By: Nasir Rizwan
Nepal is a South Asian country popularly known for its rich cultures, unmatched ethnicities, vibrant royal palaces, and temples. The country allies between the borders of China and India yet stands out for its pristine auras and breathtaking attractions for the rest of the world. The undoubted beauty, for a reason, attracts millions of enthusiasts and wanderlusts to catch moments of serenity in the Himalayas.
Forget the news or the restrictions; the country has its border wide open for you, as does the hearts of its people. Nepal might be small, yet the fascinations and attractions are endless, and there’s plenty to experience for the whole family.
This article will go through the reasons why Nepal should be your next travel destination and what amazing things you can do in Nepal with your family.
Without further ado, let's transcend ourselves in the deep, mystical valleys of Nepal.
Experience a Mouthful of Street Food in Nepal
Nepal offers many delicious cuisines to the people. The cuisine has been heavily influenced by neighboring India, but indigenous ingredients like yak cheese, dal bhat and tarkari are ubiquitous. Dal Bhat is a combination of rice, lentil soup, and curried vegetables that forms the staple diet of Nepalis. It's served at every meal and is joined by several different curries, but that's not its specialty. Trekkers can smell the mouthwatering fragrance of rice and spices from hundreds of feet away, and it is often consumed to fill their energy levels. The bonus is you are often offered second or third helpings! You haven't experienced Nepal if you haven't eaten Dal Bhat!
If you're a fussy eater or more inclined towards homemade food, the first thing you should be looking for is a Khaja Ghar, meaning 'snack house'. The Kaja Ghar usually offers breakfast, tea, parathas (pan-fried bread), wheat roti (wheat bread), aloo paratha (potato stuffed pan-fried bread), and a variety of pure vegetarian meals.
Some common vegetable-based cuisines you are likely to find in a Kaja Ghar are chaap (soybean), mixed vegetables, vegetable curry, channa (black chickpeas), and paratha (egg pan-fried bread). All these items can be enjoyed at breakfast or lunch at only 300 Nepali Rupees or $3 USD.
For meat lovers, there is something oddly special too. YAK STEAKS! You probably have never tried this before, but that shouldn't stop you from trying lean, juicy and primal dark red meat. Yum! Yak is a versatile item prepared using various methods in different cuisines depending on your mood preferences.
Nepalis also love their momo — dumplings filled with either meat or vegetables that are steamed and then dipped in a spicy sauce — as well as chow mein noodles and Tibetan bread baked over a fire or fried in oil. So if you are a foodie, you must have these delicacies on your trip.
And if you're in Nepal with your family and planning to eat at one of such homemade restaurants, make sure there aren't any hustlers outside trying to take you to the restaurant: the food will likely be of subpar quality and taste.
Always dine at a place with ample sitting space, open ambience and free from hustlers; this is a tip nobody asked for!
Colorful Culture to Explore with Family in Nepal
The classical blend of Tibetan natives, Buddhist monks, Hindu yogis, and ethnic mystics may look odd to westerners, but they're as inseparable as the colors of the rainbow, making their lives about in the mountains.
Often foreigners who're in Nepal for sightseeing or trekking for the first time may find it oddly fascinating to know, explore and venture deep into the culture of Nepal, wondering how these people have co-existed in harmony for so many hundreds of years. The quest takes these adrenaline-driven enthusiasts to unknown and secluded monasteries in the dark gray shades of the Himalayas, where the mist scents like roses and the breeze gazes affectionately.
But Nepal isn't only about Annapurna Circuit Trek, Everest Base Camp Trek, or other short treks. Even to the inhabitants, there are endless cultural fascinations that can be explored with the family. For instance, you can turn towards exploring quaint monasteries like those you find in Lumbini, which is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and a symbol of great reverence for Hindus, or retreat in yogi still Gokyo Lakes, or even venture into countless landmarks and tourist attractions in Sagarmatha National Park, Lo Manthang or Kathmandu Valley where nature and culture meet.
But apart from these world-famous destinations, let's discover some family-friendly places that have something for everyone!
