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10 of the loveliest experiences to have in Nepal

Nepal is best known for trekking and a lot of hard physical work! However there also many non-physically exhausting wonderful experiences that Nepal has to offer. Here are my top ten:

1. Dinner at Krishna Dwarikas Kathmandu

Dwarikas Krishna is most likely the best restaurant in Kathmandu and possibly in Nepal. It is the place to take a visiting dignatory or of course yourself and you can see photos of everyone from Hillary Clinton to Prince Charles to Demi Moore sitting on the floor of the beautifully decorated Krishna enjoying their meal.

Krishna is all about traditional Nepalese cuisine and courses. I was there on my own so I chose the bare minimum the 6 courses. I hope the serving sizes are smaller in the larger course number options as I was VERY full at the end of mine! The highlights were the stir fried eggplant, the amazing breads and the traditional nepali chicken curry.

2. Singing bowl treatment

A singing bowl treatment is actually considered a spa treatment in Nepal. The theory is that the reverberations of sound pulsing through your body has a healing/therapeutic effect. I had my treatment at Dwarikas Dhulikhel where they have a dedicated singing bowl hut! The singing bowl man/expert is based in Kathmandu so he needs to be pre booked.

After an explanation of what is going to happen you close your eyes and lie down. He scans your body for blockages which he then uses the singing bowl to release. Now of course I couldnt actually see what he was doing but it felt like he was massaging me using the bowl with the bowl ringing. It was actually very pleasant and as promised with the sound and reverberations you have no choice but to be in the moment.

After massaging my back and the back of my legs with the bowl we then moved on to me sitting up and having a rather large singing bowl put on my head which was then dinged/rung/thumped not sure the appropriate verb! I think this would have been quite unpleasant with a hangover but luckily that wasnt the case and I quite enjoyed it.

A singing bowl treatment isnt something I would do every day but it was an interesting and fun experience. Dwarikas Kathmandu also offer the singing bowl treatment in their spa.

3. Coffee at the Everest View Hotel

Located at 3,880m above sea level the Everest view offers absolutely amazing views of Mount Everest. Indeed it was listed in the Guinness Book of World records in 2004 as the highest placed hotel in the world. Its lovely outdoor terrace means you can order your coffee and sit and enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view of the Himalayan peaks. You can also eat here and even stay here if you would like.

To get here you have two options. The standard/lower cost option is that a visit to the Everest View Hotel is day 3 of the trek to Everest base camp or you can do the 2 day trek from Lukla and finish up here. However you dont need to trek to get here. You can also get a private helicopter up here price on application. You can take a helicopter from Kathmandu (45 minutes) or in peak season there is a helicopter shuttle service from Lukla airport (a less expensive option and you would also then get to fly into Lukla the worlds scariest airport!). Whilst these are expensive you can of course stay at the hotel and combine this with other activities like visiting Tengboche Monastery.

4. Attend a ceremony at Tengboche Monastery - 3,867m

The Tengboche Monastery is located in the town of Khumjung on the Everest Base Camp trail. The monastery is where all Everest expeditions, starting with Sir Edmund Hilary in 1953, stop to light candles and seek the blessings of the gods before climbing the mountain. The afternoon prayer ceremony is held at 4pm and is a lovely experience.

It was jam packed when I attended. The monks come in and come out as they like often exchanging a few words and a laugh before crossing their legs and beginning to chant. It was very moving to sit somewhere where so many amazing climbers had sat in the past. The challenge is getting to Tengboche if you are not doing the Everest base camp trek. It can be done as a day trek from the Everest View Hotel (as above) or can sometimes be included in a Himalaya scenic flight (see 10.).

5. Visit Bhaktapur and have a yogurt

Bhaktapur is what I thought Kathmandu would be like and possibly is what Kathmandu looked like before the earthquake. It is the third of the three cities in the Kathmandu Valley and generally considered to be the best preserved. When there make sure you visit Durbar Square, the Golden Gate, see the 55 window palace and visit Potters Square.

Bhaktapur also has the best souvenir shopping I found in Nepal. The stores are well looked after and merchandised and there are many lovely things from Nepalese paper to wooden boxes to pashminas to purchase. And dont leave without trying its famous yogurt made from buffalo milk it is sweet and creamy and utterly delicious! Bhaktapur is about 30 minutes from Kathmandu by taxi.

6. Monkey or Swayambhunath Temple, Kathmandu

You may have guessed that this temple is home to A LOT of monkeys and you would be correct! It is a large complex and has several entry points. There is of course the main golden stunning temple (dont forget to only walk in a clockwise direction around it!). There are many shops and restaurants around the temple. There are also many stairways leading to different terraces and smaller stupas waiting to be explored. The temple also offers fantastic views over Kathmandu that are best seen at sunrise.

7. Lunch at The Garden of Dreams

Kathmandu is a crazy, dirty, busy, messy, full on city. The Garden of Dreams is its very own oasis. Located not far from the hectic Thamel district the Garden of Dreams is like visiting a different country. Hidden from the rest of Kathmandu by thick walls the garden is lovely with pools and pavilions and benches and a great restaurant for coffee and ice cream or a full meal. You wont believe you are in Kathmandu.

