Places to Visit in Nepal
Things to do in Kathmandu
Kathmandu is Nepal’s capital city and the gateway to this scenic and historical country. Known as Kantipur in the past, many people view Kathmandu as the legendary city of Shangri-la. Today, Kathmandu is a city that combines both ancient architectures and modern marvels. Here are some of the top things to do in Kathmandu:
Try café and restaurant-hopping in Thamel
Besides being the centre of trekking stores, fashion shops, bookshops and souvenir stores, Thamel is also well known for its numerous cafes. So what better way to understand the daily grind of a city than to sip a nice cuppa and watch people go about their daily lives.
In addition, you’ll get to understand the city’s culture better through your stomach with all the delicious local food. Definitely one of the top things to do in Kathmandu.
Go for a Heritage Walk from Thamel to Durbar Square
As you walk Kathmandu’s oldest streets, you will see many interesting temples, stupas, squares, bahals (courtyards), and houses. You will be in awe of the number of historical architectures in the city that have lasted throughout the generations.
Embark on the greatest trekking experience of your life
Many visitors to Nepal come to experience its magnificent and magical trekking experience. As most international visitors would arrive through Kathmandu’s international airport, there’s no better place to start your trekking journey from.
Visit Kathmandu attractions
♦ Durbar Square (Basantapur)
Durbar Square is without a doubt, Kathamandu’s and Nepal’s top tourist attraction. Up until 1896, the whole complex of Durbar Square used to be a part of Nepal’s Royal Palace. This attraction is a combination of history, culture and tradition.
There’s no way you should miss this attraction in Kathmandu. Boudhanath, or Boudha, is only 7km away from Kathmandu city center and near to Kathmandu airport. Many people consider this to be one of the most significant stupas outside of Tibet and one of the largest stupas in the world.
Pashupatinath is the most sacred and most revered Hindu worship site in Nepal. This is Nepal’s central place for cremation as the locals believe that those who are cremated here will have everlasting bliss. There are many temples and shrines that adds to the mystical and spiritual atmosphere of the whole area.
Another must-see attraction in Kathmandu, Swayambhunath is Kathmandu’s first ever temple. One unique characteristic of the Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, is the hundreds of Rhesus Monkeys that live in the temple!
♦ Explore Freak Street & Southern City Markets
Far from being a strange or ‘freaky’, Freek Street near Kathmandu Durbar Square is a cool and hip street. It’s full of cool budget restaurants, coffee shops, craft stores, street vendors and fruit markets. It truly has the charm of the 60s and 70s bygone days. If you’re a shopper, buying a souvenir from this district has got to be one of the top things to do in Kathmandu!
♦ Go for Everest & High Mountain Flights
To check out Mount Everest and other mountain peaks in Nepal, you can either opt for the more popular plane flight or the more expensive and private helicopter flights.
There are daily runs for both the plane and helicopter flights. Always go for the earliest possible flight (that takes off at 6am) as it offers the best views.
While small-plane flights (up to 18 seats) cost upwards of $200, a helicopter flight easily costs upwards of $1,000 for a 1-hour flight. This is one of the top things to do in Kathmandu for the adrenaline junkies out there.
♦ Take cable car ride in Chandragiri Hills
There are not many capital cities in the world that offer beautiful cable car ride overlooking the city itself. The 7km cable car ride will give you incomparable views of Kathmandu city. If you’re lucky, you can even catch the Himalayan peaks from Annapurna to Everest. A simply breath-taking view! You should include this ride as one of your top things to do in Kathmandu if you’re not going for any trekking in Nepal.
♦ Experience the local night life
The bars and restaurants along Thamel streets come alive on weekend nights. You’ll have live music, cocktails, food and all kinds of beverages to accompany you throughout the night. What better way to relax, be entertained and make some new local friends than going to the night spots?
♦ Take a cooking class
You will get to experience buying ingredients from the local market and then cooking them with the help of a local chef. You’ll learn how to cook momos, dal bhat, and other Nepali dishes. There are many of such cooking classes in Thamel so be sure to check them out. If you’re the ‘head chef’ of your family, consider this as one of the top things to do in Kathmandu.
♦ Meet a Sadhu
A sadhu is a holy and wondering Hindu man or monk. Many Sandhus are also excellent practitioners of meditation (Yogis). Get entertained, excited and enchanted by talking to one of them. You can easily find a Sandhu in and around the Pashupatinath area. When you meet one of them, do take a picture together with him and leave a little donation. Sadhus live a life without material wealth so a donation could really help them.
♦ Experience Kayaking & Rafting in Nepal
There are several kayaking or rafting-centric itineraries that start from Kathmandu city, ranging from 1-day to 5-day kayaking experience. If those itineraries in Kathmandu do not suit you, consider the ones in Pokhara.
The best times to do some kayaking and rafting in Nepal would be from October to December. Nevertheless, do take note that this is also the peak season, so prices and crowds could be on the high side. Alternatively, you can consider the summer months from March to May. While the weather can be quite hot, the waters are calmer and more enjoyable. Avoid the monsoon months from June to August as the waters are a lot more unpredictable.
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