Everyone in Kathmandu eventually ends up in Thamel District. This neighborhood has everything a traveler would ever need concentrated within several confusing, twisting streets. If feels a bit like a maze, but Thamel offers everything from accommodation, restaurants, coffee houses and tour operators to trekking stores, textile shops, souvenir stalls and money changers. Mountaineers come here to buy their gear, while others simply decide to stay for the busy atmosphere and the excitement of it all.
Bronze cooking pots, woven baskets, colorful textiles, pointy slippers, prayer beads and knotted bracelets fight for space with advertisements high up on worn facades made of brick, wooden carvings, crumbling plaster and painted windows. Meanwhile, on the streets, rickshaws, motorbikes, vendors and shoppers are a blur of color – a stark contrast to the predominantly brown houses. Once in a while, there is even a cow sitting in a corner next to some burlap sacks full of seeds and nuts and excited children play guessing games about where the foreigners might be from.
While Thamel is a popular tourist haven, it is also one of the oldest districts in Kathmandu and you can still observe Nepalese culture and daily life in these streets. Stupas and small temples are tucked into the general chaos of the area and all the beautiful old buildings are built in the Newari style, a type of architecture famous for its brick work and unique wood carvings.
Please note that the Thamel District suffered
significant damages in the earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks in Nepal
late April and early May 2015. The Thamel District was one of the worst affected
areas in the city of Kathmandu. Authorities have said they will do all they can
to restore historic and cultural sites in Nepal and are assessing the
extent of damages.
You can find Thamel District in the northern part of Kathmandu just past the Government District. It’s easiest to get there by taxi, as every driver will know where it is. Once there, walking is the best way to get around since the streets are simply too crowded for any other mode of transportation.