Arriving into the trekking mecca of Nepal, many adventurers do not have time to spend exploring the capital city of Kathmandu. Before heading over to the Annapurna Circuit, or up to Lukla to begin your Everest trek, you may have merely one day to see and experience the chaotic beauty containted within the city limits. With so much going on, it can be difficult to know how to make the best of your time in the city. Here’s the best way to see and experience Kathmandu in One Day
Start Your Morning Off Right
Kathmandu has a surprising amount of bakeries that offer delicious pastries throughout the day. Grab a tasty roll and follow it up with a hot coffee or a bottle of mango juice! Eat outside and watch the shop owners begin their day. Be observant in your bakery of choice- some of them will offer discounted items at the end of the day. Make a mental note to return if you wish. Here are some suggestions if you just can’t make up your mind:
Swayambhunath Temple: Monkey Temple
There are some incredible temples in Kathmandu, which are great to visit in the cooler temperatures of morning. Swayambhunath Temple is more commonly known as the Monkey Temple, due to its large monkey population. Many tourists try to lure the monkeys onto their shoulders. However, these monkeys are considered holy, so it’s best to be respectful and not taunt them. This temple also has amazing views over the city of Kathmandu, due to the 365 steps it takes to get to the top. Entrance fee: 200 rupees
This is the temple you see pictured in all the guidebooks. Boudhanath Stupa is another well-known Buddhist site. As you wander around the giant white mound, the colorful eyes of Buddha watch over, and the prayer flags flap over head. People will walk around the whole stupa three or more times, reciting their mantras. The smell of incense is thick in the air. It’s truly an incredible experience. Entrance fee: 150 rupees
This place was once a very important site for the Nepalese Royal Family, as kings were crowned and took their place in leadership. Now, visitors can admire the intricate architecture, dating back to the 17th century, and learn about Nepalese history. This is also where the Kumari (living goddess) resides. If you’re extremely lucky, you might even get to see her. Entrance fee: 750 rupees
Garden of Dreams
By late in the afternoon, you may be exhausted by the hustle and bustle of the city. Between the sounds of cars and motorbikes honking, and the smells of cigarettes and exhaust fumes, you may be looking for a bit of a break. That’s why you’ll head to the Garden of Dreams. This small botanical area in the city is sounded by high white walls, which seem to block out the craziness of the city outside. Wander around the museums or just take a nap on the grassy lawns. Entrance fee: 200 rupees
End your day in the tourist district. Pick up those Nepalese souvenirs for friends and family. A singing bowl for dad. A beautiful yak wool scarf for mom. Maybe even a small statue of your favorite Hindu god! Enjoy the chaos of the market vendors as they call out to you and show you their wares. Challenge yourself as you barter for your purchases and feel the rush of getting a real bargain!
Looking for more on Kathmandu? Check out my Nepal Archives!