Kathmandu – The Home of Religious Monuments
Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, has the perfect balance of nature and civilization. This fascinating city is known for its rich cultural heritage and religious monuments. Several monasteries, temples, and stupas embellish Kathmandu's landscape, especially the Changu Narayan and Pashupatinath Temples. Both of these temples are famous for their intricate religious artwork and stunning views.
The atmosphere of Kathmandu is immensely pleasant and serene throughout the year. The world's highest mountain, Mount Everest, is located approximately 200 km away from Kathmandu. And you can indulge in the breathtaking views from almost anywhere in the city. Although this charming city has tons of astonishing places, the following places will take your trip to a whole new level.
1. Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinath Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. The temple hosts around 500+ Hindu temples, each with its particular importance. Every year, thousands of people and devotees flock to this temple to offer prayers and obtain blessings from Shiva. The large temple has a beautiful collection of images, ashrams, inscriptions, and underground chambers lit by oil lamps throughout the year.
Pashupatinath is a sacred abode of festivals and religious rituals throughout the year. As per the teachings, the temple is the seat of Lord Pashupatinath, also the national deity where Nepali bring their deceased for cremation rituals.
The cremation process returns the deceased to the five elements before embarking on the spiritual journey away from earthly despair. Devotees and visitors witness the process, followed by submitting the remains/ashes into the Bagmati river to return to nature.
That's not all. There are other noteworthy temples in Pashupatinath, i.e., Battisputali, Charumati Bihar, Jaya Bageshowri, Chabahil Lokeshwar, Chabahil Stupa, within the vicinity where pujaris (devotees) perform strange rituals like bathing of the Lord, and putting jewelry on their mythological idols. You can get along with the family to experience the oddly unique persona of Pashupatinath Temple. If you're lucky enough to be on time, you might get entertained by Baal Bhog or tasty nashta (breakfast).
Thamel is probably the first and the hottest destination for visitors arriving in Kathmandu. Thamel is well thought of for its mouthwatering food and shopping opportunities, you'll know upon seeing hundreds of tourists flocking in the streets of this small settlement, and for good reason. The neighborhood is full of markets and street shopping, and there are some nice art galleries in Thamel, which makes it a perfect place to shop for souvenirs for your loved ones back home. The great thing about Thamel is that you will find almost everything you've heard about or seen related to Nepal and its culture. You'll find stores vending traditional clothes, sleek jewelry, rare books, electronics and trekking items, and even some books on Buddhism too.
Those of you interested in trying out traditional Nepal clothing and trinkets can head north of Thamel to find Sath Ghumti (seven corner street), which has plenty of shops offering a wide range of traditional Nepali clothing and ornaments. Not only that, the southern side has even more attractions up its sleeves. And that's not all; the walk will lead you to the Narsingh Chowk, which has a few supermarkets where you can buy trekking equipment, dry food, cereals, biscuits and chocolates. Rest assured, these will be only to satiate your food cravings until you find a restaurant; gladly, you will find many within walking distance. Although the prices might be a little inflated, the taste will compensate for the price shortcomings.
After you've filled your tummy and even more filled bags after shopping, consider filling up your mind and soul with an equally enchanting experience. We're going to the Garden of Dreams. The Garden of Dreams is one of the heavenly places that shouldn't be missed if you're in Thamel. The place is filled with natural beauty, refined details and gorgeous views, and one can get rid of all the worldly stresses and anxieties. You can visit this place with your family to have the most wonderful time together.
Explore Historic Monasteries in Nepal
Buddhism is rooted in the life of many Nepali people, and there is no better way to experience this other than the trip to Nepal with family. Buddhist monks live in monasteries in order to stay away from worldly distractions. This enables the monks to show full devotion to the spiritual practice of Buddhism.
People who have been to Nepal can relate that the monasteries have an out of the ordinary aura and attraction that hooks you into a state of beguilement. Several accounts of people correlate as finding a missing part of themselves that they have long opted for, and the words are too banal to explain their feelings.
There might've been some profoundness or holiness in the monasteries, which is a relative experience; however, visitors are intrigued and cannot resist the wall arts depicting quaint Himalayan lifestyle blended with historical religion, vibrant culture, and heaven kissing mountains.
