Pokhara is a beautiful lakeside town near the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
While many people use Pokhara as a base for the Annapurna trek, there is actually much more to Pokhara than the Annapurna Circuit.
Pokhara is a haven for adventure lovers, spiritual seekers and nomadic travellers with an abundance of activities centred around Phewa Lake and the majestic Himalayan Mountain range.
This is one place where it is easy to stay longer than planned due to its relaxed lakeside vibe and epic views of the Annapurna range on a clear day..
In this post, we are covering 11 adventurous things to do in and around Pokhara other than the famous Annapurna circuit.
1. Visit nearby local villages
If you are after a bit of an Off the Mapadventure in Pokhara, consider making a trip to visit nearby local villages nestled in the mountains.
The surrounding area of Pokhara is dotted with villages and small local settlements that live almost completely off-grid and off the land. Many of them are farmers growing crops to sustain themselves.
You will be treated with expansive views of valleys, dramatic plantation terraces and will be able to meet inspiring Nepalese people who will be dying to host you. Many Nepalese people in the village will offer you free accommodation in exchange for buying dinner from them. Dinner will be all totally homemade from scratch!
If you are up for a challenge, use the public buses to travel to local nearby villages. We highly recommend making the mission to get to the riverside village of Setibeni. Just getting there will be the adventure of a lifetime! Expect extremely bumpy roads, a few transfers and a load of people fighting for you to stay with them!
The best way to have an adventure like this in Nepal is to ask around locals in Pokhara where to go and how to get there. Just take a friend or two with you (bonus if they speak Nepalese or Hindi)!
This is truly the most authentic way to have a glimpse into how people in Nepalese villages really live.
2. Explore the lakefront
Phewa lake is this focal point of Pokhara and for good reason, it is stunning! There are plenty of walkways winding around the front of the lake from one end of Pokhara to another.
While wandering around a peaceful lake may not seem super adventurous, you can turn it into one by wandering as far around the lake as you possibly can.
You will wander past the most touristy parts of Pokhara, through to the more local areas. You may find hidden cafes and spots fully immersed in nature. The best time to enjoy the lakefront is at sunrise (maybe after you step off your overnight bus from Kathmandu!) or during the sunset.
Then enjoy some momos at thukpa soup at one of the many lakeside restaurants. Just be patient, making good momos takes time!
3. Go canoeing on Phewa lake
The small blue canoe boats in Phewa lake look picturesque on the lakefront but are also super fun to take for a spin! You can hire bigger or smaller canoes, depending on how many people you have in your group. It is cheaper per head so the more the merrier!
The Tal Barahi Temple is a temple on an island in Lake Phewa which you will also be able to visit during your canoe ride.
4. Hike to the World Peace Pagoda
The World Peace Pagoda is one of the most famous activities to do in Pokhara. High on top of Anadu Hill to the west of Pokhara sits this impressive Buddist temple.
Not only are the white stupa and golden statues of Buddha impressive, but the bird's eye views over the lake and of the mountains are simply breathtaking.
It was built in 1973 by Japanese monks as a gift to Nepal and as a symbol of peace.
You can turn your visit to the World Peace Pagoda into an adventure by hiking there! To reach the summit take a small boat from Pokhara’s lakeside to the small town at the foot of Anadu Hill. From here there is a beautiful forest trail up to the summit which takes around 1 hour to hike.
The best time to do this hike is in the early morning, before the heat of the sun gets too hot and when the skies are the clearest.
Respect local culture when visiting the World Peace Pagoda by ensuring you dress appropriately and observe silence when exploring the grounds.
5. Go biking in and around the city
Another fabulous adventurous activity to do in Pokhara is to explore the city by bicycle. Bicycles are fun, affordable and relatively safe in this more laidback town.
Get lost riding through the backstreets and spot new places to explore and new local cafes to try.
The route around the lake is scenic and allows you to stop off anywhere that takes your fancy! You may also be tempted to stop for a game of street-side table tennis with the locals (they do take it very seriously though!).
