Kathmandu is a historic, cultural, and natural wonder. It could be more termed as a true blend of the ancient world and a rapidly rising fast-paced lifestyle. The name Kathmandu is both magical and mythological, conjuring thoughts of old temples rising among the Himalayas' craggy, snowy peaks.
The Kathmandu Valley, in the country's core, is crammed with Nepal's busy, colorful, and chaotic capital city, Kathmandu, and the two other cities named Lalitpur (commonly known as Patan), and Bhaktapur (the living museum). The entire valley is a wonder-package of boundless meadows, mesmerizing dynamic culture, beautiful lanes, exquisite artworks, and as well as a staggering number of temple complexes and durbar squares offering an intriguing blend of stories, views, smells, and sounds.
Kathmandu serves as a travel hub for the remainder of Nepal, as well as the Himalayas. And, the easy acceptance of tourism is one of the best benefits of traveling to Kathmandu. It can be a little daunting for newbies in Kathmandu with the crowds, traffic, dust, heat, and cold that can contribute to a stressful environment. However, the city is a wonderland stuffed with a plethora of activities to do that give relaxation to that stressfulness.
Travelers may explore enticing temples, hike through national parks, and sample local delicacies that leave taste buds begging for more in this region bordered by the majestic Himalayas.
So, if you're wondering what tourists to Kathmandu may do to relive some great moments in their lives that will be remembered forever, have a look at this list of Top Things to Do in Kathmandu:
1. Kathmandu Heritage Tour
Among many things to do in Kathmandu whether you are a spiritual seeker or a historical buff, there are dozens of activities to choose from. The first thing first comes to mind about the vibrant Kathmandu city is its temples and monuments. And a tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site is warranted given the fact that this 665 sq. km area boasts the world's densest concentration of these sites (7 out of 10 in the whole country): Three Durbar Squares (Kathmandu, Patan & Bhaktapur), 2 Hindu pilgrimage site (Pashupatinath Temple & Changunarayan Temple) and 2 Buddhists sites (Boudhanath Stupa & Swayambhunath Stupa).
Apart from these famous and significant places, there are many other similar locations or sites that one can find more intriguing such as Kopan Monastery, Royal palace: Narayanhiti Palace Museum, Garden of Dreams, etc.
Tips for Kathmandu Tour:
Hire an expert from a trustworthy travel company and join a historical tour to these prominent landmarks of Nepal and get insight into history, culture, architecture, and politics being so inner-related.
2. Explore the most famous tourist hub, Thamel
Thamel has been perhaps the city's most popular tourist destination for the past half-century. In reality, it's not so much a market as it is an entire neighborhood worth getting lost in. Although the tiny alleyways and varied character of the businesses may not be to everyone's taste, they are adored by some. You may gladly walk the streets, stopping in and out of tea shops, climbing stores with unusual equipment, Nepalese book stores, music havens, restaurants, art dealers, and everything in between.
Partygoers will be pleased to learn that Kathmandu especially Thamel boasts a thriving nightlife, where they can relax and unwind while listening to their favorite music and sipping their favorite drinks after a long day.
Tips for exploring Thamel
- Take a Rickshaw Ride in the streets of Thamel for a different experience.
- Browse the collection of colorful shawls, jewelry, statues, paintings, and other items to Bring home some mementos and gifts. (Definitely haggle for fair and a reasonable price.
3. Hiking options in Kathmandu
Wants to take a break from city life? Immerse into nature.
The capital, Kathmandu is a vibrant and bustling metropolis. But, it is also a wonderland stuffed in the backdrop of Nepal's majestic Himalayans and surrounded by the giant green hills from each side making it an excellent hiking destination.
Chisapani, Champadevi, Nagarkot, and Nagarjun are just a few of the fantastic hikes available in the valley. These locations are located at low elevations, so they are also excellent for first-time hikers. You might also go to the high peaks of Shivapuri National Park, or do a 6-day trip from Kathmandu to Langtang National Park if you want a lengthier hiking journey.
Moreover, breathtaking views are guaranteed, if you get to see the surrounding area at sunrise or sunset. As a result, hiking in the valley is now one of the top 10 activities to do in Kathmandu.
4. Take a mountain flight or Helicopter tour
Not a hiker or interested in trekking but greedy about a mountain experience? Take a mountain 50 minutes Everest Mountain Flight above the clouds and get a close look at Mount Everest, the world's highest summit. Not only the mighty Everest but many other notable soaring rocks covered with white snow.
Not only wants to take pictures but also wants to be near those giants physically? Then, Everest Helicopter Tour is ideal where you will be standing at the lap of Mount Everest, eating a luxurious breakfast at the highest hotel in the world, and taking pictures from 5545 meters of Kalapatthar surrounded by the peaks from all sides. The approximately 4 hours trip is really worth the money you invest for it.
These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities available only in Nepal, and a few of the most exciting things to do in Kathmandu.
5. Try Mountain biking or Motorcycling
There might be somebody who wants more and wants to try different and is also an adventurer. For those, mountain biking in the narrow and single tracks of Kathmandu hills would be perfect.
