Updated on November 6th, 2019
Kathmandu is the largest city and capital of Nepal and the namesake of the Kathmandu Valley. Once thought to be the fabled and inaccessible Shangri-La, Kathmandu is now a hub for independent travellers as well as a growing vacation spot catering to all budgets.
As a result of considerable urban growth in recent decades, it is now part of one continuous urban area together with Patan to the south.
1. Kathesimbhu Stupa
The most popular Tibetan pilgrimage site in the old town is this lovely stupa, a small copy dating from around 1650 of the great Swayambhunath complex. The stupa is set in a hidden courtyard. Just as at Swayambhunath, there is a two-storey pagoda to Hariti, the goddess of smallpox, in the northwestern corner of the square. In the northeast corner is the Tibetan-style Drubgon Jangchup Choeling Monastery. It’s just a couple of minutes’ walk south of Thamel.
2. Kumari Bahal
At the junction of Durbar and Basantapur squares, this red-brick, three-storey building is home to the Kumari, the girl who is selected to be the town’s living goddess and a living symbol of devi – the Hindu concept of female spiritual energy. Inside the building is Kumari Chowk, a three-storey courtyard. It is enclosed by magnificently carved wooden balconies and windows, making it quite possibly the most beautiful courtyard in Nepal.
3. Swayambhunath Stupa
The Swayambhunath Stupa is one of the crowning glories of Kathmandu Valley architecture. This perfectly proportioned monument rises through a whitewashed dome to a gilded spire, from where four iconic faces of the Buddha stare out across the valley in the cardinal directions. The site was shaken severely by the 2015 earthquake, but the main stupa sustained only superficial damage.
4. Garden Of Dreams
The beautifully restored Swapna Bagaicha (Garden of Dreams) remains one of the most serene and beautiful enclaves in Kathmandu. It’s two minutes’ walk and a million miles from central Thamel.
Field marshal Kaiser Shamser (1892–1964), whose palace the gardens complement, built the Garden of Dreams in the 1920s after a visit to several Edwardian estates in England, using funds won from his father (the prime minister) in an epic Rs 100,000 game of cowrie shells. The gardens and its pavilions suffered neglect to the point of collapse before they were lovingly brought back to life over a six-year period (finishing in 2007) by the same Austrian-financed team that created the Patan Museum.
5. Asan Tole
From dawn until dusk the six-spoked junction of Asan Tole is jammed with vegetable and spice vendors selling everything from yak tails to dried fish. It’s the busiest square in the city and a fascinating place to linger, if you can stand the crowds. Cat Stevens allegedly wrote his hippie-era song ‘Kathmandu’ in a smoky teahouse in Asan Tole.
6. Seto Machhendranath Temple
Southwest of Asan Tole at the junction known as Kel Tole, this temple attracts both Buddhists and Hindus – Buddhists consider Seto (White) Machhendranath to be a form of Avalokiteshvara, while to Hindus he is a rain-bringing incarnation of Shiva. The arched entrance to the temple was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake and the temple is currently closed for repairs.
7. Hanuman Dhoka
Kathmandu’s royal palace, known as the Hanuman Dhoka, was originally founded during the Licchavi period (4th to 8th centuries AD), but the compound was expanded considerably by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century. Sadly, the sprawling palace was hit hard by the 2015 earthquake and damage was extensive. At the time of research, the main Nasal Chowk courtyard was open and the Tribhuvan Museum was close to reopening, with other buildings closed for reconstruction.
8. Itum Bahal
The long, rectangular courtyard of the Itum Bahal is the largest bahal (Buddhist monastery courtyard) in the old town and remains a haven of tranquillity in the chaotic surroundings. On the western side of the courtyard is the Kichandra Bahal, one of the oldest bahals in the city, dating from 1381. A chaitya in front of the entrance has been completely shattered by a Bodhi tree, which has grown right up through its centre.
9. Indra Chowk
The busy street of Makhan Tole spills into Indra Chowk, the courtyard named after the ancient Vedic deity, Indra. Locals crowd around the square’s newspaper sellers, scanning the day’s news. Indra Chowk is traditionally a centre for the sale of blankets and cloth, and merchants cover the platforms of the Mahadev Temple to the north. The next-door black stone Shiva Temple to the northeast is a smaller and simplified version of Patan’s Krishna Temple.
