Things to do in Kathmandu
Kathmandu is more than just a gateway to your trekking adventure. Sometimes referred to as the 'Land of the Gods’, Nepal’s bustling capital is a cultural hub of great historic significance featuring an abundance of Hindu and Buddhist monuments and more celebrations each year than you can poke a stick at. Religious festivals, steeped in legend, bring the city to life with singing, dancing and ceremonial events taking over the streets by the locals and pilgrims who flock here to celebrate.
Along with the world-renowned Pashupatinath Temple, Swayabhunath Stupa and Akash Bhairav Temple, the Malla-period Durbar Square impresses all with its array of palaces, courtyards and temples, as does nearby Asan market, the former centre of old Kathmandu and a great place to find a souvenir. Tranquility and ritual baths can be found below the Nagarjun Forest at Balaju Garden just outside of Kathmandu as well as at the Garden of Dreams, a large Neo-Classical garden at the entrance of tourist area Thamel.
As the main transportation hub in Nepal, Kathmandu is busy all year round with a plethora of museums, cultural activities and shops throughout the city.Thamel is a 10-minute walk from the city centre and comes to life in the evenings with tourists and locals flocking to its restaurants, pubs, bars, casinos and nightclubs.
Nepal’s history is closely entwined with spirituality and, in turn, Kathmandu has a variety of ayurvedic clinics, meditation centres, yoga schools, water spas, faith healing and astrology sessions to tourists. Kathmandu also provides access to national parks featuring trekking, rafting, climbing, mountain biking, horse riding, boating, fishing and other outdoor adventures, including safaris, for your chance to see wildlife like the Bengal tiger and the snow leopard as well as to experience local traditional ways of life with the Sherpas in Helambu. Here’s our top picks of what to see and do in Kathmandu.
One of the most sacred Shiva Hindu temples in the world and the oldest in Kathmandu, Pashupatinath Temple is a traditional pagoda-style building located alongside the holy waters of the Bagmati River.
Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha and Boudhanath, a 5th-century Buddhist stupa, is the centre of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal and home to many Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns as well as a popular pilgrimage site.
If there’s one place to party backpacker-style in Kathmandu, it’s Thamel. The once hippie-artist district now hosts hotels, pubs, bars, restaurants, casinos and discos.
With awe-inspiring palaces, courtyards and temples constructed during the ‘golden’ Malla period, Durbar Square is a spectacle to behold and a site not to be missed for any first-time visitor to Kathmandu.
Located in the picturesque highland villages near Kathmandu, Helambu is a gateway to stay with Sherpa families, famous tour guides of the Everest region, and trek for those on a short timeline.