1 Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu’s
If you would like to experience Kathmandu’s religious side, Boudhanath stupa is in fact a must visit attraction in Nepal.
Boudhanath Stupa, a huge 16th-century spherical Buddhist stupa that also proudly holds the dual titles of biggest in Nepal, and also the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet.
Festooned with Buddhist prayer flags, the whitewashed terrace and all-seeing eye of Buddha is impressive when seen at floor level – and if seen from above, the complicated transforms to the form of a Mandala along with also a tribute to Buddha’s path to Enlightenment.
Thousands of pilgrims visit every day to walk around the central dome, turning prayer wheels as they move; Tibetan monks chant mantras and beg from the surrounding monasteries while tourists take everything in.
The ideal time to see Boudhanath is through the late afternoon once the area has a more real feel. Locals go about their everyday ritual and the surrounding region is not as active, along with the golden glow of the afternoon sun envelopes the stupa.
Following the 2015 earthquake, the principal region of the stupa collapsed, but following restoration attempts to bolster the structure, the eyes of buddha gaze out over Kathmandu in the gilded middle tower.
Bouddha, Northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, 20 mins from Thamel
Price | $2 USD per individual
Opening hours | 9:00am – 17:00pm Daily
2 DODGE MONKEYS AND ADMIRE THE VIEWS OF KATHMANDU AT SWAYAMBHUNATH STUPA
Swayambhunath is a gorgeous, if not slightly chaotic jumble of Hindu and Buddhist iconography; in the top there is a heady scent of incense and butter candles, along with the hum of the holy om mani padme hum (where all Buddha’s teachings are said to be discovered ).
The best time to visit is early day when local devotees circumnavigate the stupa, turning prayer wheels as they go and making their way through the present smoky incense hanging heavy in the air. This lofty hilltop also provides the best vistas of Kathmandu, perfect for a sunset snap.
There might be a couple of staircase (365) plus a pile of monkeys to browse until you summit, but the views on top are worth it. From there, you are greeted with an unbelievable view of bustling Kathmandu going about its day – a sight undoubtedly worth the elevated heart rate of the climb.
Unfortunately, during the 2015 earthquake that the temple suffered a large quantity of damage in the summit however the main structures are still standing and have been renovated over the last few years.
Price | Approximately $4 USD per individual
3 EXPLORE THE KATHMANDU VALLEY’S ANCIENT DURBAR SQUARES
No trip to Kathmandu would be complete without seeing the incredible UNESCO World Heritage listed Durbar squares of Kathmandu.
Going back in history, Nepal was actually divided into three main kingdoms – Basantapur (Kathmandu), Bhaktapur, and Patan, each of which had a royal palace and encompassing Durbar squares located in the Kathmandu Valley.
From the unified Nepal of today, each Durbar Square is made up of temples, idols, statues, open courts and fountains along with other structures. They are the ideal place to admire ancient Nepali design, Newari timber carvings and historic traditions. Oh, and it is a wonderful place to people watch.
Below is a summary of each:
Kathmandu Durbar Square could have suffered more from 2015 earthquake compared to many Kathmandu tourist sites, but it’s still an essential stop on any self respecting travellers things to do in Nepal’ checklist.
And best of all, it is it super accessible, located in central Kathmandu, only a 10 minute walk from the tourist hub of Thamel.
The UNESCO World Heritage listed Kathmandu Durbar Square is a stunning set of former exquisite temples and shrines, both Hindu and Buddhist, former royal palaces, courtyards, statues and ponds.
The most impressive parts of the square are really the pagodas, which feature traditional Newari wooden carvings, some of which date back to the 16th century. Unfortunately, nearly all the glorious structures Mark
watched his first visit to Nepal in 2013 no more stay, or are under reconstruction, but there’s still a great deal of interesting sites to watch.
Jagannath Temple | The oldest and most beautiful structure in the complex, and famous for its erotic carvings. Dates back to 1563.
Hanuman Dhoka You can walk into the courtyard, and watch the Hanuman statue in the main entry.
Kumari Ghar | Home of the Kumari, a woman chosen to be the town’s living goddess, and symbol of Devi, Hinduism’s notion of feminine religious energy. It is unlikely you’ll see the Kumari (in case you do, you are very fortunate!) , but do check out the small courtyard, with lovely carved wooden balconies and windows.
Kal Bhairav | A vibrant rock picture of Bhairav, representing the deity Shiva in his destructive manifestation. Ideal for watching locals performing spiritual practices.
