Thoughts On My Visit To Kathmandu, Nepal

I’ve just wrapped up a three day visit to Kathmandu, Nepal. Kathmandu has long been on the list of places I want to see. I’m happy to have finally been, even if it was structured as a stopover.

So, what did I make of our three days in Kathmandu? The city itself was insane, the sights were incredible, and the people were friendly. I’m happy to have seen Kathmandu, would recommend visiting, but don’t need to return anytime soon. At some point I’d love to explore other parts of Nepal, as the landscape is among the most stunning in the world, and there’s great trekking.

Let me expand on the above a bit:

The city is insane

I’ve been to a lot of chaotic cities, though Kathmandu ranks up there in terms of how hectic it was, which I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting it to be calm, per se, but I also wasn’t expecting it to feel like parts of Delhi or Mumbai.

The traffic was horrible, the city was dirty, and not once was I at ease when walking around the city. Not because I felt like I was going to get robbed, but because I always felt like I was a second from getting hit by a car or motorcycle.

Kathmandu-3

I also didn’t find the city as such to be terribly charming, aside from some of the major attractions.

Kathmandu-5

I should note that Kathmandu had a massive earthquake last year, and the damage is still very much visible. Tons of buildings have external support holding them up. There’s also trash all over the streets, the roads are in horrible condition, etc. I’m not sure if that’s due to the earthquake or has always been the case in the city, but…

Kathmandu-9

The sites and people were great

I can’t say enough good things about everyone we interacted with. They were hospitable, friendly, and seemed honest. The people were one of my favorite parts of Nepal, and I felt safe and comfortable at all times (well, aside from living in constant fear of getting hit by a car).

We had two full days in Kathmandu, and did half day tours both days, which I enjoyed immensely.

Nepal has both Hindu and Buddhist influences. The three places we visited that most stood out to me were Bhaktapur, Swayambhunath, and Pashupatinath Temple. All three were interesting in their own way.

Bhaktapur is an ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, that still has tens of thousands of residents.

Kathmandu-4

Kathmandu-12

Swayambhunath is a complex with a stupa, shrines, temples, and even a monastery.

Kathmandu-1

Kathmandu-2

What I found most interesting, however is Pashupatinath. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, though perhaps most significantly for me, they cremate people there. Like, all day every day. Our guide explained “we’re going to a place where they cremate people out in the open on the river.”

I’m a bit squeamish, to put it mildly, and the thought of a paper cut makes me feel like I’m going to puke, let alone the thought of watching (and smelling) people be cremated. Now, I realize in Hindu culture death is viewed somewhat differently than in other cultures. Nonetheless I figured I’d be squeamish about the whole thing.

Kathmandu-11

To my surprise, I wasn’t. Instead it gave me a new perspective on death. Seeing this was my favorite part of our visit to Kathmandu, despite my initial hesitations.

Kathmandu-8

Oh, Kathmandu also has a great Hyatt

Topic change from cremation. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, which has to be the world’s best Category 1 Hyatt. We got an upgrade to a suite, the hotel has a great club lounge, as a Globalist member you get breakfast in the restaurant, etc.

Hyatt-Regency-Kathmandu-Nepal - 14

Furthermore, the hotel was such an oasis. It wasn’t far from the center of the city, but was tranquil.

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Kathmandu-6

Bottom line

I’m happy I had the opportunity to visit Kathmandu — it was different than I expected, both in a good and bad way. There’s a lot to see in the city, and I’m sure we could have spent another week touring all the sites. However, the city is also significantly more chaotic than I was expecting.

So I’d definitely recommend a visit, though I don’t need to return to the city anytime soon (or perhaps more accurately, there are other places I’d like to see before returning). I’m now in Bhutan, which is just a short distance away, but has a completely different vibe.

If you’ve visited Kathmandu, what was your experience like?

Thoughts On My Visit To Kathmandu, Nepal

I’ve just wrapped up a three day visit to Kathmandu, Nepal. Kathmandu has long been on the list of places I want to see. I’m happy to have finally been, even if it was structured as a stopover.

So, what did I make of our three days in Kathmandu? The city itself was insane, the sights were incredible, and the people were friendly. I’m happy to have seen Kathmandu, would recommend visiting, but don’t need to return anytime soon. At some point I’d love to explore other parts of Nepal, as the landscape is among the most stunning in the world, and there’s great trekking.

Let me expand on the above a bit:

The city is insane

I’ve been to a lot of chaotic cities, though Kathmandu ranks up there in terms of how hectic it was, which I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting it to be calm, per se, but I also wasn’t expecting it to feel like parts of Delhi or Mumbai.

