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Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour

Sightseeing in Kathmandu


Kathmandu, the capital and largest city of Nepal, is a fascinating blend of ancient traditions and modern influences. Once an important stop on the historic Silk Road, today it remains the political and cultural heart of the country.

A brief history of Kathmandu shows settlements in the valley dating back to prehistoric times, with the city itself founded around the 1st century CE. It rose to prominence in the medieval era as a center of Buddhism and Hinduism. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Kathmandu was ruled by the Malla kings who built many of the city’s iconic temples and palaces. After the unification of Nepal, Kathmandu became the capital in 1769.

Despite rapid modernization, Kathmandu still retains its rich cultural heritage. It is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with masterpieces of art, architecture, and urban planning. The city offers intriguing insights into Nepal’s living traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Preparation and Tips

To make the most of your Kathmandu sightseeing tour, keep these tips in mind:

  • The best time to visit is in the spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) to avoid extreme heat or cold.
  • Practice cultural etiquette like dressing modestly and using your right hand for eating or greeting people.
  • Nepali Rupee is the currency. Carry small bills and withdraw cash in advance since ATMs have low limits.
    English is commonly spoken in tourist areas, but learning some Nepali phrases will help you connect better.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Kathmandu has an incredible seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites within 20 kilometers of the city center. Highlights include:

Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple)

  • A historic Buddhist stupa and temple complex atop a hill, offering panoramic valley views.
  • The stupa’s all-seeing eyes represent Buddha’s omniscience.
  • Surrounding hills have smaller stupas, temples, and monasteries to explore.

Pashupatinath Temple

  • One of the most sacred Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • Daily Aarti ceremony on the banks of the Bagmati River draws pilgrims.
  • The cremation ghats along the river represent the end-of-life ritual.

Boudhanath Stupa

  • With its giant white dome and glittering gold spire, it is the largest stupa in Nepal.
  • The stupa’s mandala design symbolizes the enlightened mind of the Buddha.
  • The surrounding area has many Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, shops, and cafes.

Patan Durbar Square

  • A concentration of temples, idols, open courtyards, and historic buildings from the Malla era.
  • Highlights include the Krishna Mandir, Royal Palace, and Golden Gate.
  • The Patan Museum nearby houses bronze statues and artifacts.

Historic and Cultural Landmarks

Beyond the UNESCO sites, Kathmandu boasts many cultural landmarks for an immersive experience:

Thamel Area

  • A lively tourist hub with shops, restaurants, and bars.
  • Browse stores for handicrafts, pashmina shawls, carved wood items, metal statues etc.
  • Try local Newari delicacies and stick to bottled water at restaurants.

Garden of Dreams

  • Built in 1920, this neoclassical historical garden has gorgeous pavilions, fountains, and sculptures.
  • An oasis of tranquility in the heart of Kathmandu.
  • Great spot for reading, snacks, and enjoying cultural performances.

Kumari Ghar (Residence of the Living Goddess)

  • Home of Kathmandu’s tradition of worshipping a pre-pubescent girl as the living embodiment of the goddess Taleju.
  • The Kumari makes public appearances during festivals.
  • Intricately-carved wooden windows give a glimpse inside, but no photography is allowed.

Local Markets and Bazaars

Kathmandu’s markets provide an authentic local shopping experience:

Ason Bazaar

  • A central market selling fresh produce, spices, florals, and household wares.
  • Open early morning to late afternoon daily except Sunday.
  • Reflects the daily rhythms of locals rather than tourists.

Indra Chowk

  • Named after the Hindu god Indra, this crossroads is crammed with shops and vendors.
  • Pick up prayer beads, incense, flags, jewelry and more as spiritual souvenirs.
  • The section near Akash Bhairav temple sells clay pottery and other crafts.

