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Things to do in Kathmandu

Things to do in  Kathmandu

Welcome to Kathmandu

Nepal's chaotic and colorful capital is set in the bowl-shaped Kathmandu Valley, surrounded by the jagged, snowy peaks of the Himalaya. You'll want to explore Kathmandu's old city center, a crowded warren of small shops and cobblestone alleyways, by foot or rickshaw—the streets are too narrow for most cars. Crumbling buildings open onto courtyards where chilies, rice, and laundry dry in the sun, and around nearly every corner you'll find temples, shrouded in incense smoke and bedecked with marigolds. Learn more about the region's dominant religions by touring Buddhist Bouddhanath Stupa and the impressive Pashupatinath Hindu temple complex (note, however, that only Hindus are allowed inside its gates). A 2015 earthquake devastated some of Kathmandu's historic sites, including UNESCO-listed Durbar Square, a former royal residence that dates to the 16th century, but many others were unharmed. Popular short excursions from Kathmandu include Shivapuri National Park, the medieval village of Bhaktapur, and the former hill station of Nagarkot. And of course, Kathmandu is the main hub for trekking in the Himalaya. Trekking tours can be arranged to suit almost any budget, ability, and available time. Consider a guided trek in the Annapurna Sanctuary or, if you’re short on time, book a helicopter flight to get a glimpse of Everest. Safari tours to Chitwan National Park can also be organized from Kathmandu. The former royal hunting ground is now a protected ecosystem of marshes, jungle, and grasslands, home to more than 400 animal species, including Bengal tigers and rhinos.

Top 15 attractions in Kathmandu


Pilgrims from Nepal and India flock to Pashupatinath Temple, the holiest Hindu site in Nepal. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and is on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Pashupatinath is also where many Hindu Nepalis come to die and be cremated.More


Thamel is the beating heart of Kathmandu’s traveler scene. Hiking and rafting businesses, hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, and souvenir shops are jam-packed into the narrow streets of Thamel. While Thamel is hardly typical of the rest of Kathmandu, it’s a lively place to spend time, and is convenient for planning your travels around Nepal.More

Boudhanath (Boudha Stupa)

One of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world, Boudhanath is a major pilgrimage point near Kathmandu. Every day, Buddhists fill the square to light incense, turn prayer wheels, and perform kora (clockwise circumambulations) around the monument. Rebuilt after the 2015 earthquake, the stupa is one of Nepal's most unmissable attractions.More

Kathmandu Durbar Square (Basantapur)

The heart of Kathmandu, the Kathmandu Durbar Square (Basantapur) is a vibrant public square was once the Kathmandu Kingdom royal residence. It has one of the world’s highest concentrations of well-preserved ancient buildings, making for a stunning open-air museum. Although the square was damaged during the 2015 earthquakes, there is still an array of architectural gems to see.More

Sagarmatha National Park

Sagarmatha is the Nepali name for Mount Everest, and the Sagarmatha National Park is where the tallest mountain in the world sits. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of natural wonders: other high mountains, trekking trails, diverse wildlife, and Sherpa culture. It’s Nepal’s most popular trekking destination.More

Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)

The oldest shrine complex in the Kathmandu Valley, Swayambhunath Temple (sometimes called the Monkey Temple) was said to have been built over 2,000 years ago. Situated at the top of a winding staircase, Swayambhunath has one of the city’s best panoramic views. The complex, containing multiple shrines and a stupa, is considered holy to both Buddhists and Hindus.More


Bhaktapur, once medieval Kathmandu Valley’s seat of power, earns its accolade as Nepal’s best-preserved city. The earthquake of 2015 claimed many historic buildings, but the one-time flourishing kingdom is still packed with old-world charm. Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and heart of the city, is well-worth a visit.More

Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar is a small, busy market town perched high in the Himalayas. It’s been on trade routes to Tibet for many centuries, and is now an essential stopping point on hikes in the Everest (Khumbu) region. As it’s located at 11,286 feet (3,440 meters), hikers and climbers stop at Namche to acclimatize before heading higher into the mountains.More

Patan (Lalitpur)

Patan, also called Lalitpur, was once a separate kingdom from Kathmandu, with its own kings, culture, and traditions. Now, it is essentially the southern part of Kathmandu city. With its strong Newari culture, exquisite temples, and vibrant handicrafts traditions, it’s a favorite day trip destination for travelers to Kathmandu.More

