hiking in kathmandu
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If you don’t have the time or energy to trek further afield, you can still experience hiking for one or more days around Kathmandu’s hills and small settlements. The sub-alpine forests and quiet countryside make for a great short break from the hustle and bustle of city life. Most of the hikes mentioned here can be done in a single day, and are suitable for children and older people.

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1. Phulchowki Hike (Godawari – Godawari)

5 Best Short Hikes Around Kathmandu Valley 1

Trip Summary

  • Height: 2,782m
  • Highlights: Sub-tropical forest, breathtaking views of the Kathmandu Valley and views of Annapurna and Gaurishankar mountains.
  • Hike Duration: 6.5 to 7 hours

Phulchowki is the highest hill near Kathmandu and is situated to the south of the city. To get there you need to drive to Godawari (14 km south of Kathmandu), where you start the hike. You will be able to see sub-tropical thick forests filled with rhododendrons and oak trees as well as several species of orchids, butterflies, and birds. From the top you get a breathtaking view of the valley and on clear days you can see the eastern parts of the Annapurna range to Gaurishankar in the east. While you are there, why not check out the Botanical Gardens in Godawari.

Getting There (For Independent Trekkers)

A bus leaves every day from Lagankhel Bus Park at 7am, taking 30 minutes to reach Godawari (traffic permitting).

Where to Stay

If you decide to stay the night there are teahouses and lodges in Godawari as well as a more up-market resort. If you have a tent, you can camp as well. Do ensure you set up camp in a safe location.

2. Champadevi Hike

5 Best Short Hikes Around Kathmandu Valley 2

Trip Summary

  • Height: 2,249
  • Highlights: Smell off the pine forests! Stupas and monasteries.
  • Hike Duration: depending on the route, 3 to 6 hours.

Champadevi is in the southeastern corner of the Kathmandu Valley and is technically in Makwanpur District. There are several routes to reach the summit, but the most popular, and easiest to access is one that takes you along the Dollu Valley through pine forests and along the grassy ridge top. This route starts from Hattiban Resort and the trail is well trodden and easy to follow. From the resort, the trip will take around three hours, there and back. Parking is available at the bottom of the steep, gravel road to the resort (for bigger vehicles or if you want extra walking time) or at the resort itself.

A less used and longer route begins just after the Dakshinkali Temple road, beyond Taudaha Lake. This route sees you walking along dirt roads through fields until you reach the forest where the trail climbs steeply through the forest to reach the ridge above Haatiban Resort.  This will take you from 4 to 6 hours.

As mentioned, there are several routes, and some other start from the north side of the Pharping Valley(starting from Pharping village) and lead you north to the summit of Champadevi. These routes are more tricky to identify. Bring a map and do your homework before starting out!

Getting There (For Individual Trekkers)

Buses leave every day from the Old Bus Park (15 minutes walk from Thamel). Just go along and ask for a bus to Dakshinkali. Getting off at the road for Haatiban Resort is more tricky as the conductor might not know the resort name. If you are going on to Pharping or Dakshinkali just listen for him shouting out the stop name.

Where to Stay

There are teahouses and lodges in Dakshinkali if you want to stay overnight. Camping is also possible but please ask with locals where is the best place to camp. If you want something more comfortable you can stay at Haatiban Resort and enjoy a cold beer at the end of your hike and dinner overlooking the lights of Kathmandu. Booking in advance is necessary.

3. Hikes around Nagarkot

5 Best Short Hikes Around Kathmandu Valley 3

Trip Summary

  • Height: 2,195m
  • Highlights: from Nagarkot and its surrounding hills you can see several mountain ranges including Annapurna, Ganesh Himal, Langtang and Everest. Sunrise and sunset from Nagarkot.
  • Hike Duration: 4 hours

Nagarkot itself is 32km east of Kathmandu and can be visited for a day but in order to really appreciate the beauty of the area and mountain views, it is a good idea to hike around the area and, if possible, stay overnight.

