7 Awesome Things to Do in Kathmandu

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Home to the highest mountain peak (Mt. Everest), Nepal isn’t famous only for its natural beauty, but also for cultural history. And while you’re unsure of things to do in Kathmandu, here comes your go-to list.

Check out my Postcard from Kathmandu!

Although the Kathmandu city itself has many points of interest, there are many places to visit in Kathmandu Valley too. Along with the Kathmandu city, the valley consists of the town of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, and they have many Hindu and Buddhist pilgrim sites. Among the popular ones are the temple of Pashupatinath shivling and the Boudhanath stupa.

OK, here goes the list of fun things to do in Kathmandu!

#1: Boudhanath Stupa

Boudhanath Stupa has a specific importance in the history of Nepal, being the largest stupa.
Boudhanath Stupa has a specific importance in the history of Nepal, being the largest stupa.

Situated on the northeastern side of Kathmandu, Boudhanath Stupa is one of the most important among the Kathmandu attractions. Being the largest stupa in Nepal, Boudhanath is a center for Buddhist meditation and pilgrimage. The place, although, damaged by an earthquake, opened after repairs and thousands of Tibetan Buddhists (and locals) visit it every day.

Check out my Postcard from Boudhanath Stupa!

The stupa is one of the Heritage sites of UNESCO, and one striking feature is a pair of eyes drawn on all the four sides. The Boudhanath Stupa eyes represent the eyes of Buddha looking over the region. Many monasteries surround the stupa and devotees come in the evenings to pray and circumambulate it.

You too can do so, but remember to walk around in the clockwise direction.

#2: Pashupatinath Temple

The Pashupatinath Temple is an UNESCO Heritage Site and the most important Hindu temple in Nepal.
The Pashupatinath Temple is an UNESCO Heritage Site and the most important Hindu temple in Nepal.

In developing tourism of Kathmandu, religion plays a significant role, and another religious structure worth your time is the Pashupatinath Temple. It is situated on the banks of Bagmati River and is the most important Hindu temple in Nepal.

Although entry of non-Hindus isn’t permissible in the main temple, anyone can wander around the campus, take photographs and also blessings from the sadhus (Hindu saints). The importance of Pashupatinath Temple can be understood from the fact that it attracts a large number of people from the Indian subcontinent also.

Check out my Postcard from Pashupatinath Temple!

If you happen to be on time, you can witness the aarti (prayers) that takes place every evening at 6. The nearby river bank also acts as the cremation ground, and you can observe the priests, perform the last rites early in the morning.

An interesting fact about the temple itself is that it stood unharmed in the 2015 earthquake which destroyed the nearby areas. The quake caused significant damages to the other seven UNESCO heritage sites in the area of Kathmandu Valley, but nothing happened to this temple.

#3: Durbar Square

Durbar Square in Kathmandu is home to palaces and many ancient temples.
Durbar Square in Kathmandu is home to palaces and many ancient temples.

Now that you visited the Pashupatinath Temple and also the Boudhanath Monastery let’s see what to do in Kathmandu next. Visit Durbar Square to get a glimpse of the ancient kingdom. Durbar Square is the place near the Royal Palace, and there are three of them in the Kathmandu Valley. While the one in Kathmandu is the most significant, the other two at Bhaktapur and Patan (Lalitpur) also are architectural marvels.

Read more: Explore the Kathmandu Durbar Square!

The Kathmandu Durbar Square consists of palaces and many ancient temples, and it also witnessed the coronation of many kings in its history. This UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the other two squares are among the major points of interest in Kathmandu.

The Patan Durbar Square also is known for beautiful stone carvings and art on wood. The area houses temples, palaces, statues and along with the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, these sites give you a chance to peek into the traditional art of the region.

The Kathmandu Durbar Square also is the home of the only Living Goddess. A girl is chosen by people to be the goddess, and you may be lucky to see her at the window of Kumari Bahal.

#4: A visit to Patan

Patan is a small town with a historic charm that also has a Durbar Square.
Patan is a small town with a historic charm that also has a Durbar Square.

Patan (old name – Lalitpur) is a small town about half an hour drive away from Kathmandu. Similar to Kathmandu, Patan also is home to many small temples, stupas, and monasteries. And there also is the Durbar Square which I mentioned earlier.

