1. Trekking in the Himalayas
This one’s obvious. I trekked in the Annapurna Mountain Range. If you do, definitely try the Poon Hill sunrise trek from Ghorepani, to watch sunlight literally wash over a Himalayan panorama. The most famous treks most visitors do are the Annapurna Circuit or Mt. Everest Base Camp.
2. The capital city, Kathmandu
Odds are you’ll fly into Tribhuvan, Kathmandu’s international airport. Definitely take the time to find a hostel (Alobar1000 was my favorite youth hostel, for a bed about $5!) and explore the winding, narrow streets, packed with motorbike, pedestrians, and cars all at once. Learn to bargain with shop keepers in Thamel, stumble upon endless temples, and definitely check out Durbar Square (entrance fee supports restoration efforts from 2015 earthquake).
3. Mountain flight to see Mt. Everest
I arrived at the Kathmandu airport at 6:00 am, ready to board. The sky was a bit clouded over, so the airline offered to change the flight date. My schedule wouldn’t allow it, so I still boarded the ~30 person aircraft and took a 45 minute tour of the Himalaya Mountain Range. The very tip of Mt. Everest was a bit clouded over, but it was still magical and surreal to see.
I think this qualifies as a must if you visit Nepal!
4. Safari in Chitwan National Park
There are three regions of Nepal: the plains, hills, and mountains. Chitwan is in the southern plains, or Terai region. Here you will find elephants, tigers, rhinos, and more. Ride and bathe with elephants. Take a guided tour of the park. Canoe through the morning fog on Narayani River (crocodile stomping ground).
5. Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mayadevi Temple of Lumbini claims the birthplace of Lord Buddha. In 623 BC, Mayadevi, the Queen of Shakya King Suddhodhana of Kapilvastu, wandered through the Sal grove, took a bath in the Sacred Pond, grabbed a tree branch for support, and gave birth to the Buddha. The exact birthplace is pinpointed as a conglomerate stone, encased in bulletproof glass, for viewing inside the temple.
There are also over 25 international monasteries in the surrounding area with astonishing architecture.
6. Any sort of extreme outdoor activity
Think river rafting, rock climbing, hot air balloon ride etc… I personally went with paragliding. There are tons of tour companies throughout the country ready to plan your adventure. But I don’t think you can go wrong paragliding over mountains and Kathmandu Valley for 40 minutes, then touching down in a rice field with excited Nepali children racing toward you.
7. Whatever festivals/holidays are going on during your stay
Nepal has tons of national festivals year round. Some of the most memorable festivals I got to experience were Indra Jatra, Dashain, and Tihar.
One out of a million fascinating things I learned about was the living goddess Kumari that lives in Durbar Square. Her feet aren’t ever supposed to touch the ground, so during Indra Jatra she is carried into a float and paraded around the streets to celebrate.
You can check out a list of holidays and festivals in Nepal here.