The best classic, first-time teahouse treks
1. Annapurna Circuit
Best for: Mountain views, Gurung villages & scenery
Duration: 10 – 12 days
Add-on: Tilicho Lake (4 days), Ice Lake, Milarepa’s Cave, Lubra Valley
Once considered one of the world’s great treks, this circuit has suffered in recent years from road construction, which now covers half of the old route.
That said, the villages and side trips of the Manang Valley are glorious to see, with the traditional villages of upper Pisang, Bragha and Kagbeni particularly delightful, while the challenging crossing of the 5,416m Thorung La Pass has a sense of achievement.
The key here is to do some research and focus on side trips and alternate routes off the road. Most people now finish the trek in Jomsom, having started out in Besi Sahar or Chame (a short drive from Pokhara).
2. Annapurna Sanctuary
Best for: Comfy lodges, high passes & traditional villages
Duration: 10 days
Add-on: Mardi Himal trek (6 days)
Like all Annapurna treks, this starts out with a short drive from Pokhara (this time to Phedi). But, in terms of mountain views gained per time invested, the walk up Modi Khola valley into the high cirque of the Annapurna Sanctuary gives you the best bang for your buck anywhere in Nepal.
Views from your bowl of muesli include the mighty fish-tailed Machhapuchhare, plus Hiunchuli and the awesome Annapurna South Face, climbed by Chris Bonnington in 1970.
This is, naturally, a popular trail but the lodges are comfortable, with hot showers and WiFi, and the lower-altitude ethnic Gurung villages are charming.
3. Everest Base Camp
Best for: Big peaks, Sherpa culture & bragging rights
Duration: From 14 days
Add-on: Khunde & Khumjung villages, Gokyo Valley (7 days)
Trekkers fly in from Kathmandu by the dozen to set out from Lukla on what is likely the busiest trail in Nepal.
Everyone wants to see the world’s highest peak, but you only get closeup views of Everest and its famous Khumbu icefall from the Kala Patthar viewpoint for about two hours.
Longer-lasting highlights include Sherpa villages, views of beautiful Ama Dablam peak and the most sophisticated lodges in Nepal, if you don’t mind crowds.
Our tip? Add on a week and explore the side valley of Gokyo, with its turquoise lakes seen from the Gokyo Ri viewpoint, plus a day’s acclimatisation in the Sherpa villages of Kunde and Khumjung.
4. Langtang Valley
Best for: Easy access, great lodges & side trips
Duration: 7 days
Add-on: Gosainkund Lakes trek (5 days), Tamang Heritage Trail trek (6–7 days), Helambu trek (4 days)
The Langtang Valley was sadly hit hard by Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake, when the entire village of Langtang was buried in a landslide, but the area has since recovered, lodges have been rebuilt and the trail is better than ever.
Three days of valley ascent and trekking through bamboo and forest drops you in an alpine pasture full of yak-grazed meadows and glaciers dripping off 7,000m peaks.
The trailhead at Syabrubesi is just a bus ride from Kathmandu and there are lots of trek extensions worth exploring in the nearby Gosainkund and Helambu regions. If you want our advice, budget three days in Kyanjin Gompa for superb radial day hikes.
The best off-the-beaten-track Teahouse treks
1. Everest Three Passes
Best for: Mountain views, lakes & high passes
Duration: 20 days
Add-on: Island Peak ascent (2–3 days)
The demanding Three Passes trek links the Khumbu region’s four main valleys (Khumbu, Gokyo, Imja, Thame) via three dramatic 5,000m-plus passes, visiting Everest Base Camp en route.
Starting out from Lukla (usually after flying in from Kathmandu), this is not an easy trek; you need to be fit and acclimatised, and will need a guide to get you safely over the passes. However, no technical climbing is involved and the lodges en route are good.
This is the connoisseur’s Everest itinerary, getting you away from the crowds and into unmatched mountain scenery.
2. Around Manaslu
Best for: Mountain views, glaciers, villages & variety
Duration: 16–18 days
Add-on: Tsum Valley trek (7 days)
In recent years Manaslu has quietly earned the title of best teahouse trek in Nepal. Starting out from Sota Khola, it’s less crowded than other areas, thanks in part to high-season permits costing US$70pp (£55) for the first week and $10 (£8) a day thereafter.
From there you head up rugged gorges and into a high Tibetan-influenced region known as Nupri, dotted with monasteries, traditional villages, high lakes, views of Manaslu (the world’s eighthhighest mountain) and a dramatic high-pass crossing over the 5,100m Larkya La.
Though not exactly undiscovered, this might still be the best trekking secret in Nepal.
3. Upper Mustang
Best for: Tibetan art, trans-Himalayan scenery & monasteries
Duration: 10–14 days
Add-on: Luri Gompa, Choser cave
Long considered a last Himalayan Shangri-La, upper Mustang demands a hefty permit fee of US$500pp (£395) for the first ten days and $50 (£40) a day thereafter.
In return, you get access to a remote Tibetan-style landscape of colourful stupas, red-walled monasteries, pristine villages and some intriguing cliffside caves that were only explored a few years ago.
Most start out from Jomsom or Kagbeni, and it is now possible to do as a teahouse trek, but a dirt road winds up the western side of the valley, so be sure to return via the more remote and wilder eastern trail and the villages of Yara, Tangye and Tetang.
Best for: A short duration, traditional villages, dazzling mountain views & Tibetan culture
Duration: 7 days
Add-on: Manang village, Annapurna Circuit trek (10-12 days)
The photogenic Tibetan villages of Nar and Phu lie hidden just north of the Annapurna Circuit, and most trekkers walk blindly past the turn-off onto the trail at Koto in their desire for another slice of warm apple pie.
In return for a US$90 (£70) weeklong permit in high season, you’ll get to overnight in two of the most photogenic villages in the Himalaya, before soaking in views of the Annapurna range from the 5,320m Kang La Pass.
You rejoin the Annapurna Circuit at Ngawal village, so it’s also possible to finish this trek by continuing on to Manang and over the Thorung La Pass to Jomsom.
5. Khopra Ridge
Best for: A short duration, glorious mountain views, comfortable lodges & sustainable trekking
Duration: 6 days
Add-on: Khayer Lake
A relatively new route, starting out at Naya Pul, the Khopra Ridge trek links together a string of recently opened community-owned lodges, making it perfect for those looking to put together a more ethical escape.
It takes you up through the southern foothills of the Annapurnas, before detouring away from the crowds up to some panoramic viewpoints that look over to Dhaulagiri (8,167m) and Annapurna I (8,091m).
It’s an excellent alternative to the busier trails found around Poon Hill, and access to the route, from the nearby city of Pokhara, is easy.