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GO LOCAL | Discover Hidden Secrets of Kathmandu & Pokhara, Nepal

Story by socialtours

Posted: December 7, 2012

Kathmandu and Pokhara are towns where there is always a stopover for travellers into Nepal. Most of the activity in these cities are restricted to regular run of the mill city tours. Over the last few years, socialtours has worked extensively on our GO LOCAL series of extensions, meant to give a better insight into the cultural melting pots that are our cities.

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The list below gives a gist of what we have developed. Do check back with us constantly – we keep developing new products in this series.

All trips are guided and are reasonably priced, run with low minimums and never exceed 10 persons.

Tours around Kathmandu

Cook like a local | 3-4 hours

Discover the art of Nepali cooking in a perfect extension to any trip to Nepal. As part of the Go Local series, socialtours gives you an opportunity to learn how to cook like a Nepali. Each class starts with a tour of the bazaar to source ingredients, continues on to the actual cooking and ends in lunch. Learn to cook the Nepalese staple food, Dhal Bhat (lentil soup and curried vegetables or meat with rice), one of the most popular fast food dishes, momos (dumplings) or aloo paratha (potato stuffed flatbread). All classes are a maximum of six participants only.

Newari Village Tour | 4 hours

The tour gives you an insider's view of Nepal. The Newars are the original inhabitants of Kathmandu. Due to the fertility of Kathmandu Valley, they have a very rich cultural heritage, with highly developed art, architecture and cuisine. This is best experienced visiting the ancient Newar villages just outside Kathmandu. The tour is guided by well-trained local experts.

Throw your own souvenir | day tour

The craftsmen in the small township of Thimi just east of Kathmandu are reknown for their pottery, which is exported worldwide. You will spend a morning with these artisans learning about their skill. You will then try your hand at creating your own souvenir to take back home. For a relaxed afternoon we move on to an organic countryside farm for lunch.

Hidden Trails of Kathmandu | Cycling | day tour

The Kathmandu Valley is built for mountain biking and has more trails than one can count, catering for bikers of all experience and expertise levels, ranging from gently cultural trails to downhill and extreme uphills. Fully customizable, we will carefully select the best route based on your interests and expertise. You ride with one or more of our team of expert bikers. This trip will give you an insight into the valley and its back roads plus an excellent workout! You will visit the hidden places only regular mountain bikers discover, giving you a unique perspective into this wonderful valley.

Dawn at Bhaktapur | overnight trip

The ancient city of Bhaktapur, located east of Kathmandu, is commonly known as the culture capital of Nepal. One of the UNESCO world heritage sites, Bhaktapur Durbar Square is an open museum itself with palaces, pagodas, temples and monasteries. This trip will let you experience a city waking up, something rare in more common tours of this ancient city. The whole trip will take place before breakfast. Your experience does not get more local than this.

Kumari Trail Walk | 3 hours

In Kathmandu, the Living Goddess Kumari, a young unmarried girl, comes out of her temple at Kathmandu Durbar Square only three times a year on specific routes. We follow one of these routes on an informative city walk, learning more about this tradition and discovering parts of old Kathmandu to get a true sense of history of the place with its courtyards and communities.

Bhote Koshi River Rafting/Canyoning  | 2 days

Just three hours away from Kathmandu, the Bhote Koshi River is without a doubt the most exciting thing you can do in Nepal and one of the best two-day rafting trips offered anywhere in the world. The Bhote Koshi is a very steep, continuous mountain stream, a unique combination of exceptionally fun and challenging rapids without it ever getting past the point of recreation, surrounded by mountains, forests and waterfalls. Challenging and action-packed, the Bhote Kosi offers you nothing less than the ride of a lifetime.

The Chitwan Jungle Safari | 3 days

One of Nepal's best attractions is a safari in the tropical jungles of Terai, the southern plains of Nepal, which still preserves some of the best wildlife habitat in the subcontinent. The Chitwan National Park offers protection to 56 species of mammals including one-horned rhinos. Highlights of the trip include elephant back safari, jungle walks, bird watching tours and canoeing.

