Things to do in Kathmandu Valley – Brief Guide

Introduction

Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal is a small city surrounded by hills and mountains and is one of the best places to be in South Asia. Being a cultural landmark, you will find lots of heritages and temples that are religiously and historically important. So in the midst of the urban structures of the city, you will find historical and natural landmarks that display the true identity of this city. A mixture of two religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, the historical landmarks of this city are based upon these two religions. With the presence of historical and natural landmarks, you must know there are lots of things to do in Kathmandu.

Not only the landmarks and heritages, being a valley surrounded by hills and mountains you will also get to enjoy and view different natural landscapes near the valley. The nearby hills, which are situated above 2000 meters will definitely give you great views of the Himalayan peaks and the city itself.

In addition to experiencing these natural and cultural heritages, you also get to experience local cuisines, share the cultures and traditions of the local Newar people, and indulge in different adventure activities available inside the valley. Also, you can indulge in modern and urban activities inside the valley, which include parties and shopping. Meanwhile, if you care a lot about yourself and want to distance yourself from the modern world, then there is an opportunity for well-being activities like Yoga and meditation in isolation.

Now that we have talked about a short overview of some of the possible activities that can be done inside the Kathmandu Valley, we will now further detailly talk about the things to do in Kathmandu. We are very sure that you will enjoy these interesting activities to the fullest while being in Kathmandu.

Note – As we are talking about the Kathmandu Valley (district), we will not include the activities from the other districts like for eg- (Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, and Kavre) or other zones. We will only talk about the things to do in Kathmandu Valley.

  1. Explore Durbar Square and Museums

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the historical sites that shouldn’t be missed at all costs. Here in this Durbar square, you will explore several courtyards, palaces, and temples in this single area. Undoubtedly, you will enjoy taking your time around the square while you witness the woodcarvings, architecture, and lively paths of the durbar. Walking in the Durbar Square area is one of the best things to do in Kathmandu Valley. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the ancient Hanuman Dhoka Palace and the Majestic Taleju Temple.

As the durbar square is the focal point of the Kathmandu Valley’s attraction, you could have visited the museum inside it. However, after the earthquake, all of the structures were damaged and the entry inside it is currently halted and will be opened in the future. Besides this museum, you could also visit other museums inside the valley. Narayanhiti Palace, Chaauni (military)museum, Museum of Nepali Art, etc are the ones that you can visit and learn about the history of Nepal.

Kathmandu Durbar Square with blue sky in the Background.

Kathmandu Durbar Square is located in the core of Kathmandu Valley. However, if you want to see other durbar squares, you can travel to Patan or Bhaktapur which is half an hour far from Kathmandu.

  1. Visit Major Temples and Stupas

Considered as the city of Temples, you can visit several temples for several days inside the city and it is one of the best things to do in Kathmandu Valley. But especially here, we are going to recommend the most prominent and most visited temples inside the valley. The most visited temples inside the valley are Pashupatinath, Swoyambhunath, and Boudhanath. These temples and stupas are also UNESCO World Heritage sites included in the checklist of every traveler from around the globe. In addition to these temples and stupas, you can also visit temples named – Dakshinkali, Budhanilkantha, Guheswori, Taleju, and many more.

Bouddhanath Stupa with Prayer Flags.

  1. Try different cuisines

Residing in Kathmandu for several days and not tasting the local cuisines could be the biggest opportunity miss of your life. As you must know Nepal is a country that is full of diverse people, it offers you different types of cuisines. Especially in Kathmandu, you can get to try the local Newari cuisine which has been cooked for centuries and millenniums. Honestly, it is one of the best things to do in Kathmandu. You will taste different varieties of food in this Newari cuisine that will be able to surprise you. Food items include – Chatamari, Choila, and Yomari.

Newari Cuisine in Kathmandu.

Along with these, you can also taste famous Nepali foods such as Dal Bhat Tarkari (Thakali Khana Set), Momos (Dumpling), Chowmein & Thukpa (Noodles), Sekuwa (Buff Barbeque), Sel-Roti, Bhakka (Steamed Rice), Tsampa, Sya-Phaley, etc. Now that we have mentioned to you the most famous food items we will continue to the next topic. If we talk about these food items the list will never end. So, we want you to explore different food items by yourself while coming to Kathmandu.

  1. Walk through the streets of the city

Also known as the city of narrow paths and alleyways, Kathmandu is the best for exploring the streets and it is one of the best things to do in Kathmandu. With the presence of different temples and heritages, you will find it very interesting to walk through the narrow paths of the valley, especially in the narrow paths of Ason, Indra Chowk, Thahity, Yatkha, Nardevi, Jhochen, etc.

Street of Kathmandu.

These streets particularly represent the old culture and heritage, but if you want to explore the charm and elegance of the urban city, we recommend you travel Thamel area of Kathmandu. This area is particularly targeted at tourists as you will find hangout and chilling places like restaurants, bars, clubs, and inns plenty in this area. The Thamel area becomes lively at night with its charming lights and welcoming nature. So, feel free and explore this area.

  1. Ride Adventure

Covered by the hills from all of the directions you can be rest assured that Kathmandu also provides the best motorbike or bike riding adventures. In the nearby hills like Jamacho, Chandragiri, Tarevir, Kakani, White gumba, Champadevi, Shivapuri, and Sundari Jal, one can easily take their bike or motorbike and enjoy the adventure for a day.

Lady rider on the forest of Shivapuri National Park.

The fresh and fit feeling you get from this adventure will definitely astound you and separate the urban city vibe from the natural surroundings. The best news is that after being around the hustle and bustle of the city, you will feel different in an instant while going to these places and it is one of the best things to do in Kathmandu. While talking about the vehicle, you can easily rent through the shops and pay daily. If you are not comfortable doing a solo ride, you can take a guide or go in a group. However, if you wanna experience a fulfilling adventure you can also go on a solo ride.

