Many visitors to Nepal only spend a short time in Kathmandu before heading out for their trekking adventures. Kathmandu is a beautiful city, rich in culture and history. There is a lot to experience and see while you’re in this city, but if you’re on a tight time schedule, here’s how to spend a perfect day in Kathmandu.
Munch on Morning Pastries for Breakfast
Kathmandu has many bakeries that offer delicious pastries throughout the day. Grab a tasty roll and follow it up with a hot coffee or a bottle of mango juice! Eat outside and watch the shop owners begin their day. Be observant in your bakery of choice- some of them will offer discounted items at the end of the day. Make a mental note to return if you wish.
Spend the Morning Temple-Hopping
There are some incredible temples in Kathmandu, which are great to visit in the cooler temperatures of morning. Swayambhunath Temple is more commonly known as the Monkey Temple, due to is large monkey population. Many tourists try to lure the monkeys onto their shoulders. However, these monkeys are considered holy, so it’s best to be respectful and not taunt them. This temple also has amazing views over the city of Kathmandu, due to the 365 steps it takes to get to the top. Entrance fee: 200 rupees
Boudhanath Stupa is another well-known Buddhist site. As you wander around the giant white mound, the colorful eyes of Buddha watch over, and the prayer flags flap over head. People will walk around the whole stupa three or more times, reciting their mantras. The smell of incense is thick in the air. It’s truly an incredible experience. Entrance fee: 150 rupees
While temple hopping, it is important to be respectful and remember that these are sacred places for people. It is important to wear clothing that covers shoulders and knees- Ladies, cover your cleavage too. You’ll also need to take off your shoes before entering any temples and ensure that you walk the stupa in a clockwise direction (it is considered very unlucky to walk the other way). Lastly, ask for permission before photographing monks or Saddhus (holy men). Do note that many will ask for money in exchange for their photograph. Part of any perfect day in Kathmandu should include exploring a temple or two, so make sure to add this to your itinerary.
Have an Afternoon Snack of Momos
As you head back into the heart of Kathmandu, scope out a place to eat momos. These dumpling-like snacks are edible artwork, that you will not be able to eat enough of! You can get your momos with different types of meat, or vegetarian. They will typically come with a spicy curry dipping sauce that is out of this world.
Discover Durbar Square
This is the place was once a very important site for the Nepalese Royal Family, as kings were crowned and took their place in leadership. Now, visitors can admire the intricate architecture, dating back to the 17th century, and learn about Nepalese history. This is also where the Kumari (living goddess) resides. If you’re extremely lucky, you might even get to see her. Entrance fee: 750 rupees
Find Peace in the Garden of Dreams
By late in the afternoon, you may be exhausted by the hustle and bustle of the city. Between the sounds of cars and motorbikes honking, and the smells of cigarettes and exhaust fumes, you may be looking for a bit of a break. That’s why you’ll head to the Garden of Dreams. This small botanical area in the city is sounded by high white walls, which seem to block out the craziness of the city outside. Wander around the museums or just take a nap on the grassy lawns. Entrance fee: 200 rupees
Taste the World at Dinner Time
Now, if you are planning on going trekking you will probably be eating A LOT of dal bhat (rice with lentils). For the sake of mixing up flavors, you’ll want to visit a restaurant with a bit more variety on the menu. Kathmandu is over flowing with restaurants to choose from. There are restaurants serving food from all over the world. Visit Fire & Ice Pizzeria for some incredible pizza, or La Dolce Vita for great Italian food.
Trek Though Thamel
End your day in the tourist district. Pick up those Nepalese souvenirs for friends and family. A singing bowl for dad. A beautiful yak wool scarf for mom. Maybe even a small statue of your favorite Hindu god! Enjoy the chaos of the market vendors as they call out to you and show you their wares. Challenge yourself as you barter for your purchases and feel the rush of getting a real bargain!
Wondering How to Get from Site to Site?
The best forms of transportation to get to the temples are taxi or tuk tuk. Make sure that you settle on a price before getting in, to avoid being ripped off. If you want to know how much you should pay, ask your hotel. Otherwise, Kathmandu is fairly easy to walk. Many of the tourist-friendly areas are concentrated within walkable distance. Make sure to grab a map, because the streets can be confusing to navigate. You can also ask the locals for help. They are typically able to point you in the right direction.
Hope you enjoyed this article and are ready to plan your own perfect day in Kathmandu.
A version of this article originally appeared on www.archivesofadventure.com