Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal is where every traveller must arrive first. It’s the arrival and departure point of your journey to Nepal due to the only international airport being located here. While Kathmandu has always been overlooked, it’s worth staying a while to explore the vibrant city buzzing with life. With a total area of 51 sq. km, Kathmandu is a perfect combination of an ancient and modern hectic lifestyle. The chaos, dust and noise will be a little more stressful for newcomers but you will be fascinated by the rich histories, cultures, architectures, heritage sites and activities you can do.
These top 10 things to do in Kathmandu will surely make your stay worthwhile and memorable in Kathmandu:
1.Discover religion, art and culture
Kathmandu, a land where temple outnumbers home is a melting pot of religion, art and culture. The capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu is the perfect place to get introduced to Nepali culture. The valley has remained the centre of social, cultural and religion since bygone days and all co-existing in perfect harmony. You can find 7 UNESCO world heritage sites and people from over 100 ethnic groups inside the valley which makes Kathmandu culturally and traditional rich and diverse. Visit Kathmandu durbar square, Patan durbar square, Bhaktapur durbar square to discover the rich history, religion, art and culture.
1. Kathmandu Durbar Square: 30 mins walk from Thamel
2. Bhaktapur Durbar Square: 1:30 hrs drive from Thamel.
3. Patan Durbar Square: 45 mins drive from Thamel.
Entrance fee per person:
1.Kathmandu Durbar Square: USD 8 / NPR 1000
2. Bhaktapur Durbar Square: USD 15
3. Patan Durbar Square: USD 8 / NPR 1000
2. Circumambulate Boudhanath Stupa
Stunning from afar but jaw-dropping up close, Boudhanath Stupa is a beacon of Buddhist belief. Situated 8 km to the east of downtown Kathmandu, Boudhanath, is one of the largest Buddhist Stupa in South Asia. Locals, pilgrims, monks, tourists circumambulate the stupa spinning the prayer wheels and chanting prayers. While circumambulating, walk clockwise keeping the stupa to your right. The area is bursting with rooftop restaurants where you can have your meals or perhaps enjoy a cup of coffee. The sight of the stupa is a feast to an eye.
Location: Bouddhanath Stupa, 25 mins drive from Thamel.
Entrance fee per person: NPR 400 / USD 3 for foreigners. NPR 100/ USD 0.85 for SAARC Nationals.
3. Close encounter of the Himalayas
Take a mountain flight departing every morning during season time to get a close encounter of the highest mountains in the world. Every day numerous flights are conducted from Kathmandu airport for aerial sightseeing of the world’s highest mountain. Mountain flight to the Himalayas is a perfect option for people having limited time and of any age group to contemplate the sun-kissed mountains which can surely be taken as a lifetime experience.
For once, let the mountain take over.
Location: Tribhuvan International Airport, Domestic Terminal
Fee per person: USD 200 including airport taxes on STOL Aircraft, USD 1500 on Helicopter.
4. Hang out in Thamel
Thamel is where it’s all happening! If you want to eat, go to Thamel. You want to drink, go to Thamel. You want to shop, go to Thamel! Thamel offers amazing restaurants with almost every cuisine and some of the best nightlife options, from live music to clubs. The place is buzzing with locals and tourists from all over the world! Food, drink, music, and ambience, you name it, and Thamel will give you plenty of options to choose from. From fine dining to late-night bars, you will be spoilt for a choice.
Entry Fee: Free
5. Visit Pashupatinath for an unmatched mix of religious, cultural and spiritual experience.
One of the most sacred Temple in the entire Hindu world, Pashupatinath Temple is pagoda style Hindu temple with gilt roofing and richly carved silver doors dedicated to Lord Shiva. Built-in the 5th century, Pashupatinath is more than just a religious destination. It’s the combination of religious, cultural and spiritual experience. Witness Hindu cremation ceremony on the Aryaghat that is located at the edge of Bagmati River. See Hindu holy men (sadhus) and pilgrims performing ritual bathing, and occasionally, funeral pyres burning on the ghats.
Location: Pashupatinath Temple, 20 mins drive from Thamel
Entrance fee per person: USD 8 / NPR 1000
6. Kathmandu valley on wheels
Another fun-filled thing to do in Kathmandu is by exploring the valley on wheels. Rent a bike and experience primitive culture and tradition in its purest form as you paddle through the villages. The view of Kathmandu city and mountains come great as you paddle through the hills of Kathmandu valley. There are plenty of biking routes in the Kathmandu valley suitable for beginners to advanced. It’s a perfect alternative to day hiking.
