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12 Interesting Places to Visit in Kathmandu, Nepal

People in Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal

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[dropcap]N[/dropcap]estled in a valley and surrounded by high mountains, at an elevation of more than 3900 ft / 1200 m, lies Kathmandu, the largest city of Nepal and also its capital. Many skip Kathmandu and head for the Himalayas as soon as they arrive to Nepal, assuming that there is nothing to do in Kathmandu. And I understand them. Because that’s exactly how I felt about this city, when I came to Kathmandu for the first time.

But now I see how wrong I was. Because there are quite a few interesting places to visit in Kathmandu, and some cool places to visit near Kathmandu. Some of which I’ve visited more than once, because I really like them. Have I got you intrigued?

Then scroll down to check out our list of top tourist places in Kathmandu.

[x_blockquote type=”left”]RELATED: Annapurna Circuit Trek Without a Guide (Nepal) [/x_blockquote]

Top Places to Visit in Kathmandu & Top Things to Do in Kathmandu

Now let’s take a look at the list. Here are 10, in our opinion, best places to visit in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Places are listed in no particular order.

Best time to visit Kathmandu? Late spring and early autumn.

1. Thamel

Street in Thamel, Kathmandu

Thamel is the district of Kathmandu where most of foreigners end up staying at. Simply because that’s where most of the city’s hotels are located in.

It’s a very busy area with lots of restaurants, hotels and hostels, and shops. By far most of these shops are selling outdoor gear. Clothing and shoes for hiking. Sleeping bags. Trekking poles. Cookware. Water bottles and flasks. Sunglasses. Seemingly everything one might need for an outdoor adventure.

Most of the rest are souvenir shops. I’m clearly not a person buying souvenirs, but if I would be – I would go souvenir shopping in Kathmandu. Souvenirs here are more interesting than almost anywhere else I’ve been.

Street of Kathmandu, Nepal

Most of the streets in Thamel are narrow.

And may look dangerous at first. Especially if you haven’t been in any lesser developed countries before. But at the same time they are safe to wander around. And, boy, is it worth it. Because of all these little temples and hidden inner yards you’ll eventually come up to, if you just take that street.

What you see above is one of the main streets of Kathmandu, which goes around the Thamel.

Vegetable seller in Kathmandu

Colorful Statue

Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal

People feeding pidgeons in Kathmandu

A man carrying a box - Thamel, Kathmandu

Souvenirs in Kathmandu

Colorful souvenirs - Kathmandu, Nepal

One tip for everyone shopping in Katmandu: Don’t forget to haggle!

2. Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple)

Swayambhunath Stupa, Monkey Temple - One of the top places to visit in Kathmandu, Nepal

The monkey temple – one of the top places to visit in Kathmandu for a nice view of the city from above.

As well as one of the best places where to see monkeys in Kathmandu.

Be prepared that you’ll have to climb stairs to get to the temple. There aren’t too many of them. But they are steap.

Entrance fee: 200 Nepalese rupees (around 2 USD / EUR).

A view of Kathmandu from above

A monkey at Swayambhunath Stupa, Monkey Temple - Kathmandu, Nepal

3. Kathmandu Durbar Square

People in Durbar Square, Kathmandu - Holi 2017

We can call Kathmandu Durbar Square also its historical city center.

It’s that part of the city with many centuries old temples and statues. Unfourtunately, but when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Kathmandu in 2015 it also badly affected the Durbar Square (see photos). Some of the temples were completely destroyed, many lost their former greatness.

Oh, don’t worry, it’s not how the Durbar Square looks everyday.

The picture you see above was taken during the Holi Festival in 2017. Located right next to Thamel it’s a busy area, but anyway there are way fewer people than in the photos you see above and below.

Yes, there is this entrance fee. But only once I’ve been asked to buy a ticket. Rest of the times I’ve just walked to this area. Actually since there are no gates or anything you may enter and leave the Durbar Square withouy noticing that yourself as well. If you don’t know that it’s the Durbar Square.

Entrance fee: 1000 Nepalese rupees (around 10 USD / EUR).

A crowd of people in Durbar Square, Kathmandu - Holi 2017

4. Visit Kumari, the Living Goddesses of Nepal

Temples of Durbar Square - Kathmandu, Nepal

In one of the temples on the Durbar Square lives Kumari. Nepalese believe that she is a goddess.

To put it simply it’s a young girl, taken from her parents at a very young age, to live as a goddess.

