacier Hotel

With a relaxed, Mediterranean-style design that suits its position on the shore of Phewa Lake, the Glacier Hotel is ideal for taking time out in Pokhara’s fashionable lakeside district.… See more

The Inn Patan

Hidden in a quiet corner of Patan, away from the more tourist centric areas of Kathmandu, The Inn Patan is a homely boutique with heaps of character and a welcoming ambiance… See more
Superior £1,648US$2,159 £1,589US$2,081 £1,392US$1,823

Hotel Yak & Yeti

Overlooking an oasis of manicured grounds in the heart of Kathmandu’s Durbar Marg district, the Hotel Yak & Yeti offers high-quality service and a timeless aesthetic… See more

Panauti Homestay

Houses in Panauti are generally fairly narrow, multi-storey buildings with a central stairway. Rooms are simply furnished, but clean, comfortable and typical of the households in which you are staying...

Neydo Monastery

Tucked away in the Himalayas, Neydo Monastery is a guesthouse situated next to Neydo Tashi Choeling Monastery. Comprising of 23 comfortable and attractive rooms, all with modern bathrooms...

Three Mountain Lodge

High on a ridge above Bandipur village, with panoramic views over the valley towards the snowy Himalayan peaks, Three Mountain Lodge feels about as far from fast-paced city life as you can get.… See more

Temple Tree Resort & Spa

Tucked away off the main road at the southern end of Fewa Lake, the Temple Tree Resort & Spa in Pokhara offers high quality service alongside excellent facilities, with a focus on rest, health and relaxation… See more

Hotel Himalaya

The Hotel Himalaya is set amidst 10 acres of landscaped gardens, on the outskirts of Patan: easily accessible to places of interest (it’s a 25-minute stroll to Durbar Square), yet far enough away to enjoy a little peace... See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
Whilst many clients are happy with one of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: During high season periods hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

Inclusive:

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary and relevant permits
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.

Exclusive:

  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights from the UK
  • Entry visa
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

Extras

Flights

We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

Visa

You will require a visa to enter Nepal. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

Passport

Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

Insurance

You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

Your own private guides & drivers

You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.

Book With Confidence

For peace of mind when booking your future holiday to Asia, we have introduced flexible booking conditions & full financial clarity.