Not only that, some monasteries have a unique method to focus the mind and wipe away the darkness. It is a long Nepalese tradition to have a butter lamp in homes and monasteries. The lamps burn yak butter or vegetable oils; the flame from the burning lamp symbolizes wisdom. You can pay to light a lamp for yourself or your family as a way of sending your prayers.
Monasteries in Kathmandu have a huge collection of ancient manuscripts and documents in their libraries. The most famous monastery in Kathmandu is Swayambhu, also known as the Monkey Temple, due to the presence of many monkeys living around it. There are more than fifty stupas at Swayambhu alone, and each is filled with precious historical manuscripts.
In this monastery, a unique praying style is followed by the monks. The worshippers sit on the floor barefoot and clean clothes. All worshipers face the Buddha and chant. Likewise, they thoroughly listen to the monks chanting via religious texts. It is often encouraged and visitors feel highly of themselves to receive blessings from lamas (monks). Many monasteries sell traditional Buddhist prayer beads (mala) for people who want to give them as gifts or for those who want souvenirs from their travels for friends and family back home.
Whether you are curious to know more about Buddhism or you just need to relax and enjoy the festivities, you can stay in a Monastery and witness the calm and refreshing atmosphere. Some of the never-miss monasteries in Nepal to visit with the family include Kopan Monastery, Tharlam Monastery, Amitabha Monastery, Benchen Monastery, and Namobuddha Monastery.
Short Hikes Around Kathmandu
Kathmandu is the gateway to heaven in Nepal. Nearly all trekkers, mountaineers, and tourists arrive in Kathmandu and begin their exploration from this one-of-a-kind city. While many visitors in the country want to get the real feel of trekking, not everyone is there for trekking. But still, if trekking interests you and your family, and you want to get the feel of it in a short period of time, we have sorted out some short, easy hikes around Kathmandu that you can venture with your family.
1. Phulchowki Hike
Phulchowki is the highest hill near Kathmandu. Starting at Godavari, which is approximately 14 km away from Kathmandu, you can walk along a ridge that offers views of the Himalayas and the city. The hike itself is relatively flat, with some stairs here and there for you to climb up or down. If anyone wants to experience the best short hike around Kathmandu with family, the Phulchowki Hike shouldn't be ignored.
Distance: 26 kilometers approximately
Time: 8-11 hours/ 01 day
Maximum Altitude: 2782m/9127ft
2. Champadevi Hike
A picture-perfect place to spend an evening with your loved ones near the heart of Kathmandu city, Champadevi lies at a height of 2,200 meters above sea level. A walk through the tall pine trees, splendid views of the Himalayas, including Mt Everest, and breathing fresh air is sure to rejuvenate your senses. You can visit this place independently or with a trekking agency.
Distance: 13 kilometers
Time: 7-9 hours
Maximum Altitude: 2285 meters
3. Hikes Around Nagarkot
Nagarkot is a common destination for tourists, with its panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range. The trail along the ridge offers amazing views of the Mount Everest, Annapurna range and Dhaulagiri range, snow-clad mountains, and the sheer cliffs of Mt. Machhapuchhre. Also visible are the vast plains of Mustang, Ganesh Himal, and Langtang Lirung on one side and the Kali Gandaki valley on the other side.This hike can easily be covered in a day. But, if you want to feel the true pleasure of this area and mountainous views, then you must plan an overnight visit with your family over here.
The scenic mountains and panoramic views in Nagarkot have a long history linked to them. These mountains were an escape for the royal families during the scorching summer months during British times. Nagarkot was likely a summer holiday destination for royal families, and there's a reason. You can check in to the Fort Resort, which was built to monitor the valleys below in the old times. The uphill ambience, 360° views, out of the ordinary sunrise, sunsets, and freedom are unmatched. Perhaps, Nagarkot has everything that makes it a feasible summer vacation destination with the family.
