We found the following electronic guidebook provided some really special insights for our trip to this ancient city: Tiny Little Insider's Guide to Kathmandu.
It gave us a whole new perspective and away from the crowds. Hope you enjoy, too!
Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and the entry point for most travellers coming to the country.
It's a very interesting city with a very vibrant street life aswell as several sights for the tourist.
Durbar Square is probaply the biggest of the sights, but you also have several stupas, the Yak and yeti hotel and Freak street just to mention a few and you have a street scene that is very very different for you if you come from a western country like me.
I would say that one should spend at least 3-4 days in Kathmandu if visiting Nepal.
It was really fascinating just wandering around the streets of Kathmandu. It has been 20 years since my last visit to the country and I was amazed at all the changes - but also at all the things that were still there.
Kathmandu has a mystical allure for many a traveller. Drawn by the hippy days tales, visitors are now subjected to a onslaught of sights, sounds, colours, smells, people and traffic.
From my perspective most of Kathmandu is incredibly under-developed, filthy and looks like a bomb has gone off. Its chaotic, noisy and is insane with people and traffic. However a scratch below the surface reveals many areas with lovely buildings and temples and narrow alleyways and squares filled with interest.
The Thamel area is tourist central and contains a mass of hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and trekking agencies. This is the area to stay and organise anything you could need for a trek in Nepal. There really is a great selection of eating and drinking choice in this location.
Nearby Dubar square is the traditional heart of the old town and has an array of architectural buildings and temples. People watching is also popular here and a number of stalls and street vendors will attempt to sell you something you may not need.
We found a wonderful place a couple blocks from our hotel that had many services. We had Thai massages, took a meditation class, a yoga class, my friend got a pedicure and we both got henna tattoos. We went there every day for something. The price were fantastic.
Yoga class for the two of us was about $6 U.S. each. The meditation class for the two of us was about the same. She had a Reiki session for an hour and half that was $10 U.S. Our Thai massages for an hour were $22 U.S. Our last time there when we got our mendi tattoos, we brought in a bottle of wine while we had it done so that was fun. We tipped the first day but was told a tip was not normal so we didn't tip after that.
The people were delightful and happy to see us when we came back 4 days in a row.
They also spelled our names in Nepalese to have henna tattoos put on our wrists. The whole experience was so much fun.
They take walk ins and appts.
Always include a vist to the Pilgrim's Bookstore in your visit to Kathmandu.
As the name indicates, you can buy (and sell!) books there. You can also have a cup of tea. With some cake. Or more pieces of cake. You can sit either inside or outside.
If you stay in KTM for few days and one day is noth enough for you to explore Durbar Square, but your ticket and go (on the same day) to the Site Office (north part of Square) and ask for Visitor Pass - you will avoid paying for entry every single day.
For 3-4 days I would stay in the Kathmandu Valley area, there is alot more things to see and do.
Here's my list of things to do:
1. Spend all day walking round the streets of Kathmandu and see all the main sites, Bodnath, Pashupatinah, Patan, Swayambunath, Durbar Square, Freak Street and chill out in the Tamel area.
2. Go to Nagarkot in the Morning, on the farside of the Kathmandu Valley and stay for the night and watch the Sunset & Sunrise, well worth it. spend the day walking around the lower hills, here you will get some great photos of farmers tending their crops with the Himayala mountain range in the background. After sunrise do a day hike to Bhaktapur via Changu Valley, When arrive in Bhaktapur suggest you stay the night and explore more of the town next day or you can get taxi back to Kathmandu.
3. Explore Bhaktapur visit potter's Square and return back to Kathmandu later in the afternoon.
4. Continue to explore more of Kathmandu.
If you go to Pokhara by bus it is at least 8 hours or more. Flying would best option. to get the best views of the Annapurna range hike upto Sarangkot Hill and stay for the night and watch the Sunrise these will be the best views of Himalayas you will see, but there is not alot to see around Pokhara area it is very much a chill out area around the lake with all the home comforts, well almost anyway. A good place to rest after hiking for a couple of weeks in the mountains.
Kathmandu (Nepali: काठमांडौ, Nepal Bhasa: येँ) is the capital and the largest metropolitan city of Nepal. The city is situated in Kathmandu Valley, which also contains two other cities - Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. Newari language is spoken by all people of the city. English is understood by all of the educated population of the city. Literacy rate is 98% in the city. The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1400 m in valley surrounded by four major mountains, Sivapuri, Pulchowki, Nagarjun and Chandragiri and is inhabited by about 500,000 but due to migration of invader population reached exceeding 7,000,000. Kathmandu is considered to have the most advanced infrastructure among urban areas in Nepal.
Once upon a time, Kathmandu Valley was a lake. A god named Manjusri cut the mountains and drained the water. So, people had settled here.
There had been 3 kingdoms in Kathmandu Valley. Now they are the three important cities: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. All three have their own Durbar Square. A Durbar Square is a vivid place full with temples which has an amazing architecture. If you force someone to produce same kind of woodwork (Newari art, I think) nowadays, he has enough motives to murder you. All Durbar squares have temples, palaces, and people sleeping under the sun.
When you visit Kathmandu and plan to buy art work; carving, rough, pashmeena etc ,you need to visit Thameel street .
In this place you can find mountain climbing and hiking equipment.
Don't forget to bargain the price, ...:)
Kathmandu is not big when one compares it to other cities in South Asia. Kathmandu is a fascinating old city. Pagodas, shrines, narrow cobbled lanes, old Newari buildings, and stone shrines are backdrops to everyday life which seems to continue unhindered. You see people tansporting huge loads on their backs, with support of the forehead and neck.
There is a lot to see and do in Kathmandu. The Durbar Square is a must visit. Shopping in Thamel and visit some of the many restaurants in that are is a nice experience.
Visit Swayambhubath, Pashupatinath and Bodhnath to experience some of the religious sights around Kathmandu.
For more detailed tips, see my page on Kathmandu
Intro to Buddhism 10day course. Beautiful intro to Buddhism and meditation instruction.Excellent teachers.Observe monks in daily practice.Gorgeous setting. Good accomodation and plentiful veg meals included.Half day silence.Men and women must sleep separate accom.
I had no idea about this before the trip was planned, so you'd better well aware.
Nepal, due to scarcity of resources for power production, has scheduled blackout in many cities, e.g. Kathmandu, Nagarkot, Phokara. It will happen several times a week (3-4 times) and it lasts about 3 hours.
Being under dark is quite frustrating, cause sometimes, the powercut comes in the afternoon or evening, where the power usage would be peaking. It's even worse if it happens on a live soccer match, just like it happened when I was there!
So get flashlight or candle handy, it will definitely be of use. oh...one more thing, ice is darn hard to find cause it keeps melting as power cut happens.
Judging from the airport physical environment, you wouldn't expect a speedy baggage delivery at the airport. So my mind wandered during the waiting. Almost an hour passed after immigration and I still kept my cool. The panic button was pushed when the airport staff came and said the passing baggage was the last delivery!!! And my thought process started to kick in on where/how to buy new clothes, how fashionable would the gear in Kathmandu be, will they sell my camera power charger in this wonderland?
Well....a few minutes of methodological thinking process, suddenly my baggage pop up out of nowhere. Can u imagine it was left behind a pole, and off the baggage claim belt!!!? Worse, it was already opened and stuff was in a mess!
Gosh, some traveller must hv wrongly taken my baggage out of the belt, searched it and after he knew it was not his, then he left it on the floor without putting back to the belt, and left me waiting for hour for a baggage that would never come!!!
A memorable welcome.