The traffic was horrible, the city was dirty, and not once was I at ease when walking around the city. Not because I felt like I was going to get robbed, but because I always felt like I was a second from getting hit by a car or motorcycle.

Kathmandu-3

I also didn’t find the city as such to be terribly charming, aside from some of the major attractions.

Kathmandu-5

I should note that Kathmandu had a massive earthquake last year, and the damage is still very much visible. Tons of buildings have external support holding them up. There’s also trash all over the streets, the roads are in horrible condition, etc. I’m not sure if that’s due to the earthquake or has always been the case in the city, but…

Kathmandu-9

The sites and people were great

I can’t say enough good things about everyone we interacted with. They were hospitable, friendly, and seemed honest. The people were one of my favorite parts of Nepal, and I felt safe and comfortable at all times (well, aside from living in constant fear of getting hit by a car).

We had two full days in Kathmandu, and did half day tours both days, which I enjoyed immensely.

Nepal has both Hindu and Buddhist influences. The three places we visited that most stood out to me were Bhaktapur, Swayambhunath, and Pashupatinath Temple. All three were interesting in their own way.

Bhaktapur is an ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, that still has tens of thousands of residents.

Kathmandu-4

Kathmandu-12

Swayambhunath is a complex with a stupa, shrines, temples, and even a monastery.

Kathmandu-1

Kathmandu-2

What I found most interesting, however is Pashupatinath. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, though perhaps most significantly for me, they cremate people there. Like, all day every day. Our guide explained “we’re going to a place where they cremate people out in the open on the river.”

I’m a bit squeamish, to put it mildly, and the thought of a paper cut makes me feel like I’m going to puke, let alone the thought of watching (and smelling) people be cremated. Now, I realize in Hindu culture death is viewed somewhat differently than in other cultures. Nonetheless I figured I’d be squeamish about the whole thing.

Kathmandu-11

To my surprise, I wasn’t. Instead it gave me a new perspective on death. Seeing this was my favorite part of our visit to Kathmandu, despite my initial hesitations.

Kathmandu-8

Oh, Kathmandu also has a great Hyatt

Topic change from cremation. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, which has to be the world’s best Category 1 Hyatt. We got an upgrade to a suite, the hotel has a great club lounge, as a Globalist member you get breakfast in the restaurant, etc.

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Hyatt-Regency-Kathmandu-Nepal - 14

Furthermore, the hotel was such an oasis. It wasn’t far from the center of the city, but was tranquil.

Kathmandu-6

Bottom line

I’m happy I had the opportunity to visit Kathmandu — it was different than I expected, both in a good and bad way. There’s a lot to see in the city, and I’m sure we could have spent another week touring all the sites. However, the city is also significantly more chaotic than I was expecting.

So I’d definitely recommend a visit, though I don’t need to return to the city anytime soon (or perhaps more accurately, there are other places I’d like to see before returning). I’m now in Bhutan, which is just a short distance away, but has a completely different vibe.

If you’ve visited Kathmandu, what was your experience like?

24 Best Places to Visit in Kathmandu, Nepal

Here is the list of the best places to visit in Kathmandu for first time visitors.

Discover the best places to visit in Kathmandu, Nepal, including Thamel, Durbar Square, Garden of Dreams, Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathesimbu Stupa, and much more. This travel guide includes tips on places you must-visit on your first visit to Kathmandu.

Kathmandu is a city with soul, dotted with an endless number of stupas, temples, local markets, streets are lined with shops of all kinds, same as by eateries and coffee shops. It is easy to get lost there in a couple of days without actually seeing any of its top sights – this is how captivating Kathmandu is.

What was our idea before writing this post on the best places to visit in Kathmandu?

Usually, when traveling to a new city or country, we want to go deeper. Still, at the same time, we like to see all the must-visit sights together with minor attractions that sometimes take only a few minutes of our time.

Our hobby is to pin all those spots on a map, and then we navigate around the city and erase places we’ve already visited.

This detailed travel guide includes the best places a traveler should visit in Kathmandu – the more time you have, the more spots you’ll be able to see.

Fortunately, most of Kathmandu’s top attractions are well-accessible on foot and close to each other.

To reach places that are further away, consider taking a local bus, which is an adventure on own, or calling a cab. The rule of thumb is to agree on a price before you jump in.

VISITING KATHMANDU FOR THE FIRST TIME

Just after we left the arrival hall of Kathmandu’s airport, we immediately felt the overwhelming buzz of this bustling capital city of Nepal.

Kathmandu is a vibrant city in Nepal covered with smog, dust, loud horn honking is coming from every direction. Various smells are wafting from food stalls along the road, but this is exactly the vibe we love about Asia.

