Tropical destinations and luxury escapes are great for the mind, but cultural expeditions are great for the soul.

Nepal is a bustling country of nearly 30 million people, living in a society rich with culture, spiritualism and history. There’s plenty of temples to see, places to shop and sights to take in, and there’s more than just Kathmandu. Apart from following necessary precautions before travelling, Nepal is a rather exciting place.

Here are five reasons why you should visit Nepal:

Gain spiritual enlightenment

Swayambhunath/Monkey Temple. Image: Christopher Kelly

Nepal is perfect for getting in touch with yourself spiritually, with plenty of temples and shrines to visit. While some places may be forbidden to those who don’t follow the religion, the best ones are open to all tourists. A popular place in western Kathmandu is¬†Swayambhunath Stupa, or what is colloquially called the “Monkey Temple”. Don’t be alarmed about being bitten by the monkeys, as they usually keep to themselves – just make sure to secure your valuables. There’s also the¬†Boudhanath Stupa on the eastern side of Kathmandu. Outside of Kathmandu is the Manakamana Temple, where you will need to catch a cool cable car to its location on the top of the mountain.

Witness the Nepali culture

Nepali woman. Image: Christopher Kelly

There’s something quite powerful about the local people of Nepal. They hold a human spirit that drives them to grow. It will change your perspective on life and the way people live it. As you wander through the streets of Kathmandu, see the way people go about their daily lives. You will see the business people, dressed nicely, crossing a mass of crawling traffic that drives over a dilapidated road crammed with buses. Not to mention, workers standing on three-story scaffolding without harnesses. At first you will be shocked, there is no doubt about that, but then you will realise they are doing what they can to live. To succeed.

Dabble in extreme sports

Paragliding in Pokhara. Image: Everest Paragliding.

While climbing Mount Everest is a strong definition of extreme sport, there are other activities that are perfect for those who are looking for a bit of thrill without the training to do it. We’re talking paragliding, canoeing, trekking, canyoning, mountain biking, bungee jumping, zip lining and even a Vespa city tour through Kathmandu. Yes, scootering is considered quite extreme considering how crazy Kathmandu traffic can be. Most extreme sports can be found outside of the country’s capital, and some of the best are found around Pokhara in Nepal’s west. The best extreme sport we recommend is paragliding in Pokhara, where on a clear day you can get wonderful scenic views of Annapurna Massif, the tenth highest mountain in the world.

Driving through the countryside

Pokhara, Nepal. Image: Christopher Kelly

Just like any country you visit, the capital city may not be the most important place to see. In Nepal, we recommend hiring a driver, or hiring your own car, and driving through the winding countryside. See the temples and shrines that the countryside has to offer, find the extreme sports, see the wildlife and find the local eateries. You can even find some of the most interesting local villages that sell the wonderful trinkets and share a wonderful vitality. Never be afraid to go off the beaten track, but just add precaution when you do.

Help the country grow

Nepali women. Image: Christopher Kelly

Nepal is an underdeveloped country yearning for tourists. When you buy from local merchants, you are supporting a local family. When you visit a town or another little city like Pokhara, you are breathing air on their burning fire. While all the things you can do in this vibrant country are numerous, perhaps the best reason to visit is to help. It’s not just money, either. Some places are rebuilding and might need particular resources to help. Feel free to ask around and donate to worthwhile charities. Everyone needs some good karma.