Updated: Jan 7, 2020
No matter if you are in between treks or just visiting the area,you probably wondered what is to do around. Here are some ideas of spending few days in the capital of Nepal without going in the most popular places.
In a previous article we promised to get back to Nepal and the Himalayas. Now, after going to Nepal for the fourth time, we came back with a bunch of new explored places.
The previous article focused more on the people of Nepal, this article focuses on the local, less touristic places. The next one will be about Himalayas, we promise. :)
So, let`s say you have few days to spend in Kathmandu, like we did. Actually, we had more days than planned, but that`s another story. :)
"What is there to be seen?" will most probably be your first question.
First of all you have to decide upon a way of transportation around Kathmandu and the whole valley. Personally, we chose an automatic motorbike, or, in other words, a scooter.
The reason behind? It is cheaper and offers a greater flexibility than a car, considering the traffic there. But, despite the hectic traffic, it all went pretty well. Apart from the dust!! Oh my God, the dust!
But don`t rent a motorbike unless you are an experienced driver. Because this is how the traffic looks like! Pretty rough, huh?
Some other options would be, of course, renting a car, contacting a travel agent and renting a car and a driver ( there are plenty of tourism agencies around there ) or simply using the public buses. But the public buses have the disadvantage of running at specific times and, sometimes, they don`t even get to the places we reached.
Beware, though, Google Maps is not really reliable in Nepal, as a lot of locations have been pinned wrongly. It is better to ask local people or your hotel.
Where to stay
We mentioned in the previous article about this Nepali who had a place to rent on AirBnb. This time, we stayed in a hotel in Thamel area, which, for only 35 USD a night, was pretty decent. The name of the hotel is Thamel Park and it can be found on Booking.com .
Where to go
As mentioned before, there are the usual places to see in Kathmandu, as well as some other, less touristic.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Pashupatinath is one of the four most important religious sites in Asia for devotees of Shiva. This place has a spiritual weight, at least for us. On one side of the Bagmati river there are the funeral ceremonies, where they burn the dead people, on the other side there is some kind of joy festival. Behind all these, there are the Holy Babas practicing their rituals as well.
2. Thamel and Durbar Square
Even though it is a touristic place, it is worth to have a look at Kathmandu`s center and old city. Durbar Square, which means Royal Squares in English, is the generic name used to describe plazas and areas opposite the old royal palaces in Nepal. It consists of temples, idols, open courts, water fountains and more. Before the unification of the country, Nepal consisted of small kingdoms, and Durbar Squares are most prominent remnants of those old kingdoms in Nepal.
We found 2 nice places to have a bite and some drinks. The first one is a roof top terrace, the place where we took the picture below. It is called Heritage Rooftop Cafe and you can find it here.
The second one is our favorite restaurant in Kathmandu, which belongs to a Nepali and has the most delicious Newari food. And costs about 1 USD per dish!!
There is no English version of the menu but what is truly special is that the owner personally greets the you and asks you what you would prefer and then he would make some suggestions for you. And we must say that everything tasted delicious!
It is also close to Thamel, about 20 min walking from Durbar Square. The name is Harati Newari Restro and it is found on Naya Bazaar Marg street. Location can be found here.
3. Swayambhunath Temple
The most famous temple in Kathmandu, also called Monkey Temple. Rising on a hill 3 km West of Kathmandu, Swayambhunath is one of the holiest Buddhist Stupas in Nepal. It is said to have evolved spontaneously when the valley was created out of a primordial lake more than 2,000 years ago. This Stupa is the oldest of its kind in Nepal and has numerous shrines and monasteries on its premises.
4. Boudhanath Stupa
The Buddhist stupa of Boudha Stupa dominates the skyline; it is one of the largest unique structure's stupas in the world. The influx of large populations of refugees from Tibet has seen the construction of over 50 gompas (Tibetan convent) around Boudha. As of 1979, Boudha Stupa is UNESCO World Heritage site.
5. Pullahari Buddhist Monastery
Pullahari is the main seat of His Eminence the fourth Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Lodro Chokyi Nyima. In 1986, the Venerable Dabzang Rinpoche offered land for a monastery to the third Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and requested that he establish a three-year retreat centre for monks of the Karma Kagyu lineage.
We found this place on a website which listed few non-touristic places to see in Kathmandu. We tried to reach it by scooter but due to the unreliable Google Maps in Kathmandu we didn`t managed to get there. However, we got there by mistake, trying to get to another monastery nearby. :)
Anyway, it feels amazing to go to a place where only locals go. And which also looks amazing.
The location can be found here. It is located on a hill, just opposite and close to Kopan Monastery.
Patan is a one of the largest cities in Nepal and is located just across the Bagmati river from Kathmandu. It is literally an hour walk from the airport. Confusingly, it is also known as Lalitpur, both names deriving from the Sanskrit Lalitapattan. Like its larger neighbor, Patan also boasts a Durbar Square full of temples, statues, and palaces and, in addition, has the must-see attraction of Patan Museum.
7. Everest Tea Garden
This was, by far, our favorite day trip in the Kathmandu valley. Lying about 30 km NE of Kathmandu, after a 2 hrs drive by motorbike, through dust and smelly roads, this green scenery looked like an oasis. There was literally no tourist over there. Just us and some tea picking ladies dressed in national costumes. It felt absolutely amazing!
The location can be found here, using Google Maps.
8. Nagarkot village
We mentioned about this in our former article, People of Nepal.
In case you don`t have time to do a trip in the Himalayas, this is a lovely place to get a glimpse of tallest mountain range in the world!
We mentioned Bhaktapur as well in our previous article. If you go to Nagarkot, you can have a stop over in the town of Bhaktapur on the way back. It is quite similar to Patan, also has a Durbar Square, but it is less artistic. So, if you have to choose in between them, we would say Patan is better.
Hope you found our list useful. Next, we invite you to have a look at our photo gallery, for which we used a Sony A7 III camera with a Tamron 28-75 lens.