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Pokhara has an excellent selection of good hotels and restaurants. Hotels are clean, well-maintained and often have a pleasant garden. Restaurants have a wide selection of Western, Chinese, and Italian and have a pleasant atmosphere. Hotel views sometimes get blocked by newly built ones, so thing can change often in Pokhara. There are three large lakes, Phewa Tal right next to the city, and Rupa Tal and Begnas Tal, which are a little east of town. The road between Kathmandu and Pokhara (Prithvi Highway) was built in the early 1970s with the help of the Chinese. The road from the Indian border town of Sanauli was built with the help of the India also in the 1970s. The first tourists to find Pokhara were hippies in the 1970s. Since then Pokhara has become a major tourist town.
It is not as cold here in the winter as Kathmandu, because it is at 884m elevation, while Kathmandu is at 1500m. It can get pretty hot in May and June. The rainfall can be heavy during the monsoon and the humility can be really bad. It receives about twice as much rain as Kathmandu yearly. The Pokhara Valleys is mainly Chhetris and Bahuns, while the hills surrounding Pokhara are mainly inhabited by Gurungs. The Gurungs make up a good percentage of the Gurkhas regiments in India and other places.
Restaurants in Pokhara
Food is central to life in Pokhara, and eateries abound. The area near Lakeside North is especially packed with places to eat. Since there isn't much to do after the sun goes down here, social life revolves around the evening meal. Cafes and restaurants become a good place to sit back and relax with friends and swap stories of old treks and make plans for new ones. The locals, called the Newars, are real connoisseurs and their passion for food is evident in the variety of restaurants and cafes here. Unlike some of the quieter towns in Nepal, Pokhara offers visitors ample choice of restaurants. In our Pokhara restaurant guide below you will find information about great places for eating out in Pokhara, the perfect end to a day of shopping at the local markets. You should also check out our Nepal restaurant guide for more general information about the food and cuisine of Nepal.
Food & Cuisine in Pokhara
Thanks to the power outages that are so common in the area, a meal by candlelight may be the norm on your holiday. The good weather and the charm of being close to the Himalayas make this inconvenience seem like a romantic way to dine. Restaurants catering to tourists have a standard menu, with an odd mix of foods from places outside Nepal plus local fish cooked in a variety of styles. All Nepalis usually follow a common set of recipes and cooking styles and go by the book, so things can get monotonous. Also, the food may not be exactly what you thought you ordered, but will be tasty anyway. For something different try going to restaurants run by Westerners. If you have had it with eating so called Western food cooked Nepali style, be brave and try the local food. Quite a few places offer Indian and Nepali food. Another great budget option is to eat at a momo shack (there are dozens) with the locals. Don't drink juice anywhere, though - the roadside juice sellers dilute juice with water that may not be clean and also heavily sugar the drinks before overcharging you. Pokhara, though touristy in parts, is largely cheaper than Thamel in Kathmandu.
Restaurants in Pokhara
For low cost yet delicious breakfasts, your best bet is the Pushkar Guest House. Here they serve a variety of cuisines through the day - even Western style meals. But the best meal here is the breakfast. They also offer a pleasing variety of liquor, including some good beer. For cafe style food, The Puja Bakery and Cafe is inexpensive and the food tasty. On offer here are some respectable cinnamon rolls, but the cakes are slightly different from what one is used to. Everything is freshly baked, though, so the aromas of the rolls mingling with that of freshly brewed coffee can be quite enticing. The place has a very retro feel to it and you may find yourself drawn back here every day!
For European style fast food, the German Bakery is the place to go to. The cakes are great, creamy and flavourful, as are the donuts. The stock is fresh during season, but may be a couple of days old in the off-season. Some heavier savoury snacks are also available. Lunchtime offers more varied options, so you can even try Tibetan or Korean food. The best restaurants are Koto and Hua-Han. Koto offers Korean and Japanese food while Hua-Han has the choicest Tibetan and Chinese food.
Himalayan Mountain Goat Meat
A local speciality that can only be sampled in Pokhara in Nepal is mountain goat meat, which is served during the Dashain festival. The Dashain festival is a long one and a highly revered time in the country. It is usually between late September and the middle of October, soon after the monsoons. The festival day is also called the day of victory over demons.
