Kathmandu is a crazy and vibrant city. However, it is still recovering from the tragic 2015 earthquake so many guide books are a bit out of date when it comes to the key activities. Here’s an up to date list of 6 things you must do on your visit to Kathmandu!
1. STAY AT DWARIKA’S HOTEL
Dwarika’s Hotel is one of my favourite ever hotels. It is a cross between a hotel and a museum. Walking into Dwarika’s amazing courtyard is not only the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu but it also offers a stunning display of classic Nepalese wood works. Every room is unique and features stunning wood work. The carefully chosen soft furnishings are in the classic Nepalese colours of black and red and result in a beautifully stylish yet oh so Nepalese feeling room. All the toiletries you could need are also available.
I was staying on my own at Dwarika’s and I had such a lovely time. The lovely courtyard is a wonderful place to sit and work and watch the world go by and potentially meet people. There are several excellent restaurants (See below), a bar and a library and just everything.The staff are also unbelievably lovely. They literally cannot do enough to help and are so friendly.
2. VISIT THE MONKEY TEMPLE
The Monkey Temple or Swayambhunath sits on top of Kathmandu and is one of Nepal’s most sacred Buddhist shrines. It is much more than just a stupa – it is a veritable little town at the top of Kathmandu!! I got a cab to the bottom of the front stairs and walked up. Once you arrive at the top you will see the amazing Stupa surrounded by prayer wheels. Don’t forget you need to walk around the stupa clockwise. This is also the best place to take photos of Kathmandu. You will get an amazing view of the city and it is best visited at sunset.
Walking behind the stupa you will come across many shops and even restaurants and of course loads of monkeys! Take the back stairs out. Heading down you will see prayer flags galore and further smaller stupas, monkeys and even a monastery. Allocate at least one hour to wander around this area. It is also quite peaceful relative to Kathmandu and very green and fresh.
3. FRIDAY NIGHT BBQ AND KRISHNARPAN AT DWARIKA’S HOTEL
Even if you’re not staying at Dwarika’s Hotel do not miss eating there! It has the best food in Kathmandu. If you are in town on a Friday night do not miss the traditional Nepalese BBQ. There is a large buffet served out the back of the hotel and the seating is all outdoor in the pool area which creates a lovely ambience.
The food was amazing! The buffet is massive and has everything you could ever imagine from standard Nepalese type fare to salads. The marinated barbequed meats are just amazing! The chicken was fantastic – I was not so sure about the mutton offal! The highlight for was the wild boar and make sure you try the buffalo momos. Make sure you try the different fried breads and finish up with traditional sweet donut ring/roti dessert.
If you’ve missed the Friday night or are looking for another amazing meal then next up is Krishnarpan at Dwarika’s. This appears to be Kathmandu’s most famous restaurant as it has been frequented by many famous guests – from Prince Charles to Hillary Clinton!
The style is traditional Nepalese and the minimum number of courses is six. When you come in to the restaurant you will be asked to remove your shoes and seat at one of their low tables. I was eating on my own so went with the six courses. Wow wow wow! Not only was this the best meal I had in Nepal it would have been something special in London.
It kicked off with mixed hors d’oeuvres and then went into some delicious mushroom soup. This was followed by amazing fried bread and then some delicious momos. The highlight was the main course of chicken curry which was served with some amazing aubergine. Even the dessert which tasted like carrot cake but was much more moist was absolutely delicious.
4. HEAD TO BHAKTAPUR
There are three towns in the Kathmandu Valley: Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is about 30 minutes in a car from Kathmandu. I got a cab which was very reasonably priced and then picked up a guide in the car park when I arrived.
Bhaktapur was more what I expected of Nepal. It is a beautiful town. Most of it is pedestrianized which adds to the atmosphere. The colours are warm and inviting and it is very cute and photogenic. It was less impacted by the earthquake than Kathmandu.
This is definitely the place to go for souvenir shopping as well. There are many lovely stalls here. I bought wooden boxes and silver earrings which travelled well home. And don’t leave without trying their famous yoghurt! It is deliciously sweet.
5. TAKE PHOTOS OF BODNATH STUPA
The perfectly proportioned Bodnath Stupa is quite stunning. It has a golden tower and a white washed base. It is surrounded by a wide range of tourist shops of course! You can enter the stupa area and get some fantastic up close photos and angles. There is also an interesting monastery in the square where it is located which is worth a visit.
6. RELAX IN THE GARDEN OF DREAMS
How good is the name? How could you resist visiting? The Garden of Dreams lives up to its name! This walled in garden is a literal oasis in the crazy Thamel district of Kathmandu. It is paid entry but only a small amount (NPS 160). Once inside you have entered a different world – green, fresh air, stunning plants and greenery. It is a perfect spot for photos – as you will see by the popularity of garden of dreams selfies!
There is also a great restaurant which is perfect for lunch and/or a coffee. It is well known for serving ice cream which is not common in Nepal! You can also see that it is very popular with women in particular who look like they have just done a trek and are now looking for a touch of luxury and cleanliness!
Have you been to Kathmandu or somewhere else in Nepal? Please share your experience with our readers in the comments below! Read Next > 14 Reasons To Visit Bali in 2017