Chepang Hill Trail Hike | 3 days

This hike leads you through the off-beaten trail and beautiful hillsides of Chitwan to the homeland of Chepangs and their traditional villages. Chepangs are the small ethnic group living a nomadic life with rich cultural traditions. The trek was developed to promote their culture and livelihood.

Rice Planting Tour | day tour

Rice is one of the most important commodities in Nepal. Every summer, as the rains set in the valley, it is time to celebrate the showers by making a festival of the planting of rice. Spend a day planting rice with the locals! This tour will allow you to mingle with the locals and their traditions in Kathmandu Valley and serves as a wonderful peak into the daily lives of Nepalis. Children are most welcome.

Walk with a Monk | day tour

This tour focuses on Buddhism, showcasing the different types of practice that exist in Nepal. The walking tour takes you from Kopan Monastery to the famous Boudha Stupa led by a Buddhist Lama. In Kopan Monastery you participate in a philosophy session about Buddhism followed by a short meditation. After lunch and a visit around the monastery you walk with the monk through agricultual fields and local villages to Boudha with a chance to debate and learn more about Buddhism. The tour ends with a prayer session and lighting candles in one of the many Tibetan Gompas around Boudha.

Splice of Kathmandu | 2.5 hours

This is a 2.5 km guided walking tour of the inner streets of Kathmandu and the bustling bazaars of Ason a stone's throw away from the tourist district of Thamel. Within the seeming chaos of rikshas, motorbikes and crowds, you will discover the true heart of Kathmandu and learn about vegetables, salts, spices, herbs, utensils, traditional nepali clothing and the wholesale of Tibetan items. You will get a chance to taste the spices and herbs and also shop like a local. As an added value the guide gives an insight into other important aspects of the Nepalese culture, religion and customs.

Heritage sites of Kathmandu Valley | 1-2 days

The tour takes you through the seven heritage sites of Kathmandu one by one, going from the holiest temples for hindus, Pashupatinath to the oldest temple in the valley, Changu Narayan. You will then stay overnight in the beautiful city of Bhaktapur - the Durbar Square of which is one the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley highlighting the ancient arts of Nepal. The second day of the tour takes you to Patan Durbar Square, then on to Boudha, the holy Buddhist stupa and yet to another one, Swayambhunath. Finally the tour takes you to the amazing Kathmandu Durbar Square. Just walking through these sites watching the people go about their daily lives is an incredible experience in itself.

Day tours around Pokhara

Coffee Trip | 1-2 days

Nepal is abound with hidden secrets and the production of organic coffee is one of them. The unique climate and terrain allows for a very high quality coffee to be grown in picturesque farms in altitudes between 900–1800 meters. This trip takes you up close and personal with this coffee with a very distinct taste, while the Himalayas create the backdrop. You meet the farmers, help in the farm, visit production chain processes and end up drinking the very coffee that was roasted in front of your eyes.

World Peace Stupa Hike | 3 hours – day hike

This hike takes you to a beautiful World Peace Stupa recently built by the Japanese up on a hill across the famous Fewa Lake. After a short boat ride across the lake, it is a leisurely walk uphill through the forest with the panoramic background of the Himalayas. From the Stupa you can watch the sun set over Pokhara. The hike can be also done as a circuit.

Dawn at Sarangkot | 3-5 hours

Setting off before sunrise with a short drive to a point where you start your walk uphill to the ridge top, you will reach the top of Sarankot at 1610 meters before sunrise to see the breathtaking mountain range near Pokhara, including the sacred Fishtail that is off-llimits to climbing. The hike up to this closest viewpoint near Pokhara takes from 45 minutes to three hours depending on your starting point.

Biking to Pame | day tour

The villages around Pokhara present a wonderful insight into village life in the western side of Nepal. What better way than to spend the day cycling to these wonderful idyllic villages on our day tour. One could go in different directions but we are suggesting that we go towards the north of the lake to Pame.