To get at the beating heart of Kathmandu, we love getting lost in Old City’s alleyways and discovering unexpected temples, secret gardens and markets. Or we’ll rickshaw over to the backpacker district of Thamel to trade stories with trekkers and climbers, many of whom are just back from conquering Everest.
Unfortunately, Kathmandu was devastated by the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Consequently, the historic sites we’d normally recommend are still being reconstructed.
We’d suggest Durbar Square (+977 1-6213353) for a tour of Hanuman Dhoka. But as mentioned, the recent earthquake did more damage to the royal palace than Britney has inflicted on her own career.
Swayambhunath (+977-981-3551022) is located just west of Kathmandu city and features the stupa (tower) Boudhanath with the eyes of buddha looking out over the valley. Shrines, temples, a Tibetan monastery, a museum and a library are also found here.
Swapna Bagaicha (+977-1-4425340) is another must-see. Built-in 1920, the garden originally featured six pavilions replicating the six Nepalese seasons. Note: only three pavilions remain. We’re always snapping selfies in front of the fountains, amphitheatre, ponds and pergolas.
If chaotic markets are your game, head to Asan Tole where vendors sell everything from spices and yak meat to coconuts and brass pots.
First things first, find a shop that sells authentic momo. These small Nepalese dumplings are filled with veggies, meat or cheese and served with a few dips or chutneys. Ask your hotel concierge for a recommendation or two (they’ll likely have five or six nearby reco’s top-of-mind).
For a beautiful Nepalese dining experience, we usually head to Bhojan Griha (+977-1-4416423). The restaurant is inside a mansion and is formally decorated. As is customary in Nepal, the majority of seating is on large colourful cushions or ottomans. The food is Newari, an ethnic cuisine predominantly located in the Kathmandu Valley. Cultural performances or music around 7 pm.
Where to stay depends on your budget.
For the upscale traveller, Hotel Yak & Yeti (+977-1-4240520) is your best bet. It’s a heritage palace in central Kathmandu featuring numerous amenities such as an outdoor pool, tennis courts, gardens and even a casino.
If you’re travelling on a modest budget but don’t want to resort to hostels, our recommendation is Kantipur Temple House (+977-1-4250131). The hotel features a roof-top garden with an astounding view of Swayambhunath Temple. It’s eco-friendly and offers both yoga and meditation classes. The lobby and rooms are decorated in a rustic Nepalese fashion.
Catch us cruising PINK Tiffany Restaurant (+977-980-3580762) after sunset. The food is good, but the atmosphere is even better. We love smoking a hookah in the LGBT-friendly lounge while chatting up all the QTs.