What to do in Kathmandu I hear you ask. So you’ve got a few days before and after your incredible whitewater rafting expedition in Nepal and thinking how to fill your time? There’s plenty to do with your time here no matter what your interests are as Kathmandu is full of adventure, culture, history, religion, architecture, shopping and spirituality. Here’s a few of our favourite things to do in and around this majestic city.
1 – Visit the temples
Kathmandu is steeped with history and many impressive temples. Spend the day visiting Swayambhunath (or the Monkey Temple as it is locally known), Pashupatinath and Boudhanath Stupa, three of the most popular sites in Kathmandu with tourists and locals a like. The Monkey Temple, which is the most popular Buddhist site in Kathmandu is reached by climbing 365 stone steps, but it’s worth every bit of the effort for the view and sites you are greeted with at the top. Just keep an eye on those cheeky monkeys who have been known to steal bags before! Boudhanath is the largest Buddhist stuupa in the whole of Asia and is also an UNESCO Heritage site. Early evenings are the best time to visit here when tourist are less and locals offer their prayers. Surrounded by many impressive monasteries, you can spend a whole day here taking in the culture
2 – Nagarkot at Sunrise
Just an hours or so drive from Kathmandu (32km away), Nagarkot offers a great place to watch the sun rise over the impressive Himalayas offering out of this world views. Surrounded by a thick forest, it is a great place to spend the day hiking, followed by an overnight stay. We recommend getting up before the crack of dawn, as the sun rising over the mountain is an experience you won’t want to miss. On a clear day you will be able to see 8 out of the 13 Himalayan ranges from here… wow! These include the Annapurna range, Manaslu range, Ganesh Himal range, Langtang range, Jugal range, Rolwaling range, Mahalangur range (Everest range) and the Numbur range. Fancy a night at Nagarkot? Contact us for our hotel recommendations.
3 – Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur is the ancient city of Kathmandu. Although it was severely damaged in the 2015 earthquake, it is still well worth the visit. Full to the brim with temples of both Hindu and Buddhist origin it is a fascinating place to wander the streets, get lost in the culture, sample the local Juju Dhal (yogurt for which it is famous for) and watch skilled artisans at work making pottery in many different varieties. It is one of the nicest places to spend a day in Kathmandu and we highly recommend it.
4 – Thamel’s famous night life
If your staying in Thamel, which most people do, then you can have a great night in the bars of Thamel. Depending on what you are interested in, there’s live rock bands, acoustic bars, wine bars, and of course the famous Tom and Jerries pub where you will find most of our staff and guests! Your trip to Nepal wouldn’t be complete without a night out on the town! Just be wary though, most bars and clubs do close early, so you might want to start earlier than you would do at home.
5 – Go trekking
Although Kathmandu is great, it can be overwhelming at times, it is a sensory overload that’s for sure. Without having to travel too far you can easily reach some lovely places for a few days treks. We recommend Nagarkot, Chisapani, Shivapuri and Namobuddha to name just a few places close by. If you’ve got the time and fancy a trek. Contact us and we can give you more details itineraries and options.
6 – Everest Mountain Flight
Didn’t get the chance to trek to Everest Base Camp? Probably not if you were on one of our tours as you would have been way too busy rafting! But don’t fear, all is not lost! Buddha Air offer a mountain flight experience. Where you can literally fly right next to Mount Everest – they’ll even let you sit in the cockpit to get a photo that’s worthy of any mantle piece! Although this hour flight is pricey, how many times do you get the opportunity to fly just 20 miles from Everest? Worth every penny in our opinion.
7 – Garden of Dreams
We all know Kathmandu can be a tad stressful at times. The noise, the traffic, it’s a sensory overload! That’s why the Garden of Dreams is a hidden paradise that you all should visit on your trip to Nepal. Nestled in the heart of Thamel, with wild chipmunks running around, a stunning fishpond and old traditional buildings, it’s a great place to spend a few hours reading a book, sun bathing or enjoying their cafe.
8 – Shop, shop, shop
Thamel is full of trekking, book, jewellery and souvenir shops. For those with an eye their are some great treasures to be found. It can be hectic, but the recent rule that Thamel will be traffic free (horay!!!!) will really make a positive difference. Refresh yourself at one of the many restaurants before you head out again. Haggling is a part of the culture here but it’s not quite as intense as India, so just take it easy and enjoy the experience. It’s a great place to stock up on gifts for loved ones back home, lanterns, down jackets, books, Thanka paintings, rugs, clothing, jewellery, wood carvings, statues, singing bowls, you name it, you can probably find it.
9 – Rickshaw to Asan Market
Not to far from the tourist town of Thamel, Asan market is a traditional local bazar, a maze full of everything you could ever imagine fro dried fish, to washing machines and intricate sari’s to bikes. You can spend hours wandering the streets here, and never go down the same street again. There are mini temples and shrines hidden all over the place. It’s a great place to sit and watch the world go by as people buy their veggies for their nights dal bhat and catch up on the local gossip. It is said to be the busiest junction in Kathmandu and it’s one of our favourite places to watch the world go by in true Nepali style. And a rickshaw ride has to be done in Nepal just because!
10 – Learn to cook like a local
If you’ve loved the food you’ve sampled in Nepal, you might like to learn how to make some of the dishes so that you can recreate them back in your home country. Take a cooking course in Kathmandu and learn how to make traditional Nepali food such as momo’s, dal bhat and samosa’s. For this, we highly recommend Social Tours day trip.
We hope this has given you a few ideas of what to do with your time in Kathmandu at the beginning and end of your trips. If you would like more information on any of the activities above, please feel free to email us.