surprising things to see in Nepal. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

8 Great Surprising Things to See in Nepal

Traveling to Nepal last month was one of the coolest things I have done. I expected to see amazing mountains, trekking trails, and prayer flags but I did not really know what else to expect. Some surprising things to see in Nepal, I learned, included amazing sunsets, colorful vivid street art, and clever transportation and technology.

The ITBMC travel conference occurred one day during the Himalayan Travel Mart. The Nepal Tourism Board and PATA paid for 107 travel bloggers and media, from 53 countries, to experience Nepal. Half of us went on multi-day treks while the other half went on multi-day cultural experiences.

My trekking group (one travel agent and seven travel journalists) came from all over the world—Argentina, Philippines, Greece, and USA. Links to some of their coverage appear below but first are some of my impressions from our Nepal experience.

8 Great Surprising Things to See in Nepal

surprising things to see in Nepal. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

Nepal sign: Never End Peace and Love

Dal Baht

The country of Nepal borders India and I expected some Indian influence on the Nepali cuisine. Indeed, we found curry (vegetarian and chicken) on every menu. What I did not expect was the elegant presentation of the Dal Baht ingredients. Lentil soup/sauce is a main feature of Dal Baht.

surprising things to see in Nepal. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

Dal Baht in Nepal

Nepal Mountain Transportation

During my short five day trek on the Annapurna Circuit, I learned that the mountains are full of tea houses and villages. There are no roads, yet the tea houses are always fully stocked with food, beverages, and supplies. At the end of the first day of hiking—I mean trekking—I learned the secret. Supplies are delivered by donkeys, mules, burros, whatever. I saw donkeys carrying big rolls of electrical wire, building supplies, and baskets with live chickens. It is actually quite amazing to see.

surprising things to see in Nepal. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

donkeys on Nepal trekking path

Nepal Technology

I actually had pretty good wi-fi service in my Kathmandu hotel and even some internet service in the trekking tea houses (although there was a small charge to connect to it). Walking around the city of Kathmandu is a feast for the senses. This is one of my favorite scenes. Is it any wonder there was any wi-fi service at all?

surprising things to see in Nepal. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

jumbled wires in Kathmandu Nepal

Nepal Street Art

Another favorite Kathmandu Nepal sight was this street art mural. I walked a few miles in each direction from my hotel but the only street art I saw was the wall mural across the street. Although I would say that street art in Nepal is not a popular thing, I found this quite vivid and colorful.

surprising things to see in Nepal. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

street art mural in Kathmandu Nepal

Tropical Nepal

My impression of Nepal was of perpetually snow covered Himalaya mountains. Indeed, Nepal has 8 of the 10 tallest mountains on Earth, all over 8,090 meters (26,500 feet). While the Himalaya mountains dominate the country’s travel coverage, there are many other things to see in Nepal. For instance, 36% of Nepal’s land is tropical and 22% is subtropical. Much of the time we drove and trekked in Nepal, I saw more banana trees than alpine features.

surprising things to see in Nepal. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

tropical landscape in Nepal

Poon Hill Sunrise

You might wonder why the next photo is one of my surprising things to see in Nepal since I knew I was going on a trekking trip. Well, two reasons. No, three reasons. The first reason is that my itinerary listed a different trek. When I arrived at Kathmandu airport, I was checked into a different hotel and later went on an entirely different multi-day trek than I expected. The second reason is that our guides told us that the mountain view from Poon Hill is only visible about 25% of the time. When we arrived at the top of Poon Hill, sure enough, the fog was thick. After 20 minutes or so, the sky cleared and we were treated to this gorgeous view. The third reason is, heck, me trekking in Nepal? That surprised even me!

surprising things to see in Nepal. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

Charles McCool atop Poon Hill, Nepal

Nepal Sunset

Of course I knew sunsets occur daily in Nepal but I loved this scene in Pokhara, Nepal. Not only did dozens of people occupy the platform but I love how the blue boats and red outfit (especially) complement the gorgeous sky. The resolution of this photo is reduced (for page optimization) so please see the better quality one on Instagram.

