WHAT TO DO IN KATHMANDU
Welcome to our five day tour of Kathmandu, Nepal. We hope you enjoy traveling with us and are inspired to take your own trip. This trip was part of our seven month journey around the world which began in Flores, Guatemala. See a summary of the destinations we traveled to over our seven months here: link.
After a 4.5 hour flight from Bangkok, Thailand to Delhi, India, a 2.5 hour layover, and then a 2 hour flight to Kathmandu we arrived. We spent a couple days resting and renting equipment for our upcoming trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp and then 15 days later we returned to Kathmandu for some well earned relaxation.
Why Travel to Kathmandu, Nepal?
Kathmandu provides you access to trekking the Himalayas. It has been my absolute dream to reach Mount Everest Base Camp and Kurt thankfully had this at the top of his list too. Trekking to Base Camp was the most incredible journey/experience of our lives, for those looking for a life-changing event/challenge, we couldn’t recommend it enough.
How Long to Stay in Kathmandu, Nepal ?
Assuming you are here to trek Mt. Everest or the Himalayas we would recommend having at least a full day to ensure your flights arrives on time. Furthermore, if you need to rent any gear, another day we would also be beneficial. If you don’t have to worry about your flights and your gear is all prepared then you can always spend extra time here on your return.
We spent two days in Kathmandu (specifically the city of Thamel) before we started our trek. This was important for us to be able to rent equipment and also relax before the big trek.
We also built in some cushion days after our Everest trek. We ended up spending another 3 days here because our flight from Lukla back to Kathmandu departed on our scheduled day. This is not always the case, and you may need an additional day(s) to complete the trek so we highly recommend adding some cushion days. We certainly enjoyed having some more time to relax before our next flight to Norway.
Overall, we did’t do anything in Kathmandu that we would say you would need to travel here to do. There were some interesting sights to see and some suprisingly great food options, however, we would not have come here had we not been going to Mt. Everest.
Top Things to Do in Kathmandu, Nepal
1) Prepare For Your Trip to Mt. Everest -Rent/Buy Trekking Gear
As we were traveling to Kathmandu as a stopover to start our trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp, our #1 to do, was to prepare for the journey. This meant relaxing and renting/buying all the trekking gear we need. As we had been backpacking around the world with minimal cold-gear/trekking clothing and equipment, we had to rent/buy the majority of what we took on our Mount Everest Base Camp Trek.
If you need to rent/buy gear you will find countless shops of varying quality and prices at every turn in Thamel. Be aware, most (if not all) of the clothing is imitation name-brand. The clothing and attire will have name brand stitched on, but it certainly is not original. Because of this we highly recommend checking gear at multiple shops feeling the material, checking the stitching, and negotiating the pricing. We had a good experience and recommend shopping at Sports Wear International as the people seemed to care most and offered relatively fair pricing. We rented several of our items from this store, but found other great buys elsewhere including ski/water resistant pants that we both still use today.
Renting, of course, will be cheaper than purchasing. We rented several items such as our sleeping bags and jackets and returned everything after our trek and got our deposit back without a problem. We also bought several things such as headlamps, gloves, souvenir winter hats, and warm clothing.
Don’t be surprised if your gloves don’t keep you warm like you expected. There will be some shops along the EBC trek for certain items if you need something different, but they will more than likely be at a higher cost with more limited options. After the trek, if you are feeling charitable, you can always give away any purchased gear to the locals on the mountain.
2) Enjoy Walking Around Town
It was unique to see the buildings as we flew over the city.
The drive from the airport also proved interesting with cows lounging in the roads.
It was also interesting walking around the streets while searching for rental gear.
Another interesting place to visit was Durbar Square.
Home to the Royal Palace and dozens of temples. Due to the earthquake in 2018 that impacted Kathmandu greatly, a majority of the temples are in ruins and what once stood proudly now lay in piles of stones and bricks. There was security who told us to pay if we wanted to enter but seeing as there wasn’t too much to see we left shortly after.