Changu Narayan

The Changu Narayan Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu and is thought to be the oldest temple in Nepal. Parts of it date back to the third century, but most of the structure and its decorations date from between the fourth and 18th centuries. It’s uncrowded, and a nice destination from Bhaktapur.More

Garden of Dreams

In the middle of dusty, traffic-clogged central Kathmandu is the neoclassical Garden of Dreams. The garden and pavilions were created in the 1920s as private gardens, but now they’re open to the public and provide a peaceful contrast to the busy streets outside.More

Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park

Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is in the north of the Kathmandu Valley, a chance to enjoy nature close to the city. There are many hiking and mountain biking trails through the park, and on a clear day visitors can see snow-capped mountains to the north. It’s a great place to come for a quick escape from Kathmandu, or to embark on a longer trek.More


Sundarijal is a village in Gokarneshwar Municipality to the north of Kathmandu, and on the edge of the Shivapuri National Park. Sundarijal means “beautiful water,” and the area is known for its waterfalls. Many visitors come to Sundarijal while hiking and mountain biking in the Shivapuri area.More

Krishna Temple (Krishna Mandir)

Patan’s Krishna Temple (Krishna Mandir) is one of Kathmandu’s finest temples, and unlike most in Nepal, which are usually made from carved wood and brick, Krishna is made of finely crafted stone. Built in 1637, it stands unique in the middle of Patan Durbar Square and is a highlight of a visit to Patan.More

Asan Market

The Asan Market area is one of Kathmandu’s most ancient parts. It’s sat at the crossroads of trade routes through the Himalayas for centuries, and is still a busy, thriving, and culturally fascinating part of the central city.More

Trip ideas

Trekking to Mt. Everest Base Camp from Nepal

Trekking to Mt. Everest Base Camp from Nepal

Top 5 Temples in the Kathmandu Valley

Top 5 Temples in the Kathmandu Valley

How to Spend 3 Days in Kathmandu

How to Spend 3 Days in Kathmandu

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Recent reviews from experiences in Kathmandu

Relaxing day tour
coreyhaz, Aug 2022
Day Trip to Bhaktapur and Panauti from Kathmandu
Was a cool way to see two nicer towns near to Kathmandu.
Unique and fascinating way to experience the culture of Kathmandu!
Michael_S, May 2022
Shamanism Tour in Nepal - One-to-one Consultation with Sharmans
Our guide spoke great English, and led us to the shamans' ceremony at a building not far from our hotel.
Great Tour, Great Guide
Jen_T, May 2022
Private half day Medieval Kirtipur town with Newari food tasting trip
His English was very good.
Perfect Combo
Rachel_W, Sep 2022
Guided Private Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour - 4 best UNESCO World Heritage Sites
What a great way to see Kathmandu.
Enlightening Cultural Experience
Richard_M, Aug 2022
Nagarkot Sunrise, Bhaktapur and Patan Durbar Square Tour in Kathmandu
This tour is an absolute must to see Bhaktapur and Patan square and many of the surrounding temples throughout Kathmandu.
Exhilarating, Enjoyable Experience!
Richard_M, Aug 2022
Private Half-Day Chandragiri Cable Car Tour in Kathmandu
Unfortunately, we were not able to see the Himalayan mountain range due to the cloudy conditions, but it was to be expected because it was the rainy season.
Great Tour Guide Experience
Derek_J, Jul 2022
Full Day Nagarkot and Changunarayan Hiking Tour from Kathmandu
Shekhar also got us in to see a Buddhist Lama that was on the top of the mountain.
Absolutely incredible experience, even in the monsoon season (July)
Derek_J, Jul 2022
Landing Everest base camp by Helicopter
Mukti did not want us to go up and not be able to see anything.
Excellent option for 1-day tour of Kathmandu
Matthew_B, May 2022
Private Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour - UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Excellent option if you have a day to see the highlights of Kathmandu.
One of My Favorite Tours Ever
London_V, Jan 2022
Seven World Heritage Day Tour of Kathmandu Valley
You get to see absolutely everything and learn so much.
Inspiring and culinary tour
Daniel_S, Feb 2020
Manaslu Circuit Trek
I did the Kathmandu city tour with the same company 2 days before that tour and I was happy to see that the same guide showed me around again.
jbrickert2019, Oct 2019
Nagarkot and Changu Narayan Hiking Tour from Kathmandu
Highly recommended if you have a short stay in Kathmandu and want to see day-to-day life in Nepal.
Great way to see Kathmandu!
Samantha_R, May 2019
Private Half-Day Tour of Kathmandu Durbar Square and Swayambhunath Temple
This is a great way to see Kathmandu from a local prospective.
I only had a short time to see...
Julie_S, Apr 2018
Seven World Heritage Day Tour of Kathmandu Valley
I only had a short time to see Kathmandu and this was a great way to do it.
Everything you could want to see in...
RachelMarie_M, Aug 2018
Private Full-Day Tour of Kathmandu Valley's UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Everything you could want to see in Kathmandu in one day!
This was an excellent way to see...
Greg_S, Apr 2018
Private Half-Day Tour of Kathmandu Durbar Square and Swayambhunath Temple
This was an excellent way to see Kathmandu!
I was in Kathmandu one day and this...
Aparna J, Oct 2016
Private 6-Hour Kathmandu City Tour
I was in Kathmandu one day and this was an easy way to see the historic sites without trying to navigate the city myself.
A very humbling experience. One year...
Clayton K, Apr 2016
Full Day Nagarkot and Changunarayan Hiking Tour from Kathmandu
One year after the devastating earthquake that hit the Kathmandu village it was good to see that the people have moved on with their lives.
Great tour
yuki k, Nov 2019
Private Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour - UNESCO World Heritage Sites
We learned quite a bit about Nepal in 5 hours We were able to visit 4 main places in Kathmandu.
Good but not really a full day
HK355, Nov 2019
Private Full-Day Tour With Nagarkot Sunrise and Bhaktapur From Kathmandu
There was no commentary but then it was hard to see anything.
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All about Kathmandu

