The very first place you get to when you reach Nepal is the Kathmandu Valley. The one and only international airport in Nepal is located in the Kathmandu valley. For whatever reasons you visit Nepal, you will spend at least one day in Kathmandu. So, even before you land in Kathmandu, your first thoughts may be regarding the best things to do in Kathmandu.
The Best Things To Do In Kathmandu | Kathmandu Valley Tour
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The capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is very well known for its heritage sites and beautiful natural landscapes. Kathmandu offers something or the other for every type of travelers ranging from relaxation activities to highly adventurous ones. To get to know few facts about Kathmandu, let us tell you that Kathmandu is the gateway to tourism in Nepal and also the nerve center of the country's economy. Being the capital city, Kathmandu has the most advanced infrastructure of any urban area in Nepal, and its economy is focused mainly on tourism. While the natural beauty of the city is more than enough for travelers to throng Kathmandu year after year, what sets it apart from other tourist destinations is the variety it offers - from spiritual awakening to adventure sports.
If you are planning a trip to Nepal, this article will be very helpful for you. We’ll guide you through the best things to do in Kathmandu while your stay here.
Tours and Sightseeing
Kathmandu Valley Sightseeing Tour
During the first few days of your trip, you can explore the city through Kathmandu valley tour packages provided by various travel agencies in Nepal. This is one of the most recommended things to do in Kathmandu as it will let you explore the best heritage sites in Nepal. Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan are very rich in terms of cultural heritage with historic monuments that are older than 2000 years.
Kathmandu valley tour basically includes places like Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhanath Stupa, Swayambhunath Temple, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square and the list goes on. Most of the historic monuments has been damaged by the earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015. So, you’ll also get a chance to see the new structures which has already been built and which are in the completion period.
More than just a religious destination, the Pashupatinath Temple, which was declared as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1979, is a beautiful blend of religion, art, and culture. The main pagoda style temple has a gilded roof, four sides covered insilver, and exquisite wood carvings. The temple of Pashupatinath is surrounded by several other Hindu and Buddhist deities. Everyday thousands of national and international devotees visit Pashupatinath Temple. Other famous temples inside Pashupatinath temple area includes the Bhuwaneshwori, the Dakshinamurti, Tamreshwor, Panchdewal, Bishwarupa, and others.
Of these major attractions in Kathmandu, Swayambhunath Temple is the only place from where you can get a bird’s eye view of Kathmandu valley including the Himalayan range. Swayambhunath Temple, also known as the Monkey Temple, is a pilgrimage site for Hindus, Vajrayana Buddhists, and Newari Buddhists. There are numerous shrines around this main building. Each one was donated by kings and other political figures. This place is famous not only because of the religious angle but also for the peace it offers to the mind and body. The largest crowds of people are seen here on Buddha's birthday which usually falls in May each year. Hundreds of locals visit Swayambhunath Temple in the morning or evening for walk.
Visiting Boudhanath Stupa is also one of the best things to do in Kathmandu. Boudhanath Stupa has a massive mandala that makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. Boudhanath Stupa, also known as Bodnath Stupa, is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet.
The Kathmandu Durbar Square, also known as the Hanuman Dhoka Square, truly reflects the religious and cultural life of the people with its old temples, palaces. You might find it interesting to know that the Kathmandu Durbar Square is the House of the Living Goddess “Kumari”. The Kasthamandap temple at the Kathmandu Durbar Square was said to have been built from a single tree in the 16th Century. This temple is also in the reconstruction stage as it was damaged during the earthquake. Half a dozen temples collapsed during the massive earthquake. These are some of the masterpieces of art and architecture in Kathmandu. Without any doubt, the Kathmandu Durbar Square lives up to its high status as a UNESCO designated world heritage monument.
Situated at the center of the city of Lalitpur in Nepal, Patan Durbar Square is one of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Patan Durbar Square is one of the oldest Buddhist City in the world which is why it is best known for its ancient artistic heritage. This concentrated mass of temples is perhaps the most visually stunning display of Newari architecture to be seen in Nepal. The major attractions around the Patan Durbar Square includes Golden temple, rato (red) Machhindranath temple, Rudra Varna Mahavihar, Kumbheshwor temple and Bagalamukhi temple.
The Kathmandu valley tour generally covers Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. It will be bit challenging to cover lots of attraction in a single day as traffic jams has been one of the huge problems for efficient travel management. You can work with your travel agent to plan your Kathmandu valley tour depending on the length of your stay in Kathmandu or Nepal.
