The long weekend Himalayan Paradise :
Pokhara while popular internationally, passes under the radar for Indian Tourists. One reason is that Nepal as a travel destination has been clubbed with lower end group tours. The political uncertainty associated with Nepal, doesn’t help.
Surprisingly, Pokhara is a cut above any hill station destination in India. While some single hotels in India are of better quality, (Wildflower Hall, Khyber, Ananda, Taj in Srinagar etc), as a composite location including Accommodation, Activity options and generally Likability and Buzz, Pokhara has no competition in India.
Moreover it is CHEAP. (One Indian rupee is 1.6 to Nepali Rupee).
You will not get this great bang for buck in any mountain destination unless you are willing to go to (and spend in) Europe
Flights and Visa:
Nepal has no visa requirements. You don’t even need a passport.
The Flights are super cheap flights (even by Indian domestic flight options)
Round trip to Kathmandu from Delhi is usually around 10-12,000 per person, (Travel time :1 hr 30 mins) with Mumbai fares being in the 18-22,000 range (Travel time : 2hrs 45 mins)
Once in Kathmandu, you can take a flight to Pokhra which costs around 2,500 INR (Travel time : 40 mins).
After you collect luggage at Kathmandu airport (think of Indian airports in the 1990s), the domestic terminal is 10 mins walk from international airport.
The domestic airport is like a bus terminal and you can walk in even 30mins before flight. (if you are brave you can even try 15 mins back).
The domestic flight is not that scary (pic attached) and once you are in Pokhara, the lakeside is only 10 mins away.
If you are taking a cab, the right rate is Nepali 200.
The accommodation in Pokhra is excellent at the 3/4 star categories. In the 5 star category, there are few very good quality options. You will however not find Luxury options
This property is next to the lake (a 3 mins walk) and the start of the Pokhra lakeside promenade. If you want a Boutique 5 star option in the middle of Pokhra, this is the place
This lodge has to be accessed by a boat. The location and atmospherics are terrific. The rooms are good though not mind-blowing. The serenity of the location has to be balanced by the fact that you are a short boat ride away from the action in the middle of Pokhara
If you are looking for a budget option, Pokhra lake view resort is a great option!
Two things. Relax by the lake and see the Annapurna Range.
The lake is very soothing and one can spend a week not doing anything, especially specially giving the dining and nightlife options in Pokhara (more about it later)
The Annapurna range is difficult to see from Pokhara unless the weather is crystal clear. For best sights you either need to go to the Sarankot viewpoint or trek to the Peace Pagoda (at SUNRISE). The mountain sightseeing are much more grander than anything you will see in India, including the mighty Eastern Himalayas.
Pokhara is a minefield of adventure options. In fact after seeing the options available in Pokhara, it is a bit funny that people go all the way to New Zealand and South Africa for adventure sports!
The best option is of course the trek. An overnight trek to the Dhampus village and Australian camp is the most popular option, but there are lots of less touristy treks. All of them involve forests, river, quaint villages and magnificent vistas.
One huge revelation is the relative prosperity of Pokhara villages. (quite unlike Indian Hill settlements). In fact Dhampus Village ranks as one of the most unique village locations I have stayed in.
Longer treks are available with the most popular 3-5 day trek options being to Poon Hill and Annapurna base camp
Then you have the adventure activities
The highlights are of course helicopter / ultra light rides to Annapurna base camp. This is a mind-blowing (and expensive!) option.
On the Helicopter ride, you get to land on the Annapurna range (30 minutes of flying, plus 30 minutes landing). You Tube Annapurna base camp by Helicopter
On an Ultra-light, you feel like James Bond, weaving and out of mountains. Ultra light is also a less expensive shorter option compared to the helicopter. Please note that Ultralight is dependent on weather, so book on first day you are there. YouTube Annapurna Base camp by Ultralight
Then you have paragliding. Paragliding is unique in Pokhara because of the scenery around the Pokhara Lake and the Mountains.
You also have quality Pony Treks, Fishing trips, White water rafting (including overnight stay at the banks), Bungee and a lot more!
Nightlife and Dining:
The nightlife in Pokhra is AMAZING. Think Bentota, if not Bali. It is many levels above what you will get in any India Hill station (and many global hill stations). I rate it above Goa in terms of quality, (if not quantity).
I counted at least 5 organic coffee bars!
Pokhra is the “ unique “, long weekend destination you have been looking for.
Day 1: Morning flight to Katmandu. Afternoon flight to Pokhra. Rest and Relaxation
Day 2: Morning, Annapurna helicopter or Ultra light
Late afternoon leave for Dhampus / Australian camp (or similar ) overnight trek
Day 3: Return to Pokhra. R&R or Paragliding
Add more days in Pokhra for more activities
Day 4 : Fly to Kathmandu in Morning. Sightseeing in Kathmandu
Day 5 – Fly back to India