With travel restrictions finally a thing of the past, 2023 has seen millions of tourists flocking to Asia to explore this continent’s vibrant culture and otherworldly landscapes.
Among the countries seeing a surge in popularity this year is Nepal, a cultural gem nestled in the Himalayan Mountains.
Nepal welcomed 117,306 visitors in October, setting a new record for the highest number of tourists in a single month and surpassing 2019’s prior record of 113,000.
So why is this small country seeing such a rise in popularity?
Nepal’s Natural Beauty Is Second To None
You can’t mention Nepal without calling to mind the world-famous Mt. Everest and the country’s snow-covered Himalayan vistas.
Being the location of 8 out of the 10 highest mountains in the world, it’s no wonder this geographically rich country attracts mountaineers and nature lovers from all over.
Whether your goal is to check hiking Mt. Everest off your bucket list, or to take on the iconic Annapurna trek, this country is a true choose-your-own-adventure style destination.
Travelers can take their pick of any number of outdoor activities including rock climbing, paragliding, whitewater rafting and bungee jumping.
Aside from their wealth of outdoor activities, Nepal’s national parks are also home to rare and endangered wildlife you’d be pressed to find anywhere else. Visitors can take jungle safaris to spot red pandas, one-horned rhinoceroses, and perhaps even the majestic royal Bengal tiger.
Ancient Historical Sites
Travelers in search of ornate temples and ancient historic or religious sites will not be disappointed by what Nepal has to offer.
This country is home to a total of four UNESCO World Heritage sites; Lumbini and Kathmandu Valley are the two cultural sites, while national parks make up the remainder. The Lumbini complex spans three miles, housing dozens of monasteries, and is the birthplace of the Buddha himself.
Kathmandu Valley contains 7 cultural heritage sites all within a 7km radius and is an easy trip from Kathmandu city center.
These can’t-miss sites include Pashupatinath Temple, Baudhanath Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa, Changunarayan Temple, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
Nepal is home to 142 ethnic groups and 124 mother tongues, making it an incredibly diverse cultural destination.
Nepali culture values peace and unity, is friendly to visitors, and has colorful and lively art, celebrations, and traditions.
It is known that the Nepalese treat their guests as gods and are one of the most hospitable cultures found anywhere in the globe.
Travelers come to Nepal for the mountains but may end up cherishing their time with the locals as much as the landscapes!
This is universally understood as a place where the people are welcoming, always smiling, and quick to extend their help to those needing it.
Its Energetic Capital
Nepal’s bustling, chaotic capital Kathmandu provides a wealth of unique food, architecture, art, and temples to explore.
With temples, museums, exotic bazaars, and cozy cafes to fill your days with, it’s no wonder this country is seeing more tourists than ever.
Be sure to make time to take in the sights and smells of the Ason and Mangal Bazaars, but remember to barter as prices are inflated to foreigners.
As every international traveler knows, one of the key parts of any destination is the food, and this city doesn’t come up short.
Must-try Nepali delicacies found in Kathmandu are the widely popular national dish dal bhat (a rice and lentil dish served with vegetables or meat) and the infamously addictive Nepalese dumplings known as momos.
Nepal is a seriously appealing destination for any traveler hoping to stretch their dollar further.
Daily travel costs such as food, accommodation, and transportation are remarkably cheap. Nepalese-style dishes cost $1-3, with staples like fried rice or sherpa soup costing as little as $1.
Accommodation prices can be as low as $2 for a budget dorm in a hostel and between $35-50 a night for a luxury hotel room.
While travelers should budget for additional expenses like treks, the general low cost of this country makes it an excellent alternative to pricier counterparts like Japan.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com