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
  • Explore the three ancient Kathmandu Valley Kingdoms.
  • Spend the night in a homestay as the guest of a Nepalese family.
  • Get a first-hand insight into the life of a Tibetan monk.
  • Kick back in the serene, lakeside city of Pokhara.
  • Admire the breath-taking Himalayan mountain vistas.
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Kathmandu - 2 nights

Day 1 - arrive Kathmandu

Upon arrival in Kathmandu you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel. The airport is close to the city centre, but traffic can make the journey a little slow, especially in peak hours.

The capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is an assault on the senses: the smell of incense mingles with pungent spices and scooter exhaust; merchants shout to make themselves heard above the sound of motorbike horns; cars and cows share the streets which are lined with ancient temples alongside internet cafes. Be prepared for a sensory overload!

Whilst the 2015 earthquake brought devastation to much of Nepal and major damage to Kathmandu, the country’s spirit endures and the rebuilding is underway at a pace in the capital.

The remainder of your day is at leisure.

Overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 2 - Kathmandu, Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, Kirtipur

Includes:

Spend the morning exploring Kathmandu’s ancient sites, focusing initially around Durbar Square. Durbar means palace and it is on this site that the city’s kings were crowned and from where they ruled. Many of the surrounding buildings date back to the 18th century (some even older) and it still remains the traditional heart of the capital.

The labyrinth of lanes that lead off from the square are lined with shrines and temples; teahouses and markets. Your guide will point out places of significant interest such as Hanuman Dhoka - Kathmandu’s Royal Palace; Itum Bahal, which boasts the largest ‘bahal’ (Buddhist monastery courtyard) in the old town; and the intricately carved Kumari Chowk which is home to the young Kumari (living goddess).

A stop will also be made at one of Kathmandu’s most iconic sites: Swayambhunath, a.k.a the Monkey Temple. Perched on a hilltop on the outskirts of town, the stupa’s all-seeing eyes overlook the Kathmandu Valley. This deeply symbolic UNESCO World Heritage site is a fascinating mix of Buddhist iconography and Hindu deities. Sadly, some of the shrines were damaged by the 2015 earthquake, but the vast cone of the main stupa remains.

In the afternoon, make the short journey south west of Kathmandu to the well-preserved Newari town of Kirtipur. Another UNESCO listed site, its’ traffic free streets are dotted with ancient temples and classic Newari architecture is prevalent in many of the buildings. Due to its strategic location overlooking the valley, Kirtipur was considered an important town in the 18th century and was subject to over 20 attempted invasions.

On your way back to Kathmandu make a stop at Chobar Gorge where Manjushri, the god of wisdom, emptied the valley of its water.

Overnight in Kathmandu.

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Panauti - 1 night

Day 3 - Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Panauti Homestay

Includes:

After breakfast, depart Kathmandu for Bhaktapur, one of the three former royal cities of the Kathmandu Valley (the other two being Kathmandu & Patan) and home to some of the finest religious architecture in Nepal. Sadly, many of the ancient buildings were destroyed during the 2015 earthquake however the city still boasts more temples than neighbouring Kathmandu and there is plenty to see.

Wander through the maze of narrow streets and you will see evidence of Bhaktapur’s rich cultural heritage: courtyards are filled with fired clay pots, women sit weaving cloth and craftsmen carefully chisel timber into furniture and statues.

After some time losing yourself amongst the alleyways, continue your journey eastwards to Panauti. Once a major trading centre with a royal palace, Panauti is now a quiet, well-preserved town, which is home to some interesting ancient temples and impressive Rana-era mansions. Its location at the confluence of three streams is considered sacred and pilgrims flock to the Tribeni Ghat to bathe in the holy waters. Also boasting a sacred riverside location is the town’s Indreshwar Mahadev Temple. Built in the late 13th century this Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is a prime example of Newari architecture.

