Things To Do And See In Kathmandu

  • Updated on Feb 15, 2024
  • Rugged Trails Nepal

Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is the place where you start and end your Nepal holiday. Someday, Kathmandu used to be the city of temples and thousands of gods and goddesses. Time has changed, and now most of the visitors and even local people complain about dust and hunks. But hey, think that the population is now nearly 3 million and in the development phase. 

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So here in this blog, we are not only talking about the good things to do and see in Kathmandu, but we will also share some of the worst parts of Kathmandu. Most travel bloggers just pointed out the tourist places and the best things to do in Kathmandu city, and some people just wrote about the worst things. There is no doubt Kathmandu is a unique city, especially if you are coming from a big country.
Working in this tourism industry for more than 2 decades, we have seen many different reactions and expressions. For Asian people, it might not be that crazy, but for people in developed countries, people will give them a big surprise. What’s that...? Keep scrolling and reading further. 

The first thing a traveler normally asks is, Is living in Kathmandu cheap? 

It depends on how and where you want to live, but in general, Nepal is a budget destination country. 

But it doesn't mean that it’s cheap. If you want to stay in luxury hotels and want to make your trip luxurious, you can do luxury things too. 

First, let’s talk about some of the best things to see in Kathmandu City. 

Ok, we shouldn’t forget that Kathmandu city is not that big, so for tour activities, we count 3 cities: Bhaktapur, Patan, and Kathmandu as places to see in Kathmandu. 

Temples and Architecture: A Heritage Tour.

Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan—these three cities were ancient kingdoms. Each city has its own character, and we can see the battle architecture in their temples and palaces. Kathmandu Durbar Square is in the heart of Kathmandu Valley if you are staying in Thamel and Durbar Marg, within a walking distance of about 10–15 minutes. The famous living goddess Kumari, who is famous in the world, lives in this square. 

Fun fact about Kumari: There are 5 different Kumari in Nepal; one is from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan, and the other 2 are just for a certain time, which is not so popular. 

Patan Durbar Square is another popular ancient kingdom and the third-largest city in Nepal. Patan is 7-8 km from Kathmandu and takes 20–25 minutes by car. The city of beauty Patan is one of the best cities in metalwork, architecture, wood carving, thanka, statues, and pendants. Somewhere, it’s written that the great artist Arniko was from Patan City. Most of the Buddha status is built- into Patan and exported all around the world. Don’t be confused that those statuses and pendants you're buying were not brought from Tibet, but actually, they're from Patan. Patan also has 136 Buddhist monasteries, and it has a long history of Buddhism. Patan Museum is another interesting place to visit and learn about the history of Nepal. Patan Maps and City Maps will be provided by the company, or you can simply collect them from the airport. 

Bhaktapur Durbar Square is 14 km (9 miles) from Kathmandu Valley. Historically and traditionally, Bhaktapur is quite different from Kathmandu Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square. Bhaktapur is not just in images but, in reality, represents the old style of living. Many courtyards, the tallest pagoda style temples, glorious architecture, and historical festivals are a unique part of this town. Pottery Square, Peacock Windows, Taleju Temple, and many other temples are the major highlights of this place. The entry fee is worth it, which goes to reconstruction, maintenance, and to protect the historical monuments.

Pashupatinath Temple is one of the biggest Hindu temples in the world. 3 km northwest of Kathmandu and a temple of Lord Shiva. This temple has a long history, and non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the main temple. Other activities and the temple view can be seen clearly from the opposite bank of the river. If you have heard about the Shivaratri Festival, then it’s celebrated in this place. The pooja and cremation at the bank look crazy to some people, but it’s a circle of life, so you must have a proper guide with you. A normal tour guide and the street guides can’t give brief information about the importance of this place. This place is actually a highly spiritual place for practitioners and meditators.

You can book a Kathmandu City Day Tour with Rugged Trails Nepal.

Stupas and Monastry: Heritage Tour.

The birth country of Buddha, Nepal, is also popular for monasteries, stupas, and Buddhism followers. In Kathmandu and around Kathmandu, there are hundreds of stupas and monasteries. Some follow Tibetan Buddhism, but the Nepalese people didn’t separate Buddhism from a different religion. This is a unique part of Nepalese culture. Buddhism's faith and followers are older than those of Tibet in Nepal, especially in Patan, Kathmandu, and Bhaktapur. So let’s talk about the major places to visit for stupas and monasteries. 

Boudhanath Stupa is the major attraction in Kathmandu Valley. Almost all the people who come to Kathmandu don’t want to miss this supa. There are dozens of monasteries around, and they follow Tibetan Buddhism. 8km from Kathmandu, a white dome buzzes with energy. The morning and evening visits are quite nice, with the chanting and prayers, which are beautiful. Boudhanath Stupa generally opens all the time, and there are nice hotels and guest houses around to stay in. 

