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Kathmandu

4.0 / 5 36 votes

Country rank: 1 out of 5 Places To Visit In Nepal

Sub-Region: Central Nepal


Weather:

Ideal duration: 2-3 days

Best time: September - November (Read More)

Nearest Airport: Kathmandu (Check Flights)

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"The City of Peace"

Kathmandu Tourism

Kathmandu - city of peace, lives true to this description. The city is charming, busy, bustling, serene, alive and asleep - all at once. The capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is the most accessible city in the country - it is Nepal's only metropolitan city as well. It doesn't matter what you're in the mood for as a tourist, Kathmandu offers it all. From venturing into the untamed wild in National Parks, going where nature takes you on hikes and trails, setting your senses ablaze with the thriving nightlife and conquering the gushing waters on rafts and kayaks, to rediscovering yourself in the tranquillity of the mountains, detoxifying your system with the fresh air, finding your spirituality and contemplating life, Kathmandu is truly a place and an emotion - all at once.

Nestled in the midst of the towering Himalayas, Kathmandu Valley houses the capital city, which is home to more than 1.5 million people. The city is at an altitude of a whopping 1400 metres or 4600 feet, which assures a blissful climate, all year long. Kathmandu, which is derived from the Pahari word for 'wood shelter', is an abode of serenity and tranquillity, with its monasteries, temples and spiritual melting pots. While the natural beauty of the city is more than enough for travellers to throng Kathmandu year after year, what sets it apart from other tourist destinations is the variety it offers - from spiritual awakening to adventure sports.

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ATMs are easily available in the city and cash is dispensed in NPR only. Major currencies such as GBP, USD, Euro, Yen or INR can be changed at the money changers'. ATMs of most banks levy a fee of NPR 750 per transaction, and limit withdrawals to NPR 25000, so it's better to withdraw a fair bit of cash in one transaction. Be careful of pickpockets and also be careful while using your cards.

Per day costs in Kathmandu can actually be covered even in the lowest of budgets. Using local public transport systems, and local restaurants for food, shopping for souvenirs and covering the essentials, including costs of your mobile phone, entertainment and modest tipping, you can expect a per day expense between NPR 1300-1500 per head. Consequently, upgrading your your facilities and transportation, food, tipping practices and so on, you can expect to spend about NPR 2300-2600 on a mid range budget, and if you're looking to splurge on the best options available in every aspect on this trip, you can expect to spend north of NPR 6000.

The Buddhist and Hindu populations are the largest in number.

Dressing in Nepal doesn't confine to strict or absolute norms for tourists. However, it is preferred that one does not dress scantily since it is not very fondly looked upon by the locals. The locals in general are very welcoming to foreigners, but like any city one must be careful of touts and cheats. Saying Namaste as a form of greeting is a common practice. Shaking of hands as a greeting is practiced too, however a man should not offer his hand to a woman unless he is offered it first. Tips are often given in Nepal. In restaurants and hotels, 5 - 10% of the bill is sufficient. You can tip your guide anywhere between NPR 300 - 500 per day.

One of the best things to do in Kathmandu is to make the best use of the terrain and go hiking. Choose from caves, waterfalls, base camps and vast expanses of pine trees to explore, and hike away to glory here! You can follow trails to places like Namobuddha, Phulchowki, Amitabha Monastery, Nagarkot, Champadevi, Chisapani and Sundarijal, and return to the city in a day. The stunning views of the mountains and the valleys will make you swoon! If you're feeling even more adventurous, you can go hiking from Kathmandu and hope to scale the towering peaks, right from Everest to Langtang. The basecamps are located close to the city. Thrill junkies are bound to love this city, as it offers white water rafting, rock climbing, endurance trails and bungee jumping. Conquer your fears in Kathmandu!

They say not all who wander are lost. But if you're in Kathmandu to find yourself and discover your own being, you're in the right place. The area is dotted with magnificent monasteries where you can stay and interact with the monks. If you're feeling up to it, you can even hike to these monasteries, and give both your mind and body a lasting workout. Kopan Monastery, Pranidhi Purna Mahavihar Monastery, Tharlam Monastery and Seto Gumba are a few lasting abodes of the Buddhist monks, who can help you de-stress, rediscover your life and contemplate the meaning of human existence. The Swayambhunath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is serene and tranquil. Emerge from your tour to Kathmandu spiritually 'woke' after visiting these monasteries!

Wildlife lovers are bound to fall in love with Kathmandu, as the city is as wild as it is a metropolis! There are two National Parks located just 10 kilometres away from the city - Langtang National Park and Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. Boasting of 18 ecosystems, 250 species of birds and 46 species of mammals, Langtang National Park is truly nature's abode. Bird watching and camping overnight are also allowed here - let the wild take over during your stay at Langtang! Shivapuri Nagarjun Park stuns with its many gurgling streams, mighty Bhagmati and Bishnumati rivers, and sacred temples within the premises. Try to spot the Himalayan black bear and the Indian leopard when you're there. The city is dotted with gardens as well - go to the Garden of Dreams for a dreamy day!

