Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and a bustling city where you can find ancient temples and modern buildings side by side. It’s also called the ‘city of temples’ since there exist numerous temples and shrines all over the city. The busy metropolitan city of Kathmandu is the cultural hub of modern Nepal and the most popular tourist destination. Kathmandu is a big valley divided into three queen cities Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. If you are arriving in Kathmandu for the very first time then few things might turn you down like the busy traffic, dust (remember to put on face mask). Nevertheless, people are friendly and helpful and you will find lots of things to do in Kathmandu Nepal. Sightseeing in Nepal Kathmandu is a great travel experience visiting the many Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries scattered all over the Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites where regular tourists go for local sightseeing in Kathmandu. Here are the top 10 things to do in Kathmandu.
Sightseeing at Kathmandu
This is what all the everyday tourists go visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Sightseeing places in Kathmandu include Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambhunath ‘Monkey Temple’, Pashupatinath, Boudhanath, Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square. All of these attractions in Kathmandu Nepal which are all UNESCO sites can’t be covered in one day so two days are required. Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square were the seats of royalties in the past and have many age-old palaces, temples, shrines and museums. The city of Bhaktapur has still retained it’s medieval aspect with old houses, narrow alleyways and ancient temples where modernity hasn’t still touched. Bhaktapur is eleven kilometers so a separate day is required for sightseeing in Bhaktapur. Swayambhunath is a Buddhist stupa located atop a hill closer to Kathmandu City with the perfect view of Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding mountains. Due to many monkeys residing in it’s forested area, tourist popularly calls it as ‘Monkey Temple. Pashupatinath is one of the most sacred and important Hindu temple of Lord Shiva located at the banks of the holy Bagmati River. The temple is closer to Tribhuvan International Airport. One sees Hindu funeral rituals at the banks of the Bagmati River. Closer to Pashupatinath is Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist Stupa in Kathmandu Valley. It’s a huge stupa and circling it around chatting prayers is what all the Buddhists, locals and tourists do upon getting there. Sightseeing at Kathmandu is a must-do activity while in Kathmandu city.
Everest Mountain Flight
Everest mountain flight tours are the most common and popular activity for tourists. With departures daily early in the morning, the tour is to see Mt. Everest and other world’s highest mountains by fixed-wing aircraft. Mount Everest from flight starts/ends from the domestic section of the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Mount Everest flight tour from Kathmandu is about one hour flight into the Khumbu region. The first flight is as early as 6:30 am in the morning as per the season so the tour start-up time is around 5.15. If weather permits, you will be at your hotel around 9 am after finishing it all. Mt Everest scenic flight Kathmandu is a quick tour of Mt. Everest where you get to witness some of the world’s highest peaks like Lhotse, Nuptse and Mt. Everest itself as well as the Tibetan plateau far behind Everest.
Everest Helicopter tour
If you wish to be more adventurous and take your Everest experience to another level then try out the Everest helicopter tour in Nepal. Everest base camp heli tour is to witness Mt. Everest more closely and spend more time in the Khumbu region. Everest base camp tour by helicopter is a journey where you fly to the Khumbu region on a chartered helicopter. Though more expensive than Everest flight by plane, it’s the trip of a lifetime. Everest base camp helicopter landing tour also starts early in the morning with a flight to Lukla by helicopter. After refueling it flies to Everest following the Everest Base Camp trekking trail. After flying past the Everest Base Camp and the great Khumbu Glacier, Helicopter tour to Everest base camp lands at the most popular Himalayan viewpoint ‘Kalapathar’ at 5,644 meters. Observe Mt. Everest and it’s adjoining peaks from Kalapathar as if you can climb it instantly. After Kalapathar fly to Hotel Everest View – a hotel at the world’s highest point, for a breakfast then fly back to Kathmandu. mount Everest base camp helicopter tour is one of the most sought luxury tours of Nepal.
Explore around Thamel
Thamel is the central tourist hub in Kathmandu. It’s a traveller’s paradise where every possible facility are available from hotels, lodges, night clubs to bars, hostels, handicraft shops, groceries, restaurants, trekking equipment shops, travel agencies; you name it Thamel have them all. Most backpackers or tourists choose to stay in Thamel since all the travel-related facilities are there. Arriving first time in Thamel you will be dazzled by the many signboards of restaurants, hotels, pubs, trek agencies. Don’t panic and stay for one or two days, you will begin to love Thamel. The best way to explore Thamel is by walking it’s busy alleys and streets. Thamel is located at central Kathmandu City and in fact the most happening place of the city. You can find cheap hotels in Thamel like the basic hostels to 4-star hotels in Thamel Kathmandu. It’s also the best spot for the last minutes shopping if you have left anything back home for trekking in the Himalayas.