Dakshinkali, Pharping and Kirtipur Tour
This is a one day tour designed for the tourists who wish to spend very less amount of time in Kathmandu. In this package, the tour starts from Kathmandu to Dakshinkali and ends at Kirtipur and back to Kathmandu. Located at just 22 kms from Kathmandu, it takes about 45 minutes ride from Kathmandu to this ancient temple. Unlike other many temples in Nepal, Dakshinkali temple is very famous for animal sacrifices in the name of Goddess Kali. It is recommended to visit Dakshinkali Temple during Dashain festival which falls in September or October every year and goes on for fifteen days.
Pharping is just four kilometers from Dakshinkali temple. Pharping is very famous for its hilltop Buddhist Monastery named Drolma Lakhhang. Shesh Narayan Temple, Vajra Yogini Temple, Guru Rinpoche Cave and Ralo Gompa are some of the major attractions in Pharping. In addition to this, Pharping has several amazing day hikes, a bazillion Buddhist monasteries, giant statues of ancient gurus, Hindu temples, and many more.
Kirtipur is just 10 kilometers from Pharping. The historic town Kirtipur has many things to offer like old shrines and temples, old settlements, and old houses. Very different from other main towns, Kirtipur lies on top of a steep rocky hill. Kirtipur is well known for its resistance against the Gurkha invasion led by Prithvi Narayan Shah in the 17th century. Some of the major attractions in Kirtipur include Bagh Bhairav Temple, Chilancho Stupa, Uma Maheswor Temple, Newa Lahana, etc. On your trip to Kirtipur, you should not miss New Lahana. This newari restaurant offers mouthwatering newari delicacies along with homemade newari alcohols. Trying the newari dishes at Newa Lahana is also listed as one of the best things to do in Kathmandu.
Bhaktapur Sigheseeing Tour
Bhaktapur is one of the must visit places when you are in Nepal. Visiting Bhaktapur is definitely on the list of things to do in Kathmandu for tourists planning to visit Nepal. Located at the current town of Bhaktapur, Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a home to ancient temples, historic monuments, festivals, fantastic art and unique cultures.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square has innumerable temples and architectural showpieces. One of the major attractions in Bhaktapur Durbar Square is the palace of 55 windows (also known as Pachpanna Jhyale Durbar in Nepali) built in the 17th century was a masterpiece of wood carving. The Golden Gate, which is the entrance to the main courtyard of the palace of 55 windows is said to be the most beautiful and richly molded specimen of its kind in the entire world. The Bhaktapur Durbar Square tour can be easily completed within a day. On your trip to the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, you must try their very famous local yogurt known as juju dhau.
While planning your trip to the Bhaktapur Dubar Square, you can also include the very famous Changu Narayan Temple. This temple is located just four kms from Bhaktapur. Changu Narayan Temple is considered to be the oldest temple of Nepal. This ancient temple is placed at the top of hills surrounded by a forest of Champak tree. The Changu Narayan Temple was originally built in the 4th century during the Lichhavi Dynasty and was rebuilt in 1702 after a major fire occurred.
While visiting the Changu Narayan Temple, you should definitely visit Changu Museum. This private museum is also located on the way to temple. This museum is also considered to be the first private museum of Nepal and houses collection of ancient coins, tools, arts, and architectures.
Trip To Nagarkot To Experience The Most Thrilling Activities
How can you miss Nagarkot on your trip to Nepal? Nagarkot is definitely a place to be ticked in the things to do in Kathmandu.A village in central Nepal, Nagarkot is situated at the rim of the Kathmandu Valley. Nagarkot has always been the top choice among the tourists because of its views of the Himalayas, including Mount Everest to the northeast. You can get striking view of these Himalayan ranges during sunrise and sunset. Apart from mountains and hills, there is nothing much to see in Nagarkot.
But don’t get disheartened as Nagarkot offers many exciting things to do for everyone.
Everest View Paragliding
If you have never tried Paragliding, then you are missing something major in your life. Flying through the blue sky and enjoying the panoramic views of the Himalayas is the perks of Everest View Paragliding in Nagarkot. This is mandatory activity on your list of things to do in Kathmandu.
Nagarkot View Point Tower
Nagarkot View Point Tower is about an hour hike from the base where Nagarkot starts. This is a great spot to watch sunrise along with the 360 degree view of the Himalayas. Your trip to Nagarkot is not complete without the visit to this view tower.
