A six-hour bus trip west of Kathmandu is the second biggest city in Nepal, Pokhara. Set in a dramatic location on the shore of lake Phewa Tal and with the stunning backdrop of the Annapurna mountain range to the north, this laid-back city is a far cry from the madness of Kathmandu’s busy streets. We were looking forward to spending a few days kicking back and chilling at Lakeside Pokhara.
After arriving on the bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara, at the tourist bus park, we were met by a group of hotel touts all offering a free taxi into town if you stayed at their hotel – if you didn’t like the hotel just pay for the taxi. Not liking to feel pressured into staying somewhere we met a like-minded Spanish couple who we shared a taxi with into the main tourist strip known simply as Lakeside. Unsurprisingly, right next to the lake!
The first thing we noticed was how much hotter it was here than in Kathmandu and the second thing we noticed was the happy hour advertisements outside all the restaurants. Lakeside had a distinct beach town feel to it and with hardly any traffic and a laid-back vibe in the air, we knew immediately we were going to like it here.
We continued down the street passing a number of inviting restaurants and finally found the guesthouse from our guide-book. The budget guesthouse it turned out wasn’t so budget anymore, it had upgraded significantly in the three years since our guide-book was published. Luckily, they had one much cheaper room in an old building in the front and with it being too hot to walk any further, we decided to take it for now.
Venturing out into the street, we walked down towards the lake, a two-minute walk from the main strip. Small, colourful rowing boats, known as doongas, were dotted around the water, some just paddling around aimlessly while others were destined for the Varahi Mandir temple located on a tiny island near the royal palace not far from shore. We decided to rent a boat and row out to the temple and into the centre of the lake. From here we could see the World Peace Pagoda overlooking the lake to the south. To the north, we could see Sarangkot, a famous peak which was supposed to offer amazing sunrise views of the Annapurna range. Looking at Sarangkot the sky was littered with the colourful chutes of paragliders who take to the skies every morning and afternoon for birds-eye views of Pokhara and the surrounding area.
Walking back towards the main strip, we started thinking and talking about what we do over the next few days here. We didn’t know how long we were going to stay but judging from what we’d seen so far, it wasn’t going to be a quick visit.