To experience Nepali life off the tourist trail, head to the one-lane town of Nuwakot, a four-hour bus ride northwest of the overcrowded alleys of Kathmandu and an easy detour on the way to the popular Langtang trek.
Terraced rice paddies, pumpkin plots, and mango trees surround the peaceful Himalayan village. In the center of town, an 18th-century palace and an ancient Hindu temple are built in the traditional brick-and-wood style of the Newars, the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. On the palace grounds, look for the elaborate door and window carvings as well as statues of Hindu gods in the wildest sexual positions imaginable. Around the corner at the pagoda-style temple, receive a blessing from the Brahman priest.
Ask locals where to grab the best meal and you might get invited home to share their handcrafted rice beer, called thon, and a plate of spicy buffalo lung and goat brains—a surprisingly delicious change from Nepal’s standard rice-and-lentils fare.
In the evening, relax at the Famous Farm (shown), a newly opened inn and organic garden. With hurricane lamps and handwoven blankets in each room, the inn is a comfortable alternative to the area’s usual mildewy backpacker guesthouses and glitzy five-star hotels. —Kate Harding
This appeared in the December/January 2010 issue.