On the day of the festival you will see locals with their foreheads anointed with a red mark called the tika. This is made from a mix of red powder pigment, rice and yogurt and is an auspicious symbol. On this day Nepalese are free to eat any kind of meat they like, but the preference is usually goat meat or buffalo meat or chicken. Mountain goat meat is considered really special and since these goats are found mainly in the remote Mustang area in the north west of the country near Tibet, it is a rare treat.
Some Restaurants List
- La Pizzeria, (Italian Cuisines) Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal: La Pizzeria is best known for its firewood pizza as well as its open dining space that stretches from the street at the front and an unobstructed view of Fewa Lake at the backside. The menu also includes a variety of spaghetti, other fine cuisines and a nice selection of beverages.
- Chinese Garden Restaurant, (Chinese Cuisines) Lakeside, Ammot, Pokhara, Nepal: Welcome to Chinese Garden Restaurant in Lakeside, Pokhara, where you can treat yourself with Chinese food and culture.
- Caffe` Concerto Pizzeria Restaurant, (Italian Cuisines) Gaurighat, Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal: Try Café` Concerto Pizzeria Restaurant at Gaurighta, Lakeside, Pokhara, for an electrifying experience. It specialises in Italian cuisines.
- Boomerang Restaurant & Kangaroo Pub, Lakeside - 6 Pokhara, Nepal: Boomerang has something special for everybody. It has a cosy seating, a beautiful garden with palm trees and kids' playground. It offers spicy Nepali, Chinese, Mexican, Italian and Indian dishes as well as fresh German bakery. The in-house Kangaroo Pub serves local and imported drinks and plays great music too.
- Almond's Cafe & Restaurant, Chipledhunga Crossing, Pokhara, Nepal: For lovers of spicy food, Almond's Cafe at Chipledhunga serves a comprehensive menu featuring hot snacks, grilled meat, roasted peanuts, etc. It is liked for its food and service by foreigners as well as locals.
- Mamma Mia Restaurant, Lakeside, Baidam, Pokhara, Nepal: Mamma Mia Restaurant specialises in Italian cuisines which are prepared by experienced chefs and served by friendly and attentive waiters. The interior decor is also inspired by Italian theme. One of its best features is the consistency of the food quality and price.
- Marpha Thakali Kitchen, Near Ibiza Dance Bar, Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal: Marpha Thakali Kitchen is a perfect place to get the real taste of Nepalese traditional food served in Thakali flavour. It has two distinct seating options - floor-seating with small table and standard dining table. Fresh food with green salad and two or three pickles are served by smiling and attentive waiters. The price is quite reasonable.
- Busy Bee Cafe, Lakeside, Baidam - 6, Pokhara, Nepal: Busy Bee Cafe serves hot beverages and fresh tasting bakery food in a nice and quaint setting. You can also come view some great Nepalese rock and roll in the evenings.
- Gorkha Grill Restaurant & Bar, Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal: Gorkha Grill is famous for its typical Nepalese decoration and food alike. Besides, it also serves Indian, Continental and a few Italian cuisines. It is operating under the investment by the non-resident Nepalese community in Belgium.
- Station - The Food Club & Sausage Park, Niva Galli, Chipledhunga, Pokhara, Nepal: Station - The Food Club & Sausage Park, owned by Ayush Shrestha is popular amongst the local teenagers for the hot and spicy sausages it serves. It is gradually attracting foreigners too. You can visit the restaurant or simply order your desired items to be delivered to your place.
- Thic Thak, Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal: 'Thic Thak' in Nepali means 'all is well'. The restaurant is a perfect place to enjoy food and drinks in a homely atmosphere. Just find a table in the lounge, restaurant or bar and order your food and drinks.
- Lhasa Tibetan Restaurant, (Tibetan) Gaurighat, Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal: Serving Tibetan and Continental cuisines since 1982, this restaurant is best known for its international standard services.
- La Bella Napoli Restaurant & Bar, Gaurighat, Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal: is famous for its spicy Nepali, Italian, Indian and dishes from other countries too. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a nice place to try yummy sizzlers and vegetarian food.
