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Kathmandu Tourism And Travel Guide
11° C / 51.8° F
October to February
2 to 5 Days
Tribhuvan International Airport
International Nepal Railway Station Janakpur (225 kms)
Kathmandu, as we know today, forms part of the Kathmandu Valley, which once accompanied other adjoining areas and was known as the Nepal Mandala. Today, with 2.5 million residents and tens of thousands of visitors who travel to this city each year, it is the most densely populated but also the most commercially developed city in Nepal.
It is believed that the present Kathmandu Valley was once simply a lake with host plants and animals flourishing in and around it. Manjushree, a Buddhist saint from Tibet, noticed a lotus floating in the middle of the lake and began to worship it as it deeply evoked his devotion. He went on to cut the Chobar Hill, which turned into a gorge deep enough for the lake water to drain out, leaving behind a fertile land fit enough for human settlement. Ever since, the valley has been a visiting ground for devotees, merchants, emperors and explorers, and is now also a major tourism hub. Here’s a brief travel guide on how you can make most out of your next trip to Kathmandu.
How to Reach
Kathmandu is most easily reached by flying in to Tribhuvan International Airport, which is located only 5 km away from the city centre of the capital.
The road to Kathmandu connects to a number of cities in India; each route can be accessed via border crossings located between the two countries. There are a number of bus services and private vehicle options to choose from, or you can even opt to drive by yourself and attempt to craft a trip of a lifetime.
Most travellers who choose to take the rail route have to combine train journeys with road trips, since direct passenger trains are yet to be established between India and Kathmandu. The Indian Railways have a number of trains that connect major cities and small towns to the cities neighboring the Nepal border. From here, you can choose to enter Nepal and eventually Kathmandu by road through the border crossing.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Autumn (Mid September-November):
Autumn season entails the optimum weather conditions for visiting Kathmandu if you are looking for adventure and sightseeing activities. The climate remains predominantly dry and the skies are clear enough to enjoy brilliant mountain views. However, peak season rates are likely to apply everywhere.
Winter in the Kathmandu Valley is generally milder than the frosty conditions of the higher altitude regions. The nights do tend to get slightly bitter, but there’s plenty to enjoy during the daytime in the form of shopping and enjoying local cuisines.
The rhododendron bloom season comes in second for the best time to visit Kathmandu. You can enjoy the pleasant, bright days with lots of trekking options, shopping opportunities and festival celebrations.
Summer (June-Mid September):
Summers tend to be hot and humid, and while Kathmandu doesn’t witness as much rain during the monsoons as the rest of the country, it can still get stifling in the crowded areas and it’s better to avoid such places if you happen to visit during the summers. Instead, you can choose to remain indoors and keep cool by taking part in activities that don’t require getting out much.
Things to Do
The diverse range of architecture in Kathmandu ensures that there is plenty to explore in this versatile city that perfectly amalgamates Hindu shrines with Buddhist sanctuaries. Places like Durbar Square, Boudhanath Stupa, the Royal Palace and Pashupatinath Temple are packed full of traditions and folklore that will keep you reflecting long after you leave the city.
The old town of Kathmandu is an intermingled web of shops and alleyways and residences; and in spite of being a cacophony of sights and sounds, it has actually become a favorite among tourists in the city. The Durbar Square divides the old city into a north and south zone, and consists of areas like Asan Tole, Chhatrapati and Indra Chowk.
Kathmandu also offers trekking trails away from the main city; two of your best options would be the Annapurna Base Camp Trek and the Everest Base Camp Trek. Trekking through the foothills of the Himalayas, you will get to experience nature at its finest, with brilliant views of the mighty Himalayas and the warm hospitality of the ethnic groups residing in these areas. Other trails that start from Kathmandu are Arun Valley Trek, Tsume Valley Trek, Tamang Heritage Trail, and Langtang Gangja Pass Trek.
One of the main reasons Kathmandu sees a lot of tourists annually is for its tremendously popular shopping spots. The bargain markets provide great value for money with items that are native to this region, ones that would otherwise be sold for very high prices in other parts of the world. Areas like Thamel are mostly known for their souvenir shops. Kathmandu also has a variety of malls and commercially trendy outlets if you are looking for purchasing luxury items and designer wear. Don’t forget to take back some pashmina, singing bowls, and thangka paintings with you.
If you are the kind of person who prefers looking for indoor activity options, try your hand at gambling in one of the numerous high-end casinos Kathmandu has to offer. They feature a lot of options with games, gaming and slot machines, combined with scrumptious complimentary food and drinks and cultural entertainment as well.
What To Eat
Some of the best Nepali street food can be found in Kathmandu. While momos is now common even in India, it is still worth a try when traveling to its original home. The Chatamari and Choila are Newari foods quite popular among locals and tourists alike. To satisfy your sweet tooth cravings, try the Lakhamari and Sel Roti. Nepal is also a paradise for vegetarians as most of the country follows this diet.