Children of all ages, from babies to teenagers, will love the sights and activities of Nepal. It can be a chaotic and challenging country to travel around in some respects (the busy cities, the traffic, the long travel distances), but with good planning, you can have a fun family holiday in Nepal that will keep every member entertained. Here are some top picks.
The Chitwan and Bardia National Parks on Nepal’s plains are full of amazing wildlife that will surely excite children. In Chitwan you are practically guaranteed to see a rhino, as the park has had a very successful rhino conservation programme. There are also opportunities for bird watching, boat rides and the chance to see gharial crocodiles. Washing elephants is a popular and fun activity, but it is ethically inadvisable to go on an elephant-back safari. Better to stick to the jeep.
The Bardia National Park, in the far west of Nepal, is a bit more of a challenge to get to, but there is a higher chance of spotting Royal Bengal tigers here.
Stay at a homestay
One of the greatest challenges of travelling with children is helping them feel comfortable and at home. Nepal’s growing Community Homestay Network is the perfect alternative to staying in hotels, and children will appreciate a more homely atmosphere and home-cooked food. As well as private rooms in local people’s homes, many local day trips are made available to guests, such as bike riding, temple visits and short walks.
The Panauti Community Homestay is the flagship network of the programme, just 40 kilometres from Kathmandu, in a quiet and attractive village. Other homestays operate in Chitwan, Palpa, Nagarkot, Patan, Nuwakot and Patlekhet.
For older children (10+), a day or week spent rafting on one of Nepal’s beautiful rivers is a fun activity. Close to Kathmandu, the Trisuli and Bhote Kosi Rivers are ideal for day trips. If you’re looking for a longer adventure that involves camping on beaches and meals around a campfire, there are many longer options, from a three-day Kali Gandaki River trip close to Pokhara, to a ten day Karnali River trip in the far West (which can be combined with a trip to Bardia National Park). While all safety equipment will be provided and the guides take good care of everyone, rafting trips would be best suited to kids who are comfortable around the water and who have good swimming skills.
Boating or kayaking in Pokhara
Pokhara’s Phewa Lake is a beautiful central feature of the city, but it’s not just for gazing at. You can take a paddle boat out onto the lake with a guide, or even take kayaking lessons. Learning to kayak on the lake is a great alternative to learning on the river, especially for kids, as the water is calm.
Note: swimming is possible in parts of the lake, but those close to shore tend to be muddy and tangled with weeds. If the kids want to swim, it’s better to ask a boat guide to take you to a clean part of the lake, or else just opt for a swimming pool at one of Pokhara’s many hotels.
Swayambhunath Temple, Kathmandu
While Kathmandu has many beautiful temples and stupas that may or may not interest children, depending on their tastes, Swayambhunath is a bit different. It’s not called the Monkey Temple for nothing! The grounds of the temple are full of playful monkeys, big and small, who swing in the trees, lounge on the statues and run around squealing. It’s a good idea to make sure children keep their distance, as the monkeys can be cheeky and especially like to steal food, but many kids will be intrigued by their behaviour.
Cable car rides
Kids of all ages (as well as adults) will enjoy being propelled up a mountain in a fraction of the time it takes to walk. In Kathmandu, a new cable car has recently opened at Chandragiri, in the city’s west. On clear days there are great mountain and city views from here.
A little further afield, half-way between Kathmandu and Pokhara along the highway, is the Manakamana cable car. This goes up to the famous pilgrimage temple of Manakamana, in Gorkha District. Although it was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake and is being rebuilt, the long cable car ride to get there is what the trip is really about (unless you’re a Hindu pilgrim). The trip makes a good break in the journey between Kathmandu and Pokhara, but we warned that it stops running for an hour at lunchtime.
If you know your kids aren’t up for something longer, there are still plenty of day hikes to enjoy in Nepal. Most convenient are those close to Kathmandu or Pokhara.
Around Kathmandu, day hikes in the Shivapuri National Park, or from Sanga to Panauti are good options. Both will require a bit of stamina from your kids, but neither are especially challenging. Take a picnic and enjoy a day away from the city.
Older kids may really enjoy a trek of three-five days, especially those that don’t rise to very high altitudes. In the most popular trekking regions—the Annapurna and Everest regions—you can stay close to communications and medical help if necessary, thus putting parents’ minds at ease. Choosing slightly more comfortable accommodation is also possible in these regions, thus easing the strain on kids and parents alike.
Horse treks are a good idea as children will love the animals, and riding a horse will stop them from getting too tired.
Mustang is an especially popular place to go horse trekking. Horse treks of around 17 days from Jomsom are standard. The goal is to reach Lo Manthang, the capital of Upper Mustang, but shorter treks are also possible. Traditionally, packs of horses were taken to and from Lo Manthang every year before winter.
For a shorter horse trek closer to Kathmandu, consider the Langtang area. The mountains are very impressive, the altitudes are not so high, and children will enjoy spotting yaks.
Alternatively, a good single-day option is to ride a horse up Sarangkot, in Pokhara.
If you are looking to go on similar tours, you can use Royal Mountain Travel , one of Nepal’s leading tour operators providing all relevant services.