North Lake side : Lemon Tree Lodge (there are also several lodges here)
View from our room at Lemon Tree Lodge
>>> Hike up to the World Peace pogoda
>>> Watch a movie at 'Moonlight Movies'
>>> Have brekkie at Pokhara Java Coffee
>>> Take a walk / run along the lakeside early in the morning.
>>> OR2K (Israeli / vegan )
>>> Pokhara Java Coffee (brekkie)
On arrival in Pokhara - (most likely the coach park) you are greeted with eager faces of cab drivers trying to take you into Pokhara town for what seems like a cheap fare, but is in fact actually a rip off as its a walkable distance. There are also ladies wandering round with giant baskets balanced on the their heads stacked with freshly baked pastries which are absolutely worth the 50 rupees - so get one!
If you're travelling light like me and my travel buddy were, then walking into town with your back packs on is no trouble at all -and its a good way of scoping out the main high street in town before settling in some accommodation.
The busy main street has ragged dogs sniffing about, the odd cow and then cool nepali hipster kids hanging around their mopeds. The shop and restaurant owners are friendly and you will notice a lot of tired looking trekkers who have either just returned from the long old 'Annapurna Circuit' trek or fresh faced excited trekkers about to embark on it. Floating in the sky above the glass like lake you will see many paraglider's viewing Pokhara from a higher perspective - the whole place has a sense of serenity and chill about it.
* Must dos *
Getting up early and taking a walk or run along the lake side is a lovely way of seeing the local culture in action and is totally worth it. Not many tourists and trekkers are around at this time (as they are all shattered from trekking most likely and enjoying a good bed!). We went on a run around 7am and it was just beautiful seeing the fisherman in their little boats and perched on the side of the lake fishing, the local women dressed in vibrant colours praying and making there way to a little island to give their offerings and the hard working shop owners all sweeping the dust from the front of their shops. I saw my first glimpse of the Himalaya on this run and I remember turning around and it taking me by surprise - making the trip all of a sudden very 'real'. I could just see the top of Annapurna South, Fishtail and Annapurna 3. Welling up slightly, I felt mesmerised by what I saw, as I hadn't realised you would be able to see them from here. I then had a pang inside of excitement at the adventure that awaited before me.
Whilst in Pokhara, I highly recommend doing the day hike up to the World Peace Pagoda on the other side of the lake. You will see this Stupa on a clear day when looking up at the hill opposite Pokhara town. The hike is not to tough at all and its fun walking through all the settlements on your way up to see a bit of the local culture that you don't get in the main town. You don't need a guide, its pretty straight forward to work out - you can take a route through the woods where there are mountain bike tracks or take a back route winding up the mountain / hill. If you have some new trekking kit like boots or bags - this is a great little hike to 'test out' the comfort of your kit to reassure you of its suitableness before you embark on a proper trek out in the himalaya.
We went a couple of times to watch a movie at Moonlight Movies which is near the north lake side of town, you will see it signposted on the town side of the road (not the lake side). They show lovely movies usually suitable for the surroundings - we saw 'Seven years in Tibet' and 'Into the Wild' there and it was a real magical setting. You wind up a narrow path which is all candle lit to reach an opening at the top with a make shift bar serving tea and popcorn for the movie. Get there early to get a good seats / cushions - as it is small and cosy. They provide throws / blankets here and there so you can tuck up and feel real hygge! Whilst we were there I saw glow flies for the first time and it was a very precious moment, the moon and stars over the lake are breathtaking and it is worth going just for that view even if its an average movie showing!
* Must Eats *
The ladies walking around early in the mornings carrying the baskets on their heads full of freshly baked pastries...these are a must try at least once!
OR2K - again has such a nice chilled atmosphere, low tables with cushions on the floor and sassy lighting - the vibe alone is a reason to go. The tables are laid out in a real sociable manner for if you're in a group, and also if you want a 'date night' you can choose a more private cosy spot for two. The hummus is dreamy and the portions are big so be aware of that - I highly recommend the lemon and ginger tea!
Pokhara Java Coffee - this is a great little cafe with decent wifi if you need to make any calls home. The eggs Benedict and coffee were the best we found in Pokhara and the prices were reasonable also!
Enjoy this serene peaceful place for one or two nights before or after a trek around the annapurna region, it really is worth while.