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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.

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Top 10 attractions in Kathmandu

Thamel
#1

Thamel

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....
Kathmandu Durbar Square (Basantapur)
#2

Kathmandu Durbar Square (Basantapur)

Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, one of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Nepalese capital, was once the location where kings were crowned, and today remains the heart of the city. The square dates back to the 11th century, when the Hanuman Dhoka Palace was constructed, and remained the abode of the Nepalese monarchy until the 19th century. The temples and palaces that still surround the bustling Durbar Square demonstrate the intricacy of Newar architecture, characterized by carved wooden windows and fine brickwork. The structures of the palace complex now house the King Tribhuwan Memorial Museum, the Mahendra Museum and the bizarre Kumari Chowk, a gilded palace where a young girl lives who is worshiped as the human incarnation of the goddess Durga. You can sometimes catch a glimpse of the current Kumari through her palace windows. During the Indra Jatra festival each September, the Kumari is paraded in her chariot through the square....
Boudhanath (Boudha Stupa)
#3

Boudhanath (Boudha Stupa)

Experts disagree on just how old Bodhnath Stupa is, but this site of Buddhist worship is undeniably one of the largest stupas in the world and the most popular site in Nepal. The oldest structure likely dates back to the fifth century AD, and local legend tells of a woman who tricked the king at the time into giving her a large plot of land to build a shrine to the Buddha. It’s unclear whether the Bodhnath Stupa houses a holy Buddhist relic as most such stupas do, but locals will tell you it has a small piece of bone that the Buddha once carried. Whatever the case my be, pilgrims still come here to walk clockwise around the stupa and spin the dozens of prayer wheels lining the brick wall that surrounds the structure....
Pashupatinath
#4

Pashupatinath

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....
Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)
#5

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....
Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park
#6

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....
Asan Market
#7

Asan Market

The Asan Tole Market, also known as Ason Tole or Asan Bazaar, has always been one of Kathmandu’s most strategically well-placed marketplaces. In ancient times, famous trade routes converged here and merchants traveling from India to Tibet would stop at the bazaar for rest and trading. Today, it is produce that is carried from all over the valley to the bazaar. In accordance with the square’s importance of food, the temple of Annapurna Ajima, the goddess of prosperity and abundance presides over the neighborhood. In the form of a filled grain bowl, she looks on from her ornamented pagoda over the market stalls loaded with fresh vegetables, grain, rice, lentils, peas, spices, teas, oils, incense and daily consumer goods. Merchants belonging to the Newari communities worship here and wish for luck in business, good fortune and wealth and both Hindus and Buddhists visit to pay their respects to the goddess....
Sundarijal
#8

Sundarijal

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....
Garden of Dreams
#9

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....
Nagi Gompa (Nangkyi Gompa)
#10

Nagi Gompa (Nangkyi Gompa)

The Nagi Gompa (Nangkyi Gompa) is a Tibetan Buddhist convent located in the Shivapuri National Park, on the northern edge of the Kathmandu Valley. It’s home to more than 100 nuns, which is rare in a region that has many monasteries for men. Visitors are welcome, and many travelers stop here while hiking in the park....

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

Top activities in Kathmandu

Frequently Asked Questions