Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is a fascinating destination for travelers who want to immerse themselves in a rich cultural experience. The city is known for its ancient temples, vibrant markets, and bustling streets. In this guide, we will provide you with travel tips for exploring Kathmandu in three days. We will cover the most important places to see, routes to take, where to eat and sleep, and even free tours to join. Let’s get started!
What to See in Kathmandu
Kathmandu is a city with a rich cultural and historical heritage. Here are the most important places to visit:
- Swayambhunath Stupa: Also known as the Monkey Temple, this iconic Buddhist temple is located on a hilltop overlooking the city. The stupa is surrounded by prayer wheels and colorful prayer flags, and offers a panoramic view of Kathmandu.
- Boudhanath Stupa: This is one of the largest stupas in Nepal and is considered to be the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibet. The stupa is surrounded by shops selling prayer flags, Tibetan rugs, and other souvenirs.
- Durbar Square: This is the historic center of Kathmandu and is home to several temples and palaces. The most famous sites here include the Kumari House, home to the Living Goddess, and the Taleju Temple.
- Pashupatinath Temple: This is one of the most sacred Hindu temples in the world and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is located on the banks of the Bagmati River and is surrounded by cremation ghats.
- Patron Stupa: This is a hidden gem located in the southern part of Kathmandu. The stupa is surrounded by beautiful gardens and offers a peaceful atmosphere away from the bustling city center.
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress modestly when visiting these sites. Remember that they are places of worship and should be treated with respect.
Routes in Kathmandu
Kathmandu can be overwhelming for first-time visitors, but exploring the city on foot is the best way to experience its vibrant culture. Here are some suggested routes:
- Thamel Walking Tour: Thamel is the tourist hub of Kathmandu and is filled with shops, restaurants, and guesthouses. Start your tour at the Garden of Dreams, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, and walk towards Thamel. Along the way, you will see street vendors selling everything from jewelry to musical instruments.
- Kathmandu Durbar Square Walking Tour: Start at the southern end of Durbar Square and work your way north, stopping to admire the ancient temples and palaces along the way. Don’t forget to visit the Kumari House and the Taleju Temple, two of the most iconic sites in the square.
- Boudhanath and Pashupatinath Tour: These two sites are located on opposite sides of the city, but they are both must-sees. Start at Boudhanath Stupa and explore the surrounding shops and cafes. Then, take a taxi or bus to Pashupatinath Temple and spend some time exploring this sacred Hindu site.
- Swayambhunath and Patron Stupa Tour: This tour takes you to two of the most iconic stupas in Kathmandu. Start at Swayambhunath Stupa and climb the hill to enjoy the panoramic view of the city. Then, take a taxi or bus to Patron Stupa and enjoy the peaceful gardens surrounding this hidden gem.
Remember to bring a map or download a navigation app on your phone to help you navigate the city streets.
Where to Sleep in Kathmandu
Kathmandu has a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Here are some recommendations:
- Yak & Yeti Hotel: This is a five-star hotel located in the heart of the city. It offers luxurious rooms, a swimming pool, and several restaurants.
- Kathmandu Guest House: This guest house is located in Thamel and offers budget-friendly accommodation options. It has a rooftop terrace with a view of the city.
- Hotel Shanker: This is a heritage hotel located near Durbar Square. It has a beautiful garden, a swimming pool, and several restaurants.
- The Dwarika’s Hotel: This is a luxury hotel located near Pashupatinath Temple. It is designed in the traditional Newari style and offers spacious rooms and suites.
Make sure to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist season.
Where to Eat in Kathmandu
Kathmandu is known for its delicious food, which is a fusion of Nepali, Tibetan, and Indian cuisines. Here are some recommended places to eat:
- Or2k: This restaurant is located in Thamel and offers vegetarian and vegan options. It has a cozy atmosphere and is popular with tourists and locals alike.
- Thamel House Restaurant: This restaurant is located in an old Newari house in Thamel and offers traditional Nepali cuisine. It has a courtyard and a rooftop terrace with a view of the city.
- Fire and Ice Pizzeria: This restaurant is located in Thamel and offers delicious wood-fired pizzas. It is a popular spot for tourists and expats.
- Krishnarpan: This restaurant is located in the Dwarika’s Hotel and offers a fine dining experience with traditional Nepali cuisine. It is a bit pricey, but worth the splurge.
Remember to try the local delicacies, such as momos (dumplings), dal bhat (lentil soup with rice), and chow mein (stir-fried noodles).
Free Tours in Kathmandu
Kathmandu has several free tours that you can join to learn more about the city and its culture. Here are some options:
- Kathmandu Walking Tour: This tour takes you through the narrow streets of Kathmandu and includes stops at historic temples and local markets. The tour is led by a local guide and is free, but donations are appreciated.
- Street Food Tour: This tour takes you through the bustling streets of Kathmandu and allows you to sample local street food. The tour is led by a local guide and is free, but you will need to pay for the food you eat.
- Kathmandu University Tour: This tour takes you to the campus of Kathmandu University and allows you to interact with students and faculty members. The tour is led by a student guide and is free, but you will need to pay for transportation.
Make sure to book these tours in advance as they can fill up quickly.
Travel Tips in Kathmandu
Here are some travel tips to help you make the most of your time in Kathmandu:
- Dress modestly: Kathmandu is a conservative city, so it is important to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Avoid wearing shorts, tank tops, or revealing clothing.
- Stay hydrated: Kathmandu can be hot and humid, so make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Bargain at markets: Bargaining is a common practice in Kathmandu, especially at markets and street vendors. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a better price.
- Watch out for scams: Like any tourist destination, Kathmandu has its fair share of scams. Be wary of people who approach you on the street offering tours or services.
- Respect local customs: Nepal is a diverse country with many different customs and traditions. Take the time to learn about the local customs and respect them during your visit.
Remember to always stay aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: Do I need a visa to visit Nepal?
- A: Yes, most visitors to Nepal need a visa. You can apply for a visa online or at the airport upon arrival.
- Q: Is Kathmandu safe for tourists?
- A: Yes, Kathmandu is generally safe for tourists. However, you should always be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings safe.
- Q: What is the best time to visit Kathmandu?
- A: The best time to visit Kathmandu is during the dry season, which runs from October to May. The weather is pleasant and there is less chance of rain.
- Q: How do I get around Kathmandu?
- A: The easiest way to get around Kathmandu is by taxi or hired car. You can also take a local bus or walk if you are comfortable navigating the city streets.
- Q: What is the currency in Nepal?
- A: The currency in Nepal is the Nepalese rupee (NPR).
If you have any other questions, feel free to contact the official tourism website of the city of Kathmandu here.