Nestled on a ridge of hills, with the snowy Himalayan peaks jutting behind and the green terraces of the Marsyangdi valley on all sides, Bandipur's location couldn't be more spectacular. It's a sleepy little town, full of atmospheric traces of its past as a major trading hub; its stone-paved main street lined with pastel-hued shop houses decorated with ornate wooden verandas and steep tiled roofs. This is the perfect place to kick back and simply soak up Nepal's impressive mountain views.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
Bandipur still feels genuine and down-to-earth. Often referred to as a ‘living museum of Newari culture’, everyday life continues around you: kids play football in the pedestrianised streets and vendors sell brightly coloured woven carpets and clothes on pop-up stalls. Some of the town's traditional shops have been transformed into friendly bars and restaurants, where visitors blend in happily with the locals. Just a short walk up from the village is the flat plateau at Tundikhel, a spot where traders gathered to barter in times gone by. The views from here are spectacular: an uninterrupted panorama of the Himalayas. On a clear day you can see up to ten peaks including Dhaulagiri and Manaslu, the seventh and eighth highest peaks in the world.
Bats and silkworms
The hillsides around Bandipur are honeycombed with caves, including the vast caverns of Siddha Gufa which were only fully discovered in 1987. Said to be the largest cave system in Nepal, it boasts huge cathedral-like cavities studded with stalagmites and stalactites, and is home to hundreds of bats. You’ll need good shoes, a torch, and the assistance of a guide to explore the system safely. Staying with unusual and fascinating creatures, silk farming is an important industry in the Bandipur region. A short distance from town, you can visit a traditional silk farm to learn about silk production and see silk cocoons being nurtured on mulberry bushes. The delicate thread is spun in the home and then used to make colourful scarves and carpets.
Ambling through Bandipur's narrow streets and tumbledown squares is a delight. The bazaar runs east to west along the top of the hill and comprises a gaggle of old houses with carved wooden lintels and verandas. Right in the middle sits the small pagoda-style Bindhebasini Temple that enshrines Bandipur's icon of the goddess Bindhebasini, which is pulled through the town during New Year celebrations. Explore the forested hillsides around Bandipur and visit the villages that cling to the terraced valleys for a step back in time. At Ramkot you can meet members of the Magar community, who live in traditional round houses and seek advice from revered healers and shamans.
Taking an alternative approach to a classic Nepal combination, this journey contrasts the heady and hectic streets of Kathmandu with the open savannah of Chitwan National Park. Slow down to search for tigers and rhinos amid the wilderness, before strapping up your boots for a light trek between two atmospheric lodges in the Himalayan foothills around Pokhara.