Location: Around Kathmandu Valley.
7. Walk local markets
Visit the local markets in Kathmandu and walk the bustling streets. The experience you get is unlike anything, though chaotic it is recommended in our things-to-do list. Visit the Asan market and walk the notoriously busiest local street from Kathmandu durbar square to Thamel. The small streets are filled with vendors selling vegetables, spices, fresh fruits to local goods. You are not required to pay any entrance fees but please take note that this is one of the busiest streets in Kathmandu and watch out for the many motorcycles and scooters that try to manoeuvre through the streets
Location: Asan Market, 30 mins walk from Thamel.
Entry fee: Free
8. Try the local cuisine
There is no better way to understand Nepal and the people, than through their cuisine.
Every country has its special cuisine and your trip is not complete until you get a taste of the local cuisine. Indulge yourself in the local cuisine such as Momo, Choila, Dhal Bhat (Rice and Lentils), Bara, Thukpa and many more. Due to the country’s cultural and geographic diversity, you can find ample space for a variety of cuisine. Apart from the local cuisine, you can also international cuisine within a few square miles.
Location: Thamel, Asan Market, Patan, Bhaktapur, Bouddha.
9. Escape the chaos in Garden of Dreams
Amidst the chaos of Kathmandu, one would find it unbelievable to find a place such as Swapna Bagaicha (Garden of Dreams). Located at the entrance of Thamel, cornered by the main road there is a place where you can escape all the chaos of Kathmandu. With a minimal entrance fee, you can spend an entire day in the garden reading books, meditating or perhaps spend time with your loved ones. The garden’s unique architect and varieties of flora & fauna refresh and rejuvenates the mind, body and soul.
Entrance fee per person: USD 1.8 / NPR 200
10. Lunch with Nuns
Another great and different way to spend your day in Kathmandu is by visiting a monastery (NamoBuddha or Nagi Gompa) and have lunch with the nuns. Namo Buddha is one of the holiest sites and Buddhist pilgrimage places in Nepal. Its where Buddha, in a previous life as a prince, gave his body to a starving tigress and her cubs. Nagi Gompa Nunnery in another hand is located at Shivapuri national park. 2 hours of an uphill hike from Buddhanilkantha brings you to the nunnery. Enjoy a lunch prepared by them and you may get a chance to even have lunch together.
Namobuddha Monastery, 2 hrs drive from Kathmandu
Nagi Gumpa: 30 mins drive to Buddhanilkantha and 2 hrs uphill walk from there.
Top things to do in Kathmandu with family and kids.
1. Visit Chandragiri Hill
At 2,547 meters above sea level and located south-west side of Kathmandu, Chandragiri hill is a famous day attraction these days among the locals and to travellers. Legend has it that this is the place from where Prithivi Narayan Shah (Unification of a modern Nepal) observed the Kathmandu valley before conquering it. From the top, unobstructed 180-degree view of the majestic Himalayas can be viewed. The hill station also offers different attractions (Resort, Paragliding, Zipline etc). A cable car is the shortest means to reach the hill station.
Location: Chandragiri hills, 1.5 hrs drive from Kathmandu
Entrance fee per person: USD 22 for foreigners, USD 15 for Chinese, NPR 1120 for SAARC nationals inclusive of a round trip cable car.
2. Organic Farmers Market
A trending thing to do in Kathmandu these days is visiting the farmer’s markets for brunch or maybe just sampling goodies. Every Saturday morning, these restaurants (Le Sherpa, 1905 Restaurant, Yellow House) bring the finest and freshest quality produce from across Nepal. There are a ton of merchants selling distinction sort of natural items, for example, home-made bread, cheddar, sandwiches, nectar, painstaking work, organic products, vegetables. Check with them for the timing and table reservation.
Location: Le Sherpa, 1905 Restaurant, Yellow House
3. Indoor climbing
With more people being interested in wall climbing these days, indoor climbing has been growing rapidly. There are now 4 indoor climbing centres located just inside the Kathmandu. You can hire all the necessary gears required for the climb at the centre at a minimal fee. The instructor is readily available to assist you and look after your safety.
Pasang Lhamu Foundation, Dhumbarahi.
Astrek Climbing Wall, Thamel
Kathmandu Sport Climbing Center, Thamel
Balaju Wall Climbing, Balaju Industrial Area.