Nepal is the holiday destination for many international tourists, while some also visit here for pilgrimage, trekking and adventure sports, among several other reasons. If you also count the number of domestic tourists the volume of people in some areas, both explored and unexplored, becomes overwhelming. Here are the top ten places to visit in Nepal, prepared with the help of the 2017 statistics and Sharad Pradhan, media consultant at Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).
1. Kathmandu Valley
One could say the city receives most number of tourists because of the presence of the only international airport here, but tourists don’t only travel by airplanes, do they? According to NTB, most number of international tourists that visited Nepal in 2017 (January-October) are Indians (133,029) and most of them seem to take the land routes. The two primary destinations for them are Lumbini and Kathmandu. Being the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is known for its exceptional cultural heritages, many being listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Moreover, the accommodations in here and accessibility to the rest of the places in the country through Kathmandu have always been systematic.
The name that pops up first when one mentions about holiday trips is Pokhara. A total of 489,451 international tourists visited Nepal in 2016 for holiday, which is about 65 percent of the total number of tourists that visited the country. And Pokhara leads the charts in the list of holiday destinations for tourists. The city has lakes, caves, mountain views, paragliding options and exceptional accommodation as well as transportation services. In addition, it is probably one of the tidiest cities in Nepal.
3. Langtang region
Possibly the most notable place both in terms of trekking land topography, and the number of people participating in these activities here, Langtang region has many specialties to trigger the trek adrenaline. Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, at the heart of the region, yields the most number of foreign trekkers. Langtang mountain range in addition to the diversity of local cultures throughout the region is fascinating attraction of Langtang.
The birth place of Gautam Buddha, Lumbini is arguably the most famous pilgrimage destination in Nepal. As many as 82,830 people visited Nepal in 2016 for pilgrimage, which is about 11 percent of the total international tourists that visited the country that year, second to the holiday visits, according to NTB. Lumbini is the most visited pilgrimage by foreigners. It was visited by 269,993 foreigners in 2016 with Indians leading the chart, according to NTB. Being the birthplace of Gautam Buddha makes this place an important spiritual site, and is said to be a place one must visit at least once in a lifetime.
5. Everest Base Camp
The tallest peak in the world is Mt Everest and almost everyone who knows about it wants to conquer it. Nepal has always remained a trekking and mountaineering destination for international tourists because of the Himalayas and the unique landscape, and Mount Everest is one of the most notable targets. Even if one doesn’t exactly intend to get to the top of the mountain, reaching the base camp of the tallest peak in the world would surely give quite the satisfaction.
Chitwan is famous mainly for the diverse wildlife and Chitwan National Park that’s been listed in the UNSESCO World Heritage Site. In the year 2072/73 BS, as many as 87,391 foreigners visited the national park. Chitwan is also famous for one-horned rhinos and a rather unique game called elephant polo, a game that’s played only in Nepal and particularly Chitwan.
7. Annapurna area
Annapurna region is illustrious primarily for trekking and pilgrimage destinations. It includes trekking to Ghandruk or Dhorpatan with Mt Annapurna, the tenth highest peak in the world, as the landscape. Annuparna Conservation Area yielded 83,419 foreign visitors in 2072/73 BS, second only to Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park as a protected area. In addition, the visitors can reach Manang and Muktinath as well, which hold a special importance in terms of Nepali culture.
Bardiya comes as a surprise in this list, but one would wonder why it’s under the radar in comparison to other areas when it’s getting similar or more number of tourists in the past few years. Sharad Pradhan, media consultant at NTB, believes that Bardiya is quite underrated. “International celebrities are particularly found visiting Bardiya when they come to Nepal, thus it is getting more exposure these years, and deservedly so.”
Quite a mainstream place to visit one might think, but the actual number of people who have visited this place is not as much as one expects it to be. Illam is famous mostly for its scenic sunrises, tea farms and a mild culture.
10. Rara region
Trekking in the Rara region revolves around the biggest lake in Nepal-Rara. The natural aesthetics in the region seem almost in parallel with the wildlife as the addition. Rara region has witnessed a growing number of visitors in the recent years as the place has become accessible due to the developments in transportation as well as the maintenance of Rara National Park.