What to do in Kathmandu?
Capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is also the largest city with nearly three million inhabitants. Located in an exceptional environment, rich both historically and culturally, it is a real treasure nestled in the middle of the mountains.
Nepal in general, and Kathmandu in particular, require a tailor – made stay ! Many remarkable sites are scattered along the treks and hiking trails and Kathmandu concentrates an impressive number of them for a single city.
Our best advice: to visit Kathmandu, contact a local guide, who will not only give you the right addresses but also tell you the stories and anecdotes that go with it.
In the meantime, here is a guide of things to do and see in Kathmandu.
Visit Kathmandu: the 12 must-sees
1. The Stupa of Swayambhunath
Only 140 steps separate you from a breathtaking view of the city! Better known as the “ Monkey Temple ” or “ Monkey Temple ”, the Swayambhunath stupa was erected in honor of Buddha at the beginning of the 5th century. It is one of the oldest religious buildings in Nepal.
2. Durbar Square
The Durbar square, located in front of the former palace of the king of Kathmandu is THE visit not to be missed in Kathmandu. This part in the heart of old Kathmandu concentrates many Hindu temples, palaces and statues, regularly venerated by the Nepalese, giving the district a rather incredible, timeless atmosphere. This is also where the living goddess Kumari lives.
3. Kumari Bahal
One of the living goddess on earth, Kumari, is in Kathmandu and you can sometimes see her through the windows of her temple. A finely carved wooden facade that houses the reclusive living young goddess. The Kumari are the reincarnation of Durga (one of Shiva’s wives), and represent virginity and purity.
4. Bodnath Stupa
Another great stupa in Kathmandu, widely revered by many Tibetans in exile. At the base of the Bodnath stupa, three large terraces depicting a giant mandala that can be walked through. All the Hindu symbolism is obviously present, right up to the pinnacle for the celestial sphere, with the eyes of Buddha at its base, “who sees everything, but says nothing”.
This golden-roofed temple on the banks of the holy Bagmati River is only accessible to Hindus. Pashupatinath temple is also the place where many Hindus want to be cremated. Thus, on the other side of the river you will see several chapels inhabited by sadhus, who protect the souls of the deceased. Every day bodies are cremated here, their ashes then scattered in the river. A remarkable visit, sometimes disturbing. (To be avoided with children)
6. The Garden of Dreams
Kathmandu is famous for being a noisy city. It drains a lot of people, knows a permanent activity and it is difficult to find a little rest. The Garden of Dreams is not notable for its size, but for the calm that reigns there. Only the birds are heard here!
Strolling through the historic district of Thamel is a must visit on a tour of Nepal! Lose yourself in its alleys, shop for souvenirs or trekking equipment to the rhythm of Nepalese songs and car horns. When you’re tired of walking its streets, stop by one of the many massage parlors in the area. In the meantime, just enjoy the beauty of the place. You will also find many guesthouses and hotels in this area of Kathmandu.
If you are lucky enough to be in Kathmandu during one of its many festivals, you are going to have an incredible time! The best known, the Holi festival, which takes place in the spring during the full moon of the Indian month of Phalguna is a magical moment! The highlight of this exuberant festival: an explosion of color pigments that cover everything and everyone! Also to be experienced are the Tihar festivals (end of October/beginning of November) and Bisket Jatra around April 15.
9. Drink a Chang and/or a Tongba
In moderation of course! They are two kinds of beer. Chang is a milky drink made from fermented barley , rice or millet. Tongba , made only with fermented millet, is drunk through a straw in an oversized glass or hot water is added as it is drunk.
10. Get Scared with Cobras
The streets of Kathmandu hold many surprises, such as running into snake charmers! Since cobras are not all excellently trained, they sometimes take the urge to bite passers-by, which is sure to get your adrenaline pumping! And don’t forget to tip if you photograph them.
Things to do around Kathmandu
11. Changu Narayan
Perched at an altitude of 1,700 meters and built in the 6th century in honor of Vishnu, the Changu Narayan is the oldest temple in the Kathmandu valley. It is also one of the Nepalese buildings classified as UNESCO heritage since 1979. There is a charge to enter the village, once there the site is remarkable and imposing. The temple, bordered by a forest of magnolias, is surrounded by buildings intended for the accommodation of pilgrims.
12. Patan and Bhaktapur
Two royal cities located a few kilometers from Kathmandu. Temples and narrow streets are waiting for you! Patan has the advantage of having its Durbar square in the pedestrian part of the city. Bhaktapur is home to Nyatyapola Temple, the tallest in Nepal with its five tiers.
Accommodation in Kathmandu
- Trekkers home : Central location, in the heart of the Thamel district. Large room with rustic furniture, modern and new bathrooms, from 10€ per night. Wi-Fi and free parking.
- Friends Home Hotel : Ideally located in the Thamel district, the most attractive for tourists. Spacious and comfortable rooms from €32 per night, breakfast included. Very welcoming staff. Wi-Fi and free parking. This is our favorite value for money.
- Shanker Hotel : Located in a quiet location, close to the Thamel district. Elegant and bright rooms, tastefully decorated from € 60 per night, breakfast included. Outdoor pool and beautiful garden. Wi-Fi and free parking.
Where to eat in Kathmandu?
Finding a good restaurant in Kathmandu is not that easy! The district concentrating the most restaurants being the tourist district, you will quickly find yourself with very average dishes for very high prices. To help you find your way around, here are our suggestions for the best restaurants in town!
- OR2K: Take off your shoes and enjoy! Tables on the floor and colorful decoration, you will find Nepalese vegetarian specialties, but also Israeli ones.
- Tashi: In the Thamel district. Very good, really inexpensive Tibetan cuisine (especially momos, and momo soup) and a very friendly welcome. A very good choice of restaurant in Kathmandu!
- Garden Kitchen: Near Bodhnath stupa, it is signposted from the stupa by the way. There is a beautiful flowered terrace. Possibility of being indoors as well. The prices are reasonable. Special mention for the momos, the Indian curries and the tukpa.
- French Bakery kathmandu: A French food concept for those nostalgic for French cuisine! It’s good and it’s not expensive.
- Sarangi Vegetarian Restaurant: It’s vegetarian, it’s delicious and they help local people in need. And it’s one of the only quiet places in Thamel!
How to get to Kathmandu in Nepal?
By plane, Nepal is about twelve hours from Paris. However, there are no direct flights.
Depending on the company you will best make a stopover in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha, Bombay, Delhi or Muscat.
Are you planning to visit Kathmandu soon?