December 11, 2020

City Guide: Discover Kathmandu Through These 10 Must-Try Activities

One thing we can assure you about Kathmandu is that you’ll absolutely love it. This Asian city brims with history, tradition, and culture that provides home to some 2.5 million inhabitants and thousands of travellers who come in and out of the city. As Nepal’s epicentre of economic and political life, Kathmandu offers monuments, temples, shopping destinations, luxury amenities, and cosmopolitan cuisine, complementing the beauty of the world-famous mountains and peaks surrounding it.

Reasons to Visit Kathmandu

To better convince you to come and see the city, here are some of the reasons why you shouldn’t pass up the chance to visit Kathmandu.

1. It has a rich history

Part of discovering a new city is learning about its rich history—how it turned out to be the city it is today. Kathmandu has a lot of stories to tell considering that it’s been around for 2,000 years. You can see right here in this city many of Nepal’s important religious and historical sites, including the stunning Narayanhiti Palace Museum that speaks volumes about the Nepalese heritage.

2. It has an amazing culture

History + culture is a surefire combination that can definitely attract tourists to a city, and Kathmandu has that. Whether you’re experiencing its traditional sites and activities or imbibing its rich social side, this city never fails to amaze its onlookers.

3. It has an array of festivals

What better way to learn about a city’s culture and heritage than through its festivals? Kathmandu has an array of festivals that you’d never see elsewhere. From harvest celebrations and pilgrimages to the Festival of Lights, which is an important Hindu festival, there is a plethora of choices all year round that will surely mesmerise you.

4. See the incredible Durbar Square

The Durbar Square is not like anything you’ve seen, and it has been renowned since the ancient times. The square has magnificent temples and palaces, including the Kasthamandap, which is where the city got its name from. In this square alone, there are more than 10 interesting sites though some were damaged during the earthquake in 2015.

5. It offers mountain adventures

What also makes Kathmandu unique is its strategic location under four mighty mountains, including Phulchoki, Shivapuri, Chandragiri, and Nagarjun. The city offers amazing opportunities for bungee jumping and trips to local villages.

What to do in Kathmandu

Now that you know why you should come to Kathmandu, let’s check out the places and things to do in the city so that you can plan your vacation wisely.

1. Visit the Boudhanath Temple

a well-lit temple

This is the largest temple outside of Tibet. Called the Boudhanath Temple or Stupa, it serves as the centre of the Tibetan culture of Kathmandu, featuring rich Buddhist symbolism. It is located in Bouda and is easy to spot as it dominates the skyline with amazing architecture. But wait till you see the interior that is adorned with an extraordinary array of frescoes and structures that represent the Buddhist faith.

2. Explore the Pashupatinath Temple

a temple

See for yourself one of Asia’s four most important sites dedicated to the Lord Shiva. The Pashupatinath Temple dates back to around 500 AD, but it has been a worship site since 500 years before that. Stretching along the banks of the Bagmati River, is the considered as the most extensive temple complex in all of Nepal. Make sure to admire its amazing architecture with the main temple built in pagoda style and its roof gilded in intricate wood carvings and silver. And when you visit it, you’ll have the chance to witness the fascinating daily rituals of the monks in the temple.

3. Climb the top of Swayambhu

Kathmandu: monkeys gathering together

You may not find it familiar because it’s also called the ‘Monkey Temple’. When you come here, you better do some stretching because you’ll need to conquer 300 rock-hewn steps to get to the temple. However, you’ll also be rewarded with the very best panorama of the city. You can explore the premises and see the monkeys while learning more about this sacred place.

4. Visit Thamel District

trinkets being sold in the street market

You can best explore Thamel District on foot because it has a lot of people and can be chaotic. This is also reason for you to be mindful of your surroundings and watch your belongings. Thamel is one of Kathmandu’s most popular places to visit where you can find shops, eateries, as well as the Garden of Dreams.

5. Hike the Shivapuri National Park

cascading waterfall

Kathmandu is not all just about temples and palaces because you can also find here the Shivapuri National Park that offers a great respite from the pressures of city life. Since it offers natural sights, make sure to take a hike to the top of Shivapuri Hill Station, which rises to 9,000 feet. There are also trails that cross through forests, summits, and vistas. You can spend an entire day here to fully enjoy the experience.

6. Fly above Everest

view from the window of a flying airplane

Yep! You surely can do that in Kathmandu, which is far better than just hiking it. There are chartered plane flights that offer incredibly low rates, flying you out to see some of the most incredible views of the world’s tallest mountain.

7. Indulge in some momos

Kathmandu: local dumplings with sauce

Food in Kathmandu is superb! One of the must-try dishes is called momo, which is a Nepalese type of dumpling and a favourite of the locals. It’s affordable and delicious that was made popular by the Newar community. Don’t worry about how to find it in the city because every little restaurant and shop serves delicious momos that you won’t ever forget.

8. Explore the backstreets of Kathmandu

Kathmandu: backstreets and alleys

There are many walking tours that take you to explore Kathmandu, but you can most certainly do it by yourself by following this guide. Go discovering hidden temples, sniff in a spice den, taste different types of teas, learn about local legends, and stand where the ancient Tibetan caravan started. This is an experience that lets you get off the beaten path and discover Kathmandu in a more local and interesting light.

9. Enjoy rafting

A rafting boat on the river

Bring out your adrenalin-rush-addicted self and experience whitewater rafting in Kathmandu. With so many rivers in the region, you’ll definitely be hungry for some true adventure. If you prefer something lighter, you can kayak or trek. However, we think you’d definitely be interested in going on a rafting tour that usually takes between 1 and 10 days! You can just imagine the itinerary!

10. See Durbar Square

Kathmandu: a city square with people and structures

We’ve mentioned Durbar Square as one of the reasons you should visit Kathmandu. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is known for showcasing craftsmen and artists. You can see a palace here, while the rest of the area has gone through several occasions of reconstruction. More than that, you can also find Kumari Chok, which is one of Nepal’s most interesting attractions.

Kathmandu is definitely a must-visit place for everyone. Its combination of religious-historical sites and modernity makes it an interesting city to explore anytime.

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