Go Mountain Biking
You can go mountain biking if you are looking for adventure when in Nagarkot. Mountain biking in Nagarkoyt is also one of the best things to do in Kathmandu. Let us tell you that there is an excellent mountain biking route from Nagarkot to Bhaktapur. Using this route, you can Blaze through the trails going uphill, downhill with villages, terraced farmlands and forests on the way before reaching Bhaktapur. Nagarkot biking tour is one of the best short rides in the valley. It’s a combination of on and off road riding with some challenging downhill sections.
Hiking in Nagarkot
While talking about the list of things to do in Kathmandu, you should not miss out Hiking in Nagarkot. There are many routes for hiking in Nagarkot. The Nagarkot Panoramic Hiking Trail is a great option for hike lovers. This 14km long hiking is full of incredible views.
Chisapani to Nagarkot Trek
This trek from Sundarijal Chisapani to Nagarkot is an extensive trek of 6 days. The trekking route is full of natural beauty, bird watching, beautiful streams and extreme jungle watch. The Chisapani Sundari Jal trek begins at Sundarijal. The trail starts from Shivapuri National Park passing through a big watershed. This watershed provides 40 percent drinking to Kathmandu Valley. Chisapani Nagarkot Trek offers beautiful nature and village walk experience, natural environment, stunning Himalaya panorama of Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Langtang Himal, Gaurishankar Himal and even we can spot Mount Everest in far distance. This also makes it one of the must visit and best things to do in Kathmandu.
One day Trip to Dhulikhel And Namobuddha
Just 30 kms away from Kathmandu Valley, Dhulikhel is a small Newari town of old houses and temples. If you are running out of things to do in Kathmandu, you can plan for a trip to Dhulikhel and Namobuddha. This beautiful hill station treats you with beautiful snowcapped mountains. The view from Dhulikhel is considered to be the finest panoramic views in the world. You can also include Panauti in this tour if you wish to. This tour from Dhulikhel to Namobuddha starts from Dhulikhel and leads towards Namobuddha. On reaching Namobuddha, you can visit the Namobuddha View Point, Namobuddha Monastery and Namobuddha Temples. It is also the right place for meditation and practice. After visiting Namobuddha attractions, you can trek down to Panauti (1340m) to experience unique Newari cultures.
Adventure at the Last Resort Kathmandu
The last resort offers the most thrilling jump from the suspension bridge over Bhotekoshi River. This is the must and one of the best things to do in Kathmandu for people who love extra thrill. The thrill of the bungee jump can be experienced at two places in Nepal, i.e. Sindhupalchowk and Pokhara. The last resort is situated 3-hour drive away from Kathmandu. Sited 160m above Bhotekoshi River, the bungee jump takes place on a 166-m wide steel suspension bridge over the Bhotekoshi River.
Canyoning is an amazing full body and mind experience that enables you to explore some of the last forbidden places in the Himalayas. This is yet another best things to do in Kathmandu. Bungy and Canyoning is operated at the Last Resort from the end of February to the end of May in spring and the first of September to end of December in autumn of the year. There are a total of four Canyons in the area: Panglang Khola, Kahule Khola, Kanglang Khola and Bhukuthe Khola.
White Water Rafting
The Bhote Koshi river provides some of the most exciting rafting and kayaking in Nepal, and is quite possibly one of the best short river trips offered anywhere in the world. White water rafting at the Bhotekoshi River is on the top amo ng the best things to do in Kathmandu. Rafting on the Bhotekoshi is a full body experience, much more than simply paddling forward and backward.
The Tandem Swing offers you a full-on, adrenaline-filled, gravity-defying adventure. The swing, like the bungy, is over 160m high. This swing is done in pairs so has few requirements. For example, for bungy and swing the minimum weight is 45kgs and the maximum weight for bungy is 100kg and for swing is 120kg. For the tandem swing, the maximum combined weight of two of you should not exceed 140 kgs. This is also one of the best things to do in Kathmandu with your loved ones.
High Camp Adventures based in Nepal has been offering a variety of services to make your trip to Nepal and beyond exciting and memorable since a decade. We provide different packages that covers the best things to do in Kathmandu and all over Nepal. We specialize in adventure activities in the Nepal Himalaya, as well as Tibet, Bhutan, and India, and have an array of highly experienced guides (fluent in English, Japanese, Spanish, Hindi & French) who have been leading people through the Himalaya for over a decade. If you are interested in trekking, climbing, expeditions, bungy jumping, river rafting, jungle safaris, or prefer sightseeing and cultural/historical tours, we can help you plan the perfect holiday.