10. Durbar Square
Kathmandu’s Durbar Sq was where the city’s kings were once crowned and legitimised, and from where they ruled (durbar means palace). As such, the square remains the traditional heart of the old town and Kathmandu’s most spectacular legacy of traditional architecture. The square bore the brunt of Kathmandu’s 2015 earthquake damage. Half a dozen temples collapsed, as did several towers in the Hanuman Dhoka palace complex, but it’s still a fabulous complex. Reconstruction will continue for years.
Top Hotels In Kathmandu
1. Gokarna Forest Resort
Gokarna Forest Resort… A tranquil Heaven to quiet Hideaways. Situated within the city limits of Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, Gokarna Forest Resort is located inside the serene temperate Gokarna Forest, the former private Royal hunting grounds of the Kings of Nepal. A winding road climbs leads through the forest up to the main complex, comprising a mix of subtly majestic Malla period architecture, Rana period lodges, and sanctuaries harmoniously blending with nature.
Further on exotic Forest View cottage rooms are set beside a century old restored Hunter’s lodge. A quiet peaceful haven set between ancient towering trees with glimpses of the second fairway in the valley below make the perfect getaway for a few days of golf, relaxation and rejuvenation at the Spa, enchanting forest walks, and time close to nature. Spa & Health Club Amongst majestic trees on the edge of a plateau overlooking Gokarna Forest and the grassed valley below, Harmony Spa combines therapeutic care with a natural environment impossible to recreate elsewhere. Included are a variety of rejuvenating courses, emphasizing Ayurvedic treatments within Ayura, a dedicated Ayurvedic treatment area, the Adam & Eve, and Serenity massage rooms.
The Health club encompasses Apsara, the Beauty Treatment centre, an indoor temperature controlled swimming pool, luxurious changing rooms each with a Sauna, Steam room, and Jacuzzi. The large well-equipped gym, the finest in the country, overlooks the forest through large windows. Golf Course Against the backdrop of the snow-capped Himalayas, close to the heart of Kathmandu city, South Asia’s finest, and one of the world’s most spectacular Golf Resort Courses is stunningly set within 470 acres of the hundreds of years old Gokarna Forest Reserve.
Designed by David Kidd (Gleneagles Golf Developments of Scotland), the 6,715-yard par 72 course boasts the only Bent Grass Greens in South Asia, making it one of the highlights of the professional tour circuits in the region. The serenity and setting are overwhelming. Deer and monkey wander freely, as will the spirits of all who enter. Truly an enchanting sanctuary.
2. Trekkers’ Home
Nestled in the heart of Thamel, Kathmandu’s historic landing pad for travelers, Trekkers’ Home offers comfortable accommodation for backpackers, trekkers and tourists from across the globe. We have a total of 40 guest rooms, among them single, double, triple and family suites, all of which are complete with en-suite bathrooms. Our guest rooms feature fair-trade, traditional Nepali decor, while ceilings and windows exhibit Tibetan carvings and color schemes.
Twelve of our guest rooms have open-air balconies, and all guests are invited to enjoy our rooftop terrace, which offers fantastic views of Kathmandu, Swayambhunath and the LhakpaDorjee and Ganesh Himalayan ranges. We Provide Free High-Speed Broad Band WiFi.Our central Thamel location makes for the perfect starting point to get acquainted with Thamel’s wide variety. Guests can easily explore Durbar Square (15-minute walk), the Narayanhity Royal Palace (10-minute walk), Swayambhunath, or the “Monkey Temple,” (25-minute walk), and many more of the city’s most famous attractions.
Trekkers home is half a mile from the Garden of Dreams and one mile from the British Embassy. Our hotel is 20 minutes (7Km) car drive from Kathmandu International Airport. Similarly, the hotel is only 5 minutes walk from the Tourist bus station and it is located central part of Thamel at J.P. road in front of Nepal Investment Bank Thamel. Taxi is the easiest way to get to our hostel.