- Bistro Caroline, Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal: Run by the same people as Chez Caroline in Kathmandu, this swanky place targets older travellers. It's more a place for a quiet romantic dinner than a noisy evening in the company of strangers but the European, Indian and Nepali food is excellent and there's a good wine list.
- Bamboo Garden Restaurant, Lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal: This laid-back place serves all the usual traveller favourites and the terrace catches evening breezes.
- Don't Pass Me By, Pokhara, Nepal: A cosy little restaurant on the edge of the lake, where you can sit outside and enjoy pretty good travellers' fare at reasonable prices.
- Fish Tail Lodge, Pokhara, Nepal: The restaurant at the Fish Tail Lodge offers a feast of an evening buffet in exclusive surroundings, over on the south bank of the lake. On clear days, it's worth coming here for a drink in the garden.
- German Bakery, Pokhara, Nepal: Most people staying in Damside eat in their hotel, but there's a branch of the German Bakery chain for breakfast buns and a few traveller restaurants on the road to Birauta Chowk.
- Hungry Eye Restaurant & Bar, Pokhara, Nepal: The restaurant at the Hungry Eye Hotel is a long-standing survivor. It looks a bit dated but the food is good and there's a popular cultural show from 18:30 daily.
- Hungry Feel Restaurant, Pokhara, Nepal: North of Lakeside on the road to Pame Bazaar, this welcoming Nepali-style restaurant sits right on the water. Views are the main attraction but the chef cooks up a mean curried lake fish.
- Indian Restaurant, Pokhara, Nepal: Further along the strip, this place serves similarly good food but it has less atmosphere.
- Koto, Pokhara, Nepal: The Pokhara branch of this popular Kathmandu chain, Koto never seems that busy but the Japanese food is faultless. The teriyaki beef is highly recommended.
- Laxman Restaurant & Bar, Pokhara, Nepal: With video movies, a good selection of north Indian curries and not one but two open fires, Laxman is a great choice for lunch or dinner.
- Lemon Tree, Pokhara, Nepal: Quite smart and sophisticated, Lemon Tree has a broader menu than most and excellent service. It's one of the few restaurants in central Lakeside to serve fresh lake fish.
- Mike's Restaurant, Pokhara, Nepal: Another enterprise by Mike of Mike's Breakfast in Kathmandu, this lakeside café serves good tea and coffee and gourmet sandwiches.
- Moondance Restaurant, Pokhara, Nepal: Good service, good food and a roaring open fire all contribute to the popularity of this upmarket-looking place. The menu features salads, pizzas, steaks and decent Indian curries. There are pool tables upstairs but watch the spiral staircase after a few beers.
- New Everest Steak House, Pokhara, Nepal: Carnivores flock to this old-fashioned steak house for two-inch thick hunks of freshly grilled beef. Steaks come with a carnival of sauces, but purists go for the 'half steak' - just grilled meat, veg and fries. Steaks come quite rare - ask for 'well done' unless you like it bloody.
- Pokhara Thakali Kitchen, Pokhara, Nepal: This upmarket Nepali restaurant specialises in the traditional cuisine of the Mustang valley and the menu includes regional delicacies such as dried meat rolled in buckwheat.
- Pumpernickel Bakery, Pokhara, Nepal: Down an alley off the main drag, this down to earth place has a quiet garden where you can read and munch on sticky cakes with convincing coffee.
- Punjabi Restaurant, Pokhara, Nepal: An authentic, Punjabi-run place churning out tasty vegetarian curries and tandoori breads. The front dining room has quite a lot of character and the vegetarian curries with paneer (Indian cheese) are excellent.
- Rice Bowl Tibetan Restaurant, Pokhara, Nepal: This inexpensive and laid-back place opens till late, serving decent Tibetan staples like momos and thugpa.
- Sheela Bakery & Coffee Shop, Pokhara, Nepal: Right by Camping Chowk, this popular little bakery tempts early risers with cakes and freshly-baked baguettes.