Several Panauti families have joined forces to establish a home-stay program and your accommodation for the night will be in the home of a local family. Houses in the region are generally fairly narrow, multi-storey buildings, simply furnished yet clean and comfortable. Having been welcomed by your hosts there will be the opportunity to assist with the preparation of dinner and learn how to cook local dishes, before settling down together to eat.

Overnight in a Panauti Homestay.

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Neydo Monastery - 1 night

Day 4 - Bungamati & Khokana, Pharping, Overnight in Neydo Monastery

Includes:

After bidding farewell to your hosts, depart Panauti for the historic Newari villages of Bungamati and Khokana, where life has remained virtually unchanged for generations. Many of the residents of Bungamati are woodcarvers (as were their forefathers), and the main square is dotted with workshops and showrooms. Khokana, on the other hand, has earned a reputation for its mustard oil which is made using traditional methods. Visits to these villages offers a fascinating insight into local life in the Kathmandu Valley that feels a world away from the capital city.

Continue south to Pharping and the nearby Neydo Tashi Choeling Monastery - a Tibetan-style monastery that is home to nearly 200 monks and also to you for the night! Unlike most of the monasteries you will visit on your travels through Nepal, Neydo Tashi Choeling is a relative new-build, constructed in 2006 with the purpose of preserving the rituals and beliefs of the Neydo tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Next door to the monastery, the guest house comprises of 23 comfortable, en-suite rooms, with tea & coffee making facilities and a private balcony. Meals are provided in the dining room. Staying overnight offers an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in the daily lives of the resident monks and you can join them in the main hall for the early morning and evening ceremonies, participate in meditation, eat alongside them or simply soak up the spiritual silence. There are also various walks you can make in the area to a number of smaller monasteries. The income generated from overnight guests contributes to the day-to-day running of the monastery.

Overnight in Neydo Monastery.

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Bandipur - 2 nights

Day 5 - Neydo Monastery, Manakamana Temple, Bandipur

Includes:

Early risers may wish to join the resident monks for morning prayers, before departing the monastery, heading north towards Kathmandu and then west to the hilltop settlement of Bandipur. As you drive further away from the busy roads around Kathmandu the views are impressive and along the way you will pass the Trishuli River and the massive Marshyangdi Hydroelectric Project powerhouse as well as ancient stone villages backed by steep rice terraces and towering mountains.

Before arriving into Bandipur stop at Kuringtar where you will board an Austrian-engineered cable car (yes, really!) for a 10-minute journey up the hillside to the Manakamana Temple. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Bhagwati, who Nepalis believe has the power to grant wishes. Take a stroll around the temple and enjoy the views before taking the cable car back down to the base of the hill and continuing on to Bandipur.

Occupying a 1,030m high ridge above the main highway linking Kathmandu to Pokhara, Bandipur is a beautifully preserved Newari town, virtually untouched by modernisation. Apart from wonderful 18th century architecture, Bandipur boasts breath-taking views across the valley towards the Himalayas and offers some excellent trekking opportunities in the surrounding hills.

On arrival, check in to your guesthouse and the remainder of your day is at leisure. Many of the traditional buildings around the bazaar have been transformed into cafes and restaurants, and you can easily while away an hour people-watching with a drink.

Overnight in Bandipur.

Day 6 - Bandipur: Purano Kot trek

Includes:

The forested hillsides surrounding Bandipur offer plenty of hiking opportunities. After breakfast depart your hotel on one of the more popular, short treks to Purano Kot. A 20-minute, easy hike, heading westwards from Bandipur’s main bazaar brings you to this 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 to the west of town. It’s a fairly easy walk passing through the villages of Muchuk and Mukundeswari en route, both little touched by development. The residents of Ramkot belong to the Magar tribe; they still live in traditional round houses and rely on healers and shamans for their well-being.

Return to town where the remainder of your day is free to relax or continue exploring.

Overnight in Bandipur.

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Pokhara - 3 nights

Day 7 - Bandipur, Pokhara, Orientation Tour

Includes:

After a leisurely breakfast, descend down to the main Prithvi Highway and drive westwards to Pokhara.

