Nepal is perhaps one of the most difficult countries we’ve travelled with the boys, but also one of the most rewarding. Seemingly short distances on a map take a full day bouncing around stomach-churning bends on old rusty buses, and dressing the kids in layers to keep them warm in the colder months can become a battle. Plus, I think my knees have only just forgiven me for all those steps on our 5 day trek to Poon Hill! But hiking as a family amongst the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas was truly invigorating (and the boys are still talking about their doko adventures!), I’m still craving momos, and thinking about the genuine friendships we made with locals on our travels warms my heart.
If you’re looking for a true family adventure that is a little out of the ordinary and keeps the whole family happy, then Nepal could be for you! This is our 16 day itinerary for visiting Nepal kids. At the time, our boys were 2 and 4 years old.
Day 1-3 Kathmandu
Base yourself in Thamel, the main tourist district bursting with trekking shops and decorated with prayer flags. It’s just a 30 minute taxi ride from the airport and if you have pre-booked your hotel, they will arrange the transfer for you.
Spend you time wandering around the hiking shops of Thamel (we stocked up on winter hats and gloves), reflect on the devastating destruction of Durbar Square (parts are still in ruins after the horrific earthquake of 2015), and head up to marvel the incredible temples and stupas os Swayambhunath (you will need to get a taxi there, and beware of the monkeys!)
Kathmandu can feel rather congested and you will need hold on tight to your littleones. However, if you take the short walk to The Garden of Dreams, there is lots of green space for them to run and explore.
If you have time, take a taxi to Bhaktapur (just 8 miles out of Kathmandu) to explore the medieval city where only a few temples were destroyed by the earthquake. However, you may want to leave this excursion until your return to Kathmandu on day 16.
Pre-book the bus to Pokhara with your hotel. We paid Rs700 per person. Under 5s can sit on your lap, but with the hairpin bends and infinite potholes, we were extremely appreciative of the separate tickets we bought the boys.
Where we stayed: Hotel Yambu. Wonderfully friendly staff and family rooms available. Great location too! However, there are A LOT of steep steps to get up to the rooms on the high floor and layers of clothing are required for breakfast as the dining area is open.
Day 4 – Travel to Pokhara
You will be told that the bus will pick you up at 7am. Don’t rush as it certainly won’t be there on time. Also, if you’re travelling during the Winter months, ensure you keep gloves, hats and coats handy as it will still be cold on the bus.
Kathmandu to Pokhara is only 200km, but prepare for an 8-hour bus journey. Thankfully the driver stops every 1.5 hours, this worked perfectly for our recently potty-trained 2-year-old. You can also purchase snack and drinks at these stops.
Where we stayed: Mount View Pokhara (hosted). On a clear day there are fantastic views across to Fish Tail Mountain. Rooms are clean, heated, and practical with a bathroom. Good hearty breakfast served each morning. A good mid-range option.
Day 5 – Pokhara
Meet your porters for your 5 day Himalayan trek and arrange with them your TIMS cards and Annapurna permit. Details of these can be found here.
Once logistics are sorted, take a wonder alongside Phwa Lake and perhaps rent out a rowing boat for an hour (although mental images of our fearless 2 year old leaping off the side deterred us from this). After stocking up on your last minute equipment and supplies for your trek (you can never have enough lollies when hiking with young kids), select a restaurant and treat yourselves to a slap up meal, as tomorrow your Himalayan trek begins!
We stayed a second night at Mount View Pokhara (hosted).
Day 6-10 – Poon Hill trek
This was the highlight of our time in Nepal, only made possible by the fantastic porters at Drift Nepal Expeditions who carried the boys in dokos (baskets) when needed and guided us at our pace. This 5-day trek took us right into the heart of the Himalayas with views of 8000 metre peaks towering over us as we trekked from teahouse to teahouse, to reach Poon Hill at 3210m. You can read the full review of our Poon Hill trek here; including tips on dealing with altitude, keeping the kids happy, fitness, what to pack and where to stay.
Where we stayed: Our guides knew the best teahouses to stay and we went with the flow of where they recommended. Our overnight stops are all detailed in the Poon Hill with kids post.
Day 10-11 – The Pavilions Himalayas
Once down from the mountains, head straight to The Pavilions Himalayas, Pokhara, to enjoy some time of blissful nothingness. After your exertions in the mountains, you deserve to lap up some luxury. Children will enjoy exploring the gardens, meeting the goats or swimming in the pool (although it was too cold for us in February) in the morning. The spacious villas, deep spa bath, great food and impeccable service, all provided in a tranquil environment, make for the perfect post-trek reward.
Where we stayed: The Pavilions Himalayas
Day 13 – Bus to Chitwan
Take a taxi to the bus station in time for the 7am bus to Chitwan (although, again, don’t expect it to leave on time). You will miss breakfast at The Pavilions, so they will provide a packed breakfast if you ask.
After a 5 hour bus journey, we were picked up from the bus station and taken to Sapana Lodge. This is a wonderful place for kids as there is loads of space to play, as well as a playground. They will enjoy watching the elephants being bathed at the end of the day, before enjoying a chocolate pancake around the fire.
Where we stayed: Sapana Lodge. Very welcoming to families, and family rooms available. Our room felt a little damp and cold.
Day 14 – Chitwan National Park
Take a half-day private jeep safari around Chitwan National Park. We arranged this through Sapana Lodge. You will see lots of monkeys, crocodiles, deer and colourful birds, and you are very likely to see the endangered one-horned rhino. If you’re very lucky may see a sloth bear or wild elephants (the majority of elephants in Nepal are domesticated), and if it really is your lucky day, you may even spot the elusive leopard.
We stayed a second night at Sapana Lodge
Day 15 – Bus to Kathmandu
This is a long, long day. The road to Kathmandu was badly damaged in the earthquake and the incessant hair pin bends took their toll on our 2 year old and he threw up all over Dad! The distance is only 150km, but it took us 10 hours! By the time we all arrived back in Kathmandu, we were absolutely shattered.
Where we stayed: Kathmandu Home Annex. Warm, good location and comfy beds.
Day 16 – Kathmandu
Once you have recovered from the previous day’s travels, wander for a last time around the shops of Thamel for those last minute souvenirs, then find a roof top restaurant to regale your adventures over an Everest Beer (for the parents), hot chocolate (for the kids) and a plate of hot momos.
Stayed another night at Kathmandu Home Annex.
Day 17 – Fly home
There is very little in the way of restaurants at Kathmandu Airport and there are no play areas. Stock up on snacks and ensure the little ones have had a run around before jumping in the taxi to the airport. A taxi from Thamel to the airport cost Rs500 and took just under 30 minutes.
Have you visited Nepal with kids? I would love to hear about your experiences!
Disclaimer: TraveLynn Family was hosted by The Pavillions Himalayas and Mount View Pokhara. We were provided discounted rates for our Chitwan safari by Sapan Lodge and Himlayan trek by Drift Expeditions Nepal. However, as always, these are all my own words and opinions. Furthermore, this post contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, this is at no extra cost to you, although I receive a small commission.
Where would we be without our Lonely Planet?
This post is linked up to #MondayEscapes