To start your trek drive approximately one hour to Sakhu, an ancient Newari town on the northeast corner of the Kathmandu Valley. The hike takes approximately four hours through pine forests. On reaching Nagarkot you can look around the village and watch the sun set spectacularly over the Himalayas. Then take a (pre-booked) taxi back to Kathmandu or stay overnight and hike down or take a local bus down the next day. And don’t forget the even more spectacular sunrise!

Getting There (For Individual Trekkers)

Take a bus from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur and catch a bus to Sakhu from the Bhaktapur bus stop.

Where to Stay

There is a wide range of accommodation from the inexpensive to the really quite comfortable in Nagarkot itself. On Friday and Saturday nights the cheaper accommodation fills up quickly so you might want to book ahead. Camping is possible but as more and more hotels are being constructed it is becoming more difficult to find a good camping spot.

Bonus: Looking for a day hikes near Kathmandu – 9 best day hikes around Kathmandu

4. Chisapani Hike

5 Best Short Hikes Around Kathmandu Valley 4

Trip Summary

  • Height: 2,215m
  • Highlights: Hike through Shivapuri National Park sub-tropical forest. Views of Langtang Himal, Ganesh Himal, Jugal Himal and Gaurishankar Himal ranges
  • Hike Duration: 4 to 5 hours

Chisapani is a small settlement of Brahmin, Gurung and Sherpa with fantastic views and good hiking around it. The hike starts from Sundarijal (around an hour from central Kathmandu), passes the main water source for Kathmandu and goes on through Shivapuri National Park until you reach Chisapani village.

Getting There (For Individual Trekkers)

Take a bus from Jamal (10 minutes from Thamel) to Chabhil then change at Chabhil for a bus to Sundarijal. Then start walking!

Where to Stay

There are a few teahouses, most of which were damaged in the 2015 earthquakes. Locals are rebuilding so there should be something available. Camping is also possible.

5. Chisapani to Nagarkot Combined Trek

5 Best Short Hikes Around Kathmandu Valley 5

A good way to expand your trek to Chisapani is to keep on going the next day to Nagarkot. Trek Sundarijal to Chisapani as described above, overnight then hike approximately 7 hours through mostly dense forest to Nagarkot, where you can overnight again or drive directly back to Kathmandu.

Another alternative is to keep trekking from Nagarkot to Changunarayan (that day or the next) and then drive back to Kathmandu.

The trail from Nagarkot to Changunarayan descends through terraced fields, through a Tamang village and on along a ridge of deciduous forest.

From Nagarkot to the temple at Changunarayan it takes about 4 hours. This temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has been resorted after being damaged in the 2015 earthquakes. There is also a very interesting museum at the temple which has been lovingly cared for over the years.

From Changunarayan you can walk or drive back down to Bhaktapur (8km) and explore this medieval town with its rich cultural history. Check complete independent Chisapani Nagarkot Hike Information.

You can also explore Nagarkot, Chisapani and Changunarayan/ Bhaktapur by vehicle. Take a look at the exclusive list of 8 exotic places near Kathmandu for more information on these locations and how to get there.

About Author

Jackie has lived and travelled in Asia for 27 years, more than 20 of these in Nepal. This writer/ editor is currently the owner of a small vocational training company. She is also involved in the tourism and development sectors. When not working she can be found at live music gigs, at the theatre, or art events.

(4) Comments

  1. Steph

    Do you know of any groups that go out for any of these hikes as day trips from Kathmandu that one could join? Or companies that organize day trips like this? Thanks!

    1. Pradeep Guragain

      Hi Steph,

      Magical Nepal can organize any of these day trips. Also, you can consider joining Kathmandu Expat in FaceBook to find a group that go out for these hikes:

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/foreignersinnepal/

  2. dan

    Hey Steph !
    I’m also searching for people/groups for one day trekking around Nepal at weekends. What’s your Facebook-name ?

    Dan

  3. Pau

    Hello Jackie, thank you for this post, i’ll be doing one of these trekks around Katmandú with Friends. Do we need to get the TIMM ?

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