The place has historical charm and the Patan Museum there is the showcase of art and culture of the country. The museum has one of the biggest collections of religious artifacts in Asia, and they are related to Hinduism and Buddhism both. There are statues made up of copper and bronze, and the building itself is an example of fine art.

Check out my Postcard from Patan!

There also are other things carved out of wood and stone, and the collection is spread across rooms, which were once part of the royal residence. Patan Museum is inside the Durbar Square complex and at the back is a garden (and a café).

Another place to visit there is the Golden Temple, a Buddhist monastery. The temple has a lot of metalwork and has a golden shine (thus, the name). Apart from the metal used in building the structure, the place also houses many detailed artifacts and a statue of Shakyamuni (Buddha).

The monastery has the fragrance of flowers and incense sticks, and you can also hear the music and chants if you go there early in the morning. The streets outside are lined with local shops selling metal handicrafts and regional crafts.

#5: Hanging out in Thamel

When deciding on the things to do in Kathmandu, definitely consider Thamel, a well known commercial district with strong nightlife.
When deciding on the things to do in Kathmandu, definitely consider Thamel, a well known commercial district with strong nightlife.

Thamel is the lively commercial district of Kathmandu. The area is full of narrow streets, souvenir shops, and restaurants serving local Kathmandu food. OK, coming to food, Nepali cuisine is influenced by Tibetan and Indian dishes, and have a lot in common with them. Steamed or fried momos (dumplings) are a popular snack and so is chatamari, a dish which looks like a pizza. Both the dishes are available in veg and non-veg variant.

Then there also is thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) and thali. Thali is not a single dish but is a combination of different foods, in separate bowls, served on a plate (thali). In a thali, you will get dal-bhat-tarkari along with salad and pickle. Dal is a thick lentil soup, bhat means rice and tarkari means vegetable which can be dry, curried or both (two or more vegetables, I mean). The thali is available not only in Nepal but even in India (with regional variations).

Read more: Why Should You Go to Nepal?

Among the other things to do in Thamel are attending local art classes and workshops. There are activities related to paintings, wooden crafts and also cooking the Nepali dishes. And if you are looking for things to do in Kathmandu at night, the lively Thamel district should be your stop. As the day diminishes, the pubs and bars come to life with live music.

After a full day of roaming around in the city, the bars and nightclubs in Kathmandu are the perfect places to get back your lost energy. There are many in Thamel, and each has a different style of setup. So, find the one you feel comfortable with and sit back and relax or have some fun, dancing. The area also has many casinos.

Apart from the regular games, the casinos also are the venue for live concerts.

#6: Hiking in Kakani

Kakani is most definitely the best picnic spot around Kathmandu.
Kakani is most definitely the best picnic spot around Kathmandu.

If you need some time away from the crowd, the valley also offers many hiking trails near Kathmandu. At some 20 km north of the city, Kakani is one of them. It gives you an option to explore the natural beauty of the countryside and also offers breathtaking views of the mountains in the Himalayas.

Hiking/trekking in Kakani also provides you with opportunities to rock climbing and fishing. Apart from a venue for adventure and relaxation, Kakani even is the best picnic spot around Kathmandu. Experience the peace and traditional lifestyle of the countryside while you find your way up the hills.

Start early in the mornings to get a chance to watch the sun, rise from the ashes… I mean, hills.

#7: The flight to Everest

You can arrange a flight to Everest from Kathmandu.
You can arrange a flight to Everest from Kathmandu.

And at last, don’t forget to take the trip to Everest. The Himalayan range houses some of the highest peaks in the world including Mt. Everest, and many of them are in Nepal. And those who aren’t lucky enough to climb them up can at least, look at those giants from a plane.

Read more: Go Trekking in the Nepalese Himalayan Mountain Range!

These small planes (or helicopters, if you book) take you for a flight of about an hour. And during this time you will get a lifetime experience of watching those snow-capped mountains some hundred meters away.

Those were just some of the things to do in Kathmandu!

Now that you have got a good understanding of things to do in Kathmandu, all you need to do is act fast. Book your tickets as early as possible and get yourself a taste of culture where two communities develop together – the Hindus and the Buddhists. Oh, by the way, the views of those peaks will stay with you for life. Try it for yourself.

Abhijeet Kumar a freelance content writer for aSabbatical.com
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.