surprising things to see in Nepal. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

sunset at Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal

Himalaya Mountain Range View

Speaking of views, I was astonished how gorgeous of a view I had on my return flight from Kathmandu airport. Is one of these peaks Mt. Everest? Let me know. McCool Travel tip: on flights between Kathmandu and points west (Europe, Africa, India, etc.), reserve a seat on the right side of the plane.

surprising things to see in Nepal. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

view of Himalaya mountains from Turkish Air flight


Thank you to Nepal Tourism and PATA for hosting me at Himalaya Travel Mart and ITBMC, and for Turkish Airlines as an official airline partner.


These are some surprising things to see in Nepal. Do you have others to recommend? Leave a comment below.

Please see also these articles written by my Nepal trekking friends:


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Surprising things to see in Nepal included amazing sunsets, colorful and vivid street art, luxury hotels, and clever transportation and technology. Article and photo by Charles McCool for McCool Travel

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25 Responses to “8 Great Surprising Things to See in Nepal”

  1. Fast Travel July 2, 2017 at 1:29 am #

    Seasonal September 2017 onwards tour and trek in Nepal …Here we go

  2. Sue Reddel June 29, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

    Looks like an amazing adventure. I loved the donkeys make the trek. I saw a similar tangle of cables while visiting Viet Nam. It’s amazing any one gets service.

  3. Rachel Heller June 29, 2017 at 1:12 pm #

    My husband and his sister went trekking for two weeks on the Annapurna trail last fall. I didn’t go because it didn’t sound like fun to me to spend so many days walking in the cold. Much of what you saw does sound like the kind of things I’d like to see, especially Pokhara and those tropical landscapes. Maybe next time they decide to go, I’ll leave them to the high-elevation trekking and take off on my own!

  4. Carole Terwilliger Meyers June 28, 2017 at 7:31 pm #

    Am surprised by the tangled wires and elaborate street art you found in Nepal. I would more expect to see that in Beijing–didn’t know Nepal is big enough to have so many wires.

  5. Suzanne Fluhr June 28, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    Sounds like you had a quite fascinating (and maybe a little physically challenging) time. I’ve been following your Instagram photos (or were they someone else’s); in any case, Nepal seems tops for photogenicity. (My spellcheck doesn’t think that’s a word, but it should be).

  6. Wendy Blumenstein June 28, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    I enjoyed reading about things to see in Nepal. I haven’t decided if it is a place I really want to go. And wow, it’s surprising to see Tropical Forests there. Your photos are gorgeous!

  7. Jan June 26, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

    Nepal has been on my list but didn’t know a lot about it so your post really helped. Having been to Bhutan, I was curious to see how Nepal might be different. Would definitely do the trekking.

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) June 29, 2017 at 9:25 pm #

      Yes, definitely do some trekking. Hope my next visit to Nepal allows more exploring and different adventures and activities.

  8. Jennifer June 25, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

    That jumble of wires makes me laugh. One day driving by I saw a monkey sitting amidst them all.

    I think I was a day behind you doing the same Poon Hill trek and we never really got a clear view. Actually, the weather was so bad the morning we were to do the sunrise trek up there that we couldn’t even go.

  9. noelmorata June 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

    I never got that airplane view, was always stuck in the aisle seats. A few of us ended up in the tropical areas of Nepal and yes it was extremely hot indeed!

  10. MikesRoadTrip June 23, 2017 at 4:29 pm #

    Great write-up. Enjoyed the pics too!

  11. Aleah | SolitaryWanderer June 23, 2017 at 8:30 am #

    Where did you see that Never End Peace And Love? That’s so cool! 😀 Another surprise for me was how cheap the mangoes were. They were so sweet!

    • McCoolTravel (@CharlesMcCool) June 23, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

      That sign was at the first official rest on the steep climb day. Remember the place right after I bought that coldest water on the trail? I think Cathy also posted a picture of this sign. Mmmmm, mangoes.

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