  1. Hiking

You may not know, but we want to mention to you that there are plenty of hills around Kathmandu that are best for hiking activity. Hills like Champadevi, Jamacho, Shivapuri, Phulchowki, Chandragiri, NamoBuddha, Nagarjun, Sundarijal, Jhor, etc are the prominent hills where hiking can be done within a day.

View from Jamacho Hill.

From these prominent hiking spots, you can see the unmatchable views of the mountain ranges such as – Langtang, Gauri Shankar, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Manaslu, Kanchenjunga and even Everest Himal ranges. It might be a big surprise for you that you don’t have to do the Everest base camp trek and Annapurna base camp trek to see those gigantic mountain ranges. But it is true that in clear weather, you can see the summit of Everest and Annapurna from Kathmandu.

Know that hiking in these places is very attractive and considered the best option than some of the costly trekking activities. Although quickly reachable from the core of the city within several hours, you can expect a totally different environment as compared to the city, eventually making it one of the best things to do in Kathmandu.

  1. Shopping

Famous for handicrafts and handmade pashmina and shawls, Kathmandu acts as a trading hub for such kinds of things. In the city, you can find different kinds of items, that you cannot get anywhere in the world. The handmade yak cashmere, Pashminas, Jewelleries, Handmade paper products, wood crafts, Thangkas, singing bowls, beads, Hemp Products, knives (Khukuri), musical instruments, statues of different deities, and food items are the most prominent things that travelers love to take home.

A lady holding a singing bowl.

Besides taking this item as a souvenir, you could also build partnerships with the local shops and create business opportunities for both of you. The Most prominent place for this activity is Thamel, which is one of the main tourist hubs of the city. Here you can find all of the items that we mentioned in the above paragraph. You could also explore the different markets of Swoyambhunath and Boudhanath to see the variety of products. Therefore, with such availability in the markets, shopping is one of the best things to do in Kathmandu Valley.

  1. Engage in Festivals and Jatras

Also being a prime destination for cultural programs, festivals, and celebrations, there is no way you could miss the major festivals of this city. Populated by the diverse people of the country you can find different kinds of festivals being organized, but if we particularly talk about the festivals of Kathmandu, you will find the Indra Jatra is the major festival that is widely celebrated by the Newars (local people of Kathmandu). This festival is particularly celebrated in the month of September.

Swet Bhairav god on the occasion of Indra Jatra.

Besides this, you can also engage in other Big festivals like – Holi, Dashain, Tihar, Gai Jatra, Shivaratri, Seto Machindranath Jatra etc. Related to its unique stories, it will be very interesting for you to know and celebrate these festivals and Jatra inside Kathmandu. All of the festivals are based on the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, so it will let you expand your knowledge of these religions if you are interested. Therefore, as these festivals are celebrated in different periods, we request you to do some research on them and make plans on which one you wish to visit.

  1. Engage in spiritually, and mentally enlightening activities

You may not know that Kathmandu also has places, where going there will make you enlightened mentally and spiritually. Basically, it is believed and experienced that Spiritual practices cast lights to do away with the darkness. People who engage in these activities frequently find freedom from sadness, dissatisfaction, and despair. Know that doing such activities will ultimately lead people to inner peace.

As you are a tourist, we do not recommend you to do the hard and advanced activities. We recommend you to do the Yoga and meditation. Basically, Yoga is the activity to balance the body, mind, heart, and soul to attain a balanced life. Because it is the symphony of life, engaging in this activity will elevate a being to the highest level.

A lady engaging in a spiritual activity near the hills of Kathmandu valley.

On the other hand, there is a connection with Yoga and Meditation. To be at peace within oneself one must balance the body, mind, and spirit which can be attained by Yoga and meditation. To perform these activities you can go to Osho Tapoban, Vipassana, Iskcon Temple, and Arogya Ashram. All of these are located inside Kathmandu Valley and participating in such activities is the best thing to do in Kathmandu.

  1. Clubbing and partying

Coming in the 21st century, who wouldn’t want to party when traveling? Most of the travelers of today’s generation seek to party in the abroad countries. And while coming to Nepal, there is no doubt that travelers will seek to engage in clubbing and partying activities. For them, we have good news, with the prominence of dozens of clubs and venues, Kathmandu hosts night parties with Live DJ Music or band music. You can choose any type of program to get involved in as there are lots of venues and clubs that organize it.

Now again for this topic, we want to mention Thamel, as it is the prime destination for clubbing and partying. In recent years, we have seen an increase in the clubs and venues inside the valley. Among such clubs and venues, some of the famous are – Lord of the Drinks (LOD), Purple Haze, Kings Lounge, Trisara, Club 10x, Club Fahrenheit, etc. Most of these venues are located in Thamel and also some of them are located in the Durbarmarg (Kingsway). So, without any hesitation, you can enter these venues and enjoy the time with your friends. Therefore, for younger generations, this is one of the memorable things to do in Kathmandu.

Conclusion

Hence, in the end, we want to conclude that, Kathmandu is not just a city, it is a place where different kinds of people can connect to different kinds of emotions. Whether it be an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert person, they will get amazing things to do in Kathmandu. From Natural landscapes to modern luxuries you can taste every aspect of life in this city.

As main and interesting things, we want you to be focused on this city to explore the old heritages and the natural landscapes of the valley. We think that these are the best features of the Kathmandu valley that not many people get to experience every time. So to travelers who are coming to this beautiful city, we want to say that the decision you took to arrive here will not be regretful at any cost. After taking a guide and exploring by yourself you will ultimately get to experience the charm and importance of this historical city within a few days. Have a great time!

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