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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;

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.

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Featured Hotels


Hotel Tibet

A firm favourite with tour parties bound for Lhasa, this Tibetan-run hotel offers quiet, comfortable rooms in a quiet location away from the Thamel bustle. The grand lobby gives a sneak preview of Tibet, with its vivid Buddhist carvings and murals. Facilities include a rooftop terrace, a private garden, a restaurant and a meditation chapel.

Hotel Ganesh Himal

South of Thamel, this friendly, family-run hotel offers above-average facilities for budget travellers in quiet location away from the tourist hubbub. Rooms have reliable hot water, there's a sunny rooftop terrace and owners offer airport pick-ups and mountain bike hire.

Hyatt Regency Kathmandu

Kathmandu’s grandest 5-star hotel benefits from a secluded location, away from the centre but right on the doorstep of the Bodhnath stupa. The 290 rooms are luxurious, service is impeccable, and the hotel bar and restaurants are favourite hangouts for Kathmandu’s power players. Other facilities include a business centre, pool and spa.

Kathmandu Guest House

Probably the most famous budget hotel in Kathmandu, with a prime location in the heart of Thamel. The 121 rooms come in all shapes and sizes, from simple fan-cooled backpacker rooms to handsome air-conditioned rooms in an old Rana palace. However, the old wing was damaged in the 2015 earthquake and restoration work is ongoing. Bonus features include two courtyard restaurants with Wi-Fi, a peaceful garden and secure parking for bikes and motorcycles.

Kantipur Temple House

Built in traditional Newari style, with brick courtyards and carved timber window and door frames, this eco-friendly boutique hotel has 48 comfortable rooms decorated with traditional Nepali fabrics and furnishings. It’s Rana-style living without the royal budget.

Hotel Yak and Yeti

This famous 5-star hotel was founded by a Russian entrepreneur on the site of a former Rana's palace. The stylish rooms are set in two modern wings that were untouched by the 2015 earthquake, and damage to the Rana-era buildings was quickly repaired. As well as swish restaurants and bars and superior business and sports facilities, the hotel has lush gardens and its own casino.