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TOP 15 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN KATHMANDU VALLEY

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Trekking and nature are some of the main things people think about when we mention Nepal but, do not forget about its capital: Kathmandu.
After various journeys to this incredible country, I feel that I need to share with you the best places to visit in Kathmandu and the secrets behind them.

During the whole time in my adventure, I made awesome pictures with this excellent action camera, I have so many good memories that’s to all the pictures! 

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Places to visit in Kathmandu

15 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN KATHMANDU

If you want to end your journey knowing to the fullest this country, its people and traditions, you will need to get lost for 2 or 3 days on its capital and discover every corner of it. To help you, I have collected all the relevant information from my journeys, to help you make the best of your days. From its famous and unique attractions to the best places to eat the famous Momos or buffalo burgers ( this last one, just for meat lovers).

But first of all: Where is Kathmandu? 

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Best places to visit in Kathmandu

Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal, which borders China and India. It is located in the center of the country and it is called the sky city as it is surrounded by 8 of the 14 highest mountains in the world.

Kathmandu valley, also known as Nepal valley, is a big area in Nepal where you will be able to find 7 monuments designated as Unesco World Heritage Sites, ancient cities, impressive monasteries, and temples.

1. Thamel

This is the most ancient area and one of the busiest of Kathmandu, it is also called Thabitha Bahal. It is the backpacker town of Kathmandu by excellence due to its closeness to the city center, its good connections to all the tourist attractions and great nightlife.

In this crazy part of the city, you will be able to find the best street food and also amazing local food as Thakali Kitchen, here you will taste the best Dhal baht and you have the option of doing unlimited refills of rice and  Dhal! And if you want to try their incredible buffalo burgers…the best place to go is Yūjin Cafe. In this last place, you will also be able to have incredible coffee! 

Take advantage of the variety of shops in Thamel and obtain one of the hand made pieces made with yak wool or their beautiful pray flags!

 2. Boudhanath Stupa

The biggest Buddhist stupa in Asia and one of the biggest in the world. But…What does stupa mean? A stupa is a sacred Buddhist monument for meditation and it also serves to find inner peace. This incredible monument is full of symbolism and meaning for Bouddisth. For example, the gold steps in the top mean the 13 steps humans need to pass through to achieve nirvana. Without a doubt, this is one of the most impressive places in Nepal.

It is located 11 km from the city center. You will be able to reach there by public bus, it will take around 25 minutes…depending on the number of stops the driver decides to do…a real adventure!

Inside the space of the stupa, there are some souvenir shops and restaurants which I do not advise to go in as prices are much higher than in less touristic places.

  • Entrance fee: 220 rupees

Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu valley

The Boudhanath stupa | One of the best places to visit in Kathmandu

3. Kathmandu Durbar Square

South of Thamel, this UNESCO World Heritage Center is one of the three durbar squares of Kathmandu valley.

*Continue reading to discover the other two incredible durbar squares.

This pagoda-style temples and palaces were built back from the 15th century to the 18th century. Home of the most ancient monuments of the country with a lot of history in each of them. The whole square could not be seen in one morning, you will need more time to assimilate all the stories behind them. Unfortunately, the devastating earthquake that took place in 2015 has left its mark in most of the monuments but they still keep its magic.  It is not the intention of the article to explain the characteristics of each temple but in each of the entrance of the durbar square, you will be able to take a free guide with all the relevant information fo them. Check #4 of the best things to do in Kathmandu valley to learn about one of the temples that I found of importance to talk about.

  • Entrance fee: 1,000 rupees (this entrance will be valid for the three months)

4. Kumari Bajal

Also called Kumari Ghar, is the palace in the center of Kathmandu valley where Kumari lives. Who is the Kumari? 

Kumari is believed to be bodily incarnation of the goddess Taleju. Nepalese people choose a little girl of around 3 years old to be the Kumari until she has the first menstruation. She has to comply with specific physical requirements such as dark hair and eyes. The Kumari can not go to school or outside the palace. Every day at 4 pm she peeks out the central window of the palace and local people approach there to pray. It is quite impressive how they believe in it and respects this tradition. If you go there, be very silent and do not take the camera with you as they will ask you to leave.

5. Swayambnunath temple

Also called, the Monkey temple. Get ready to walk and climb stairs to get to the top of the hill. Do not worry that , on your way to the top, you will be well accompanied by our good friends: The monkeys. Be careful, if you have food or bottles of liquid they may try to take it from you! Take for guarantee that you will be amazed once you are on the top by the beauty of this temple surrounded by the colorful pray flags.

In this temple, you will be able to have a 360º of the whole valley (if you are lucky with the weather). For this last reason, It is one of the best spots in the city to enjoy an astonishing sunrise or sunset.

  • Entrance fee: 200 rupees

Monkey-temple

Swayambnunath temple | One of the best things to visit in Kathmandu valley

6. Pashupatinath temple

Impressive Hindu temple located in the backs of the Bagmati river. Here, you could experience one of the most sacred traditions in almost every culture in the world. Nepali people take the dead bodies of their closest relatives to celebrate the cremation ceremony. Although it is hard to understand by most of the tourists, this is an open ceremony in the eyes of everyone.

This temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the four most important in the world for devotees of Shiva. Who is Shiva?  Shiva is a Hindu God. Specifically the nature god, the one that controls the elements of the environment such as air and water.