When to visit

Though many associate Nepal’s capital with the bright, snowy climes of the Himalayas, the country’s climate is significantly impacted by its annual monsoon season (June through September). For drier, sunnier days, join trekkers during the April and May shoulder season, or visit in October and November, which is considered Kathmandu's high season.

Nepalese Rupee (NPR)
Time Zone
NPT (UTC +5)
Country Code

People Also Ask

What's Kathmandu famous for?

Kathmandu is an ancient city famous for its combination of Hindu and Buddhist culture. Attractions like Boudhanath Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa (the Monkey Temple), and the Durbar Square, as well as the Kumari Living Goddess, are star attractions in Kathmandu. Unfortunately, Kathmandu is also famous for a destructive earthquake that damaged parts of the city in 2015.

How can I spend a day in Kathmandu?

In one day, pick one neighborhood of the Kathmandu Valley and focus on that, rather than sitting in heavy traffic trying to see too much. Central Kathmandu (the Basantapur Durbar Square area), Patan (also called Lalitpur), Boudhanath and nearby Pashupatinath, and Bhaktapur all have plenty of cultural and historic attractions to keep you occupied for a day.

What tourist attractions does Kathmandu offer?

Kathmandu’s tourist attractions are centered on religious and historic sites. The enormous Boudhanath Stupa is the most sacred Tibetan Buddhist site outside Tibet, while the hilltop Swayambhunath Stupa offers sweeping views (and monkey friends). The Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur Durbar Squares are the centers of the Kathmandu Valley’s previous separate kingdoms.

How can I spend 3 days in Kathmandu?

With three days in Kathmandu you can spend two days in the city and one in the countryside, enjoying mountain views and fresher air. Spend days one and two in central Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur, learning about local history and culture. On day three, hire a driver to take you to Namo Buddha or Nagarkot.

What can people do for fun in Kathmandu?

As well as sightseeing at the Kathmandu Valley’s many cultural highlights, many travelers like to dine out and party in the Thamel district, and shop for handicrafts and souvenirs in Ason or Patan. Thamel is Kathmandu’s nightlife district and although most places shut by around midnight, you can enjoy live music (especially cover bands).

Is Kathmandu safe?

Yes, Kathmandu is generally a safe city. Violent crime is rare, although petty crime is more common. However, the risk from earthquakes in the seismically active country is high, especially due to poorly constructed buildings. Air pollution levels are also high in winter and spring, and often unsafe for those with respiratory problems.

Frequently Asked Questions
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