Things to do in Kathmandu
Cycle to the stunning monuments of Kirtipur
Rent a mountain bike and roam to the villages just beyond Kathmandu's ring road. The 2015 earthquakes damaged many of these historic townships, but there is still much to see, including some spectacular temples that rival the structures in Durbar Square. Just southwest of Kathmandu, Kirtipur came out of the disaster better than most, with a string of stunning monuments; rent a bike from Dawn Till Dusk (tel: +977 1 470 0286; www.nepalbiking.com)
See Kathmandu through an artist’s eyes
Track down traditional artisans in the backstreets. The winding lanes of the Nepali capital are the factory floor for a legion of craftsmen, who hammer delicate repoussé-work designs into metal plates, paint intricate images of Buddhist deities onto stretched canvases and turn traditional black-clay pots on foot-powered potter's wheels. Patan, Bhaktapur and Bodhnath are key zones for artisans.
Summit Swayambhunath for stunning views
Climb the steep stairway to Swayambhunath, dodging a legion of over-confident monkeys to reach Kathmandu's most spectacular look out. From this famous stupa, you can see streets of Kathmandu spread out like an architect's model. The 2015 earthquake toppled several shrines, but the famous gilded stupa, crowned by the ever-watchful eyes of Buddha, survived undamaged.
Take a meditation course
Find serenity on a meditation retreat or learn about Buddhism from reputable gurus. There are quite a few choices, and among them, the Vipassana Centres are good for medication courses, while Rangjung Yeshe Institute and Kopan Monastery offer Buddhism courses.
Take a ‘helicopter ride’ through Thamel’s bazaars
Hire a rickshaw in Thamel for a 'helicopter ride' through the crowded backstreets to Kathmandu Durbar Square, passing though Kathmandu's most atmospheric quarters. From this wobbly vantage point, you'll have a grandstand view of the captivating chaos in street bazaars that have hardly changed since medieval times.
Watch the sun set over Nagarkot
Take a day trip to a Himalayan viewpoint on the valley rim. The hills that encircle the Kathmandu Valley are dotted with lofty lookouts, and despite earthquake damage to many of the surrounding hotels, the views are undiminished. Nagarkot is widely regarded as the top spot for Himalayan vistas, but consider an overnight trip for the best views at sunrise and sunset.