Nagarkot sunrise tour
Situated at an altitude of 2175 meters the hill of Nagarkot is the most popular Himalayan viewpoint in Kathmandu City. One can observe panoramic views of the Himalayas from Nagarkot view tower including Mt. Everest far behind the horizon to the northeast. Tourists and locals alike love visiting Nagarkot as a day excursion where locals mostly go for picnic programs. Sunrise over the Himalayas from Nagarkot is most exciting to watch. Nagarkot is filled up with many hotels from tourist-class to luxury hotels in Nagarkot. Best hotels in Nagarkot are Mystic Mountain, Country Villa, Himalayan villa etc. Another popular activity in Nagarkot is hiking around Nagarkot. you can start up from Nagarkot hill and hike all the way down passing along lush green forests, farmlands, small villages giving you a glimpse of country life outside Kathmandu City. Nagarkot Dhulikhel hike is one such hike exploring the beautiful nature around Nagarkot and observing spectacular Himalayan views on the way.
Try the local foods
Whilst visiting any country and your tour won’t be complete if you didn’t try out the local cuisines. The same applies while you are in Kathmandu. There are many delicious and interesting dishes to try out and doesn’t matter if you do it at high-end restaurants or local eateries in the streets. Most famous food in Nepal is ‘Dal Bhat’ which is rice and lentils topping up with veggies and meat sometimes. It’s the daily meal for Nepalese and they sort of can’t live without them. Most probably during trek, you will have Dal Bhat most of the time which gives more energy for walking. Thus, the popular phrase ‘Dal Bhat power, twenty-four hour’ means you will have more energy if you take Dal Bhat during the trek and walk more. Another most popular food of Nepal is momo. Momo is a sort of dumpling made from dough with minced meat filled up inside usually of buffalo, chicken, pork and vegetables sometimes. You can find momo almost anywhere in Kathmandu from luxury restaurants to roadside eateries. Other foods to try out while in Kathmandu are sel roti (sort of Doughnut), Choila – grilled meat, Kwati – mixed beans soap, Yomari – rice flour dumpling stuffed with molasses, Sukuti – dried meat, Sekuwa – grilled and skewered lamb, chicken, pork, or goat meat. popular local drinks in Nepal are Chyang – a fermented rice drink which much like a mild cider, Aila – is the most strong alcoholic beverage, Tonga – brewed millet and taken with hot water.
Day hiking in Kathmandu
There are several great 1 day hiking in Kathmandu. Since Kathmandu is a valley there are plenty of opportunities to hike at it’s valley rim at it’s hillsides. The hillsides of Kathmandu provide a great mountain panorama and the hike is past farmlands, villages, forested areas etc. Basically, you will see the countryside of Kathmandu during one day hiking in Kathmandu valley. Day hikes from Kathmandu include Nagarkot hiking trail, Nagarkot to Dhulikhel hiking, Nagarkot Changu Naryan hike, Namobuddha hiking, Champadevi Hiking. For day hikes from Kathmandu at the shortest distance from Kathmandu City is Nagarjun hiking which provides a good view of the entire Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding mountains. Nagarkot panoramic hiking trail is to watch the sunrise over the Himalayas then hike to another popular Himalayan viewpoint Dhulikhel. For longer trek up to 3 days then Chisapani Nagarkot hiking route. It’s a 3 days trek with the first stop at Chisapani and second at Nagarkot then drive back to Kathmandu from Nagarkot after the trek on the last day.
Mountain biking in Nepal Kathmandu
There are lots of mountain bike shop in Kathmandu where one can get the latest versions of mountain bikes. Mountain biking in and around the Kathmandu Valley is a great experience. You bike along farmlands, small villages, small highway towns, small rivers etc. mountain bike trails Kathmandu includes Kopan monastery trail, Nagarkot to Bhaktapur, Kakani to Kapan. Mountain bike price in Kathmandu depends upon the brands you choose. But no need to worry there are many mountain biking companies who will organize the tour. Besides you can also hire mountain bikes in and around Thamel and explore the city on your own. The best will be let your tour be organized which includes a mountain bike, helmet and a mountain biking guide.
Bungee jumping in Kathmandu
Bungee jumping near Kathmandu is not inside the city but you need to drive to Last Resort – the most popular spot for Bungee jump. The resort is located closer to Nepal and Tibet/China border and is about 100 km from Kathmandu. Bungee jump is popular among Nepalese locals and foreigners alike. There is a group departure almost every day as per the tourist season. The tour starts from Thamel from where you drive to the Last Resort. Commence the jump and return back to Kathmandu the same day. Your cost includes the transfers by bus to/from Last Resort, bungee jump program, lunch.
Explore around backstreets and markets in Kathmandu
Besides all the temples and monasteries and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there are more things to explore around Kathmandu. For enthusiastic travelers or explore they can find interesting things happening at every corner of the city be it a holy cow roaming around the street or some rituals being performed on the temples. Westerners will be amazed by the sights and sounds of Kathmandu which is very much different than the western world. So be brave and grab your camera and explore the streets of Kathmandu on your own. You can find photographic opportunities every now and then. Nepalese people are friendly and helpful and not to worry about yourself being at risk venturing the streets of Kathmandu on your own. In fact, locals will guide you if you lost your way with a smile. Popular places to discover will be the age-old marketplace of Ason. Ason is located next to Thamel and is just about 10 minutes walk. After Ason you will soon connect with Kathmandu Durbar Square which lies next to Ason market. Alternatively, you can go walk up to the Monkey Temple Swayambhunath from Thamel which is about half an hour’s walk. Anyway, it’s much better to explore the city on foot and to actually see the daily lives of people living in Kathmandu and much more.