Phewa Lake is the best. However, I must give a full disclosure first. I love Pokhara. Pokhara is the city by the lake (it is actually surrounded by Sarangkot, Kaskikot, and Raniban “Queen Forest”). It is comparable to the Carmel of Nepal. And in my opinion, it is what makes Phewa Lake so great.
The lake sits at an elevation of 2,434 ft in stunning proximity to the Annapurna massif in Pokhara Valley. It is the second largest lake in Nepal and the largest lake in the valley. It has a square area of 1.71 sq mi. It’s maximum water depth is about 62 feet, while its average is about 28 ft. Its estimated maximum water holding potential is 12.15 billion gallons. The lake is fed by the Harpan River, and feeds into the Pardi River.
Phewa Lake is the most visited lake in Nepal. Apart from visitors coming for its natural beauty, adventure seekers visit it for world class paragliding, and as a resting point for their treks. It also has a few water activities like boating, kayaking, and fishing. There is a temple on an island in the center of the river that also attracts a lot of crowds. I will discuss this in the religious significance section of the post.
How to get there
You can reach Phewa Lake by driving on the Prithvi Hwy or by plane. The distance from Kathmandu to Pokhara is about 126 miles by car. The trip takes about 6 hours to get there driving nonstop. Buses generally take about 8 hours, with a stop for lunch along the way. Be careful about riding on the bus. People often get sick and throw up inside and outside the window. If you hear somebody say “plastic” be extra cautious. Believe me, you don’t want to be sitting behind somebody with your window down while they are throwing up outside.
I have never flown from Kathmandu to Pokhara so I can’t speak of the experience. I do know it takes about 30 minutes and is about 88 miles in a straight line. This is ideal if you want to save some time, don’t want to get throw up on you, or are worried about the road conditions or the drivers. The Pokhara airport is just west of the city. It is about a 30-minute walk to the lake or a 10-minute drive. Taxis are everywhere and finding a ride isn’t hard. Tip: if you schedule your trip with a company they will often provide free shuttle service from the airport to the lake/ hotel.
Flights can easily be booked inside the Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport. They can vary in price. I will give a detailed description of the cost of transportation later in this blog post. Taxi service from the airport to a bus park can vary in price too. I have only not been overcharged by a taxi 2 times during my travels. You can also take a micro bus, but you need to know the routes and where the Pokhara bus park is. Micros can get extremely crowded. Be prepared to sit on someone’s lap or have someone sit on yours.
What to bring and where to stay
If you are coming to Pokhara just for Phewa Lake, you can get by with everyday attire. In the summer you will want some rain gear like an umbrella, poncho, and waterproof shoes or flipflops. The spring and fall temperatures can get cold at night but you can generally walk around in a t shirt. Winter sees cooler temperatures that call for sweatshirt or jacket.
Most of anything you need can be purchased in Pokhara. For bargain prices try shopping outside the tourist areas. You still might be charged more but you can generally get a better price. Bhat Batini is a wonderful market. It’s a little difficult to find but it has everything from entertainment to groceries; its also a little overpriced.
I have stayed in a quite a few hotels in Pokhara. I have also visited a great many of them looking for a place to stay. There is only one that I recommend. It is the Lakeside inn. It is a quaint and intimate hotel. The owner is a really happy go lucky guy that prides himself on the quality of his customer service and his garden. The rooms are simple and affordable. A few rooms have connected bathrooms but the rest share showers and toilets. The showers are hot and the room service is good. They also have laundry service too. Make sure you book your room in advance because they are busy.
When to go
I prefer the spring and winter seasons. There is one exception to that though. I do not like new years eve in Pokhara. A lot of people (tourists and locals) drink way too much and sometimes misbehave. The winters are cold but mild and the mountain views are amazing! Winters in Pokhara by the lake are the ultimate hygge experience.
I can best describe Phewa Lake in the winter as Hygge.
Hygge describes the feeling of being content while the atmosphere around you is unpleasant. I like to think of it as being cuddled up in a warm and cozy blanket while the outside is uncomfortably chilly. My friends and I went to the Luna Wine Lounge, which overlooks the lake. We shared a bottle of wine in a most enjoyable atmosphere with great views in the winter.
The spring time is also good at Phewa Lake. The rhododendrons are blooming and the air is clean. It reminds me of In Bloom by Nirvana. If you do not know about Nirvana, stop reading and listen to their Nevermind album. In the spring time, you can see fishermen, and small painted boats line the shores. The boats are iconic to the lake. Spring time views of the mountains are also good. Varying shades of green populate the landscape. Speckles of reds and pink show through the vegetation. It is reminiscent of the stars in space.
The summers at Phewa Lake are hot, humid, and very, very wet. It is however kind of enjoyable to watch the rain from a hotel room or from one of the many shops lining the street where you can seek shelter in. I am childish at heart and enjoy jumping in rain puddles with big plastic boots on. I highly recommend doing it at least once. The smell of the rain is also very enjoyable to me.
Falls are an excellent time to visit Phewa Lake. It is arguably the best time to visit. It is also the most crowded during this time. Most of the visitors who come to trek, come during this season and often spend time in Pokhara. If you like crowds, beautiful weather, waiting in line, or struggling to find a hotel room, come during the fall.
I will include all the expenses for average accommodations, meals, travel expenses for buses as well as for flights. I am not covering all activities, but if you want the prices for a specific activity, you can find it at himalayantrekandadventure.com.
- $120 Plane ticket from Kathmandu to Pokhara
- $8 to $12 for Bus fare from Kathmandu to Pokhara:
- $12 to $20/ night room and board
- $20/ day food
- $3/ hour boat ride on Phewa Lake
- $8 to $10/ night drinks
The lake itself does not have and religious or historical significance. However, there is an island in the lake that has a temple on it. The temple is dedicated to the water goddess Barahi. The temple is locally called Barahi Mandir, but its official name is Taal Barahi Temple. Its about a 5-minute paddle from the shore next to the boat launch.