Kathmandu, the Himalayan nation’s capital, is known for its history, culture, architecture, heritage and its people.
With numerous Temples, stupas, monuments, and heritage sites, Kathmandu is one of the most interesting cultural destinations in the world with diverse cultural mix of people. To make sure you get the best out of your stay in Kathmandu we have compiled a list of places for you to explore.
- 1. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
- 2. Kathmandu Durbar Square
- 3. Patan Durbar Square
- 4. Boudhanath
- 5. Swayambhunath
- 6. City of Kirtipur
- 7. Pashupatinath Temple
- 8. Nagarkot
- 9. Traditional Dal Bhat Restaurant
- 10. Thamel
Listed below are the 10 Best Places to visit in and around Kathmandu:
1. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the abode of traditional Nepali culture and arts, signifies medieval age, unique culture and tradition of Nepal. It is situated in the heart of Bhaktapur, inhabited by indigenous Newari people and allures many domestic and international visitors. The major attractions of Bhaktapur Durbar Square are Nyatapola Temple, statue of King Bhupatindra Malla, Peacock Window, Golden Gate and fifty-five windowed palace of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Nyatapola Temple is considered to be the biggest and highest pagoda of Nepal built with such architectural perfection to five stories- representing five basic elements. There is also the Bhairab Nath Temple dedicated the fierce and manifestation aspect of lord Shiva, Bhairava. Besides, there are local restaurants and eateries presenting a range of local Newari cuisines. You wouldn’t want to miss ‘Juju Dhau’ which means the king of curds, when you visit the durbar square.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square Museum
Bhaktapur Durbar Square Museum, also known as National Art Gallery, is an appealing place to visit. It is rich in medieval art and architecture and contains set of paintings, historical manuscripts, Thangkas and more. Located in the famous place complex of Bhaktapur Durbar Square, it primarily consists paintings from Malla period, wide range of manuscripts with painted covers and illustrations. The galley also has bronze, brass stone and wooden images
How to get to Bhaktapur Durbar Square from Thamel?
The central bus leaves from Bhaktapur Bus park which is just before the old Ratna Park bus stop in Kathmandu and drops you directly at the Bhaktapur bus park in Bhaktapur near the main entrance. The bus fare to Bhaktapur would cost around 25 NPR, however foreigners are charged 50 rupees. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic and crowd.
Taking a taxi to Bhaktapur is quite easy from anywhere. However, you will be paying upwards of 900 rupees and closer to 1500 rupees. Bargaining is a better option here.
How much is the entrance fee to Bhaktapur Durbar Square Museum?
For Foreign Nationals: NPR 1,500 (approximately US $15)
For SAARC Nationals: NPR 500 (approximately US $5)
For Chinese Nationals: NPR 500 (approximately US $5)
2. Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square, also known as Hanuman Dhoka Square is the most significant square in all Kathmandu. It is situated in the heart of ancient city of Kathmandu, surrounded by fountains, ancient statues, small ponds, and courtyards such as Mohan Chok and Sundari Chok.
The major attractions of Kathmandu Durbar Square are –
- Kumari Bahal
- Mahadev Temple
- Shiva Parvati Temple
- Bhagwati Temple
- Old palace
- Saraswati temple
- Krishna Octangular Temple
- Big drums
- Kal Bhairav
- Jagannath Temple
- Taleju Temple etc.
Kumari Bahal is a three storied temple that houses the Kumari goddess, believed to be the living embodiment of the Hindu mother goddess. All the carving and architecture of prehistoric times are exceptionally artistic which make the architecture in this Kathmandu Durbar square, among the most important captivating site for travelers and tourists.
Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Museum
Within the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex is the site of the Old Royal Palaces which was the residence of the kings of the Shah and Malla Dynasty, until the 19th-century. The palaces have since been turned into museums and decorated with elaborately-carved wooden windows and panels. There is the King Tribhuwan Memorial Museum and the Mahendra Museum. You can visit the state rooms inside the palace.
How to get to Kathmandu Durbar Square from Thamel?
Kathmandu Durbar Square is an easy is 20 minutes walk from Thamel.
