There is so much to do in Kathmandu: it is a wonderful mix of developing modern city and incredible ancient wonders. Tourism in Kathmandu can seem a little daunting for newcomers who have never visited before: the crowds, traffic and temperatures can be overwhelming. However, armed with the right information and a reputable tour guide, you’ll soon see the beauty and the wonder of this truly beautiful city.
Here are the top ten things to do in Kathmandu:
1. Spend Time in Durbar Square
Durbar Square is one of the most frequently visited plaza’s in the heart of Kathmandu, and well worth a visit. Here you’ll find medieval religious and royal buildings alongside vendors selling souvenirs and candy floss on giant sticks to tourists. Whilst the tourism slightly mars the beauty of the ancient buildings, there is nowhere better to visit in Kathmandu.
2. Explore Kathmandu’s old city
Kathmandu is home to a huge number of beautiful ancient temples, and you’ll find many of these in Kathmandu’s old city. This is the perfect route for a walking tour, taking you through Ason Chowk, Indra Chowk and Janal Bahal squares. To enjoy a unique perspective that very few tourists see, try to locate Itum Bahal’s heritage street during your journey.
3. Spend time in Swayambhunath
Swayambhunath (Also known as the monkey temple) is one of the most impressive and easy to access temples in Kathmandu. To enter the temple you’ll have to climb 365 stone steps, but the temple and the views are well worth the climb. Visitors also love meeting the hundreds of Rhesus Macaques monkeys that live in the temple.
4. Visit Three Buddha Park
You’ll see hundreds of Buddha statues during your time in Nepal, but some of the finest examples in Kathmandu are in Three Buddha Park, which sit in Swayambhu just west of the stupa, at the bottom of the hill. Here you’ll find three dazzling gold Buddha statues which are often overlooked but with each standing at 20m tall and sitting in the heart of a tranquil reflective garden, there is nowhere better to sit and enjoy your time in Kathmandu.
5. Look Out From the Bhimsen Tower
The Bhimsen Tower was damaged in the 2015 earthquake with shook Nepal, and is currently the focus of reconstruction in Kathmandu. In its glory the Bhimsen tower was a former watchtower where you could climb the staircase of 213 steps, leading to a panoramic view of Kathmandu city. Despite its destruction, the site of the tower is still worth a visit.
6. Explore the Narayanhiti Palace Museum
The Narayanhiti Palace is a former Royal palace which was turned into a museum in 2009. If you’re interested to learn more about the rich history of Nepal then this is the perfect place to visit: the entrance fee also includes access to the Palace’s well-kept gardens.
7. Enjoy the Café Culture
Thamel is largely known for plethora of backpackers and bustling shops, but it is also a wonderful place to relax, rest your feet after a busy day, and enjoy the café culture. You’ll find a dozen different cafes here, making it the perfect place to enjoy a Nepali snack and a rich coffee or two.
8.Visit the Kathesimbhu Stupa
The Kathesimbhu Stupa is a much smaller replica of the city’s famous monkey temple, and it is fascinating to visit both attractions and view this one in miniature. You’ll find the Kathesimbhu Stupa in a small courtyard on the way to Kathmandu Durbar Square, making it an easy to view and access attraction.
9. Be Overwhelmed at the Pashupatinath
The Pashupatinath complex contains one of the oldest temples in Kathmandu, and as a functioning temple you’ll find a host of burning ghats here. The sight of open cremations can be massively overwhelming, but if you’re interested in understanding the full spectrum of Hinduism then this is an opportunity you will be unable to have anywhere else.
10. Take a Walk Down Freak Street
Kathmandu’s Freak Street rose to infamy during the 1960s and 1970s as home to hippies, backpackers, and other travellers in Nepal. Whilst the street no longer lives up to its wild reputation, its history means it is still a great place to have a walk and enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafes.