Nepal’s energetic capital is the entry point for most travelers who come to this mountainous and culture rich country. Foreigners tend to apply a “get in and get out” policy to the sometimes overwhelmingly chaotic city, sunk in the basin of the Kathmandu Valley. There are, however, plenty of remarkable sights in the metropolis to make a few days or more here compelling, memorable and – though it may seem surprising – relaxing. Here are our top tips on the best things to do in Kathmandu.
Stuff yourself with momos
Kathmandu is the best place in the country to try this Nepalese and Tibetan speciality: vegetables or minced meat wrapped in dough, which are then either fried or steamed and accompanied by a spicy sauce. For budget momo options, don’t miss out on a freshly steamed batch from a street-seller, or try the scrumptious fried pork and chicken options at Thakali Bhanchha, a Nepali-Tibetan restaurant overlooking central Thamel. For a more upmarket option, go for the Bhutanese take on these tasty dumplings at Dechenling. Their speciality steamed pork momos are extraordinary. Ignore the waitresses’ warnings about them being “smelly” – something probably got lost in translation, as they smell as marvellous as they taste.
Take in the views at Swayambhu
Pilgrims and tourists alike flock to climb the three-hundred-odd steps leading up to Swayambhu, the magnificent ancient golden stupa from which excellent 360-degree panoramas over the city and across the Kathmandu Valley are afforded. Around 1500 years old and steeped in Buddhist symbolism, Swayambhu is an essential sight while in Kathmandu. It’s often referred to as the “Monkey Temple”, and primates abound; you’ll spot them fighting over discarded cans of Red Bull and other items unsuitable for monkey consumption. Be sure to keep your distance.
Get the golden touch at Three Buddha Park
It’s worth incorporating a slight detour during a visit to Swayambhu to take in the three giant golden Buddha statues erected at the bottom of the hill, just west of the stupa. These dazzling beings, often overlooked, each stand around 20m tall and are a glorious sight. The tranquil garden in which they stand is an ideal place to sit for a few moments and take in your surroundings.