The temple she lives in is known as Kumari Temple or Kumari Ghar.

There is no entrance fee.

But you also never know if you’re going to see her at all. You may spend a lot of time waiting there and not see her. And even if you’ll see her it will be for a very short moment, when she’ll come to the window and probably say something. Sometimes – nothing. But people spend hours waiting for that moment and standing in that small inner yard.

You aren’t allowed to film or take photos of Kumari.

To learn more about Kumrai watch this video:

5. Garden of Dreams

At Garden of Dreams - Kathmandu

Photo by Roobens Fils,

There aren’t that many interesting places to see in Kathmandu. But the Garden of Dreams is one of those that I would recommend everyone to see. Because the garden is just… wonderful!

It’s a very beautiful garden. And it’s actually one of the very few quiet places in the city. It was built in 1920 and today there are three pavilions, an amphitheater and a room with paintings and work of art from all over Nepal. There’s also a cafe where you can have a drink or have a unch. It’s only 200 rupees to get in, and it’s definitely worth the price.

Entrance fee: 200 Nepalese rupees (around 2 USD / EUR).

Recommended by Roobens Fils,

6. Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple

Photo by Kyla Hunter,

Pashupatinath Temple is the spiritual home of Hinduism in Nepal, and the seat of Nepal’s national deity, Pashupati.

Witnessing an open cremation here, along the Western cremation Ghats, is an experience all in itself.

The whole scene is quite chaotic, with monkeys observing from the rooftops, and goats and cows wandering freely amongst the Sandhu’s, Priests, mourners and tourists. Since an estimated 80% of Nepalese are Hindu, a visit to Pashupatinath Temple provides an important glimpse into their religion and culture.

It’s possible to visit the Temple on your own, but if you’re interested in learning about what you’re seeing I’d recommend hiring a guide. You can find one at the entrance when you buy your ticket for about $10 (1000 – 1500 rupees, depending on your negotiating skills).

Entrance fee: 1000 Nepalese rupees (around 10 USD / EUR).

Recommended by Kyla Hunter,

7. Boudhanath

Boudhanath Stupa - Kathmandu, Nepal

Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal

I really like the Boudhanath.

If you ask me – what to do in Kathmandu? I’ll tell you visit Boudhanath.

In my opinion, it’s the best place to visit in Kathmandu, if you are short on time.

Boudhanath is the largest stupa in Nepal and one of the largest in the whole world. It’s an important religious site for Buddhists, so be respectful. For me it’s a very beautiful structure and a nice area to spend an hour or two. The atmosphere is super peaceful and relaxed. If you want you can have a lunch or dinner there as well.

Walk around the Boudhanath clockwise.

People near Boudhanath

Prayer wheels at Boudhanath

Ever since watching the movie Seven Years in Tibet I have wanted to go to Lhasa, just to hear that horn sound for myself. Actually I had no idea what kind of horn or what they are playing.

It’s this sound by the way:

And then one day. I’m in Boudhanath. And I hear that sound.

Let’s go in that house and see what’s there?

Let’s go.

We climb to the second floor and there is the source of that music. Monks are playing these long horns. Others have other music instruments. Some are chanting. Atmosphere – magical. We stay and look through the doors until a monk comes to us and invites us to come in. 

We go in and sit there for some 20 minutes. The scene looks like from the past. A bit unreal.

One more reason to visit Boudhanath. 

Entrance fee: 150 Nepalese rupees (around 1.5 USD / EUR).

8. Go on a Day Trip to Chandragiri Hill

A hiker in the mountains - Nepal

This is for you, nature lovers.

If you want to spend some time away from the city, but don’t have a time for a serious trek like Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp trek – then this is for you. Nearest town is Thankot. It should be possible to get there (somewhere close to it) by bus, but I haven’t tried looking for a bus to Chandragiri, and can’t give you any tips.

You can definitely take a taxi there. Or arrange a private tour to Chandragiri.

When at the mountain you can either hike up (around 3 hours one way), drive off-road to the top or take a cable car, which will take you to the Chandragiri Hill station in less than 10 minutes.

9. Go on a Day Trip to Bhaktapur

A lake in Bhaktapur, Nepal

Bhaktapur is an ancient city, the former capital of Nepal. The city is situated only a short bus ride away from Kathmandu. It’s not a big city, but at the same time it’s one of the biggest in Nepal.

