Kathmadu was meant to be a one-night wonder for me, but I ended up staying much longer than planned. It is often seen as a stopover destination for anyone travelling through Nepal, but offers so much more than just a bed for the night. Here are my favourite places to visit in Kathmandu…
My visit to Pashupatinath has stayed with me since my trip to Nepal, and remains one of my favourite places, let alone temples, in the world. This site is absolutely incredible, and so soaked in culture and tradition that it is impossible not to wander around in total awe.
The temple is a cremation site for both Hindus and Buddhists, and is the place where bodies are brought and sent on to the next life. The large river flowing through the site carries the burning bodies through this journey. You can explore most of the site as a tourist, but there are some areas reserved for those of the faith only.
If you are interested, you can hire a guide for your visit here. I would suggest wandering at your own pace – I found the whole experience incredibly overwhelming and emotional, and enjoyed taking time to myself.
Be aware that this may be very different to anything you have witnessed before – please be respectful of the local culture and traditions. This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Kathmandu, and I would suggest making it a priority if you really want to immerse yourself in Nepalese culture.
If you’re wondering what to do in Kathmandu, head to this stupa and take in the stunning architecture. This is one of the largest stupas in the world, and is an amazing place to spend an afternoon.
This site is absolutely saturated with local history, so if you’re interested in learning more about Nepal , head here. The stupa itself is decorated in local prayer flags, and is open for tourists to explore. While some areas are understandably off-limits, you are welcome to admire most of this religious site. Take time to spin the prayer wheels here and embrace a long-standing tradition in places of worship.
Also known as Kathmandu’s ‘Monkey Temple’, I would definitely suggest adding this to your list of places to visit in Kathmandu. The main area here is full of stupas and prayer flags, so I’d suggest allowing a few hours to explore.
Here, you can also admire the prayer wheels, and soak up hundreds of years of Nepalese culture. There are a fair amount of steps leading to the main event, but the views make it all worthwhile. If, like me, you’re scared of monkeys, take your time and hide anything easily-grabbed, like sunglasses and phones!
If you fancy a change in pace from all the peaceful temples, and can’t decide what to do in Kathmandu, head to Durbar Square and soak up its buzz.
This beautiful area of temples and stunning architecture was damaged during the devastating earthquake of 2015. To me, that almost makes it even more worth visiting. The grandeur and culture is still there, despite the ruin.
Durbar Square is the Nepalese equivalent of a town square, but is the most interesting one I’ve ever seen. Wherever you look, you’ll see shrines, stupas and monuments all covered in beautiful flowers, with local children and animals running around happily.
There are plenty of stalls selling delicious fresh fruit, aromatic local dishes and hot coffee. Take your time to explore the square, just beware of the motorbikes zooming past!
Being blessed at one of the main temples here was the highlight of my entire time in Nepal – offer a donation and pay your respects.
Garden of Dreams
This is one of the most peaceful places I’ve been to in my life, and I can’t describe just how soothing it really is. Surprisingly, it’s tucked off one of the main roads in Thamel and yet still manages to be totally tranquil.
It’s a beautiful garden, full of exotic plants, free mats to lie (slash awkwardly fall asleep) on and water features. You can wander around and take in the trellises dripping with wildflowers, or head to the lakeside cafe to fuel up.
For less than $2, you can explore this oasis of calm. It’s perfectly positioned a close walk away from the main hub of Thamel, so you can easily make a stop here after a hearty lunch or take a book for a post-coffee chill. Please, do yourself a favour and add this to your list of places to visit in Kathmandu.
The Royal Palace
Take a trip to the King’s Palace Museum in Thamel – for just over $1, you can discover the history of Nepal’s royal family and learn more about the beautiful country. I loved visiting here, and the museum is kept in good condition. The palace itself is stunning, and you can wander around the gardens behind it, too, if you fancy some fresh air halfway through the tour.
Thamel is one of the main tourist areas, obviously one of the best places to visit in Kathmandu if you’re looking for things to do as a visitor. Of course, it is home to the beautiful Garden of Dreams, but there is also a hub of activity going on here, and sampling local dishes is one of the best things to do.
There are loads of amazing places to eat, such as Sarangi’s if you’re a veggie after some local and Indian delights, or OR2K (I pretty much moved in here!) for an array of hummus-based dishes. If you’re really craving some steak after weeks of living off rice, head to Kathmandu Steak House Restaurant, which basically does what it says on the tin! Those who really want to embrace local food should visit Yangling Tibetan Restaurant for some of the best Nepalese and Tibetan food around.
Coffee-lovers have to head to Himalayan Java Coffee, which is right next to the Garden of Dreams and full of incredible coffee and naughty treats. If you fancy finding your Zen, sign up to the yoga classes in the same building.
Many people seem to view Kathmandu as little more than a stopover spot, but the region has so much to offer. There are almost too many places to visit in KathmanDO (sorry couldn’t resist), and I couldn’t fit them all into one list! So give yourself a couple of days here and make the most of it. From serene temples to busy streets and incredible food, this region in Nepal has something for everyone.