How much is the Entrance Fee to the Kathmandu Durbar Square?
For Foreign Nationals: NPR 1000 (approximately US $10)
For SAARC Nationals: NPR 150 (approximately US $1.5)
3. Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square, best known for its artistic heritage is surrounded by various temples, devoted to a variety of deities. It is situated in the heart of Lalitpur, on a plateau across Bagmati River. The major attractions of Patan Durbar Square are Hiranya Varna Mahavihar, Mahabouddha Temple, Patan Museum and Krishna Temple. The temple of Lord Krishna has a significant position in the durbar square of Patan. It is the only temple in Nepal having 21 shrines and completely made of stone. Patan Durbar square is the oldest of all three cities of Kathmandu Valley with great architectural worth.
Patan Durbar Square Museum
Patan Museum was inaugurated by Late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah in 1997. This museum inside the durbar square specializes in bronze statues and religious objects. It is considered as one of the best museums in Asia displaying the traditional sacred arts, bronze statues and religious objects in an architectural setting.
How to get to Patan Durbar Square from Thamel?
The central bus leaves from Ratna Park bus and drops you outside of the main gate. The bus fare to Patan would cost around 20 NPR, however foreigners are charged 50 rupees. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on traffic and crowd.
Taking a taxi to Patan is quite easy from anywhere. However, you will be paying closer to 500 rupees. Bargaining is a better option here.
How much is the Entrance Fee for Patan Durbar Square?
For Foreign Nationals: NPR 1000 (approximately US $10)
For SAARC Nationals: NPR 250 (approximately US $2.5)
Located in the downtown of Kathmandu, Boudhanath Stupa is the holy center of Buddhism in Nepal. Boudhanath is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kathmandu, with a strong presence of a pure Himalayan culture. The area is surrounded by other monasteries, shops and restaurants of Tibetan culture. The Stupa has existed for more than 1600 years and a home to more than 50 monasteries. The architecture is unique in its own way which is constructed by using heavy amount of gold and will leave you spellbound.
Boudhanath stupa is the largest circular pagoda in the world with height 38m and perimeter100m. On each side are the all-seeing-eyes of the Buddha symbolizing the omniscience and awareness as they look out in all four directions. Pilgrims walk around Boudhanath Stupa in a clockwise direction.
How to Get to Boudhanath Stupa from Thamel?
The Boudhanath Stupa in northeast suburb is about 6.8miles to center Kathmandu City. Thamel Street to Boudhanath Stupa is about 1hour walking distance of nearly 6km and 25 minutes if taking a taxi.
How much is the Entrance Fee for Boudhanath?
For Foreign Nationals: NPR 400 (approximately US $4)
For SAARC Nationals: NPR 100 (approximately US $1)
*Remember to bring personal ID or passports, otherwise tourists may be denied to enter Boudhanath Stupa.
Swayambhunath, also known as Monkey Temple, is an ancient religious shrine situated on top of the hill in the Kathmandu Valley. It lies 2km west of Kathmandu City. Located on a hill in Kathmandu valley, the temple affords splendid view of a line of Himalayan Ranges. It is the perfect place to observe the amazing ceremonies and practices of the pilgrims. Each morning, hundreds of pilgrims ascend the 365 steps that reach up the hill and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the stupa.
The eyes of Swayambhunath
The stupa, as the crowning glory of Kathmandu Valley architecture, consists of a white dome at the base and a cubical structure with eyes of Buddha looking in all the four directions, surrounded by prayer wheels and numerous chaityas, painted images of deities and a popular Hindu temple dedicated to Harati, the Goddess of smallpox and other epidemics.
How to get to Swayambhunath from Thamel?
It’s about 10-15 minutes drive from Thamel via Museum Marg. It will cost around NPR 400 on a taxi from Thamel. Bargaining or pre-arranging your trip to Swayambhunath is a good option.
How much is the Entrance Fee for Swayambhunath?