6. Hike to Sarangkot viewpoint for sunrise
Sarangkot is one of the best places to go to see epic views of the Annapurna mountain ranges and is a must if you aren’t planning on doing other hikes. Sarangkot is a small hill near Pokhara where you can have amazing views of the Himalayas on a clear day.
You will be spoilt with panoramic views of many important peaks including Dhaulagiri (8167m), the triangle peak of Machhapuchhare, Annapurna II and Lamjung.
Sunrise is by far the most striking time to make the ascent to this small peak. As the sun rises, the first light hits the 8000-metre peaks of the Annapurna mountain range far in the distance! You will see a dazzling show as the mountains turn from pink to orange and finally white.
This is the absolute best way to see incredible Himalayan mountain views without having to commit to a multi-day hike.
The climb to the peak takes about three hours of uphill climbing. It is definitely worth the middle of the night wake-up to witness the sunrise from Sarangkot!
You can either book a half-day guided tour or simply take a taxi or scooter to the base of the trail.
7. Go white water rafting
This one is for the adrenaline junkies! White water rating is one of the most exciting and adventurous activities you can do in Pokhara.
Expect a wild ride through ice-cold glacial rapids through the various rivers surrounding Pokhara. Here you can admire the magnificent mountain ranges and lush surroundings while getting a decent shot of adrenaline.
The most dramatic time of year to white water raft is after monsoon season which ends in August/September. This is when the rapids are their most ferocious!
Paddle Nepal offer a number of rafting trip options in Pokhara.
8. Go paragliding from Sarangkot
While hiking to Sarangkot at sunrise offers impressive views, paragliding from Saragkot takes it to the next level!
This is undoubtedly one of the best places in the world to go paragliding. It is rated as one of the top 5 commercial tandem paragliding locations in the world and one of the safest.
The 30-minute flight gives you an adrenaline kick before a calm descent as you float above Phewa Lake, admiring the mountain ranges in the distance.
9. Go zip-lining
This is another adventurous activity in Pokhara for thrill-seekers! Just 30-minutes from Pokhara resides the worlds longest, fastest and highest zip-line!
It only lasts a few minutes and but will set you back around $40USD, so we think it is totally worth it for the experience!
10. Do the 3-day Poon Hill Ghorepani Trek
The 3-day Poon Hill hike is the perfect option if you want to experience hiking the Himalayas but don’t have the time or resources to do the longer Annapurna or Basecamp treks. This trek allows you to experience the incredible Nepalese mountain culture and soak up the magic of the Himalayan mountain range.
Expect to pass through quaint villages, many rocky staircases, climb over rivers and through jungles on your 3,200m ascent. This a great way to get a taste of what a bigger hike in Nepal would be like!
The views from Poon Hill are stunning with Panoramic views of the many Himalayan peaks, including Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, Machhapuchhare, Annapurna II and Lamjung.
11. Take a day trip to Begnas Lake
If you get sick of walking around Phewa Lake, then get a change of scenery by visiting Begnas Lake for the day.
Begnas Lake is only a 30-minute drive from Pokhara yet this secluded (and less touristy) spot offers more tranquillity and peacefulness. On a clear day, you will be spoilt with views of the mountains towering above the lake. Begnas Lake is a magical spot to wander around and explore.
Most people visit the west side of the lake, but it is worth making your way to the east side of the lake. There is a beautiful viewpoint which you may have all to yourself! There are various cafes and even yoga retreat centres nestled on the hills around the lake for you to discover.
It is also possible to hire a boat on Begnas Lake!
To get to Begnas Lake you can either take a public bus or hire a taxi or scooter.
There you have 11 adventurous things to do in Pokhara, besides the Annapurna circuit!
Pokhara is a beautiful place oozing with tranquillity. It is a nature and outdoor adventure lovers paradise with so many wonderful things to do and places to explore.
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