Searching for What to see in Kathmandu? It is not strange to listen to travelers advising to spend as little time as possible in Kathmandu, or directly flee from this city. You will hear stories about pollution, permanent dust in the air, noise, unpaved roads, etc.
Well, they are all true, but it is also fair to know that there are many things to see in Kathmandu that are worth it.
After spending three weeks in this city, we have done this collection of places and things to do in Kathmandu. Some are essential and others only if you have more days. Let’s go there!
The 7 essential Places to see in Kathmandu
We are going to propose to you the most interesting places to see in Kathmandu and surroundings. Both the closest places, as those excursions that deserve a day of the visit.
1. Durbar Square of Kathmandu
It is the best known of Kathmandu, and also the one that took the brunt of the earthquake of 2015. Some of its main temples have been reduced to rubble. The ticket price is 1000 Rupees (about US $ 10). Here comes the dilemma.
To our knowledge, the price is excessive for what “supposes” to pay that money. “Theoretically”, as they indicate on the sign where they invite you to pay, the money will help the rehabilitation of the place.
Well, the reality is very different, and although it is a separate issue and is not relevant to this post, corruption in this country is so high that we doubt about the true destiny of this “contribution”.
That said, if you choose to pay, go ahead. If you choose not to pay, you can see it the same. It is as simple as a detour, it is still a square with different adjacent streets.
Only the main entrance has a ticket sales stand. So look for another entryway and that’s it. Nobody is going to ask for your ticket, the only drawback is that you will not have access to the museum, but if you are not from museums, this will not matter.
One of the most “curious” things to see in Durbar Square is the house of the Kumari. Where if you are lucky, you can see it for 10 seconds, although not photographing.
What or who is the Kumari?
The Kumari is a traditional Nepalese figure, typical of the Newar culture. It is a deity personified in a girl aged between 4 years and up to menarche. To choose the Kumari, the girls must meet specific characteristics and go through a series of tests, and the one chosen as a new Kumari will live in the temple with her family. This girl will not be able to leave the temple during her time as Kumari (nor to the school, nor to the street, etc.), which seems to us an authentic violation of the rights of the children.
2. Thamel neighborhood
This is the backpacker district par excellence and where we recommend you look for accommodation since the offer is very wide. It is very close to Durbar Square and you can walk without problems. It is full of restaurants, craft shops, trekking agencies, mountain shops, etc. Very dynamic and entertaining. Without a doubt one of the essential places to see in Kathmandu.
3. Boudhanath the Stupa of Buddha
Here you will find the largest stupa in Asia. If you are attracted to the world of Buddhism and Tibet, this is your paradise. To sit in front of the stupa is to contemplate a constant coming and going of Buddhist monks, prayers as background music and many pilgrims giving the “statutory rounds” to the stupa and rolling the prayer wheels.
The entry price is 250 rupees (US $ 2.5), which is more reasonable. The main entrance is called Boudha Gate, and there are a couple more tickets with ticket sales. Even so, if you want to save them, you also have your option. To eat in Boudhanath we recommend that you leave the Stupa area. Get away a few streets and you will find many cheap local restaurants.
There is a lot of Tibetan food, so we encourage you to try the Thupka (noodles soup). A restaurant with good food and a good price is theDouble Dorjee. To get to Boudhanath from the Thamel or Durbar Square, the bus is the cheapest. Look for a bus that shouts “BOUDDHA BOUDDHA”, or when the bus approaches it asks if it goes to “BOUDDHA” which is what they call the district in Kathmandu. If you are going by taxi you are going to ask for 500 rupees, we recommend that you do not pay more than 400 rupees.
4. The stupa of Swayambhu
In the Swayambhu, you have the park of the three Buddhas, at the foot of the road, and the Swayambhu site on top of a hill. The Park of the Three Buddhas or the Buddha Amideva Park is a small enclosure on the roadside, with three giant Buddha figures. One of them is the largest Nepal.
From here you can climb up to Swayambhu which is the must-see place in Kathmandu. To get there you can walk up the road from the park, it’s easy but you’ll have to face 20 minutes of climbing.
Swayambhu is a fairly large complex, full of monkeys and stupas. Inside there are many corners to explore as to be a couple of hours.
You can have a fun time watching the little monkeys jump into the water in the “monkeys swimming pool”, throw coins and make a basket in the “Buddha pot” to find peace of mind, climb the stairs and see you surrounded by stupas (and their respective monkeys), and see Kathmandu from a bird’s eye view.
The entrance to the site is 200 rupees (US $ 2) and it is worth paying them (these ones cannot be saved).
On the way down you can enter and see for free the park of the Three Buddhas. A small park with three giant representations of Buddha. Many locals are going to pray there.
5. The Hindu temple of Pashupatinath
It is the most important temple for the Hindus in Kathmandu. There you will find the ghats where cremations to “are made Varanasi style (India) ”
The entrance to the temple is 1500 rupees US $ 15). This price seemed very excessive, which, we did not enter. If the cremation catches your attention, we recommend that you see it in Varanasi (India).
6. Patan and its Durbar Square
Patan is the neighboring municipality of Kathmandu, which is why it is always included among the places to see in Kathmandu. The most interesting thing about Patan is its Durbar Square, although it is quite similar to Kathmandu.
It is very easy to get from Kathmandu, in fact, we did it walking. By bus or SAFA Tempo you get a few 20 rupees. The entrance price is 1000 rupees. But also, as in all Durbar Square, you can avoid paying if you enter another adjacent street.
Patan suffered a lot with the earthquake and currently, the vast majority of the temples are propped up or reduced to rubble. Our opinion is that if you can enter without paying, take a walk, but if you are going to pay, with the Durbar Square in Kathmandu, it is enough.
7. The city of Bhaktapur
The visit to this city is one of the essentials to see in Kathmandu and surroundings. A day trip back to Kathmandu is enough, although other travelers prefer to stay overnight. Getting to Bhaktapur is very easy and cheap again. You just have to go to Baghbazar Road, and before arriving at the Durbar Marg (the main road) you have the sign Bhaktapur Bus Stop. The bus price is 25 rupees, and the journey does not arrive at the time.
The main attraction of Bhaktapur is Durbar Square. The price of the entrance 1500 rupees. But as it could not be less, to enter this Durbar Square for free is also possible, and if you take a detour, you will find an alley that runs into you in the square.
In Bhaktapur, it is also worth wandering around and getting lost for a while. To return to Kathmandu ask about the Kathmandu Bus Stop, it has no loss.
8. Buddhist monasteries of Kapan and Phullari
This is one of the least tourist routes but no less interesting to do in Kathmandu. If you like Buddhist monasteries in the Tibetan style, you have to go through here. It is a long excursion, more than half a day, but it is nice as you walk through a part of Gokarna Park (near Boudhanath ). From there you have the wonderful view of Kathmandu Valley and Boudhanath Stupa.
Arriving is not so easy because it is not indicated. We recommend that you use the Google Maps App and check the two temples and follow the route indicated. This is how we did it and we arrived without a problem. In both monasteries, you enter for free.
9. Nagarkot and the views of Everest
If one night you want to leave the bustling Kathmandu, you can make a fleeting escape to this small town just 30km away, and if the clouds allow it, enjoy privileged views of Everest or Kanchenjunga, among others.
Arriving is very easy. Buses leave from the Ratna park Bus Station in Kathmandu. Which is also named as Old Bus Park, and for about 40 rupees and two hours of travel you get to Nagarkot. For the early risers, it can even be a full day excursion.