Swayambhunath Stupa is popular as a monkey temple because of the many monkeys around the stupa. 3 km west of Kathmandu, the stupa is on a little hill with a panoramic view of the Kathmandu valley. Swayambhu literally means “self-existent” and has many legends behind it. There are many monasteries around the stupa with a beautiful dome. You shouldn’t miss this place. 

Kopan Monastery is on a hilltop near Boudhnath Stupa, 10 km from Kathmandu. The view from the monastery is beautiful, and it opens from 9 am to 5 pm. Kopan Monastery is also known as the home of 360 monks, lamas, teachers, and students from Nepal and Tibet. Visitors come to this place to attend courses and practice meditation in a spiritual atmosphere.

Seto Gumba is also known as “White Gumba." Gumba means monastery. This monastery is on a northwest hill by Swayambhunath Stupa. After the 2015 earthquake, the monastery was damaged, and for reconstruction and maintenance, it was close to being visited inside. The view from here is beautiful with the Himalayan views.

Namobuddha Monastery is not really in Kathmandu but also a day trip destination from Kathmandu. Almost 40km from Kathmandu at an elevation of 1750 m, it takes 2 to 3 hours to drive from Kathmandu. If you want to get out of Kathmandu Valley for a while and want to enjoy the scenery with the fresh air, then it’s worth a visit. Legends and mythology are another part of this place that is interesting. On a clear day, there can be panoramic mountain views from the monastery. For those who want to stay at the monastery, they have a guest house too. Rugged Trails Nepal will arrange the overnight tour to Namobuddha Monastery; write us.

Those are a major attraction, but there are many other spiritual places, such as Pharping Monastery and stupas in the valley. Nepalese people call Bihar, and those who are 100 years old are inside the courtyards. 

Things to Do in Kathmandu

Above, we mentioned things to see in Kathmandu city, which means that you can do sightseeing and cultural day trips. Besides cultural activities, there are many things to do in Kathmandu in one day. During festival time, there are activities to do in these cities while touring around, such as the Holi Festival. Check out the festivals and events Celebration in Kathmandu. Festivals of Kathmandu

Mountain Flight (Everest Flight).

One-hour scenic Everest flight from Kathmandu in the morning. If you are in Nepal for a limited time and want to see the Himalayan range, then don't miss this one. Rugged Trails Nepal arranges flight tickets and private transportation with pickup and drop-off at a good price. Package: Everest Flight

Day hiking trip from Kathmandu.

For mountain and hiking people, here are some of the best hiking trails to see the panoramic mountain views and the local villages. It's peaceful to get outside of the city. Some of the day hiking trips also offer the Mt. Everest View.  Rugged Trails Nepal Nagarkot Bhaktapur day hike is the travelers favorite day hiking package. To book and learn more about the Nagarkot Day Hike, follow the Link: Day Hike Nagarkot

Day Trip Rafting From Kathmandu.

A day trip rafting to the Trishuli River and Sunkoshi River is another exciting and thrilling experience. The Trishuli River is more popular and famous for whitewater rafting. Rugged Trails Nepal arranges a daily rafting trip from Kathmandu to Trishuli, Sunkoshi, and the Bhote Koshi River. 

Cable Car Ride.

Chandragiri Hills is another beautiful spot to see panoramic mountain views, including Mt. Everest. If you want to see a clear view of Mt. Everest without walking or flying, then Chandragiri Hills is the perfect place. 

Street Photography Walk.

For photographers, the street of Kathmandu is the live museum. Portraits, colorful culture, and street photography are other interesting parts of Kathmandu. Rugged Trails Nepal Photographers will lead this kind of tour privately; contact us. 

Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour with Landing. 

Imagine flying over the world's tallest mountain peaks and having breakfast facing Mt. Everest. Some people say to trek to Everest Base Camp since it's simply easy to experience glorious views. 

Things to do in Kathmandu at night

Kathmandu Street, particularly Thamel, is awake until 2 a.m. The city markets are not like in Bangkok or other countries that are open 24 hours a day. Night street life is not that much if you are expecting but the Thamel (center of the tourist hub) is the major place for nightlife with bars, restaurants, live music, etc. Casinos are inside Kathmandu Valley if you love to play. 

Shopping around the Thamel market and joining clubs is another fun thing to do in Kathmandu at night. If you come to Nepal during festivals such as Indra Jatra, Dashain, and Tihar, then you will be able to see the festive Kathmandu.