3. Kathmandu Eco Hotel
Kathmandu Eco Hotel is a 2-minute walk from the Thamel Tourist Market. Kathmandu Durbar Square is 1 km from the hotel while Pashupatinath Temple is 5 km away. Tribhuvan International Airport is located 7 km from the hotel. Featuring rooms with a private bathroom, Kathmandu Eco Hotel is located at Thamel, the bustling tourist hub of Kathmandu. A rooftop area with dining tables and chairs and free Wi-Fi is available. Stay in a fan-cooled or air-conditioned room with a flat-screen satellite TV, seating area and electric kettle. A private bathroom comes with a hot and cold shower. Guests have access to a 24-hour reception and free private parking. Laundry and shuttle services are available at an extra cost. Eco Restaurant specialises in Nepali, Indian and Continental cuisines. It also has a fully stocked bar.
4. Oasis Kathmandu Hotel
Oasis Kathmandu Hotel, situated in the heart of Thamel and attached with the Garden of Dream, is dedicated to providing exceptionally friendly and personalized services. Our amenities are plentiful and the value beyond your imagination, ensuring the most pleasurable and memorable stay. We see our customers as invited guests to a party where we are the hosts. It is our goal to make every day a better experience for you.
5. Kathmandu Boutique Hotel
Set in the 19th-century palace of Rana courtier, Kathmandu Boutique Hotel locates itself much near to the tourist hub of Thamel. The exterior has been kept untouched while only minute changes have been made in the interiors so as to address your needs of luxury and comfort. Single room is the cheapest while the deluxe room is the most expensive rooms that are available for your convenient stay.
6. AI Boutique Hotel
Located 1 km from Hanuman Dhoka in Kathmandu, AI Boutique Hotel features a restaurant and bar. Every room at this hotel is air-conditioned and features a flat-screen TV. Certain units feature a seating area to relax in after a busy day. A terrace or patio are featured in certain rooms. The rooms have a private bathroom equipped with a shower. Nice Rooftop Garden Restaurant.
7. Hotel Shanker
Hotel Shanker, Kathmandu is a heritage hotel, housed in a 19th-century palace in the heart of Kathmandu city. It was the royal residence of the rulers of Nepal, from 1894 until 1964, when it was converted into a hotel. The facade and traditions were kept intact but the interiors were redesigned to give travelers the kind of comfort they’d expect of a world-class hotel. The hotel is characterized by exquisite and authentic objects d’art. For example, the carved windows displayed in the lobby bar are over 200 years old.
8. Hotel Mulberry
Mulberry is a private hotel which effortlessly combines contemporary international standard with time-honored, personalized service that reflect Nepal’s traditional family values and gracious hospitality. Our friendly and dedicated staff take pride in ensuring that our guests have the most comfortable and memorable stay. Set at the heart of Kathmandu, Hotel Mulberry offers spacious and elegant rooms with a complete range of services and facilities.
With two dining options, a rooftop infinity pool, it’s own spa and wellness center, the hotel is ideal for a perfect getaway. Guests can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Kathmandu from Koya Bar & Lounge or revitalize at the Cocoon Spa next to the signature Infinity Pool, one of the very few in Kathmandu. Hotel Mulberry is one of the first full-service lifestyle hotels in this center of tourism.
9. Backyard Hotel
Backyard Hotel is situated in a bustling tourist area of Thamel in a very convenient location for everything that a tourist might be looking for, the best restaurants, shopping, the best bookshops and the tourist bus stop. This 30 roomed hotel offers excellent service in a clean and comfortable environment where you will find people eager to please you all the time. Standard, deluxe and super deluxe rooms are available for booking. Just 5 km away from the TIA, an airport pickup is provided by the hotel with a surcharge if requested in advance via e-mail.
10. Kathmandu Guest House
The journey is a deep ingrained memory – an experience to reminisce, an escapade to cherish, a secret to smile over. You recall, you talk, you laugh, you ponder – you face a whole range of emotions over that “particular incident” in that “particular hotel.” Your memory is all the more enriched when something happens in a special hotel. In KGH you can be assured that your memory is highlight that will sparkle throughout your life.