Serving as both Nepal’s capital and gateway, Kathmandu is an endlessly fascinating, exotic and hectic city blessed with a rich cultural and artistic heritage.
Recovering remarkably well from the devastating effects of the earthquake in 2015, Kathmandu remains a vibrant melting pot of merchant workshops, maze-like backstreets, secret courtyards hung with drying chillies, lofty temples and markets peddling soft silks and aromatic spices.
Though some see Kathmandu as a jumping-off point for trekking Nepal’s iconic mountains, there are plenty of interesting attractions and World Heritage Sites to keep you busy here for a few days, from the 2,500-year-old ‘Monkey Temple’ to the mighty Boudhanath Stupa – one of the most important monuments of Tibetan Buddhism outside of Tibet.
At the heart of the city lies its historical Durbar Square where you’ll find a multitude of palaces, ancient temples and elaborate courtyards to explore. The old hippy hangout of Freak Street is close by, as is the centuries-old market area of Indra Chowk which is crammed with colourful shops and stalls to get lost in. A guided tour can also introduce you to the sacred Pashupatinath Temple on the banks of the Bagmati River, and you can always find lively eateries serving traditional Nepalese cuisine in the buzzing Thamel district.
A little further afield lies Patan and medieval Bhaktapur, the other of Kathmandu Valley’s three ancient kingdoms. Patan’s Durbar Square houses one of the finest collections of temples and palaces in the country, whilst Bhaktapur is filled with magnificent religious sites and has earned UNESCO World Heritage status thanks to its rich culture and wood, metal and stone artwork.