For Foreign Nationals: NPR 200 (approximately US $2)
For SAARC Nationals: NPR 50 (approximately US $0.5)
6. City of Kirtipur
Kirtipur, situated on a ridge 8 km southwest of Kathmandu Valley, is a traditional Newari Town carrying the rich indigenous culture of Kathmandu Valley. Walking along its narrow brick-paved streets lined with typical brick houses, to observe the life of its locals who have maintained with age-old traditions and beliefs to this day is totally mesmerizing.
Places to visit in kirtipur
Major attractions of Kirtipur are –
- The Chilamchu Stupa
- the temple of Bagh Bhairav
- Uma Maheshwar Temple
- Tri Ratna Temple
- Dev Pukku
Tri Ratna Temple
This old stone Krishna temple, worshiped by both Hindus and Buddhists is artistically carved to perfection.
Dev Pukku is an old royal place, a pond and is one of the most charming places in Kirtipur. It is the primary water source of Kirtipur, fed by underground water.
Bagh Bhairab Temple
Bagh Bhairab Temple is one of the major attractions in Kirtipur. The main statue and icon is Bhairav in form of tiger. There are Gurkha weapons on display as well.
Uma Maheshwar Temple
Guarded by two elephants wearing saddles made of metal spikes, this tall and beautiful temple was built in 1663.
How to get to Kirtipur from Thamel?
Take a bus from Ratna bus parkwhich will drop you to Naya Bazaar at the base of the steps leading up to the old city. It takes around 25 minutes to get there.
How much is the entrance fee for Kirtipur?
There is no entrance fee! Its Free 🙂
7. Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinath is one of the seven UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu and among the four most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Shiva. It gives you a strong mix of religious, cultural and spiritual vibe. Situated at the bank of Bagmati river, in the eastern part of Kathmandu city, Pashupatinath is the oldest Hindu temple in Nepal dating back to the 5th century.
Within the complex is the main Pashupatinath temple and there are many smaller temples dedicated to several other Hindu and Buddhist deities surrounding the temple of Pashupatinath.
The opening time for the Pashupatinath complex are from 4am to 9pm. However, tourist are not allowed to enter the gate of the main Pashupatinath Temple. However, all the other temples are available for foreigners to go around. You can watch Hindu cremation with all the rituals that occur daily on the raised platforms along the riverside.
Importance of Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinah is believed to be oldest known Hindu Temple in Kathmandu, where various Hindu rituals are practiced in their amazing spiritual form, giving an opportunity to the visitors to feel the unique spirit of Hindu cultureof life, death and reincarnation. Pashupatinath temple is one of the four most important Hindu religious sites in Asia, for devotees of Lord Shiva. Dated as early as 5th century and later renovated by Malla kings, the Pashupatinath is believed to have existed from the beginning of Hindu civilization.
Evening “Aarati” at Pashupatinath Aarti
One of the most breathtaking Hindu rituals in this temple, is the Pashupati Aarati. Bagmati is the holy river that flows through the temple, dividing the temple into two parts, with the main Pashupatinath Temple being on one side and the site of this Aarati on the other side.
Pashupati Aarati is a ritual of worshipping and Puja by three priests moving the oil lamps in circular motion and dedicating the light from wicks soaked in ghee to God. Priests worship singing the sacred mantra while Bhajan are sung by devotees during the Aarati, creating blissful and serene environment. The Aarati starts at 6 pm every evening and considered as the highest form of prayer.
How to get to Pashupatinath Temple from Thamel?
It takes about 15 to 25 minutes from Thamel to Pashupatinath depending on traffic. Taxi’s will try to overcharge, set the price before getting in with a friendly bargain. It takes about 200 to 250 rupees. Taxi tend to overcharge. Bargaining is a better option here.
How much is the entrancee fee to the Pashupatinath Temple?
Foreign Nationals: NPR 1000 (approximately US $10)
SAARC Nationals: NPR 1000 (approximately US $10)
Nagarkot village, situated 14 Km from Bhaktapur, at an altitude of 2200m above the sea level, is a wonderful place to escape the daily hustle and start a day with mesmerizing view, with a sip of coffee, read a book, and relax. It offers breathtaking sunrise view and some shorter trekking trails. The people in Nagarkot are very social and hospitable like everywhere in Nepal.