Thamel 101: If you have laundry that needs to be washed we recommend New Clean Wash Laundry Service. You're going to need it after your long trek in the Himalayas.
There was surprisingly a lot of great places to eat. We highlight a couple we really enjoyed in our “Where to Eat” section below.
4) Get Scammed by a “Rhododendron” Salesperson
During our trek in the Himalayas we saw tons of beautiful Rhododendron flowers, the national flower of Nepal. I fell in love instantly. When we came back to Kathmandu, after our trek, I searched high and low at the local markets for seeds to grow this back home in the U.S. Alas, I found someone that carried the seeds, or so I was fooled into thinking…I purchased them and then went to ship out the seeds at the local post office only to find out you can’t ship any local flora outside the country. On top of that, they let me know the salesman sold me radish seeds and not Rhododendron. Radish! I was livid. I searched the whole day for this magnificent flower, only to be scammed by this man at the market.
I was so upset that I returned to our hotel and told Kurt what had happened and demand he help me find the salesman and get our money back. He tried to talk me out of it as it was only $6 USD and it was unlikely we would find him. But, this was now a matter of morals, not so much the $6 USD. How dare you lie to me and crush my little heart? After over an hour of searching for this one man amongst hundreds if not thousands of stands, we finally found the man! We got a translator (who yelled at the gentleman for lying and selling me something I did not ask for) and helped us get our money back. Hopefully this taught the man a lesson to not lie or trick a foreigner.
Go To a Movie at QFX Civil Mall
As we mentioned, relaxing before and after the trek was on our agenda, so why not got see a movie. We got together with a friend we met at a local restaurant and some of his local friends to watch Dead Pool 2 in one of the best movie theaters in the Kathmandu Valley.
Our fun-filled night was accompanied by new friends on motor bikes, which allowed us to get to the movies and then out for dinner.
Where to Stay in Kathmandu, Nepal
Hotel Buddha is a 3-star hotel just 15 minutes away from the airport and walking distance to all the rental equipment shops and restaurants. If you are trekking, they will gladly hold any of your belongings while you are on the mountain.
They also have a nice viewpoint on the roof to enjoy your breakfast.
Where to Eat in Kathmandu, Nepal
4 minute walk from Hotel Buddha
Indulge in Israeli and Mediterranean cuisine with the best vegan eats around at this vegetarian restaurant. We ate here several times because it was so delicious. Be sure to try the chocolate pumpkin tart. You will thank us.
8 minute walk from Hotel Buddha
Indulge in some of the best vegan and gluten-free foods in town. They offer both vegan and non-vegan food. We highly recommend you stop by the French Bakery. The owner and staff are beyond friendly and they have something for everyone. With fresh foods and desserts, you will be wanting more.
Other Recommendations of Things to Do
These are all adventures that we unfortunately didn’t have time to do on our own but would have considered if we had more time:
- Visit Pokhara: (7 hours by bus or 30 minutes by plane) Pokhara is a beautiful city set by a picturesque lake with spectacular mountain views. It is widely known as the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, another popular trail in the Himalayas. Pokhara is filled with adventure, from boating, rafting, bungee jumping, yoga retreats and even bungee-jumping.
- Boudha Stoupa: (11 km (6.8 mi) from the center) Built in the 14th century, it stands as one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world. Sitting 36 meters (118 feet high) it dominates the skyline in the Kathmandu Valley. On each side below the pyramid are the all-seeing eyes of Buddha symbolizing the awareness of Buddha. This looks to be worth a stopover.
- Shri Pashupatinath Temple: (5 km (3 miles) north-east of Kathmandu) One of the most sacred and famous Hindu temples in Nepal. Pashupatinath is located near the sacred river Bagmati, which eventually meets the holy River Ganges in India. This temple is known for where Hindu followers come during their final days to be cremated on the banks of the river.
Questions For You
- Do you plan on trekking Mt. Everest Base Camp?
- What is the highest elevation you have hiked before?