One of the main reasons to visit Bhaktapur – the old town – Bhaktapur Durbar Square, that’s known to be even better preserved that the Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Getting to Bhaktapur by public transport is very easy. Just go to Ratna Park in Kathmandu and ask for the right bus. In 10 – 15 minutes you most probably will be on the bus already. Because buses are running there frequently. A bus back to Kathmandu you will find at the same place, where you will get off the bus. That’s just a short walk away from the main Bhaktapur city gates, where you will be asked to purchase or show your ticket. Bus ticket costs between 30 – 50 rupees.

Entrance fee: 1500 Nepalese rupees (around 15 USD / EUR).

10. Watch the Sunrise Over Mt Everest

Sunrise over mountains

Photo from Pexels, Pexels License.

Where? Go to Nagarkot view point, an hour drive away from Kathmandu.

Book a hotel there and stay overnight or go on a private tour.

11. Try Lassi and Momos in Kathmandu

Drinking lassi in Kathmandu, Nepal

Momos are dumplings, and also Nepal’s most popular food. You can get momos with cheese and with chicken, with cabbage and yak meat, and more. There are steamed and friend momos. In some restaurants you’ll be able to get momos soup and momos served in a thick gravy.

For some of the best momos in Kathmandu head to Momo Star Restaurant.

And in the photo above you can see a glass of lassi. It’s a dahi (yogurt)-based drink, that’s very popular both in India and Nepal. This exact glass of lassi I bought from Indrachowk Lassi Pasal, on my way from Thamel to the Durbar Square. Mmm, tasty.

And, of course, go to one of the many Kathmandu’s rooftop restaurants.

12. Go on a Walking Food Tour of Kathmandu

Eating during the walking tour in Kathmandu, Nepal

Photo by Nathan Aguilera,

When visiting Nepal’s capital city you should definitely make time for a walking food tour of Kathmandu.
It’s the best way to get to know the city, learn a bit about the culture and history, and of course try some amazing food!
Also, when you go with a professional tour company like we did, you can be assured of high safety and cleanliness standards. This is very important when trying street food anywhere in the world!
Before this day, I had tried some Nepalese dishes before but after this tour, I walked away with a whole new appreciation of Nepalese cuisine and the history behind it.
We booked our tour with Backstreet Academy and I would recommend them to anyone – our guide was very professional, knowledgable and fun to spend the day with!

Recommended by Nathan Aguilera,

Where to Stay in Kathmandu – Our Recommendations

1. Cheap – Hotel Silver Home

A simple budget hotel in the heart of Thamel, situated on a quiet side street. I’ve stayed there several times myself.

Breakfast is included.

Double room starts at 1800 NPR, bed – 700 NPR (in high season). Check prices and availability.

2. Mid-Range – Dream Nepal Hotel and Apartment

A very popular hotel near Thamel. Rooms and studios are available. According to its reviews, it’s one of the best 3 star hotels in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Breakfast is included.

Double room starts at 4000 NPR. Check prices and availability.

3. Luxury – Kasthamandap Boutique Hotel

A very nice hotel on the side of Thamel that’s closer to the Durbar Square. Rooms are bigger than in most of Kathmandu’s hotels.

Breakfast is included.

Double room starts at 12 000 NPR. Check prices and availability.

Kathmandu & Nepal Travel Tips

  1. Tourist visa. Nationals of most countries need a visa when traveling to Nepal. And most can get it on a arrival. But don’t forget to bring US dollars. Read about our experience obtaining visa on arrival in Nepal.
  2. Money exchange. For the best rates head to the city. You can pay with dollars for the taxi from the airport to the city center.
  3. “Cash is the king” in Nepal. There are ATM’s in Nepal, where you can withdraw money. So you don’t have to carry a lot of cash with you from home. But there aren’t that many of them. Even in Kathmandu and Pokhara you may need to walk for some time to find one. Outside of these two plus a few smaller cities you can forget about ATM’s as well. That’s why I always recommend everyone to bring some extra USD in small notes, when visiting Nepal. Because everyone knows American dollars, and will be able to do an exchange if necessary.
  4. Public transportation network in Nepal is wide. Yes, buses are old. But you can almost anywhere with a bus in Nepal. Learn more about transportation options in Nepal.
  5. Road quality in Nepal is bad. So keep in mind that a 100 mile / 160 km journey in Nepal isn’t a 2-hour drive, but more like a full day journey, if you’re traveling by a bus.

Have you been to Kathmandu? Is there something else you would add? Some more interesting places to visit in Kathmandu? Or cool things to do in Kathmandu?


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