Pedestrians don’t have any rights here, so be always alert, and don’t assume that cars will yield to you when crossing the road. Motorbikes are allowed to drive almost everywhere in the city, even in the narrowest streets, and will leave you covered in the dust behind.

Kathmandu was hit by a strong earthquake of 7.8 magnitudes (several aftershocks began immediately after the initial quake) back in April 2015 as other areas in Nepal, and you can still see remnants of its destructive power.

But, Nepal’s people are working hard to restore streets and houses, and Kathmandu certainly has its appeal for first-time travelers. If this is your first time in Kathmandu, get inspired by our list of best places to visit.

We’ve put together the top attractions and must-see sights. In case you have more time and are interested in activities that a traveler can do even outside the city limits, check out our post Best things to do in Kathmandu.

Traffic in Kathmandu is a huge culture shock for first-time visitors.

THAMEL

It is impossible to start the must-visit list of Nepal’s capital without mentioning Thamel, the most popular tourist area packed with hotels, restaurants, street vendors, and small shops.

We spent a night here after our arrival and stayed a few more after coming back from Annapurna Circuit.

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Thamel is safe (use your common sense, though). The area is slowly changing. It even became a no-go zone for vehicles since October 2017, so the visit should be more pleasant for pedestrians.

Visiting Thamel is about the atmosphere.

Wander around the streets, forget about the noise, get lost, and you’ll soon find yourself in a different world with a traditional way of life that is not that obvious at first sight. Explore abandoned alleys, hidden temples with unique architecture.

Thamel is the tourist area in the heart of Kathmandu.

DURBAR SQUARE

Durbar Square is undoubtedly the most popular attraction in Kathmandu. This must-visit place is a UNESCO designated area since 1979, which is now recovering from the 2015 earthquake. The entrance fee for foreign visitors is 1000 NPR, and the increased fee should go to the square’s restoration.

To be honest, visiting Durbar Square two years after the earthquake, we expected it to be in a better state already, so we can only hope the Nepali government will work hard to restore it.

Upon arrival, you will get a map at the counter, which shows the sights structural damage; green color means the building is in good condition, red means it’s barely standing, or it is gone, yellow is something in between.

The dominant colors on the map are red and yellow.

Despite this fact, Durbar Square is still a must-see in Kathmandu.

It is a complex of palaces, statues, temples, shrines, and detailed frescoes. You can walk around the old city by yourself or hire a local guide; just be aware of scams and make sure your guide is the licensed one.

A short walk from Durbar Square is a food market with oriental spices, dried fishes, veggies, fruits, and meat.

JAGANNATH TEMPLE

Another temple you cannot miss during your wanderings around Kathmandu’s Durbar Square is Jagannath Temple, which is a significant building for many reasons.

The painting covers exterior walls, the unusual two-story appearance, or its old age (this structure is more than 400 years old) add to the fact that this shrine is easily the best place to see in Kathmandu.

BASANTAPUR TOWER

Another highlight that stands on Durbar Square, Basantapur Tower, was badly damaged during the 2015 earthquake. Still, fortunately, the building was restored, and nowadays, visitors can admire the exterior and the interior.

This 9-story building comes from the 18th century, and it will immediately catch your attention.

Although you have to walk the narrow staircase to reach the top of the tower, it is well worth it, and your reward will be the view of the square and historical buildings from above.

TALEJU TEMPLE

The very center of Durbar Square is taken by Taleju Temple, one of the most prominent buildings in Kathmandu. The temple has an unusual floor plan, and it was dedicated to the Goddess of Malla kings, Devi Taleju Bhawani.

Since time immortal was the entrance restricted to kings, but nowadays, not even Hindu people can enter the shrine, except for a few days in the year.

Visitors must be grateful for the opportunity to admire this temple from outside.

HANUMAN DHOKA TEMPLE

Kathmandu’s Durbar Square is a display of many ancient temples, statues, and smaller squares that it is often hard to focus on each site individually. If there’s only one attraction you cannot miss, it is Hanuman Dhoka Temple.

The oldest part of the temple dates back to the 16th century and is one of the most important structures in the Royal Palace that was once the seat of Malla kings and the Shah dynasty.

The statue of Hanuman guards the entrance to the palace, and you cannot overlook it because it is also a popular photo spot.

By the way, dhoka means doors in the local language. Withing Hanuman Dhoka Temple are many more notable places, such as Kala Bhairav, a large colorful idol or Tribhuvan Museum.

Source https://onemileatatime.com/visiting-kathmandu-nepal/

Source https://onemileatatime.com/visiting-kathmandu-nepal/

Source https://www.laidbacktrip.com/posts/places-to-visit-in-kathmandu

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