- Tea Time Bamboostan, Pokhara, Nepal: This place probably wins the prize for the most imaginative name in Pokhara. It's small and cosy and evenings feature DVD movies and cold bottles of Tuborg and Everest beer. The food isn't bad either.
Pokhara is a spread out city that runs north–south for about 5km. The oldest section of the city is the bazaar area in the north of town. Most of the shops for the locals and the post office are near Mahendra Pool in the area of the bazaar. Pokhara University is in the area of the bazaar. The bus station is south of the bazaar, and south of this is the airport. The tourist office and three of the more expensive hotels are near the airport. The immigration office and tourist bus park is between the airport and Phewa Tal, at the north end of Damside.
West of the bus station and airport is the Phewa Tal lake and the Lakeside or Baidam area on the east side of the lake. The main tourist area is the Lakeside area where most of the foreign tourists stay. Along the road on the lake there are many hotels, restaurants and tourist shops. If you go from south to north it is uphill. The southeast end of Phewa Tal Lake is known as Damside or Pardi. There are many hotels in this area.
You can change money at Nepal Grindlays in Lakeside (Sun to Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm, Friday, 10 am to 1 pm). They also take MasterCard and Visa cards. Rastriya Baniya is open 8 am to 7 pm. There are several legal money changers at Lakeside, Damside, and the airport that are open daily usually from 8 am to 6 pm. Some hotels change money.
The Central Immigration office, just north of Damside, gives visa extensions and issues trekking permits for the Annapurna region (not other areas). Open for applications Sundays to Thursday 10.30 am to 1 pm, and to noon on Friday. You can pick them up in the afternoon from 3 to 4 pm and from 2 to 3 on Fridays. There is a Rs 1000 fee to enter the Annapurna Conservation Area. Travel agents can arrange the permits for Rs 150 to Rs 300. Passport photos can be gotten from the photo places near the office (about Rs 200 for four photos).
ACAP Information Centre
The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) has an Information Centre, at the immigration office, has excellent information about trekking. They can give latest information on the trails and weather conditions. They also sell some useful books and maps. Open daily except Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm.
There are cultural Music and Dance programs at nightly during the season at the Fish Tail Lodge and the Hotel Dragon. Pokhara Sports and Fitness Centre (20707), has a good gym, a sauna, a tennis court and aerobic classes (6 am to 8 pm). Pokhara Holiday Inn, MustangChowk, has a pool that can be used from 9 am to 12 pm and 1 to 4 pm.
From the lake you get a fantastic view of the Annapurna Mountains. The mountains that can be seen are the Annapurna peaks: Annapurna I to IV and Annapurna South, and the outstanding Machhapuchhare. Other mountains that can be seen are Hiunchuli, Tarke Kang, Lamjung Himal, Gangapurna, Varahashikar and Khangsar Kang. West of the Annapurna mountains is Dhaulagiri at 8167m, which at one time was considered to be the highest mountain in the world, before more precise systems of measurement were discovered. There is an interesting story about the climbing of Annapurna I at 8091m. It is not easily seen from Pokhara because it a good distance to the north. After a French led expedition in 1950 led by Maurice Herzog made it to the top of this peak, it became the peak above 8000m to be climbed. The story of the climbing of this mountain is told in Herzog’s classic book Annapurna, which makes very interesting reading. After a severe mountain storm caught the expedition, Herzog got a frostbite in which he lost most of his fingers and toes. Machhapuchhare stands out because it is nearer to Pokhara than any of the other peaks. At 6997m it is the lowest of the mountains. Machhapuchhare means “fish tail.” From Pokhara, Machhapuchhare looks like a singular mountain peak. If one walks several days towards Jomsom, at this point you can see that the mountains has a second peak and at that place is resembles a fish tail.
No one is allowed to climb this mountain, because it is considered holy. An expedition in 1957, led by the late Colonel Jimmy Roberts got to within 50m of the top, before turning back after the Sherpas refused to go any further. At Sarangkot you can get an excellent view of the mountains. To get here you take a taxi for around Rs 700 and from where it lets you off is a half-hour walk. From Pokhara it is a beautiful three hour walk.
