Nestled below the mountains in the Nepalese Valley lies Kathmandu, the city of Temples, the capital of Nepal and the entry point to some of the world’s best hiking. Kathmandu is home to some of Nepal’s finest history, art and temples. It is the centre of the Nepalese economy and home to almost 1.4 million people.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the busyness, noise and madness of Kathmandu when you first arrive but once you settle you will be awarded with a melting pot of Buddhist and Hindu faith, temples, pagodas, art, history, culture and much more.
Getting around isn’t always the easiest and the bus system is frustrating, to say the least. Exploring the city on foot or by taxi is the easiest way to get around. If you are extra flush, hiring a guide for the day can be a great way to explore the city with lots of local insights and knowledge.
Be prepared for busy streets, both people are cars, the streets of Kathmandu can be very loud, very dusty and very intense. Amongst the madness, there are many craft shops, street food vendors, clothes and hiking shops and bars and restaurants. Downtown Thamel is a car-free zone making it a more relaxing experience. Spend time browsing through hand made ornaments, lots of hiking gear, artisanal goods, rugs, carpets, prayer flags, spices and so much more. For a more western experience head to the Labmin Mall where you’ll find popular restaurants and western shops, a rooftop bar and a cinema.
Friendly locals and low crime rates make Kathmandu a relatively safe place to visit. Thamel is the main centre for visitors and here you will find a wide range of accommodation, bars, restaurants, bakeries and more.
On your trip to Kathmandu try not miss out of these top 5 experiences
1. Right this one is pretty simple and maybe more suited to solo travellers and backpackers.
Enjoy a cold beer on the rooftop of Alobar 1000 and meet other travellers, get tips for your upcoming plans in the Himalayas or share your stories if you have just come back from trekking.
2. Visit a 2500-year-old stupa.
Swayambhunath (or Monkey temple) is one of the stand-out attractions in Kathmandu and shouldn’t be missed. Resting 77m high on a hillock 3 km west of Kathmandu, Swayambhu is one of the holiest Buddhist stupas in Nepal. The painted eyes on all four sides represent the all-seeing eyes of Buddha. They are constantly watching the good-doers and the bad-doers.
It’s a sweaty climb to the top but you will be rewarded with panoramic views of Kathmandu and the valley. Enjoy some time at the top and wander through the little markets. As the name suggests, the Monkey temple has a permanent cheeky guest. Watch your belongings as the monkeys have been known to snatch your belongings!
3. Pub Crawl… yes you did read that right!
Most don’t go to Nepal in search of a pub crawl but there is a surprisingly good live music and bar scene in Kathmandu. In no particular here are some of the best bars in Kathmandu.
The Purple Haze Rock bar, for some great live music
Sam’s bar for some cheeky cocktails
The Reggae bar for some chilled vibes
Everest Irish Pub for a traditional pub with good sports
Shisha Lounge and Bar for live music and food
Tom and Jerry’s for a game of pool and to meet other backpackers
Yeti Tap Room for all your craft beer needs
4. Spend a fun-filled day in Thamel
Start the morning off with breakfast at one of the many bakeries. After breakfast, it's time to take a walk through Nepal’s most booming and multicultural suburb. This was the place to be in the 60s if you were a hippy. Narrow roads, paved paths, the aroma of burning incense, waving prayer flags and traditional folk music will ignite your senses. Enjoy a day of shopping, eating and sightseeing. Wanting more? Get involved in a local class or workshop, try your hand at cooking like a local, Buddhist thank painting or making some wood carvings.
5. Take a flight over Mt. Everest
Okay so this isn’t exactly something to do in Kathmandu but it departs from Kathmandu so is worthy of the list. Get up close and personal with the world’s highest mountain. Flights start from around $150 US for 45 minutes. You can also choose to fly by helicopter. The most popular airlines to fly with are Buddha Air and Yeti Air. Don’t forget to pack your camera!