Kathmandu Center
Kathmandu traffic (Photo credit: Simon Steinberger)

Kathmandu Travel Guide

QUICK FACTS

  • The capital city of Nepal, with a population of 980,000.
  • It is the largest urban agglomerate of the country, located in the bowl of the Kathmandu Valley.
  • With a history spanning nearly 2,000 years, the city is a rich trove of cultural heritage.
  • Nicknames: City of Temples, Switzerland of Asia, KTM, Tri-City, City of Glory

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Currency: Nepalese Rupee (NPR).
  • Spoken languages: Nepali, Hindi and English.
  • Best time to visit: March to May and September to December are, respectively, the spring and autumn months and the best periods of the year to explore the city and its valley. Summer sees a lot of rainfall and humid weather while the winters get very cold at night.
  • Arriving via airport: Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) is served by an airport shuttle that delivers passengers to the city centre for NPR40. Taxis charge NPR400-NPR500.

WHERE TO STAY

Thamel is where most visitors base themselves for the convenience of being close to central Kathmandu and having the best options for hotels, restaurants and shops. Boudhanath is instead the cultural half offering scenic accommodation, close contact with the locals and an honest view of the pace of the city.

GETTING AROUND

  • Kathmandu’s public transportation consists of bus and tram lines that leave much to be desired. It is often easier and less taxing to rent a motorcycle for the day and allow more freedom to explore beyond the city limits. 1-day rentals cost roughly Rs350 for a 125cc bike.
  • Taxis take a little patience due to heavy negotiations, but can otherwise prove useful when travelling with luggage or heavy bags. Prices should always be agreed on prior to boarding. Call 4224374 to pre-book.

KATHMANDU NIGHTLIFE

  • Drinking age is 18, and last call is 4 AM.
  • Durbar Square is a popular venue thanks to its numerous bars and laid-back scene.
  • Freak Street is where the bars get loud and the music doesn’t let up until the morning.

UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT

  • Pashupatinath Temple is one of the most important and sacred Hindu temples dedicated to the Lord Shiva, located on the banks of the Bagmati River.
  • Swayambhunath is also known as Monkey Temple due to the large population of macaques that inhabit the grounds. The religious temple complex is comprised of a magnificent domed stupa and a collection of shrines and temples that serve pilgrims from all over the world.
  • Basantapur Durbar Square is one of three durbar squares in the Kathmandu Valley that are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Dharahara also called Bhimsen Tower is an intrinsic part of the city’s architecture belonging to the 19th century when it was built by Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa.

INTERESTING WALKS

  • Kaiser Mahal or Garden of dreams is a beautiful space of beauty and peace, a romantic pocket of the city removed from the noise and dust.
  • Boudhanath Stupa is one of the most sacred sites for Tibetan Buddhism, a spectacular feat made all the more inspiring in the evening when it is lit up.
  • National Botanical Gardens is home to splendid collections of plants and flowers ringed by evergreen natural forest.

LOCAL WISDOM

  • Kumari Devi is the tradition of worshipping pre-pubescent girls believed to be the manifestation of divine female energy. The Royal Kumari of Kathmandu lives in Kumari Ghar in the city centre and can sometimes be seen at its windows.
  • Sacred sites demand respect. Always follow the lead of the locals, dress accordingly and remove shoes before entering sacred sites.
  • Where to find good cheap eats: Freak Street and the alleys of Naxal are popular among budget-conscious travellers.
  • Dangerous areas: while no area can be singled out, it is to be noted that petty crimes are known to occur. Scam artists, paddlers and pickpockets prey on tourists.

RECOMMENDED KATHMANDU GUIDE BOOKS

Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days


SEE ALSO:
Kathmandu Travel Guide was last modified: September 26th, 2016 by Nick
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