Nepal is regarded as one of the best spots in the world for mountain biking and Kathmandu serves as a hub for this thrilling sport. The valley definitely offers a plethora of inconceivable paths to explore, discover, and conquer.
The Shivapuri National Park path, Nagarjun Ban, Nagarkot, Kakani, and nearby places provide the ultimate mountain riding experience. Nagarjun Ban is the place to go if you want to see some extreme mountain biking and enjoy passing through the monasteries..
6. Even darer? Try Bungee Jumping in Bhotekoshi River
Bungee jumping is the wildest and best-ever daring activity to do in any location. Similarly, bungee jumping is one of the most popular activities in Kathmandu. There are several bungee jumping locations, but the Bhote Koshi Bridge is the most stunning bungee leap. Bungee Jumping in Bhote Koshi is also one of the longest free-falls (500 feet) in the world.
It takes 3 hours drive time to get to the bungy spot from the center of the city. The 160-meter jump over the Bhote Koshi River provides an unusual adrenaline rush in the midst of this incredible location.
7. Experience the street life of Kathmandu
Stroll the backstreets of Kathmandu to get a sense of the city's timeless culture and artistic heritage, which can be found in a variety of temples with open gardens, patches of marigold blossoms, small cafes selling buffalo dim sums and soups, tiny artisan workshops, and quaint souvenir shops selling t-shirts, trinkets, perfume oil, lampshades, singing bowls, khukuri words, prayer flags, incense, and hand-painted tea boxes, among other things.
8. Shopping in the super busy bazaars
Head to the Asan, Indrachok, or Mangal bazaars if you're seeking true bazaar-like experiences. This bustling district of Kathmandu will delight all of your senses. It's a popular hangout for locals and visitors alike, selling everything from street food to spices, molasses, local tea, oil, fish, clarified butter, cosmetics and fashion wear, jewelry, cultural outfits, antiques, gifts, and everyday necessities.
These markets are one of Kathmandu's oldest neighborhoods which have been a busy, prosperous, and culturally fascinating area of the center city for centuries, sitting at the crossroads of trade routes over the Himalayas. You can shop for almost everything in one of Kathmandu's most popular markets.
9. Local food is a must
Kathmandu is a mash-up of cultures, with people from all over the country. And the diversity of the country also can be seen in the variety of cuisines available. Foods served in homes, streets, restaurants, and ceremonial activities all have distinct flavor profiles. So, if you're in Kathmandu, don't miss out on sampling some of the best traditional Nepalese cuisines.
The Thali Set of Daal Bhat (rice, lentil with pickle, and veggies) is the traditional food of Nepal. It’s not just a dish – it’s a wholesome, satisfying meal. First and foremost, momo (a steamed dumpling/dim sum/potsticker) is the most famous snack in Kathmandu.
There isn’t an eatery where momos aren’t served in the valley. Despite their diversity, Newari foods represent the valley's local and oldest cuisine, rich in nutritional value and art. Newari Khaja Set is one of those dishes that will make you forget about everything else.
There will be a separate fan base for street food in every location, and the majority of people enjoy it. Aalo chop, sekuwa, chatamari, and sel roti are some of the best street foods to taste. Juju Dhau in Bhaktapur, Lassi in Indrachowk with some other sweets like Lakhamari and Yomari are must-try desserts found here.
So, among many things to do in Kathmandu, tasting indigenous Newari cuisine & Nepali Khana set and of course, momos is one of the best experiences.
10. Take classes & workshops of your choice
With limitless activities in Kathmandu, taking classes and workshops of one’s interest such as cooking Nepali foods, creating Buddhist Thanka Paintings, Carving woods, Pottery classes, jewelry making, etc. are some of the best things to do in Kathmandu. You may even sign up for a wonderful yoga class or retreat! Your options for activities are virtually limitless.
People realize that there's something about Kathmandu that makes it a very engaging destination with a plethora of exciting activities after their first visit. It's a city that isn't conceited since it is ancient enough to not need to impress anyone. Yes, there are a variety of narrow, dusty, and occasionally dusty and dirty streets, but travel is about experiencing the real and the raw.
Sure, this place offers a bewildering array of activities and views, but the items listed above will provide you with a fantastic Nepal experience that will be well worth your time and money. So, depending on your interests and abilities, you can pick and choose what you wish to do on your Kathmandu visit from simple activities to daring exploits. Kathmandu is indeed the best place to see Nepal's authentic and vibrant culture.
However, in order to fully appreciate a location's tourism attractions, a nice and comfortable environment is required. The finest time to visit Kathmandu is between February and May when the winter has passed but the rains have yet to arrive.
Summer is also a good time but you might not want to participate in hot, humid, and dusty days. And summer is likely to bring monsoon season when your plans are probably be dropped down because of rain. But, once the rain stops around mid-September, Kathmandu would again be flocked with tourists till pre-winter (mid-December) because of clear skies and lovely days.
For details of the weather & climate of Kathmandu read: Weather & Climate of Kathmandu.