A bustling and vibrant city, Nepal’s Kathmandu is a visual spectacular with colourful prayer flags, rickshaws and endless rows of stalls selling a variety of goods. There’s enough temples here alone to keep you occupied for weeks, but part of the city’s attraction is the diversity of sights. Here are our top 5 most unmissable attractions.
1. Old Town
Start at Durbar Square, which was once one of Kathmandu’s most beautiful sights but is today under significant reconstruction since a massive earthquake in 2015. It still retains some of its charm and restoration progresses every day. From there, head towards Thamel (Google maps is recommended), meandering through the gorgeous streets of Kathmandu’s old town.
Souvenir shopping has a bad reputation – admit it, did you cringe a little thinking of overpriced tat? Well, wait until you see what is on offer at Thamel. Stunning jewellery, wood carvings (including terrifyingly awesome masks), bronze statues, lanterns and more are on offer here. You could spend hours just looking at these stores – the shopkeepers are unlikely to let you, though, as they know their sales tricks. Be prepared to bargain! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try a shopping tour.
3. Visit a Surrounding Village
While Kathmandu is an exciting and atmospheric place to visit, you’ll be forgiven if you find yourself a bit out of breath after awhile (could be the altitude, could be the frenetic pace). Escape the crowds – but not the altitude – by visiting one of Kathmandu’s outlying villages such as Chapagaon. Not only are they picturesque and interesting, but they were hit hard by the 2015 earthquake. Tourism has been affected in Nepal, and your tourist dollars will greatly help with the mammoth rebuild currently underway.
4. Climb to Swayambhunath Temple
One of the main reasons for Kathmandu’s vibrancy is the fusion of cultures, histories and religions. Here, you will find many beautiful Hindu and Buddhist sites, built more than 1,000 years ago but still of great significance today. One of the best of them all is Swayambhunath Temple – just call it “monkey temple” if you get tongue tied. Expect to make it up 365 steps to make it to this gorgeous 5th Century temple, but it is worth it.
5. Fly around Mount Everest
Nepal’s most famous sight, Mount Everest, attracts thousands of intrepid hikers every year, keen to make it to base camp or even higher! If you’re more the type who gets out of breath climbing up to your guesthouse bedroom (no judgment here), then you may prefer to see the mountain from the air. Frequent scenic flights depart from Kathmandu international airport. If you’re after luxury, there are private flights, otherwise check out carriers such as Yeti Air instead. You might want to leave a couple of days free in your itinerary, as clouds can make flying impossible.