We heard so many great things about Kathmandu before getting there and we can confidently say that Kathmandu really delivered on its promises. We really loved our stay here.
Kathmandu is the largest city of Nepal and the perfect starting point to visit the valley of Kathmandu. The city has much recovered from the 2015 Earthquake and has so many things to offer, from the magnificent medieval squares, temples and shrines to the busy little streets full of shops and restaurants. We spent several days just strolling around through the busy streets of Thamel – the main tourist ghetto – full of handicraft shops, lively bars and delicious restaurants, which became even more lively at night with live music and street dancers!
On the cultural side, Kathmandu is home to Asia’s largest Stupa, the Bodhnath Stupa, where thousands of pilgrims and monks gather every day for Buddhist rituals. The Bodhnath Stupa is built on a circular square surrounded by many rooftop bars and restaurants from where we could observe the rituals and prayers – a great show! The best time to visit the Bodhnath Stupa is in the afternoon when most tourists have left and an amazing light falls over the dome.
Another must see in Kathmandu is the mystic Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath which is soaring on a hilltop above the city and offers spectacular views on the valley. We accessed the temple through the pilgrim stairway of close to 400 steps – and inhabited by almost as many monkeys – which passes by large Buddha statues on the way up. At the top we were rewarded with a magnificent perfectly proportioned white stupa, with enormous Buddha faces staring down the valley… definitely worth the climb!
Finally, what is definitely worth the detour is Patan, which feels like a separate little suburb, much quieter and away from all the tourists. We visited Patan as a daytrip but you can also spend the night here if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Thamel. Patan hosts an amazing collection of little squares, palaces and temples – though these were more damaged during the earthquake and reconstruction is still underway.
It’s hard not to be moved by the Buddhist and Hindu culture in Kathmandu, where everything you see is somehow related to religion. We loved this city and fell in love with the amazingly friendly Nepalese people who always welcomed us with their broadest smile and a ‘Namaste’ greeting with folded hands, a sign of genuine respect and good will, trying to initiate a conversation with us, these strange foreigners…
- Mandap Hotel in Thamel – we LOVED this place and amazing price quality
- Hyatt Regency Hotel – an Oasis of luxury and quiet in the busy city of Kathmandu. Perfect for a couple of days rest after a long trek such as the Everest Base Camp trek
Eating and drinking:
- Gaia Restaurant
- Third Eye Restaurant – Superb Indian restaurant when you want a break from the Nepalese food
- Sam’s Bar – amazing place for a beer and very conveniently located just across from Mandap Hotel 🙂
- New Orleans Café – great atmosphere for a drink