The top 10 best things to do in Kathmandu is a list of popular activities that travelers can do in the capital city of Nepal.
Kathmandu is a tourist city with countless things to do and many must-visit attractions. The city is a paradise against the backdrop of magnificent Himalayans in Nepal. Besides, the valley single-handedly is the wonder-package of limitless meadows, mesmeric vibrant culture, charming alleys, intricate artworks, and monuments.
Although Kathmandu is relatively small, the valley comprises three cities, i.e. Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, and Kathmandu. It hosts a diverse array of tourist attractions, cultures, landscapes, and hospitable people, making it one of the best places to visit in Nepal. Similarly, the extremely beautiful valley lodges exquisite monuments, the living goddess, and ancestry. In fact, Kathmandu is the “City of Temples”. Also, out of 10 World heritage sites in Nepal, seven of them are in Kathmandu. Yes, seven of them.
So, visiting Kathmandu is worth a try.
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Don’t Miss Out on These 10 Things while you visit Kathmandu
For travelers seeking mystery, culture, and nature, there are many great places to visit in Kathmandu. So, if you haven’t explored the valley, you are missing a perfectly beautiful downtown. Find out the top 10 best things to do in Kathmandu.
Engage in local festivals and traditional street performances
What makes Nepal rich? It’s the people, their rich heritage, and their culture. Local festivals and street performances are unique features in Kathmandu. One should never miss these impressive attires, performances, and cultural significance. Despite rapid urbanization, the locals are preserving the authenticity of the culture for ages. It’s amazing to see youths and children equally mobilized for the preservation of their traditions. Nowadays, there are many unique Nepalese festivals observed by people of diverse ethnic communities that lead to a perfect excursion.
Although 125 ethnic communities have their presentations at different times in the capital, the Newars have their special festivals. The Newars are the oldest local inhabitants in Kathmandu. They conduct various religious dances, festivals featuring masked dances, and traditional dances. These performances are based on Nepalese folklores. Nepalese artists dress in particular characters, be it demons or deities, and take us back to the ancient time where these performances were only means of entertainment. So, watching local festivals and cultures is one of the best things to do in Kathmandu.
Rejuvenate in Garden of Dreams
Visiting Garden of Dreams is the best short-day excursion plan in Kathmandu. This neoclassical garden is so much similar to European gardens. As its name suggests, this recessed flower garden has everything a heavenly garden would ever get customized. The garden gives an immense, unique experience away from what one sees in between the typical heritage and lifestyle of Nepal.
At the heart of Kathmandu, Keshar Shumsher Rana, which was restored by the Austrian government, built this architectural landscape. The Garden’s treasures include the pavilions, perimeter paths, hidden alcoves, ponds, urns, and statues like that of a dream. The sophistication of this place depicts a new strolling destination apart from local adaptations. It’s a surprising fact that it was designed a century before. The magnificent details of the garden, like the fountains, inscriptions, amphitheater, and pergolas, are an admirable ambiance worth for recreation hub.
In the city’s heart near Thamel and Lainchaur, Garden of Dreams is one of the best nearby places to visit in Kathmandu. So, if you have a day in Kathmandu and still wondering about things to do, just grab a coffee or low-weight snacks and get lost in the garden’s complexity for quality time.
Dwell into Historic Durbar Squares, The Best Tourist Attractions in the Valley
Durbar Squares are square-shaped dwelling places along with royal palaces of the respective state in Kathmandu. There are three durbar squares in Nepal, named Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, and Lalitpur or Patan Durbar Square.
The highlighting aspect of durbar squares is their open courts, fountains, impeccable idols, artistry, and temples. Undoubtedly, Durbar Squares are one of the best places to visit in Kathmandu. UNESCO has enlisted these durbar squares as world heritage sites.
Durbar Squares are the remaining historical witness of many coronations of royal palaces and families of the 12th and 18th centuries. The Newari artisans are awe-inspiring, which epitomizes the fine examples of the spectacular lifestyle of the ancient Newar kingdom. While observing the fine placements of different monuments, one can truly find the essence of Kathmandu valley being called the epicenter of cultural spirit. The pagoda-style structures have inner and outer structures that amaze you. The palaces, courtyards, temples, and other structures are based upon Hindu and Buddhists faith. In short, Durbar Squares are the historic seat of royalty.
Major Features of Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur Durbar Squares
The pinnacles of Kathmandu Durbar Squares include Shiv-Parvati Temple, Bhandarkhal, Jaganath Temple, Kaal Bhairab, etc.