Phewa Tal (Lake)
This beautiful lake, along with the mountain views are the main attractions of Pokhara. It is the second largest lake. Rara Lake, in the west side of Nepal, is the largest.
You can take a boat ride on the lake. You can hire your own boat and hire a boat with someone to row you around. A sail boat can be rented at the Hotel Fewa. For longer period there are discounts. Boats are most expensive opposite the Varahi Temple, and are cheaper going towards Damside. While boating it is advised to stay away from the dam, because the currents can be rough and therefore dangerous. There is a small island in the lake, which has on it the Varahi Temple dedicated to the goddess Varahi Bhagwati, the Shakti energy.
There is a great class view of the mountains from a small Vishnu temple in the piece of land between the lake and the spillway. Pardi Dam is next to the Damside area. It can not be walked on.
Seti Gandaki River
The Seti Gandaki River flows through the east part of Pokhara. In some places it flows completely underground and can not be seen. Seti means white and the water is turned a milky color by the limestone in the soil. You can get a good view of the river at the north end of the bazaar, from the bridge near the old Mission Hospital and just north of the main bus station. From the bus station you go north past Shanti Batika Park which then pasts some jungle and you make a right at the path. You can also get an even better view of the river on the footbridge, on the other (east) side of the airport runway. You can also see the river from the Mahendrapul Bridge in the area of the main bazaar.
There are several Tibetan settlements in the area of Pokhara. Many Tibetans sell crafts in the area of the lake. From the hill-top Tibetan Buddhist Monastery there are good views of the Pokhara Valley. It has a large statue of Buddha and some nice wall paintings. To get here you cross the Mahendrapul Bridge from the bazaar area and then follow the road to here. The Tashiling Tibetan Village is a few km southwest of the airport. They make Tibetan carpets there. There is a good-size Tibetan settlement called Tashipalkhel at Hyangja, which is a short drive away. It is an hour or two walk northwest of Pokhara along the Pokhara to Jomsom trek.
Places to See
North of town is Mahendra Gufa, which is a cave with several tunnels. You need a flashlight.
It is also known as Patale Chango and Devin’s. The Pardi Khola is the river that flows from the Phewa Tal Lake. At Devi Falls the river falls down into a hole and disappears. The Pardi Khola flows underground for around 200m and then re-emerges again and flows in the Phusre Khola which later meets the Seti Gandaki River. It is also known as David’s Falls because one story says that a tourist names David and his girlfriend fell into the hole and were never seen again. Devi Falls is just before the Tashiling Tibetan Village on Siddhartha Highway, about 2km southwest of the airport.
There are three museums in Pokhara, but neither is so interesting. Pokhara Museum has local history exhibits, crafts and costumes. The exhibits are good. It is on the main road, north of the bus station. Open daily except Tuesday, 10 am to 5 pm, closes 3 pm on Friday. Ational History Museum has a natural history section that has a good butterfly, moth and insect exhibit. It is also called the Annapurna Regional Museum. There is an ACAP exhibits showing the environmental problems of the area. Open daily except Saturday, 10 am to 1 pm and 2 to 4 pm. Admission is free, but it would be nice to give a donation. Near the museum is the Information Center for the Annapurna Conservation Area Project which has some good cultural exhibits in the ACAP region. Tamu Kohibo Museum has exhibits relating to the Gurung culture and shamanic traditions. It is on the east side of town near the Seti River.
There are not many temples in Pokhara, The double-roofed Newari-style Bhimsen Temple is located in the northern part of the bazaar on the main road. It has some erotic carvings on its roof struts. In the north part of town, on a small hill, is the Binde Basini Temple. In this temple is Durga (Parvati) manifested in the form of a shalagram. It is located in a pleasant location and there are good mountain views. There are animal sacrifices at this temple, the main day being Saturday and the ninth day of Dasain in October.
At the Fish Tail Lodge there is an excellent daily cultural program featuring Nepali dance. From 6.30 to 7.30 pm. There is also a cultural music and dance show at the Hotel Dragon.
Village Development Committees VDC's & Towns of Kaski District:
|Arba Vijaya||Armala||Begnas||Bhachok||Bhadaure Tamagi,||Bharat Pokhari|