Jess Buchan

Situated in central Nepal by the Phewa Lake and known as the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, Pokhara was everything Kathmandu wasn't. It was calm, serene and picturesque. Where Kathmandu has windy, dusty streets, Pokhara had mountainous views in all directions. After a week navigating the confusing streets of Kathmandu it was time to escape and Pokhara seemed like the ideal place to do it.

I caught a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara and arrived early afternoon. After finding our accommodation, my friend Casey and I headed to the lakeside to find something to eat. Having gotten used to the busy streets of Thamel, Kathmandu’s main tourist area, we were pleasantly surprised to not potentially be run over by an incoming scooter or taxi. We reached the lakeside and were taken aback by the beauty.

sunset over lake

Phewa Lake is the second largest lake in Nepal and surrounded by a dense forest. Apart from the Lakeside area where most tourists reside, the lake remains untouched and the forest around it gives the water an emerald hue. On the clearest of days, the Annapurna Mountains perfectly reflect in the lakes mirror surface. Row boats of all shapes and sizes float along the waters edge and locals sprawl out on the grassy banks, enjoying the afternoon sun.

Our first mission was to find food and we had no trouble in doing so. The trouble was deciding where to eat. We had arrived in June at the start of the monsoon season. This meant that tourists were sparse and restaurants were empty, it almost felt like we were locals.

The following morning we woke early, ready to hike to the World Peace Pagoda. After walking around in circles for a while (thanks Google Maps!) we finally found the right track to the top. It took about an hour to get there and once at the top we were rewarded with a glorious view. The city of Pokhara sat below us and I was shocked to see how big it actually was as it felt like a small town.

World Peace Pagoda

Sweaty and tired from the hike up, we opted to be canoed back across Phewa Lake by one of the locals for the grand sum of $2. It was a very pleasant way to finish our hike! That afternoon we treated ourselves to a spa day at one of Pokhara’s many spa and wellness centres. Jiva Café and Spa by the lakeside spoiled us all afternoon and we came out feeling like a million dollars. As Pokhara is the main starting point for hiking the Annapurnas, locals have capitalised on hikers coming back sore and in need of some R&R – hence the abundance of spas popping up all through Pokhara!

canoe ride in pokhara

The next day we woke up to brilliant clear skies and a magnificent view of the Annapurna range. We had booked zip-lining and paragliding as the activities for the day. Somehow the Gods had provided us with the best day possible in monsoon season. As we drove up the hill to the zip-lining centre we caught glimpses of the mountains. Their snowy peaks shone brilliantly against the blue sky. Pokhara is not just hiking and spas; it is also the action capital of the country, with bungee-jumping, white water rafting and paragliding as just some of the activities you can do. If I had more time, I would have done them all!

Annapurna Mountain Range

That night we celebrated our last night in Pokhara at the Pokhara Thakali Kitchen, where we had a traditional Thali meal. The Thakali originated from a region in Nepal and their cuisine is well known across the country. A usual Thakali meal will have an array of curries (thali) and sides served as a meal and offers free refills. We came out of the restaurant bursting with fullness and our tastebuds on fire! The Thakali sure know how to add flavour.

The next day we were on our way back to Kathmandu, feeling relaxed and calm after a few days in peaceful Pokhara. I’m definitely planning on coming back to hike the Annapurna circuit and will be allowing more time in Pokhara to take in the serenity of this beautiful town.

Things to know:

  • The bus ride between Kathmandu and Pokhara can take anywhere between 5-9 hours. Since the 2015 earthquake, there have been many landslides and continuous roadworks. It’s not fun but it’s all part of the adventure.
  • Unless you’re strapped for time, don't book a ticket onwards, the relaxed vibe of Pokhara will have you wanting to stay longer than planned.
  • Be aware that Nepal charges 10% tax and a 13% service charge in restaurants and cafes. Not all places will add both and some will include it in their menu prices, but most will add it on to the bill at the end.


Jess Buchan is an Aussie travel blogger who has lived in Europe and loves to share her travel stories on her blog, Instagram @ablondeandherpassport and Twitter @ablondeandher.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.