The views from the valley are truly picturesque and breathtaking. One sight is enough to fall truly, madly and deeply in love with Kathmandu. There are numerous viewpoints in the city, especially on treks and hikes. History buffs will make Kathmandu their own, as it has a very interesting origin story. Tales have it that a Chinese saint by name Manjushree first laid eyes on what was to become Kathmandu valley near a place called Nagarjuna Cave, which is said to have been visited even by the Buddha! The Mahasiddha cave also offers such snippets of history. In the city, the National Museum, the National History Museum of Nepal, and the Narayanhiti Palace give you insights into the country's royal past - right from the times of the erstwhile rulers, to the tribes, to incidents of the recent past.

It is sadly ironic that sometimes, nature herself has turned adversary to Nepal. The country's history has been dented by natural calamities - the most recent one being the devastating earthquake in 2015, which wreaked havoc on life and property. While many monasteries and temples were damaged by this, the resilience and grit showed by the people deserves commendation. Many locations have been repaired, and some are in the process right now. The city has built itself back, and stood as an example of determination, persistence and faith - something the tourists can also learn from.

Kathmandu is one of the best places to visit in Asia, with its unique combination of nature, spirituality, adventure and self-discovery. Discover yourself as you discover the city - Kathmandu calls out to you.

Nepali is the official language of the land and is spoken everywhere in the country. However, there is a significant population which can understand a fair bit of Hindi. Those dealing with tourists often have picked up a few English words as well. You can use words such as 'Namaste' for hello and 'Dhanyabaad' for thank you.

Kathmandu was the centre of Kingdom of Nepal. The Narayanhiti Royal Palace was the home and the workplace for the Monarch of Nepal and his family. The rule of different dynasties in Nepal has existed from centuries ago, with the Malla Dynasty being the first proper rulers of the land back in 1200. The 18th century saw the rise of the Gorkhas, who conquered a massive amount of land in the region and even Tibet, an action which saw severe retaliation by the Chinese and consequent defeat of the Gorkhas who had to retreat and relinquish control of Tibet and many trading centres. The Gorkhas were then replaced by the Shahs, and the Ranas who had most of the influence and power. Throughout the 20th century we have seen several changes in power, culminating finally in the first Parliament elections in 1991 under the new constitution. One extremely horrifying incident that has occurred in the history of the city was the massacre of the royal family in 2001, in which the Crown Prince Dipendra shot and killed his father and King, Birendra, his mother, his brother and sister, and 5 other relatives in the Narayanhiti Royal Palace, and then killing himself 2 days later. The reason for this was suspected to be the family's rejection of his love interest, a Rana girl. Kathmandu and Nepal in general are pestered with constant political unrest, protests, and maoist insurgencies. In modern times however, the city is growing exponentially with the construction of many luxury and residential building complexes and so on.

Kathmandu isn't extensively known for it's array of options when it comes to nightlife. That said, it does have a few options if you're looking for a place to hang out at and have a few drinks. The Tom and Jerry pub is a favourite among trekking groups, has a dance floor and some really good music. If it's a night club you're looking for, the Tamas Spa Lounge in Thamel is probably your best option. A huge variety of cocktails and drinks, DJs and live performances, and an elaborate ambience make this a must visit if it's a party you're looking for.

Shopping in Kathmandu is an absolute must. The things you can shop for are limitless. Thamel is the centre for all things shopping. You'll find everything, from handicrafts to metal works, from paper works to clothes here. You can even shop at a mall. The local handicrafts and antiques are world famous, and the handwoven cloths of the region are intricate and beautiful. Do buy Pashmina and Cashmere articles while you're here, they are absolutely exquisite and a must have!

Visas and mastercards are accepted in Kathmandu, however not every place has the option of paying via card so it's imperative that you always carry cash in NPR with yourself. No other currency is formally accepted, however guides may sometimes accept tips in USD to exchange for NPR, usually resulting in getting higher tips.

Undoubtedly the most famous food you'll find here is the momo, a local dumpling. It can be steamed or fried, stuffed with chicken, buff or veggies. The cuisines on offer are a mix of Tibetan and Indian, with a decent amount of variety available for both. Thamel hosts several restaurants of many different cuisines, ranging from local to Indian to oriental to even European. Some of these are local and some are for tourists, the latter being comparitively expensive.


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Hotels in Kathmandu

Top Hotels in Kathmandu

  • Hotel Hikers Haven

    USD 11 /night onwards

  • Hotel Timila "Newa Comfort Home"

    USD 59 /night onwards

  • Hotel Sapana Garden

    USD 34 /night onwards


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How to Reach Kathmandu

Kathmandu, being the capital, is fairly well connected. You can take buses from all around the country itself, and also from a wide option of cities in India. Kathmandu has an international airport... (Read More)

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