Similarly, Patan is popular for its richness in heritage, fine arts, woodcarvings, metal statues, and establishment as a splendid royal city. Four Ashoka Stupas, stone baths, Hiranya Varna Mahavihar (Golden Temple), Buddha’s golden images, and wall are spectacular. Further, Patan Museum, Patan Zoo, Godavari Botanical Garden is a few highlights one should never miss when visiting Kathmandu.
Likewise, Bhaktapur Durbar Square displays magnificent Shikhara and pagoda-style monuments. The perfect combination of artworks, local products, art gallery, pottery, marvelous construction are the finest examples of woodcarving.
Undoubtedly, the Durbar Squares are the major tourist attractions in the valley. So, visiting Durbar Squares are is one of the best things to do in Kathmandu.
Navigate your excursion trip to Chandragiri Hills
Chandragiri hill is a peaceful place at a height of 2,551 m. It is one of the luxurious must-visit destinations in Kathmandu. The hospitality company in Chandragiri has amazing tourist attractions in Kathmandu, ranging from amusement parks, zip flying, and para-gliding to view towers. The cable car ride to witness Kathmandu from one top of the hill to the other is an extraordinary ride.
Further, Chandragiri hills offer the best view of the mountains, like Mt. Everest and Annapurna. It is also one of the starting points for amazing treks in Nepal. The sunrise from the edge of Kathmandu is the other mind-blowing experience indeed. So, a day hike to Chandragiri would be an exceptional idea to visit the place.
Besides, the management has decorated the place with world-class restaurants, conference centers, and branded shops. Plus, it is also an inclusive place for all genders and age groups. The amusement parks would be a cool place for children. Likewise, the ambiance of the place is romantic, yet worth watching for the adults. In addition, Bhaleswor Mahadev, on the edge of Chandragiri Hills, is a religious destination for spiritual lovers.
Try Varieties of Nepali Traditional Cuisines
Kathmandu is a blended place for people with a variety of originalities. This diversity is manifested in the heterogeneity of cuisines as well. Nepalese are big-time foodies with foods inspired by their habitat places, temperatures, soil conditions, and social-economic status.
The beauty about Nepalese is that they consider food as a god, so people often pray before and after the meal. The foods prepared in the houses, streets, restaurants, and in ceremonial activities have their particular taste ranges. These foods are organic, full of spices and textures that would directly hit the taste buds. So, if you are visiting Kathmandu, do not miss tasting outstanding traditional Nepalese foods.
Despite the diverseness, the Newari foods are the local and oldest cuisine in the Kathmandu valley. They are rich in nutritional values and art. Not only food but they make the best variety of local alcohols. Newari Khaja Set is one of them that will surely make you forget every other food. So, tasting local Newari foods is one of the best experiences among the top 10 best things to do in Kathmandu.
Plus, you can also find Tibetan-inspired cuisines. Newars prepare the traditional Tibetan cuisine, respecting their originality, and adding Nepali flavors to them. These modernized recipes and dishes are excellent modifications that would redefine the taste preference. It won’t be wrong if we refer to Nepalese foods as one of the major attractions in Kathmandu.
Visit Pashupatinath Temple, One of the best things to do in Kathmandu
One of the oldest temples built in 400 BCE of Kathmandu, the Pashupatinath temple, is the other prime tourist attraction in Kathmandu. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site to visit in the city.
Pashupatinath, as its name suggests, hails as Lord of all Pashus (living and non-living beings). The deity is believed to be the most powerful one, restoring the faith of Karma and reincarnation. Many people from the South Asian community have the deep aspiration to pay homage to Pashupatinath Temple. Also, Nepalese consider the shrine as the national deity of Nepal.
This temple has spellbinding energy of vitality, power, and peace. Further, it is inarguably the richest temple of Nepal enriched with the riches showered by devotees, aristocrats, and the King itself. This richly ornamented temple has four main doors made up of silver sheets. Further, the pagoda architecture complex structure of the Pashupati area stretched on the Bagmati river bank is a candy to the eye.
On top of all, the best thing to do in Pashupatinath is watch the evening of Aarati. It is a worship ritual where priests offer light to God, which is accompanied by praise songs on the shores of the Bagmati river. If you visit Pashupatinath, on special occasions like Maha Shivaratri, Teej, and Ekadashi’s like Haribodhani Ekadashi, you can see better decorations, worship, and festive atmosphere.
Thus, if you are in Kathmandu, one of the best things to do is visit the Pashupatinath Temple.
Visit One of the Largest Buddhist Stupa, Monasteries and Gumbas
Nepal is the birthplace of the Light of Asia, Gautam Buddha. So, there are many Buddhist shrines to visit in Kathmandu. The interesting fact about these religious sites lies in the religious tolerance and mutual respect as people of all religions can pay a visit. These places give an immense sense of peace of mind. Further, visiting a stupa or a monastery is an excellent opportunity to interact with Buddhists about their life journey and faith.
