When visiting Nepal, the capital city Kathmandu is where you’ll most likely end up first. Don’t make it a fleeting stop on your itinerary though. It’s worth staying a while in this captivating place and soaking up its atmosphere. These best things to do in Kathmandu encompass heritage, architecture, culture, spirituality, and shopping.
Best Things To Do In Kathmandu
Walk Through the Old City
From Durbar Square to Thamel, wandering through old Kathmandu’s fascinating maze of narrow streets and alleyways will keep you busy for hours, if not days. You’ll be surprised to discover shrines and statues hidden away in unlikely places. So, grab a map and get exploring!
At Makhan Tole, on the northeastern corner of Durbar Square, head along Siddhidas Marg to the teeming market square of Indra Chowk, where five roads converge. Continue straight along Siddhidas Marg to Kel Tole, which has one of Kathmandu’s most ornate temples – the Seto Machhendranath Temple.
Further along Siddhidas Marg, you’ll reach Ason Tole, the busiest junction in Kathmandu. A mesmerizing mass of people ply this route from morning to night, and produce from all over the Kathmandu Valley is sold there. It’s worth spending some time just absorbing it all. There’s also a magnificent three story temple dedicated to Annapurna, the goddess of abundance, which draws the pious.
Dominating the Kathmandu skyline, the Boudhanath Stupa’s golden spire glimmers in the sunlight from its prominent hilltop setting. One of the largest spherical and unique structure stupas in the world, the colossal monument certainly makes for a stupendous sight. As the original was destroyed by Mughal invaders, the current stupa dates to some time around the 14th and 15th centuries. Steeped in symbolism, each part of its gorgeous architecture and design mirrors the path the Buddha took to spiritual enlightenment.
Many lovely images and statues, as well as monasteries and shrines, surround it, while brightly colored flags flutter overhead. While it is often very crowded and noisy, Boudhanath Stupa is definitely worth visiting and will leave you with an enduring and endearing image of Nepal and its many delights.
Meaning ‘Royal Squares’ in English, it is here in Durbar Square that Kathmandu’s kings of old used to be coronated. Actually consisting of three loosely linked squares, important and impressive buildings, temples, and palaces dot the area.
While most of the current buildings only date to the 17th century, having replaced earlier versions, there is still lots of incredible and ancient-looking architecture on display. This is despite the fact that much of the area was damaged by the disastrous earthquake that struck Kathmandu in 2015. Lying at the heart of the old town, Durbar Square is just one of the many highlights you can expect to see in the City of Temples.
Explore the Backstreets of Kathmandu
If you’d like to get to know the heat of Old Kathmandu in more in depth, Love Kathmandu conducts a special three and a half hour immersive walking tour that will provide you with a diverse range of cultural experiences. These include tea tasting, having a sniff in a spice den, discovering hidden temples, learning about local legends, and standing where the ancient Tibetan caravan route started.
The tour departs daily at 1 p.m. in front of the Himalayan Cafe in Thamel and costs 900 rupees per person.
Love Kathmandu was founded in 2014 to enable visitors to see beyond the usual tourist attractions and delve into Nepal’s culture. All the profits are donated to grassroots charity projects that help support the community.
Although it was founded over a thousand years ago, much of Hanuman Dhoka’s sprawling palace complex actually dates to the 17th century. Once home to the Malla kings of yore, its many beautiful buildings and awe-inspiring temples are dotted with divinely decorated courtyards for you to explore.
Besides its splendid Hanuman, Dancing Shiva, and Narsingha statues, there are lots of excellent stone carvings and important images on display. In addition to this, it boasts a number of fantastic museums which look at the history of the palace and the kings who resided here. With so many artistic and architectural wonders on show, Hanuman Dhoka is not to be missed out on.