Kathmandu Valley, the beating heart of Nepal, is full of irresistible sights, smells and sounds. At every turn, you can see historic temples and palaces, catch glimpses of the Himalayas, or enjoy the many festivals such as Rato Macchendranath or Bhote Jatra that are celebrated on the streets. A fascinating combination of the old and the new, Kathmandu valley is home to six UNESCO world heritage sites. Apart from the major attractions, you can enjoy the valley’s Newari culture, especially its mouth-watering dishes such as momos and chhoe-la.
Thamel, the epicenter of tourist activity in Kathmandu, is where you will find almost everything you desire. You can shop for handmade artifacts, pashmina garments, music, and Nepali tea and coffee. A wide variety of restaurants and bars makes this an ideal place to hang out after a full day of sightseeing.
A walk from Thamel to Ason will take you through bazaars bustling with commercial activity reminiscent of an old Kathmandu. Walk on narrow stone-paved lanes, braving rickshaw horns, motorcycles, and strong pungent smells. Revel in the variety of life that you will brush up against.
Kathmandu Durbar Square is a short walk from Ason. This trip can also be done by rickshaw.
Kathmandu Durbar Square is where you will find the home of Kumari, the living goddess of Nepal. Hanuman Dhoka palace is where Nepal’s kings lived until Narayanhiti was built, and houses a museum that chronicles Nepal’s royal history. The square bustles with activity and you can see vegetable markets, and stalls selling Nepali artifacts. You can walk to the square from Thamel, an experience in itself.
Patan Durbar Square is still the place to get wood, stone and metal carvings as it houses a large community of carvers. A quaint museuminside the square has carefully preserved Nepal’s ancient history, and the bird’s eye views into the square from the many rooftop cafes are extraordinary.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square has dramatic architecture, including a gate guarded by two huge lions, and a magnificient palace with 55 windows. You can visit the traditional potters and wood carvers of Bhaktapur.
The Pashupatinath temple is one of the most sacred sites for Hindus. Built in the pagoda style, the temple sits on the banks of the River Bagmati, and is a memorial to Lord Shiva. Here you can find sadhu babas in their colorful orange and yellow, devotees lined up to pray, colorful flowers and holy offerings, and cremation ceremonies at Arya Ghat, on the bank of the Bagmati.
Swayambhunath stupa sits high on a hilltop, and is a good vantage point to see all of Kathmandu. You will also be entertained by the mischievous monkeys that live around the temple.
Bouddhanath is an important pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists. The stupa looks beautiful at night when lamps are lighted. The place is spiritually alive, with monks, nuns, and devotees who come here and chant prayers, light lamps, serve up offerings, or seek guidance on their spiritual journey.
You can also spend the night at Nagarkot (1 hour away from Kathmandu) for a panoramic view of the sun rising on the mountains, take a mountain flight from the domestic airport, make a short rafting trip on the Trishuli, or enjoy a night of gambling at one of the casinos in Kathmandu.
Sample Itinerary: Kathmandu
(This tour is commonly added to the trekking itineraries in the following section)
Day 1: Airport pickup & transfer to hotel, dinner and cultural program in the evening
Day 2: Sightseeing– Pashupati/Boudha/Patan/Swayambhu/Kathmandu Durbar Square
Day 3: Sightseeing–Bhaktapur, Trip to Nagarkot, evening free for shopping in Durbar Marg or Thamel
Day 4: Drop to airport
A Taste of Nepal 8 days / 7 nights (Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Chitwan)
Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu. Dinner and cultural program
Day 2: Sightseeing in Kathmandu - Pashupatinath/Boudha/Patan/Swayambhu
Day 3: Drive to Chitwan
Day 4: Day in the Jungle (Jungle Safari, Elephant Ride, Bird Watching)
Day 5: Drive to Pokhara. Explore the lakeside, or boat on the Fewa Lake
Day 6: Sightseeing in Pokhara – Davis Falls/Mahendra Gufa/ Bindabasini Temple/ Peace Pagoda
Day 7: Return to Kathmandu. Evening free for shopping
Day 8: Drop off at airport