It is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the view of the sunrise. On a clear day, you can get to experience amazing view of the Himalayan and even spot Mt. Everest itself. It offers a panoramic view of the major peaks of northeastern Himalayas including Mt. Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, Gauri Shanker and others. When the sun reflects on snowy Himalayas, the view becomes absolutely breathtaking.
How to get to Nagarkot from Thamel?
You’ll find taxis anywhere in Kathmandu and they will charge you around NPR 2500 to go to Nagarkot. It takes around 1.5 hours to reach Nagarkot from Kathmandu and the distance is about 33 km.
9. Traditional Dal Bhat Restaurant
Dal Bhat, a staple of Nepalese diet, gives you the blend of taste and perfect understanding of authentic Nepali cuisine. Most Nepalis eat Dal Bhat twice a day, every day, using the locally grown ingredients It is a combination of rice (bhat) and lentil soup (dal) served with a various side dishes and selection of seasonal vegetable curries, a meat curry, pickles, a papad, and a curd. It is highly recommended for tourists to try the dish by eating the dish with your right hand without using fork or spoon, to experience the authentic Nepali way of eating Dal bhat.
Dal Bhat Power 24 Hour
“Dal Bhat Power 24 Hour”, quite a popular quote among many tourists who visit Nepal every year. The dish gives you all the energy you will need to stay active whole day and, to go through the exciting trekking trails to reach your destination point throughout your day. It is the primary source of energy in homes of most of the Nepalese family which is packed with wholesomeness of nutrients and energy to sustain you whole day.
Where to get authentic Daal Bhat experience? (Thakali places)
Where: Jimbu Thakali Kitchen is a good-quality, humble place for dal bhat
Location: Tangal, Kathmandu
Opening Hours: 10:30am-10pm, Daily
Order: The dish in the picture is the Chicken dal bhat set (Rs 400), a thali of steamed white rice, black lentil (dal), curry, sautéed spinach, pickle, aalu fry, plain curd, and a papad. It’s simple yet delicious, and utterly satisfying.
How much does Daal Bhat cost in Kathmandu?
Cost: NPR 400 (approximately US $4) with additional Service Charge 10% and VAT 13%.
Thamel is the commercial tourist destination in Nepal, from where the journey of most of the tourists start. It has almost everything and every facility the travelers and tourists would want, starting from one-star guesthouses to luxurious 5-star hotels, groceries, local food stalls and restaurants, laundry facilities, local markets, hair salon, spa centers and lot more to discover. Thamel is known by its narrow old style streets with various shops and vendors. Recently many streets in Thamel have been declared vehicle free zones to avoid crowd and traffic havoc. It has a wide range of mountaineering gear shops, travel agencies, foreign money exchange booths, mobile phone shops, along with the numerous restaurants and guest houses.
Things to do around Thamel:
1. Trekking apparel and gears shopping
If you are arriving Thamel before your trek to the Himalayas, then it is the perfect place to do your last minute shopping. There are plenty of branded as well as local shops that sell gears and apparels in various pricing range.
2. Explore local eateries and restaurants
Whether a local eatery or spacious restaurants, the options for dining here are limitless. Major restaurants to consider in thamel are; Roadhouse Café, Electric Pagoda, BK’s, OR2K, Hangkook Sarang etc.
3. Enjoy nightlife
Thamel is the center of Kathmandu’s nightlife like nowhere else in Nepal. It is a chilling hub for people with live music, pubs and clubs that run all night.
4. Spa, therapy and relaxation
There are various natural therapy spots and spas in Thamel offering jacuzzi, spa, deep tissue massage and many more.
How to get to Thamel from the Airport?
The easiest way is to get to Thamel from Kathmandu is to take a taxi ride which takes around 20 – 30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
You can take a pre-paid taxi available at the exit of the arrival hall after baggage claim. Or when you exit the airport, you will see a lot of taxi outside waiting for travelers and tourists.
If you have a tour organized by a trekking agent, the agents usually arrange the airport transfer. In such case, the representative will wait at the exit with your namecard.
Distance from Tribhuvan International Airport
Thamel is around 5.9 km from the airport and approximately 20-30 minutes driving distance.