  • Entrance fee: 1,000 rupees

Although the entrance is very expensive, it is totally worth to visit. There also exist discounts for people volunteering in the country (you will need a volunteer card to prove it).

Pashupatinath-temple

Pashupatinath temple | One of the best things to visit in Kathmandu valley

7.  Bhaktapur

Known as the cultural jewel of Nepal, located 15km from Kathmandu city. The most devastated city in Kathmandu valley after the 2015 earthquake but also, one of the most charming cities of the world. In Bhaktapur, you will be able to feel the peace and calm and also, breath the clean air of this city located on the outskirts of the capital. Its Durbar Square is the second most important in the country and as I have already mentioned, the most devastated. At the moment they are slowly rebuilding some of the most important monuments and palaces.

Backtapur-durbar-square

Bhaktapur | One of the best places to visit in Kathmandu valley

8. Nagarkot

Looking forward to doing a trek in Nepal but not enough time to travel long distances? I’ll give you the best solution! Spend some days hiking in Nagarkot. It is located in Kathmandu valley, in Bhaktapur,  15 km away from Kathmandu city. You will be able to arrive here easily by bus from the main bus station in the capital. From here you will be able to get an awesome view of the Himalayas. This is one of the most beautiful places for hiking near Kathmandu. Also the best picnic spot in Katmandu valley with incredible mountain views.

Nagargot-Kathmandu-valley

Himalayan views | One of the best things to visit in Kathmandu valley

9. Garden of dreams

Created in the early 1920’s in the entrance of Thamel neighborhood as a place for locals to relax and enjoy its beautiful flowers and fountains. Due to its romantic ambiance, it is one of the best places to visit in Kathmandu for couples.

During my stay in Kathmandu, I used to come here to rest a little bit of the mess of the city, read and take a nap after a good Dhal Bhat (main Nepali traditional dish)

  • Entrance fee: 400 rupees

10. Khawalung Tashi Choeling monastery

The monastery is located 20 minutes walking-distance from Boudhanath. This is your place if you are looking for a different and new experience while traveling. Aside from the beauty of the monastery, the monks leaving here will welcome you if you are interested in helping them teaching English to the youngest monks. For sure it will be a unique adventure and they will share with you their prayers, their food, and their knowledge about Buddhism. If you are interested in discovering this magic place, please do not hesitate to contact me on this e-mail: gabriela@nomadicmindtravel.com

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Khawalung Tashi Choeling monastery | One of the best things to visit in Kathmandu valley

11.Pilgrims book house

On the outskirts of Thamel is where you will find Pilgrims. My favorite book stores in the world! Thousands of second hand and new books ordered in different sections in this huge shop. I could spend here one full day learning about different topics and getting lost in all these books. One of the most crowded sections is always the Kamasutra section, every tourist comes curious to discover the Nepali sex story. Discover everything about this cultural treasure here.

12. Patan

Located in Lalitpur, a district in Kathmandu valley at the banks of the Bagmati river. Patan Durbar square is, together with Kathmandu and Backatapur durbar squares,  the most important palace and temple setting of the country. Here, is where I found the best shopping places in Kathmandu valley, cheap local souvenir shops where you will all ou need to take back home to your families.

Patan-durbar-square

Patan | One of the best things to visit in Kathmandu valley

13. Kathesimbhu stupa

This Tibetan stupa is 17th-century copy of the great Swayambhunath complex. It is also known as Srigha Chaitya or Sigha Chaitya.  Why do I think this is one of the best places to visit in Kathmandu? This stupa is the small sister of Swayambhunath, which means, a small treasure hidden in Kathmandu valley and it is believed that it was constructed with the materials left over from Swayambhunath.

14. Kopan Monastery

Stunning 180º views of Kathmandu city, a hidden wonder in the top of a hill. This monastery is not only well-known by locals for its beauty but also for the Tibetan Buddhist education the old monks offer to the students. Also, if you are interested in experience what a meditation retreat could look like, this could be your place. Located 40 minutes walking distance from Boudhanath Stupa. Checkout here to discover more about the options you have regarding the retreats.

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Kopan Monastery | One of the best things to visit in Kathmandu valley

15. Taudaha lake

A natural wonder in Kathmandu valley, the only natural lake in Kathmandu. The name “Taudaha” is the combination of Newari words: “Ta” which means snake and “Daha” which means lake. Close to the city and with the possibility of getting here by public transport, it is really famous for bird-watching,  120 species of migratory and residential birds are found around the lake.

LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN!

As you can see, Nepal has much more than trekkings and mountains, its culture is so rich and with multiple things to learn from what could be an awesome immersion in Buddhism.

If you are reading here now, you have discovered the most incredible places and a must-see in Kathmandu valley. I suppose you are planning a journey there or after reading this you are looking forward to planning it. Do not hesitate to leave a comment sharing with other travelers your experience in Kathmandu valley. And, of course, if you need any help organizing your trip, just e-mail me to gabriela@nomadicmindtravel.com.

Thank you for reading and see you around the globe travelers!

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who is gabi? 

Hey! I am Gabriela, a full-time traveler!  Originally from Spain, but I find home everywhere I travel too. I want to show you how to travel 100% safe with a backpacker budget making the most out of your journeys. Currently living in Australia and happy to share my travel experiences with you!

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