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Though it isn't a major backpacking spot in Nepal, Nagarkot is becoming increasingly popular amongst those travellers looking to experience rural Nepal.
Ok, it’s not truly rural!
There are now plenty of hotels and small local restaurants in the area.
However, due to there being quite poor road infrastructure in place, it’s not a part of the typical Nepal itineraries.
Still, I honestly think it's one of the nicest places to visit in Nepal, and there's plenty on offer for those looking to take it easy for a few days and capture some close-up views of the Himalayas.
But before we dig deeper into what there is to see and do in Nagarkot, let’s answer one pressing question ...
The most common route people take is going from Kathmandu to Nagarkot.
Which is unsurprising because they’re just an hour and a half away from each other.
But after an hour or so of searching online, we were still left wondering …
“How on Earth do you get from Kathmandu to Nagarkot!?”
You would imagine that there are tourist buses that run the route every day. However, this no longer appears to be the case.
Instead, you are left with two real options. The first being to take a local bus …
After speaking to locals about doing this, we were told you have to head up to the main hospital in the North of Kathmandu and then catch a bus from outside there.
This supposedly takes you outside the city, at which point you need to switch and take a different bus.
All in all, the journey could take up to 3 hours and no one really knew what the times were.
But apparently the buses out of Kathmandu do run quite frequently, and they are incredibly cheap.
All in all, this option seemed like a lot of hassle. Especially seeing as Cazzy’s foot was still recovering from a nasty sprain and we had not long arrived back from horrible 8 hour bus journeys across the rest of the country.
**If you do read this and end up taking the bus, please comment about your experience below, it will no doubts be very helpful to other readers!**
Instead, we decided to opt for the much more straightforward alternative …
You’ll find taxis everywhere in Kathmandu, especially if you're staying in the popular Thamel area.
The going rate is 2500 rupees to go all the way to Nagarkot, or 4000 if you want to go there and come straight back.
We managed to barter a driver down to 2000, however, after arriving I decided to pay 2500 instead.
Simply because the roads up there are dreadful!
Leaving Kathmandu can be quite a slow process as there are so many thousands of cars littering the roads in and out.
However, once you leave and start on the road up to Nagarkot, you'll see very few cars.
At the same time, however, the roads are filled with massive potholes and, in most areas, there is no road left.
Apparently the government have been on about fixing the roads for years now but still haven't got round to doing it.
For this reason alone, I am very grateful that we were in a taxi, rather than bounding up the track in a bus!
The Kathmandu to Nagarkot distance is about 33 km and the journey will take around 1.5 hours each way.
Staying in Nagarkot is pretty cheap, just like everywhere you’ll likely visit in Nepal.
Food is also very cheap and you won't come across inflated prices anywhere.
So here’s a look at, what I believe to be, 3 of the best value places to stay in Nagarkot.
I've also included links through to the properties on Booking.com, as this is who we used to book all of our hotels in Asia, seeing as they offer the best prices and availability.
This is where we stayed and, despite there being no heating, I think it's certainly one of the best hotels in Nagarkot.
Not only does it have plenty of great reviews, but we also found that these did indeed stack up once we stayed here.
Above all else, the staff are very friendly and will cater to anything you need.
The food is pretty average, but is very affordably priced so you can't really complain!
Also, they are happy to serve you breakfast and lunch in bed, so there's no need to venture away from the warmth of your bedding!
As mentioned a couple times in this post, they also have a small balcony area downstairs where there’s a fire they are happy for you to use.
And up top, there is a large rooftop balcony that offers wonderful views out over the Himalayas.
For what you pay, Peaceful Cottage & Cafe Du Month is an incredibly great value hotel in Nagarkot.
As you'd expect, you get to enjoy sweeping views of the Himalayas and surrounding forests from your room, the restaurant and the large outside terrace area.
Rooms come with heating (which is a big bonus!), as well as outdoor dining options when the weather is nice.