Many of the ancient temples and structures were severely damaged in the 2015 earthquake, and if we seen in 2019, the region resembled more of a construction site than a world heritage site. That said, positive restoration work has been achieved, and it won’t be long before this place is back to its former glory.
$10 — $15 USD to each, per person
4 BHAKTAPUR DURBAR SQUARE
The early Newari city of Bhaktapur, with it is pagodas, temples, palaces, narrow laneways and warm-brick facades, is the most exceptionally beautiful’town’ in Nepal.
Quarrelling and oneupmanship led to a period of expansion in culture, construction, artistry, and structure from 1400 – 1800’s, resulting in the stunning set of structures found today.
The UNESCO World Heritage listed city is known because of it’s artistry and crafts; walking the roads you’ll notice pottery manufacturers, craftsmen, painters and carpenters doing their thing – we recommend buying your souvenirs here, in which the quality is great and directly from the local
Factors of interest from town of Bhaktapur that we recommend you see include:
The square is big, and homes the 55 window Palace, Golden Gate, Pashupatinath temple/Pagoda, the Royal bath, Chyasalin Mandip, Siddhi Lakshi temple, Vatsala temple (now being restored)
Dattatreya Square | Situated in the older, east end, Dattatreya Square is our favourite square in Bhaktapur. Flanked by Dattatreya temple and an array of traditional Newari buildings, it is a more silent and more comfortable here, with much less visitors making it into this part of Bhaktapur
Juju Dhau | Alright, this isn’t always a place, but instead a neighborhood. staple food – Newari yoghurt. Produced from buffalo milk, it’s creamy and sweet and served in a traditional clay bowl. We can eat this all day… trust us!
Pottery | In the south of the city there are a number of old men who go make pottery.
A visit here takes around 40 minutes out of Kathmandu, but once inside the old-town, such as Bhaktapur Durbar Square, the streets are pedestrianised, giving a calmer atmosphere than Kathmandu Durbar Square.
Bhaktapur, 40mins east of Kathmandu
Price | $10 — $15 USD to each, per person
5 Patan Durbar Square
Much like the majority of the ancient Newari architecture located in the Kathmandu Valley, Patan was largely assembled during the Malla period (14th – 18th centuries), leaving a Royal Palace, also various Hindu and Hindu temples and idols surrounded by people squares.
A number of our recommended websites to See in Patan comprise:
Patan Museum | Housed in the former royal palace, the museum displays items and treasures out of Nepal’s rich cultural heritage, such as aluminum and bronze casts, and traditional crafts out of Patan.
Krishna Mandir | The most striking temple in most of the Durbar squares, also Patan’s most significant, Krishna Mandir homes shrine to Lord Krishna, with shrines to Radha and Rukmini on Both Sides.
Mul Chowk | Central courtyard of the Palace as well as also the most exquisite of the three Chief chowks from the complicated.
The next of Kathmandu Valley’s UNESCO World Heritage recorded Durbar Squares is even the most genuine, with another absence of souvenir stalls and touts providing a friendly, relaxed vibe.
The natives treat it as their next house, with the temples and chairs a meeting point for individuals of all sorts, from young fans to groups of older men. It is a interesting place to people watch – you can spend hours watching the world go by (we did exactly that on our next trip here!) .
Like many historic sites in Kathmandu, Patan Durbar Square is still undergoing recovery place 2015 earthquake.
Patan Durbar Square, 10mins south of Kathmandu
Price | $10 — $15 USD to every single per individual
6 EAT ALL THE DELICIOUS NEPALI FOOD
Do not worry by the high quality or wide range of meals in Nepal because it is unbelievably great! Nom.
For the local assortment of snacks, begin with Momos. The Nepali response to dumplings, these pockets of pleasure include vegetable, enthusiast (buffalo) or poultry and could be fried or cooked.
It is also possible to find amazing Indian effects, like pakora and samosas on almost any street corner! Then find yourself a few Choila, hot grilled buffalo meat that goes down a deal with a ice cold Everest lager.
For bigger meals, you truly can not go beyond Dal Bhat, the Nepali staple meal for dinner and lunch. For people who like soups, our go-to favorite is Thukpa or even Thenthuk, a tasty mixture of beef, vegetables and noodles in a thick soup, by the hills of Tibet.
On the restaurant entrance, check out Yangling only out of Thamel. It’s the very best Tibetan/Nepali cuisine in all Kathmandu (we have tried nearly everywhere!) , at seriously affordable rates.
RECOMMENDATION | To find your best Nepali/Tibetan, see Yangling restaurant.