20 August 2019
A Window on Nepal
Kathmandu may not be popular with mainstream tourists but the capital city of Nepal is a charming place filled with culture and boasting a myriad of adventures right at its doorstep.
Kathmandu is largely considered a transit point for adventurers heading to the Himalayas, often towards the formidable Mount Everest or Annapurna. Regular tourists don’t realize that Kathmandu, which is located in a valley of the same name and is surrounded by mountains, offers a variety of ancient world heritage sites and other exciting destinations which require a more moderate level of adventure.
This year, the city is beginning to gain recognition as a destination in its own right, even being featured by Tripadvisor as one of 25 top destinations in the world in 2019. Despite being a popular gateway to the Himalayas and the rest of Nepal, Kathmandu provides its own unique and incredible sights. It is a diverse, historic city with centuries-old Hindu and Buddhist religious sites and has plenty of dedicated tourist-friendly accommodations and restaurants.
Kathmandu is a city where ancient traditions now go hand in hand with the latest technology. Although expansion is happening fast in Kathmandu, with the hustle and bustle so typical of metropolitan cities, its people remain delightfully friendly, humble, and welcoming. Tourists are able to easily witness the traditional aspects of life here making Kathmandu a great place for learning about the culture of Nepal, including sampling the interesting local cuisines.
The center of Kathmandu’s attractions is undoubtedly Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO-listed palace complex that marks the heart of the old town. The square serves as an extraordinary example of Nepal's traditional architecture with its temples, idols, and palace buildings.
To the north of Durbar Square, Thamel is a maze of hotels, restaurants, trekking agencies, and shops. The peaceful Patan district, with its own Durbar Square and expatriate community, is bordered by the Bagmati River on the South. To the east of Kathmandu Durbar Square, you will find shopping centers and embassies.
Once you have fully explored Kathmandu, a day-hike on Champa Devi Hill will enable you to experience the natural beauty of the region as you journey through the pine forest. If you have more than two to three days, Shivapuri will be a perfect place to do something more intense. Hiking in Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, which is famed for its diverse flora and fauna, rewards travelers with spectacular views of the Himalayas.
Kathmandu offers a unique cultural travel experience. Not yet having the development levels of larger, more popular tourist cities, Kathmandu teaches you how to leave your comfort zone to explore the “real Nepal” before time runs out.