Kathmandu is a popular hub for amazing architecture, fascinating folklore regarding these sacred monasteries, and a soaking spiritual enthusiast. Some of the best monastries to visit in Kathmandu are Kopan Monastery, Amitabha Monastery, Tharlam Monastery, and Benchen Monastery.
Besides, some prime locations to visit in Kathmandu are Boudhanath Stupa and Swayambhunath Stupa. UNESCO has enlisted both of them as World Heritage sites.
Boudhanath is a massive spherical stupa on the northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu. Buddhists believe it to be the horizon between earth and heaven as a beacon. Similarly, Swayambhunath is an ancient religious architecture. The stupa lies atop a hill in the center of Kathmandu. Also, people refer to it as the oldest holy shrine since the 5th century. Therefore, visiting Buddhist Stupas is one of the most important things to do in Kathmandu as a traveler.
Hike to Nearby Hill stations In Kathmandu
Green hills surround Kathmandu valley making it an outstanding hiking spot. Before setting the expedition on multi-day treks in distant places, collecting the hiking experience of Kathmandu is mandatory. The natural hiking journey is tailored for family friendly and squad-friendly, ranging from mild-to-moderate adventures. Kathmandu is well-fitted for good day hikes. Since major of these hiking places in Kathmandu are within national parks and hill points at low altitudes, it’s suitable for first-time hikers too.
In the country of contrasts, this valley offers spectacular natural riches. Kathmandu homes an incredible variety of flora and fauna species, along with a vast range of altitudes. Different locations in the city offer exciting sunrise and sunset spots and terrific mountain vistas. Some of them are Nagarkot, Phulchowki, and Chandragiri Hills, the major tourist attractions in Kathmandu Valley.
The uphills and downhills compromise of habitats of rural villagers sending off great rural lifestyle experiences. In addition, a visit to Shivapuri National Park can also be quite an enthralling experience to get a quick dive into natural diversity, local teahouses, and rural living. Henceforth, hiking is also one of the top experiences among the top 10 best things to do in Kathmandu.
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Experience Shopping in Local Markets In Asan, or Mangal Bazaar
Shopping in Asan and Mangalbazar is an outlook local and street shopping adventure. The maze-like alleys surrounded by interestingly situated magnificent temples, dwelling sites, and historical monuments would turn everyone’s head around. Asan lies in Kathmandu district and Mangalbazar lies in Patan (Lalitpur). It is a perfect ceremonial marketplace for iconic shopping markets ranging from traditional houses, streets, and sophisticated skyscraping buildings.
Walking along the narrow streets or taking a rickshaw ride amidst the dense human populations, what an extraordinary shopping escapade! One can shop through a variety of products ranging from spices, molasses, local tea, oil, fish, clarified butter to cosmetics and fashion wears, pieces of jewelry, cultural dresses, and antique items. The heritage shops comprise the generational heritage of shopping experience and laying a family name.
The bustling of the shops start from early morning till midnight. These juncture spots are all famed as delightful shops, strategic locations bazaars on the residential square of major districts. Buying local commodities in such places will help the locals and you will experience a unique shopping experience. So, street shopping is also one of the best things to do in Kathmandu.
Enjoy Night Life in a Jovial Atmosphere at Thamel
Thamel is one of the famous places among domestic and international tourists in Kathmandu. Thamel is especially popular for its extravagant nightlife. The hippies and artists love the atmosphere, weather, loose local-made wear, and night bars. Visiting Thamel is also an escapade from the stress of the western world. However, the mountaineers make this place a pre-base camp. Despite its western cultural influence, Thamel has kept its authenticity as a historical city. A fascinating fact about this place is that it is the prime entertainment package to attract anyone.
This commercial hub of Kathmandu, Thamel, is loaded with an alignment of guest houses, restaurants, phone shops, foreign money exchanges, travel agents, mountaineering gear shops, and whatnot. In Thamel, it is easy to tune into ancient rituals, a calmer vibe, and cozy Nepali hospitality. The streets of Thamel glow at night as if it is its time to shine when the world is asleep. Modern infrastructures have never threatened the beauty of cultural monuments there. The magnificent temples, street shops, a maze of streets, two-wheelers, and food connoisseurs owe a gateway to the bliss of life. Thus, touring around Thamel is also one of the best things to do after a day in Kathmandu.
At the End
These were the top 10 best things to do in the best places in Kathmandu. Although the above list mentions ten major experiences in Kathmandu, there are plenty of other things as well. Assuredly, Kathmandu is one of the best places to visit in Nepal. If you have visited Kathmandu, let us know, what is your best experience in the comments below.