On top of the world in the birthplace of Buddha


On top of the world in the birthplace of Buddha

Wrapped up warm you look out over forested Himalayan foothills, the primary colours of fluttering prayer flags popping brightly against the clear winter sky. You well might be reminded of the words of Karen Carpenter as you look down on creation from your mountain village homestay. Magnificent though the vistas of towering summits might be, Nepal is about so much more than the single mystic giant it has become legendary for.

It’s a land hugely rich in biodiversity, welcoming you into a unique culture. Take time to explore this diverse destination, from the frenetic craziness of Kathmandu’s buzzing streets and shrines steeped in spiritually to crashing rivers and zip lines through jungles. Spring and autumn are traditionally seen at the preferred times to visit Nepal but they are also by far the most crowded and expensive.

At Low Season Traveller we recommend considering either of the two off peak periods, which have so much to offer including some uniquely low season experiences, and heavily discounted rates. The hot summer months, June, July and August, see the renowned monsoon. Heavy rainfall can be expected which may restrict mountain views and mean some adventure activities are curtailed. However, it’s actually an ideal time to experience Nepal’s glorious greenery, the emerging shades and changing landscapes as life returns to the land. Join communities as they celebrate this annual phenomenon, and tour the top spiritual and cultural centres with the best guides and learn how locals honour their Hindu and Buddhist traditions once the tourist crowds have left.  In contrast December and January are cold and travellers can be put off by freezing temperatures and snowfall. Do keep in mind though that this winter period sees the clearest skies and most impressive views. Winter trekking is totally possible, especially on low elevation routes, and popular treks are void of the excited high season crowds. It’s also much warmer at this time in the south of the country plus it’s the very best time to explore jungle areas and the national parks of Chitwan and Bardia.

Low Season Trekking

From intensive 3 week odysseys to day long hikes, trekkers are spoilt for choice, with options across the length and breadth of Nepal.  Everest, Annapurna and Langtang treks are the most popular and low season means you can enjoy these iconic trails in peace. Shorter hikes such as Sakhu to Dhulikhel and in the hills around Kathmandu also offer unforgettable opportunities, with superb winter vistas, and in summer, streams and waterfalls are in full flow. We recommend taking advice from local guiding services who can give up to date information about which trails are most accessible due to current conditions, avoid monsoon landslides, and help you get the best from your experience.

Find your Spiritual Side  

We love exploring Nepal’s historical, religious and cultural sites in low season when the crowds have gone and the spiritual vibration is strong. Hinduism is the most practiced form of worship, while Buddhism is also followed, particularly in the area around Lumbini where Siddhartha Gautama himself was said to be born in the 5th century BC. An openness towards minority faiths, as well an overwhelming attitude of compassion and generous, has led many seekers of enlightenment to come to Nepal for spiritual immersion, praying with monks and meeting holy sages. A fascinating Nepalese past, with blended elements from Indian and Chinese neighbours, has rendered a feast for culture seekers. In fact, there are seven UNESCO’s World Heritage sites within Kathmandu Valley alone including the architectural gem of Durbar Square and the massive Bouddhanath Stupa.

Winter Wildlife

Did you know Nepal is home to almost 10% of the world’s total species of bird as well as a huge number of butterfly and mammal species? It’s even been called the Amazon of Asia thanks to its unique biodiversity. The great plains in the south, known as the Terai, and the national parks of Chitwan, Bardia and Suklaphata are stunning places to conduct jungle treks, jeep safaris, and canoe rides under the guidance of experienced locals. Monsoon sees closures due to mud and landslides, but winter enjoys ideal viewing conditions as long grasses are cut back and you’ll have a chance to spot Royal Bengal tigers, leopards and rhinos, as well as gharial and marsh mugger crocodiles basking in the sun along the marshes and rivers.

Low Season Months

Mar Apr May Jun
Sep Oct Nov Dec

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Top Experiences

Ropai Rice Planting Festival

Falling in the middle of monsoon, this low season event occurs on Ashar 15 in the Nepalese calendar. Visitors can arrange to join local farming communities and celebrate another year of sowing in the fertile paddies with delicious home-cooked food and drink.

Manaslu Trek

This 108 mile circuit, known as the best all-round teahouse trek on the Great Himalayan Trail, offers beautiful scenery, fascinating culture, and wildlife. It’s demanding, but accessible year-round. Or find your favourite shorter trek, depending on your needs.

Fly over Everest

Experience an unforgettable mountain flight from Kathmandu or Pokhara. The winter views are great once you climb above the haze. Monsoon can be trickier due to cloud but local services will advise, but prices are much more reasonable at these times of year.

Insider Tips

  • Nepal is the only country in the world with a non-rectangular flag. It’s made up of two distinctive crimson triangles or pennants with a dark blue border and decorated with a sun and a moon. It’s been in place since 1962, but based on a millennia old design.
  • Nepal is adventure sport paradise, especially around the picturesque city of Pokhara. Kayaking, paragliding, and bungee jumps are on offer with low season discounts of 50%. You can also visit caves, waterfalls, or Fewa Lake for more sedate activities.
  • Dal bhat , lentil curry with rice, is standard Nepalese kitchen fare, but don’t miss other Newari delicacies. Favourites are yomari, steamed rice stuffed with sweets, dhido made with polenta, or momos filled with seasoned stuffing and absolutely delicious.

Good To Know

  • Consider using a porter to carry luggage on a trek. You might feel like a total wimp, but locals are much more capable at high altitudes, and you’ll be supporting local economy when incomes from tourism are low. Plus you’re free to enjoy the trek without the weight.
  • Low season is a great time to interact with families, sharing a cup of Nepali tea. Gai Jatra is a festival of dancing and singing, and falls in July or August. This festival of the cow commemorates the death of loved ones and people dressed as cows parade on the streets.
  • Don’t try to shake hands with the Nepalis you meet. Or worse still, go in for a hug or a kiss. Instead simply opt for placing your palms together, bow your head and say ‘Namaste’ (or ‘Tashidele’ among Sherpa communities). It means “I salute the God in you”.

Food & Drink

Forest and Plate, Thamel, Kathmandu

This lovely venue specialises in organic salads made with the best locally sourced fresh herbs and leaves. Located in Thamel, in the heart of Kathmandu, organic coffee, and cocktails are also served. There’s a rooftop terrace with stupa views.

The Village Café, Lalitpur, Kathmandu

Serves delicious Newari dishes, while helping hundreds of women earn a living through training in their ownership of the café, production of fresh ingredients and hygiene guidelines. All used alongside their inherited traditional culinary skills.

Newa Lahana, Kirtipur, Kathmandu

A real culinary adventure. This small busy place serves real Newari food in the traditional manner – spread out on the floor while diners perch on cushions. Set against the western face of the historical hill of Kirtipur, it’s an experience not to be missed.

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