I want to explore…
Nestled at the foot of the Himalayas, Nepal has dozens of thrill-seeking fixes and fascinating days out. While Eid doesn’t allow enough time to climb Everest, that’s no excuse not to see Kathmandu. A red-brick and wood city of narrow streets, stray cows and smiling children, it is home to Durbar Square, the Garden of Dreams and 1960s favourite Freak Street – once frequented by Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin and The Beatles, today it is a tangle of colourful shop fronts, telephone cables and bars perched, somewhat precariously, on the rooftops.
The must-sees are concentrated in the Thamel neighbourhood, where locals are keen to offer tour guide services and a crash course in Nepalese culture and history for a few dollars. Start a walking tour at Durbar Square, taking in the former Royal Palace and Kumari Chowk, where the Living Goddess still resides. Sadly, this area took the brunt of the 2015, 7.9 magnitude earthquake, but rebuilding continues and most sites are still accessible. From here, it’s a short walk to the Garden of Dreams, where locals and travellers gather to read, relax and rest on the landscaped lawns.
To explore beyond the city, hire a guide and put yourself in their hands. Dozens of places only a short drive away make excellent day and half-day trips, including the gated historic community of Bhaktapur, Shivapuri Nagarjun national park and Pashupati, the oldest temple in the Kathmandu Valley. If you’re feeling energetic, head to Swayambhunath, where 365 steps lead to a hilltop stupa with once-in-a-lifetime views.
Stay at Kathmandu Guest House, Thamel, Kathmandu. This converted Rana dynasty mansion is a celebrity favourite in the heart of town and even has its own walk of fame, featuring Ricky Martin, Richard Gere and a host of other stars. Rooms start at $30 per night for June 2017, including airport pick up and breakfast.
I want to unwind…
Nepal is blessed with some of the most breath-taking scenery known to humankind and one of the best places to enjoy it is Pokhara – a city 200km from Kathmandu, where the snow-capped Himalayas reflect in the tranquil waters of Phewa Lake. Known locally as the City of Paradise, Pokhara is Nepal’s yogi hotspot, offering retreats, detoxes and mountain getaways across an impressive collection of luxury hotels and guesthouses.
For the days when even the laziest break requires some pace, there is lots to see and do, including Devi’s Fall, the Gurkha Museum and the Seti River Gorge. Although if relaxation is the aim, avoid the famous Bat Cave – there are no superheroes to be found!
A true Nirvana, the key to Pokhara is to embrace nature. Wellbeing is a way of life here, where superfoods such as snow mountain garlic, pink Himalayan salt and Goji berries originate. The pollution of the lowlands is a distant memory, life is simple and the car-free mountainsides boast some of the freshest air in the world – a welcome respite from summer in Dubai!
Stay at Sadhana Yoga Retreat, Sedi Bagar, Pokhara. Offering yoga, trekking and silent retreat packages, this is one of the oldest yoga and detox retreats in the area and even offers yoga teacher training. Prices vary depending on activities with all inclusive packages starting at $82 per person for two nights.