8. Watch the sunrise and set at Dwarikas Dhulikhel zero point view

Dwarikas Dhulikhel is a stunning resort/spa about an hour by car from Kathmandu. The resort has an abundance of land and one of the highlights of the property is the amazing 360 views over the Kathmandu valley and of the Himalayas (weather permitting) at the very top. There is a lovely glass building filled with cozy daybeds where tea is served at sunrise and sunset. There is also a terrace above the building where you can experience the views outdoor. It is an amazing way to start or end a day.

9. Breakfast above the clouds at Dhulikhel

To complement number 8 (which will require at least one overnight stay) have breakfast above the clouds. Dwarikas Dhulikhel is located near the top of the Kathmandu Valley. When I stayed there I woke one morning to see that clouds had descended across the valley and were literally all you could see over the valley it was like being on a plane!

I headed down to breakfast where you can see across the valley and enjoyed a delicious breakfast above the clouds! It was such a lovely and special experience.

10. Helicopter ride over the Himalayas

This is a dont miss. Lets start with some important logistics. I would suggest you look to try to do the ride your first morning in Nepal. (You can do the ride from several parts of Nepal however obviously it gets more expensive the more remote and Kathmandu or Lukla are the best options).

The morning is the best time to go as it tends to be when the weather is clearest in the Himalayas.

The reason to check in for your first morning is that there is of course no point doing the flight if you cant see much and it may take several mornings until the conditions are good enough. Once they are get your camera and your phone ready to go and make sure they are fully charged as you will take A LOT of photos!!!!

There are quite a few different companies who run scenic flights and from different locations. You can even get a flight from Kathmandu via Lukla that takes you to Everest Base Camp. You are only able to spend a brief amount of time due to altitude concerns. Check out Tripadvisor and the other usual sources to figure out which will work best with your location and budget.

Amanda OBrien is Owner of The Boutique Adventurer.

If you would like to be a guest blogger onA Luxury Travel Blogin order to raise your profile, pleasecontact us.

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Top 5 most charming properties in France

France is a wonderfully diverse country that appeals to travellers all year round. Offering a rich, medieval heritage alongside sun-drenched beaches and breathtaking mountains, there is something for everyone. Whilst France is home to alluring hotels and resorts, there is nothing quite as charming as a quaint villa in the countryside, or a magnificent mountain chalet. The list goes on and on, so here are our top 5 most charming properties in France.

1. Chateau Bouffemont

A stunning newly renovated chateau just a stones throw from Paris, the worlds most romantic city. Offering complete personalised service and breathtaking views of the Montmorency Forest, this property has been a destination for royalty and the back drop to many grandeur ceremonies.

Home for as long as you would like it to be, even adults feel as though they are living in a fairytale. Whilst the chateau offers a 21st Century experience, there is no shortage of history and tradition in the decor and furnishings.

2. La Residence Paris

A lavish residence in the upscale neighbourhood of Neuilly Saint-James, there is not a more perfect home to explore Paris from. Located just ten minutes from lArc de Triomphe, La Residence is tucked into a quiet oasis, surrounded by lush gardens providing the utmost privacy and security. Space is of great value in such a large, bustling city, so dont forget to make the most of the 40 sq. m indoor heated pool, a place to relax the muscles after a days exploration.

Guests will not want for anything, with a wonderful team of staff, every need is taken care of in the most professional manner.

3. Manor House

A fashionable, sprawling villa set amongst a 40 hectare landscaped park, the Manor House overlooks the beautiful Bay of Cannes, providing stunning sea views. Showcasing exquisite antique furniture, Manor House is host to five bedrooms which can sleep up to ten guests, making this an ideal family property.

Whilst guests might feel like they are in a world all to themselves, the bustling town of La Croisette is just fifteen minutes away, offering an excellent balance between seclusion and the opportunity to immerse yourself into the French way of life.

4. La Verriere

A secluded property encompassed by mountains and rolling hills, home to its own winery and vineyard. A beautiful escape for wine and food lovers, La Verriere also offers ample time to relax in this tranquil setting.

Restored to the highest standards, there are enough suites and guest rooms for eighteen guests, providing the ultimate setting to reconnect with friends and family. After a warm welcome by a team of dedicated staff, guests can explore all the facilities on offer, including a tennis court, Jacuzziand spectacular outdoor pool. There is even more to explore outside of the villa, with numerous biking and hiking trails, an array of delightful villages, as well as the Route des Vins.

5. Villa Sea

This seven bedroom villa displays a panoramic swimming pool overlooking the dazzling Mediterranean Sea. Providing a super luxurious living experience, Villa Sea displays an ultra-contemporary and modernist design that works with the local area and maximises the sprawling views.

Located in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, an exclusive stretch of the French Riviera, a stay at Villa Sea offers an array of activities. Yachting, shopping, hiking and sun worshiping are but a few of the fantastic opportunities waiting for guests. For those wanting to make the most of the villas amenities, there is a fully equipped Boffi designed kitchen along with chef service, butler service, and live-in villa manager.

Paolo Macchiaroli is CEO of My Private Villas..

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