After crossing the Madi River the road climbs steeply into the mountains (keep your camera close at hand for views of deep rocky gorges on a clear day), and then winds down into the vast Seti Valley.

After around 2.5 hours, arrive into Pokhara.

Pokhara lies on a once vibrant trade route extending between India and Tibet, and even to this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalayas. Arguably the most photogenic city in the country, laid-back Pokhara enjoys a serene lakeside setting with views towards the stunning Annapurna mountain range. It’s widely agreed to be the adventure sports capital of Nepal, offering excellent paragliding and white-water rafting opportunities as well as being the start point for treks in and around the Annapurnas.

There is time to freshen up before an orientation tour in and around Pokhara. Stops will be made at the 17th century Bindyabasini Temple, and Seti River Gorge – a deep chasm carved through town by the Seti River.

Overnight in Pokhara.

Day 8 - Pokhara: Sarangkot Hill trek

Includes:

Pokhara is the jumping off point for exploring the epic mountains on foot, but you don’t need to pack a tent and disappear into the peaks for days, as there are a number of scenic day treks through the foothills that can be arranged from Pokhara.

One such trek is to Sarangkot Hill which offers, without doubt, the most incredible view of the Annapurnas. On a clear day, the multiple mountain peak 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 for 30 minutes out of Pokhara to Naudanda which is where you will begin your trek. From here it’s a fairly easy three-hour hike, following along a ridge with some gentle inclines and downhill sections. Picturesque scenic views of the surrounding mountain landscape, low-lying lakes, and small villages can be enjoyed along the way. Don’t forget your camera! The view, once you have reached Sarangkot is even more spectacular. Prepare to be wowed!

Having gazed at the panoramic views and taken endless photographs, return to Pokhara by car. The remainder of your day is at leisure.

Overnight in Pokhara.

Day 9 - Pokhara

Includes:

Your day is at leisure to relax and soak up Pokhara’s laid back vibe.

If you feel the need to be active there are endless walking trails around Pokhara for pretty much every fitness level. These range from short two-hour treks that explore the surrounding countryside and local villages, to more challenging full day hikes that head higher into the mountains. The more adventurous may want to try white-water rafting through the swirling rapids on the Upper Seti River or floating on the thermals above Pokhara on a tandem paraglide from Sarangkot Hill.

If these options sound a little too energetic it’s possible to visit a nearby Tibetan community, home to exiled Tibetans who have maintained their unique lifestyle. Or simply stroll down to the lake, hire a paddle boat and scull leisurely across the water.

For the ultimate experience, and an unbeatable close up view of the surrounding Himalayas, we can arrange a helicopter flight to Annapurna Base Camp.

Your Destination Specialist can provide further information and inspiration.

Overnight in Pokhara.

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Patan - 1 night

Day 10 - Pokhara, Kathmandu, Patan Walking Tour

Includes:

After a leisurely breakfast, transfer to Pokhara Airport in time for your short flight to Kathmandu.

Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Patan. Located 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 boasts the finest collection of temples in the whole of Nepal, and is a well-known hub for craftsmen and artisans.

Spend the afternoon strolling through Patan’s narrow alleyways, wondering at the extraordinary architecture and ancient sites. On the eastern side of Patan’s Durbar Square is the richly decorated, wing-roofed Royal Palace of Patan. Originally constructed in the 14th century, it predates the palaces in neighbouring Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. One wing of the Palace now houses an excellent museum packed with bronzes, sculptures and old photos. Also found on Durbar Square is the 17th century Krishna Mandir, an Indian-style temple constructed entirely from carved stone; and the Taleju Temple, which is dedicated to the four-headed Hindu goddess Taleju Bhawani. A short walk away is the Golden Temple (or Kwa Bahal), which is neither a temple nor strictly golden – it’s a monastery decorated in brass and bronze, but beautiful nonetheless.

Before becoming templed-out, stroll back to your hotel where your evening is at leisure.

Overnight in Patan.

Day 11 - depart Kathmandu

Includes:

After a leisurely breakfast 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.