Distance: 10.9 kilometers
Time: 4-5 hours
Maximum Altitude: 850m
Family-Friendly Places near the Himalayas
When your heart is ready to explore the majestic Himalayas, Nepal promises to be one of the best places to go. Nepal is a country to be explored and enjoyed. There are so many things to do in Nepal, from visiting the famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Kathmandu Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, and Boudhanath Stupa (Buddha relics) to enjoying the natural beauty of Annapurna and Langtang regions.
If anyone plans for a family trip to the Himalayas and looks for exciting things to do, then no doubt visiting this wonderful country will add fun and memorable moments to the journey.
Nepal is filled with many beautiful lakes, and Fewa Lake, Pokhara is one of them. Pokhara is well known for its lake and other tourist attractions such as waterfalls, temples, and parks. It is also known as the gateway to Annapurna Mountains and adventure sports like paragliding and boating. A visit to Pokhara will give you ample opportunities to take photographs of this small city's exotic and pleasant views.
A day retreat on the most-famous Fewa Lake with the family and the kids can be a healthy outing option. You can lie back on a chair with a fishing rod in hand, appreciating the vivid reflections of mighty mountains in the lake while the kids can play water games. Similarly, you can explore the history of mountaineering at the International Mountain Museum, try a short tour to Himchuli Peak, or take a tributary visit to Matepani Gumba or Mahendra-cave to enlighten and inspire you to explore mysterious Nepal further.
Tucked in the foothills of the Himalayas and close to the border with India, Lumbini is a pilgrimage site for Buddhists the world over, and serves as the inspiration for the modern practice of mindfulness. It is known as the birthplace of Buddhism, and the spiritual path originated by Lord Buddha.
The Lumbini Gardens is also home to a number of archeological remains. The garden has many beautiful ponds and lakes which are connected to each other by channels. Moreover, this temple hosts a number of interesting attractions like an exhibition on the history and life of Lord Buddha, information on his teachings, and images that portray his life story. Many tourists come here for its natural beauty and for adventure trips.
Within Lumbini, you can explore the richness of culture with your family from a historical and religious perspective. There is the World Peace Pagoda, Ashoka Pillar, Maya Devi Temple, Dae Sung Shakya and other stupas which can be a learning and joyful experience for the kids.
There's another ancient city, Kapilavastu, in close proximity to Lumbini. Kapilavastu is considered to be the childhood home of Buddha. Legend says that Siddhartha Guatama spent the first 29 years of his life here before embarking on a lifelong journey of enlightenment. Though the exact location is still under debate, historical remnants are still on the ground for devotees and visitors to witness.
Enjoy Safari with the Family in Chitwan
Other than trekking and hiking, you can also venture to Chitwan National Park in the subtropical southern Terai region of Nepal. Find an eco-lodge to base yourself and enjoy the countless experiences this part of the country has to offer for every age group. Book a safari jeep drive or walk deep into the jungle where you can experience rhino spotting or visit the gharial breeding center. And if you are really fortunate, you might be able to see a tiger! This is an amazing place to visit with your kids as children love to see the wild animals and their actions.
In the early morning, you can slowly canoe down the riverbank, full of amazing crocodiles and churning birds. These canoes are carved out of trees and take you and your kids on a joyous journey where you will be accompanied by a guide who will introduce you to different animals, especially the friendly elephants, who you may be lucky enough to see taking an early morning bath! We really want to note that we don't support the exploitation of elephants for tourism purposes, and we advise against participating in elephant rides at all.
For a holiday that promises stunning views and a sense of adventure with family, Nepal is the place to go. It is a country with unique festivals and traditions and ancient architecture that have stood for thousands of years. Flora and fauna are abundant in the deep quiet valleys and sky climbing peaks.
With that said, and much more, there are many fun things to do in Nepal with family, and at a very reasonable rate. All the hotels, rides, food, and beverages are pocket-friendly. No doubt, Nepal is a great place to detoxify your mind and to achieve ever-lasting peace and happiness. So, plan your trip to Nepal, and don’t forget to capture your beautiful moments with your family!
ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT WITH TILICHO LAKE19 days
EVEREST BASE CAMP WITH GOKYO LAKE TREK16 days
LANGTANG GOSAIKUNDA TREK13 days