Nepal in Winter: All You Need To Know Before You Go
Thinking of heading to Nepal in winter? This landlocked Himalayan nation has a rich heritage, delightful culinary experiences, welcoming people, and deep spiritual traditions. If these appeal to you, coming here will be one of the best travel decisions you make.
But what should you know before visiting? In this guide, I summarize the most essential facts you should consider. Let’s start with how cold it is in Nepal in winter.
What Is the Weather Like in Nepal During Winter?
Nepal’s cold, dry, and sunny winter season lasts from late November to mid-February, but the weather varies across regions. In the lowlands and the Terai region, for example, temperatures range between 7°C and 25°C so you can expect clear skies and spectacular views.
Because its hilly regions are at an altitude, the temperatures can drop below freezing so make sure to pack your winter wear.
Reasons To Visit Nepal During the Winter
There are many reasons to visit Nepal in the winter, including:
- Breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains
- Popular Nepali comfort food in winter
- The healing properties of hot springs in Nepal
- Serene winter treks(Because winter is an off-peak tourist season, you’ll share the trails with a much smaller crowd)
- Diverse fauna (which you’re more likely to spot because there are fewer people)
The cherry on top is you get to save precious dollars with more affordable lodging, transportation, and airfare.
Best Places To Visit In Nepal In Winter Season
Here are my top must-visit sites that you can add to your itinerary:
Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park became a World Heritage Site in 1984—and it has been attracting domestic and foreign visitors by the thousands ever since.
Where else can you go on a one-of-a-kind walking safari and see majestic beasts like the one-horned rhinoceros, the royal Bengal tiger, and gaur (Indian bison)? Take a Jeep safari if you’re traveling with little ones. I also recommend the river safari so you can witness the fish-eating gharial and visit the crocodile breeding center.
While there, don’t forget to visit the Tharu village to understand their local customs, culture, and lifestyle.
Kathmandu and Beyond
Kathmandu is home to 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
- Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a former royal palace
- Kathmandu Durbar Square features traditional architecture
- Boudhanath has the largest spherical stupas in the world
- Pashupatinath Temple houses the holy linga of Lord Shiva
- Changunarayan is a two-story Hindu temple that is around 1,600 years old
- Patan Durbar Square is a unique Buddhist monastery with bronze statues, shrines, sculptures, and religious objects.
- Swyambhunath Stupa is an ancient religious complex that’s home to hundreds of monkeys. It is considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists.
Enjoy gorgeous views of the Himalayas from hill stations, go trekking, shop for a variety of items at street markets, and tantalize your palate with a variety of delectable local dishes for a well-rounded experience. To make the most of your culinary adventures, consider going on a Kathmandu food tour.
Bardiya National Park
Visit the Bardiya National Park to reconnect with nature. Spot the majestic Gangetic dolphin and mugger crocodiles during rafting trips along the Geruwa River. You can also take jungle walks in this protected area to spot wildlife in their natural habitats and birdwatch during the early morning hours.
With 125 recorded species of fish, it also offers opportunities for fishing!
Though there are elephant rides, I’m not a big fan because elephants are endangered and their spines cannot support the weight of people.
Kalinchowk of Dolakha
Located 3842 meters above sea level, Kalinchowk is a beautiful snowy paradise. It’s a top favorite among adventure enthusiasts as it offers great opportunities for trekking and skiing. Alternatively, you could just as easily take a cable car to enjoy the same views minus the exertion.
The splendid views from the hilltops will make it worth your while. Make sure to sip on Jhwaikhattey, a local millet brew, and engage in a snowball fight to get the complete Kalinchowk experience.
Lumbini is believed to be the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, a historical figure whose profound insights inspired the world.
When you head to this pilgrimage site, check out the Maya Devi Temple which is located next to the sacred pool called Pushkarini. Be sure to sneak a peek at the Bodhi Tree as the entire journey of Lord Buddha’s life is connected with it. You might also see Buddhist monks meditating or chanting scripts here.
On your visit to this UNESCO world heritage site, you can also check out the 6-meter tall Ashoka Pillar, observe 12,000 artifacts at the Lumbini Museum, and enjoy a quiet moment at Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Vihar.
Embrace serenity and tranquility with a visit to Nagarkot, a small village that offers a variety of winter activities. You can watch the famed Nagarkot sunset and choose from hiking trails that offer different intensities. You can even paraglide from the sky and see the world from above.
Cyclists will enjoy mountain biking adventures that will test them at every twist and turn. You can also check in at a hotel to savor breathtaking views. Imagine seeing 8 of the 13 Himalayan ranges from your hotel balcony!
Whether you’re seeking adventure or a quiet place to take a break, Pokhara—the second largest city in Nepal—has you covered. From here, you can take in magnificent views of the Annapurna range.
Visitors can also get a relaxing massage, take a boat ride to World Peace Stupa (a stunning Buddhist monument), and visit Pokhara Disneyland. Additionally, you may want to shop for souvenirs, cycle around Begnas Lake, explore the well-known Davis Falls, and head to one of the many pubs or clubs.
If you’re wondering, what is the winter average temperature in Pokhara Nepal, it varies based on when you visit. If you head there in January, for example, you can expect the weather to be around 13°C which is still mild compared to Nepal’s other regions.
Bandipur in Nepal is a natural getaway known for its Newari culture. Go hiking to explore its cobblestone streets, architecture with intricate latticework, hidden courtyards, and panoramic views of the Himalayas. The municipality is also home to a 200-year-old Bindabasini temple.
My advice is to sleep in traditional homestays instead of hotels for an authentic experience. They typically offer free WiFi and air-conditioned rooms so you won’t be missing out on any major amenities.
Festivals and Events in Nepal in Winter
If you travel to Nepal in winter, you can participate in some of the country’s biggest festivals:
Tihar (October 29 – November 2)
Tihar, alternatively called Diwali, Deepawali, or Yamapanchak, is a colorful five-day Hindu festival of lights. It honors Yama, the God of Death, the creatures that are associated with him, and the Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi. It also celebrates brother-sister relationships and holds a special place in Nepalese hearts.
You can join the celebration by visiting Kathmandu, the “Temple City.”
Chhath (November 7)
Chhath Festival (Chhath Parva) is celebrated over 4 days. It features 4 important steps: taking a holy bath, preparing for the fast, gathering at the banks of rivers, and making offerings to the sun. This revered festival will give you rich insights into Nepali’s diverse culture, sense of community, and spiritual customs.
Christmas (December 25)
Nepal has a Christian population but it commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ a bit differently. Instead of lights, Nepalis light diyas and candles, creating an equally magical experience. You can also attend the midnight mass and shop for local delicacies from Christmas markets and events.
Maha Shivaratri (March 8)
Maha Shivratri is a national holiday that is celebrated with fasting and the performance of rituals, prayers, and meditation. You can be part of this annual spiritual festival by visiting one of the many temples and offering worship to the lingam (symbol of Shiva).
While Nepal is worth a visit any time of the year, its winter months offer a unique opportunity to experience the country’s unique customs and cultural celebrations. Visiting monasteries and temples can feel even more special as snow-covered structures add to their mystical allure. If you’ve been thinking of visiting Nepal in winter, I highly encourage you to do so.
To learn more about enjoyable Nepalese destinations, check out my recommended trips outside of Kathmandu.
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