1.Visit the Boudhanath Stupa
This ancient stupa is one of the biggest in the world and is one of the most popular tourist sites in Kathmandu. It is swathed in myth and legend and I suggest having a read about the history and purpose of this construction before visiting.The stupa itself is impressive and there are a number of little things to see around it. You can spin a prayer wheel, watch monks as they make music, and have a browse in the shops (although get your souvenirs somewhere cheaper!). The prayer flags fluttering from the stupa make excellent photographs too.
Price: NPR 150 ( AUD $1.60)
Pro tip: For a little luxury, combine a lunch trip at the Kathmandu Hyatt with a visit to the Boudhanath Stupa. On weekends the Hyatt has a special buffet lunch for RPS 1600 ( AUD $17.78) and allows access to their beautiful pool. The stupa is a five minute walk along the main road.
2. Drink tea in a Nepali teahouse
Nepali teahouses are possibly the smallest establishments ever. Blink and you will completely miss them. They usually have a number of wooden doors that are about shoulder height that make up the shop front. They are dark little places but gather up the courage and step in. It will be a truly genuine experience. Ask for a cup of Chiya (Chee-ya), a sweet milky tea and a Khaja which is “snack” in Nepali. You will usually get a small bowl of chickpeas but it might be a surprise.
Price: NPR 80 ( AUD $0.90)
3. Visit the Pashupatinath temple
This outing deserved a post all for itself– it was that interesting. The temple is a working crematorium and if you are brave then stick around and watch the Nepali death ritual. It’s not as gory as it sounds as the body is wrapped in a white shroud. The temple is also home to dozens of monkeys and the odd Sadhu. Take home a cool souvenir in the form of a photo with a sadhu, just make sure to give them a little donation. Also if you have time, have a peep around the old people’s home. It is good luck to die near a river even though it might seem a little morbid to die directly opposite the funeral pyres. Seeing the wizened faces and smiling eyes of the old people is worth it (if you are interested in portrait photography then this place would be a goldmine).
Price: NPR 500 ( AUD $5.50)
Pro tip: Hire a guide at the entrance for around NPR 500. The guide will point out interesting features of the temple and you will learn more than if you made it around by yourself.
4. Eat, eat and eat.
Kathmandu has some delicious food. Whilst you are visiting, you should definitely have a plate of Dhal Bhat. Dal Baht is the national dish and Nepali’s can eat it for every meal. It consists of rice, a potato curry, a dhal (lentils), pickle and a pappadum. It can be eaten with your hands or a spoon and fork. Momo’s are another favourite of mine and are Nepal’s dumpling offering. A plate of momo’s usually comes with a spicy tomato sauce. Although I love these foods, nothing compares to the Katti Roll. This was my firm favourite whilst in Nepal. A Katti roll consisted of a fried buttery roti (flatbread) with some kind of filling. Paneer cheese was my favourite but you could get chicken, vegetables and egg. They would make the Katti roll fresh in front of you and with a dash of lemon and some tangy sauce, it was perfection.
Price: NPR 80-200 (AUD $ 0.90- $2.20)
Pro tip: Eat where the locals eat and you will get the best prices! Avoid eating in the touristy places such as Thamel or Boudhanath. Just take a short walk and you will find real nepali food at prices much kinder on the wallet.
5. Visit Patan Durbar square.
Less popular than the Kathmandu Durbar square, the Patan durbar square is full of local Nepali’s with only one or two tourists floating around. It is situated in the centre of the Lalitipur district which is a 30 minute taxi ride from Thamel. The square has fascinating architecture with stunning wall paintings and intricate carvings.
Price: NPR 500 (AUD $5.50)
6. Have a browse around Thamel.
Thamel is the main touristy area of Kathmandu and is a loud, chaotic mess of tiny streets. On the streets of Thamel you can get souvenirs ranging from fake North face gear to cutesy felt animals. There are also lots of little bookshops, trinket stands and places selling the standard Pashmina’s and Yak blankets. The yak blankets are especially nice with so many different colours and patterns. Thamel is geared towards the tourist so prices are quite high. Bargain a lot! You can usually get things for around half the original price.
Price: Free if you don’t buy anything!
Pro tip: If Thamel gets a bit chaotic and unbearable, a short stroll from the centre of Thamel is the Garden of Dreams. This colonial garden is perfect for having a small time out. There are even little squirrels running around on the green grass.
Have you been to Kathmandu? What did you like to do there? I would love to hear from you, leave me a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.