The property comes with hundreds of good quality reviews the staff here appear to be very welcoming and helpful in planning your perfect stay in Nagarkot.
If you're willing to pay for a luxury hotel in Nagarkot, then you need to make sure that you're getting somewhere with heating, air-con, modern rooms and plenty of public areas to relax.
Well, the Fort Resort really does seem to tick all of the boxes.
It features a large outdoor terrace area offering views out over the Himalayas, as well as a multi-cuisine restaurant and stylish, modern bedrooms.
Sure, you can always pay more and stay somewhere like Club Himalaya which comes in at around 5 times the price.
However, you don't get much more in the way of luxury, and the Fort Resort seems to offer everything you need for a truly relaxing and comfortable stay in Nagarkot at any time of the year.
I will be completely honest here, don’t expect to find loads and loads of things to do in Nagarkot.
Yes, the area is becoming increasingly popular and there are lots of new hotels, however, it’s not famed for hosting endless amounts of activities.
In my opinion, I think most people head to Nagarkot to do one thing ...
Nagarkot is a wonderful place to escape the hustle and bustle of the everyday world and to relax in a truly breathtaking area.
The lack of things to do in Nagarkot is what helps make it such a popular place and what draws in tourists from far and wide.
As it is so much closer to the Himalayas, you benefit from wonderful views of the mountain range, so long as you go on a clear day.
Many hotels offer panoramic views and so do restaurants.
It’s a great place to relax with a cup of coffee, read a book, do some yoga and contemplate your life.
If you're looking for longer hiking opportunities in Nagarkot, then the most popular one is the Panoramic Trail which is essentially a giant circuit around the whole area.
I will be completely honest here, I attempted this route 2 days in a row but wasn't successful in finding the entirety of the trail on either day.
I've attached a map below that you will find as you enter the main hotel district of Nagarkot.
What I think has happened is that in recent years there have been so many new hotels and roads built that the map is no longer accurate.
Still, I honestly don't think it matters if you get a little lost and do a different route.
The start of the trail, where it says “ENTRANCE TO NATURE WALK” is very easy to find and it’s a wonderful amble through local woodland.
When you come out the other side, you're on the other end of the mountain and you’ll find a brand new road that is still under construction (as of December 2018).
I spoke to some locals and they pointed me in a direction that ended up taking me back up this new road and eventually on into Nagarkot.
This was yet another failed attempt I had at following the recommendation of our hotel’s manager!
But not because I got lost, simply because I didn't take enough money with me.
Basically, the regional government started a scheme not long ago that requires all tourists to pay a 350 rupee fee at various points around the region.
This entitles you to a pass that lets you enter different areas.
No one thought to tell me about this and, low and behold, halfway up to the Nagarkot View Tower, you’ll find a way station that requires you to buy a pass.
I only had about 50 rupees on me at the time so ended up having to turn back.
But apparently the view from up there is very nice. However, I still enjoyed the shorter half hour walk I did up til that point.
You get sweeping views of the local countryside and get to pass by an army barracks and a number of local homes and small businesses.
Locals are very friendly and you’ll be greeted by a heartfelt “namaste” by many a passerby.
If you’re not out hiking, then you will soon become very cold when sat around in Nagarkot.
Which was a real problem for Cazzy, seeing as her foot still wasn't better and she couldn't do any serious walking.
Luckily, almost all hotels, houses and restaurants seem to have a fire which everyone gathers round to keep warm.
I’m not joking when I say that my favourite experience in Nagarkot was sitting outside with neighbours to the hotel around the fire.
We bought ourselves a few ciders and sat there chatting to the locals for a good few hours.
It gave us the chance to learn about everything through form the history of the area to local Nepalese pop music.
They also told us about an Irish guy who moved to the area a few years back to lead a simpler life growing vegetables.
As well as another Irish guy who visited the area and ended up loving it so much that he decided to stay and become a teacher at the local school!
If you’re looking to spot Mount Everest, but don't fancy and expensive trek, then it is possible to see the famous mountain from Nagarkot.
