Nepal is a nation between India and Tibet known for its temples and Himalayan mountains, which include Mt. Everest. Kathmandu, the capital, has a mazelike old quarter filled with Hindu and Buddhist shrines. Around Kathmandu Valley are Swayambhunath, a Buddhist temple with resident monkeys; Boudhanath, a massive Buddhist stupa; Hindu temples and cremation grounds at Pashupatinath; and the medieval city of Bhaktapur.
White-water rafting trips follow mountain rivers such as the Sun Koshi and Seti. In the southern Terai lowlands are Chitwan and Bardia national parks, home to rhinos and tigers, and jungle safaris by Jeep or on elephant-back. Lumbini, Buddha’s birthplace, has monasteries and monuments and is a Buddhist pilgrimage site. Annapurna Circuit treks start in Kathmandu and stop in Pokhara, a relaxed lakeside town with yoga centers and waterside cafes.
When to visit: Most visitors arrive Sep–Nov, when the weather is mild and dry, making this peak season for trekking. Winter (Dec–Feb) is cool with snow in the mountains, though hiking at lower elevations is possible. Monsoon season is Jun–Aug, with hot, wet weather. Major religious holidays include Lhosar/Tibetan New Year (Feb); Holi, the festival of water (Feb/Mar); Dashain (Sept/Oct), featuring celebrations in honor of Hindu goddess Durga; and Tihar, the festival of lights (Oct/Nov).