With Bhaktapur’s ban on car and rickshaw traffic, it’s one of the quietest and most well preserved holy cities in the Kathmandu Valley, and if the Kathmandu din is keeping you up at night, it’s well worth booking a room in this timeless town. Located just seven-and-a-half miles (12 kilometers) east of Kathmandu, you can easily reach Bhaktapur by bus or taxi from the capital. Once inside, take your time wandering the cobbled streets, and don’t miss seeing the famous Golden Gate that serves as the entrance to a temple complex and the 55 Window Palace, the former seat of Nepali royalty until 1769.
If you’re already planning a day or overnight trip to Bhaktapur, make the short trip just under four miles (six kilometers) north to the village of Changu. Not many tourists make it to this village and its highlight, a stunning Vaishnavite temple surrounded by stone sculptures, some dating back as early as the fourth century AD.
For many travelers, a visit to Nepal wouldn’t be complete without some spectacular Himalayan views, but you don’t have to go all the way to Everest base camp to get them. Nargakot, located 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast of Kathmandu, enjoys a hilltop position with impressive views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks, particularly when they light up at sunrise and sunset. On a clear day, you can even spot the peak of Mount Everest in the distance. If you can brave the cold temperatures, you’re almost guaranteed a view from October to March.
Patan, or the City of Beauty as it’s called in Sanskrit, is so close to Kathmandu (just across the Bagmati River) that it doesn’t necessarily require a full day, but there’s enough to see and do there that you really should spend the day there anyway. The architecture surrounding Patan’s Durbar Square is much more impressive than either Kathmandu or Bhaktapur, plus you’ll find hundreds of smaller stupas in the backstreets of this second largest city in the Valley. If you’re planning to purchase any carved wood, metalwork or jewelry during your time in Nepal, Patan’s the place to do it.
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