Museums and Educational Centers

Dive deeper into Nepal’s history, art, and culture by visiting:

The National Museum

  • Houses archaeological finds, bronze sculptures, paintings, and more.
  • Highlights include Hindu and Buddhist statuary, royal artifacts, and traditional musical instruments.

Hanuman Dhoka Palace Museum

  • Within the old royal palace complex, showcasing the Malla and Shah period.
  • Has exhibits like the Dhadum drum played to announce the king’s arrival.

Natural and Scenic Points

Take a break from the city bustle amidst Kathmandu’s natural beauty:

Shivapuri National Park

  • Home to a stunning diversity of flowering plants, birds, and mammals.
  • Option for short day hikes or longer overnight camping trips.

Nagarjun Forest Reserve

  • Just outside the valley, it has peaceful forested trails lined with towering pines.
  • Visit the holy sites of Indreshwar Mahadev, Swarga Dwari, and Jamacho monasteries.

Culinary Journey

Kathmandu’s food blends Tibetan, Indian, and native Nepali influences:

  • Typical cuisine uses chunky spices, herbs, dumplings, rice, lentil curries etc.
  • Try authentic momo (dumplings), thukpa (noodle soup), and bite-sized sel roti donuts.
  • Set-course Newari meals offer a delightful sampling of local flavors.
  • Top restaurant picks include Kumari Restaurant, OR2K, and Bhojan Griha.


  • Day 1 : Sightseeing in Kathmandu

Day 1 : Sightseeing in Kathmandu

7 AM – Start early to beat the crowds. Have a light breakfast at your hotel before setting out.

7:30 AM – Meet your guide and driver at the hotel lobby. Load into a private car/van and depart towards the first destination.

8 AM – Arrive at Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) and take the 365 stone steps up the hill. Circumambulate the massive white dome stupa, spin the prayer wheels, and take in panoramic views of Kathmandu valley. Visit the small temples nearby.

9:30 AM – Depart for Pashupatinath Temple. Observe the morning rituals along the riverbank. Marvel at the intricate wood carvings on the pagoda style roofs. Walk across to the cremation ghats on the Bagmati River.

11 AM – Time for souvenir shopping! Head to the artisan shops near Pashupatinath selling Buddha statues, masks, jewelry etc. Also look for tailors stitching local outfits like kurta pyjamas.

12 PM – Break for lunch at a restaurant like Kaiser Cafe serving multi-cuisine fare. Try Newari chicken, lentil curries, or classic Nepali thali sets.

1:30 PM – Drive to Patan Durbar Square. Explore the beautifully preserved medieval square full of Hindu and Buddhist shrines. Highlights include Krishna Mandir, Royal Palace, and Golden Gate.

3 PM – Enter the Patan Museum to view the Malla era bronze collection. Then take a tuk-tuk ride to the buzzing Thamel area for a walking tour. Shop for souvenirs and handicrafts as you navigate the narrow lanes.

5 PM – Rejuvenate over high tea at the Garden of Dreams. Stroll through the neoclassical pavilions and exotic gardens of this historic site. Watch the sunset over the temple peaks.

7 PM – Return to your hotel. Freshen up and relax. Later you can opt for dinner at a restaurant with live music.

NOTE: If the above itinerary does not meet your needs, we can design individualized travel plans based on your preferences.

Design Your Travel Plan

We can design individualized travel plans based on your preferences.

Overall Reviews

Alex Thompson

Rated 5 out of 5
August 17, 2023

Just returned from the Kathmandu Sightseeing Tour, and I’m still in awe of the city’s vibrant tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty. From the intricate artistry of Durbar Square to the serenity of Swayambhunath, each site was a revelation. Our guide was a treasure trove of stories, bringing to life the legends behind every corner of the city. Despite having read so much about Kathmandu, this tour gave me a firsthand experience of its soul. The bustling markets, aromatic local cuisines, and the melodic chants from ancient temples made it an immersive journey. Highly recommended for anyone wishing to truly understand the heart of Nepal!

Guided by Hari Tamang

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