Kathmandu, Nepal
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Top things to do in Kathmandu, Nepal

For many travellers to Nepal, the city of Kathmandu is not much more than a place to arrange tours and trekking in other parts of the country, whether to the Annapurna region or the Khumbu region and mighty Everest. But no matter how tired your feet, make sure you venture gently out to explore some of this fabled city. Here are a few recommendations for things to do in Kathmandu:

Explore Patan

Patan is one of the three separate medieval cities that once existed in the Kathmandu Valley but is now a southern suburb of Kathmandu itself. It seems there are a number of theories but it may have been founded c. 299AD. The Patan Durbar Square is a mass of monuments, temples and palaces. There are some beautiful sculptures tucked in quiet corners and decorative motifs everywhere. It’s no wonder it is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Patan square and its surrounding streets are also a magnet for trade, with street vendors and their fragrant wares. Even after the earthquake damage, Kathmandu Durbar Square is well worth exploring.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Swayambhunath Stupa

The Swayambhunath Stupa, and its eyes, are probably one of the most famous images of Kathmandu. The Buddha’s eyes, and eyebrows, are certainly striking beneath the fluttering prayer flags.

Kathmandu, Nepal

It is also known as the Monkey Temple because of the holy monkeys living near and it is reached by a long stair climb guarded by monkeys grooming each other (can’t say if these were holy monkeys but they were cute).

Monkey temple, Kathmandu

Apart from the stupa this is a large temple complex that is an important site of pilgrimage for Buddhists (even for Tibetan buddhists). There are  burning dishes of coals and the air is thick with the fumes of smoke and incense.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Apart from the monkeys, even the goats want to get in on the act. The views out over the city is uninspiring unfortunately, but you can’t have everything.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Kumbheshwor Temple

The Kumbheshwor temple of Shiva is not far from Patan Durbar Square and is the oldest temple in Kathmandu, dating back to 1391. It is also an important place of pilgrimage.

It is often crowded with people waiting in long lines to make puja to the lignams. Many women come here making offerings for long life and to find a good husband.

Kathmandu, Nepal

There were also a number of dubious-looking holy men who had set up ‘shop’ providing elaborate pujas, advice and tikka to young devotees.

Kathmandu, Nepal

There are also a number of elaborate conduits or public baths nearby for washing (see also photo at top).

Kathmandu, Nepal

Crazy Thamel

There is no doubt that the fleshpots of Thamel offer great Kathmandu R&R in between or after trekking expeditions. This is where most of the hotels in Kathmandu are located and there are $1 cocktails, what else can I say? And fresh juice stalls. And showers. But sometimes even the cyclo drivers look bored.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Make sure to visit a few Thamel institutions such as KC’s, Helena’s or the Pumpernickel Bakery. And of course Rumdoodle, named for W.E. Bowman’s novel of an eccentric Englishman who climbs the world’s highest peak at 40,000-and-a-half feet. Everest summiteers have been calling in at this bar here since 1982, with illustrious names such as Sir Edmund Hillary, Reinhard Messner and Rob Hall leaving messages.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Enjoy Kathmandu, Nepal!

By Natasha von Geldern

Have you been to Kathmandu in Nepal? What did you see and what do you recommend? If you like this post why not pin it for future reference?


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  1. Hi Natasha! I just came across your blog, it’s beautiful!

    These photos are so mystical!!! I love them, especially the “monkey temple” and where the women make offerings for good husband haha!

  2. hi..bit of a wild shot but here goes !! i am a skint student living in uk. I will shortly be arriving in Kathmandu for a month long volunteer posting. I have had several innoculations but as cash is now stretched i have not had rabies jabs. Some people say dont need them some say they are a must. Would appreciate unbiased opinions from seasoned travelsters.. i would like to visit Swayambhnah Stupa etc but people are telling me to keep away from dogs, bats and monkeys… appreciate any advice many thanks

    • Natasha von Geldern

      Hiya Sam, I did get the various shots before going to Nepal (and other Asian countries) and did see plenty of dogs and monkeys around the place – including at Swayambhnah. but I didn’t feel in any danger of them biting me. Just don’t carry any food on you going to temples where there are monkeys! The thing with the rabies jabs is that it doesn’t save you just gives you more time to get treatment if you are bitten. I’ve never seen a rabid dog in all my years of travelling in Asia.

      • sam harlow

        hi Natasha,
        many thanks for your speedy reply… i only have time for the first of three jabs anyway so might just forget about them and be on my guard. Hope you have many great adventures and hassle free journeys and should i be in same place at same time i’m sure i’ll recognise you so hope you wont mind me saying hello…Take care and thanks for the info !!!

        • Natasha von Geldern

          You’re welcome Sam, I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time in Nepal. Happy trails!!!!

  3. What incredible photos, such a feeling of being there. I’ve always wanted to go there – more inspired now!

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