As long as it’s a clear day, then you get to experience breathtaking views of the Himalayan mountain range that stretches along your entire view north.
Unfortunately for us, there was mist during our entire stay here so we didn't get to see it.
But I wish you better luck!
We didn't do this ourselves, but I can only imagine how amazing it would be to go paragliding in Nagarkot when the weather is clear!
We got to experience paragliding in La Paz in Bolivia; soaring over the mountains there and the feeling was out of this world.
Paragliding is incredibly popular all across Nepal and you’ll see an especially large number of people doing it in Pokhara.
Though it is just an hour and a half from Kathmandu, it is very surprising just how much colder it becomes once you enter Nagarkot.
The total Nagarkot altitude is 2,175m (about 50% higher than in Kathmandu), so it’s usually at least a few degrees colder, but I swear it felt much worse!
As such, I recommend picking up some warmer clothing and taking it with you.
We had to wrap up in everything we had when eating dinner and opted to have breakfast in bed every day so we didn't have to leave the mild warmth offered by our bedding!
Another reason why it's so cold is that very few places offer heating.
Apparently, only the most expensive hotels offer it as it’s considered a luxury in the area.
But if your place does not have heating, then ask your hotel manager if there's a fire nearby you can site by.
As I mentioned above, we had a great time sitting out on the balcony with locals, chatting by the fire.
We ended up staying in Nagarkot for 2 nights and didn't get to see any of the Himalayas, other than one small peak that was barely visible.
Apparently, a mist descended just a few days before we arrived and it covers them completely.
However, if you do go when it’s clear, then you can sometimes even see Everest despite it being so many hundreds of miles in the distance.
In different areas around Nagarkot, you will see small tin shacks with a person working there who will ask you for a fee.
When we were there, these were very low. Coming in at around 320 rupees.
We never actually paid one, because we didn't venture past them more than a few times and simply kept our distance.
However, if you’re out and about hiking then they're hard to miss and you will be asked to pay.
When trying to get to Nagarkot View Tower, I was turned away because I don't have the money to pay to enter that area.
When hiking the panoramic trail, I came across another shack that has recently been built, presumably for when the road is finished and tourists start using it.
When speaking to locals, it turns out that they hate the boxes because of how unnecessary the fees are and how they do nothing but turn tourists away from the area.
Aside from a small local bank branch, with has no ATMs, you will find only one actual point to withdraw cash in Nagarkot.
I've provided a screenshot below of where to find it, and it’s owned by Machhapuchchhre Bank.
If you use Revolut when you travel, which we do, then you won't be able to use this ATM.
Our hotel took card luckily enough, and so did a local store, so we just about got by.
After taking an in-depth look at things to do and places to visit in Nagarkot, it’s worth deciding if visiting Nagarkot is actually right for you.
And, well, there is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on what you are looking for from your stay in Nepal.
If you are limited on time and want to get in some serious hiking and to visit many of Nepal’s most popular sites, then I’d say it’s probably not worth stopping in Nagarkot.
On the flip-side, if you’ve got plenty of time and want to experience some of the more tranquil, peaceful aspects of Nepal, then I would highly recommend it.
Indeed, it forms a key part of the 3 week Nepal itinerary I wrote about.
For me, the biggest issue with Nagarkot was the cold, but that was partly our fault, seeing as we didn't have enough thick clothing with us.
Aside from that, it’s a great place to relax for 2 or 3 days and to partake in some long hikes each day.
On the way, you’ll get plenty of stunning photo opportunities of the surrounding hills, homes and, of course, the Himalayas!
The people in Nagarkot, like everywhere in Nepal, are very friendly and you will get plenty of opportunities to stop and chat to people and get to learn about their way of life.
If you do decide to stay in Nagarkot, then I would love to hear about your experience.
Similarly, if you have any other questions or recommendations, then I’d like to hear from you.
Just drop me a comment below and I will get back to you!