Top Things to do in Nepal's Capital | Kathmandu Guide

by - April 30, 2023

There is a lot to discover in Kathmandu, Nepal's capital city, which is nestled in the Himalayan foothills. Featuring its ornate Hindu and Buddhist temples, labyrinthine lanes, and booths selling wonderful street food, scented spices, and artisan jewellery, it's an enthralling place to start any adventure in Nepal. 

I was more impressed with how similar it is to India, yet at the same time, something about its sweet amalgamation of Hinduism and Buddhism sets it apart.

I was impressed with its western adaptation to suit the multiple nationalities that visit the city—or the country for that matter—such as an international menu, WiFi across all the cafes and restaurants, and locals that speak English. For Indians, Nepal is even more idealistic as Indian currency is accepted at most of the places, plus the Nepalis know (and most of them speak) Hindi. 

Keeping these amazing things in mind, you may feel like rushing to Nepal for its cuisine, mountaineering culture and rich history. Here's what you must not miss when staying at Kathmandu, the multicultural capital of Nepal:


Visit the Durbar Square

Located in the heart of the city, Durbar Square is a Unesco-listed site and a religious centre as well. It was the royal residence until the 19th century, and it had old temples, palaces, and mediaeval courtyards. Durbar Square lets you dive into the history and offers various photo-worthy frames and a peek-a-boo of stalls selling traditional Nepali handicrafts. 

Fly over Everest

A slightly costlier but worthwhile experience is taking a flight around Mount Everest. It is a 60-minute flight that takes you around the highest mountain of the world in an aircraft with limited seats. There are two local carriers that offer the Everest experience: Buddha Air and Yeti Air. Both these flights operate from Tribhuvan International Airport. The months of September through April provide the finest viewing conditions, and the aircraft depart early in the day to take advantage of clear skies. Book your flight for INR 8,557 here

View from Swayambhunath stupa

Dal bhat thala at a restaurant in Kathmandu

Try the local cuisine

A visit to Nepal means tasting the traditional Nepali food without a doubt. Kathmandu has a plethora of restaurants, marketplaces, and street food vendors. You should try momo dumplings at the Momo Cafe in Thamel, dal bhat (a substantial lentil stew often served with rice), chatamari (Newari-style rice flour pancakes served with eggs and spicy meat or veggies), and thukpa (a Tibetan noodle soup). 

Witness a stunning view at the Swayambhunath Stupa

Swayambhunath, accessible via 365 steps, is one of Nepal's most magnificent religious sites, attracting Buddhist and Hindu visitors to its densely forested mountaintop setting west of the city centre. The whitewashed stupa, designed to symbolise the earth, and its ornate spire, with thirteen tiers symbolising the journey to nirvana, are its most notable features, most likely dating from the early fifth century. You'll also see a lot of monkeys while you're here, and hence the place is also known as Monkey Temple.

Take a stroll around the Boudhanath Stupa

The massive Boudhanath stupa is the focal centre of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal and one of the world's largest spherical stupas. It is located just outside of Kathmandu on a centuries-old trade route between Nepal and Tibet. The eyes of the Buddha are painted on the tower that sits atop the massive white dome, and Buddhist prayer flags offer a burst of colour. Walk around the temple clockwise, and shop Tibetan artworks alongside. Witness the spiritual aarti in evenings and feel the cool air. 

Bow down before Pashupatinath Temple

On the shores of the Bagmati River, is Nepal's oldest temple: Pashupatinath. A highly respected and visited Hindu temple is also one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (and the only Jyotirlinga which is located in Nepal apart from the eleven in India). This pagoda-style temple has over five-hundred distinct temples spread over the compound. Just outside the temple, you can shop for the rudraksha, the holy stonefruit used as prayer beads by Hindus and a few other religions. Beware of the fake plastic rudrakshas that are sold for INR 20-100 per piece. 

Planning a trip to Nepal? PIN IT for later!

TPCG TIP: How to spot a fake rudraksha?

- Take the rudraksha test. Ask the salesman to dip the stonefruit in water, and if the stonefruit sinks, it is legitimate, and if it doesn't, it's a fake rudraksha.  

- The price of one rudraksha is somewhere between INR 650 to 1,000. 

- Another way to identify an original rudraksha is the lines/furrows. The fake ones will have identical lines. 

Chilling with Yeti local beer at a restaurant in Thamel, Kathmandu

Shopping at Thamel 

Try the cafes & nightlife of Thamel

No trip to Kathmandu is complete unless you see Thamel, a frantic maze of little lanes just north of Durbar Square. During the day, it's one of the city's busiest shopping districts, with shops selling souvenirs, jewellery, clothing, and trekking equipment. Later on, it transforms into a bustling hub of nightlife, with numerous bars and clubs staying open until the wee hours of the morning. There are numerous eateries serving both traditional Nepali cuisine and international cuisine. Despite being a traffic-free zone, it's best to be cautious because bikes and rickshaws tend to speed through Thamel.

Read a book at the Garden of Dreams

This tranquil haven on the outskirts of Thamel is ideal for escaping the bustling city streets and unwinding for a bit. The Garden of Dreams, built in 1920, is a picturesque Edwardian-style garden, with various water fountains, birdhouses, ponds, pavilions and pergolas. Do nothing or sit with a book and unwind at this beautiful garden just a walk away from Thamel. 

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