Kathmandu Travel Guide: where to stay, what to see and food recommendations (UPDATED 2019)

The ultimate Kathmandu travel guide | The Common Wanderer

Here's our ultimate travellers guide to Kathmandu, full of our recommendations for where to stay, what to eat, what to see and do, and a few extra tips to make your stay in this bustling and chaotic city wonderful. 


There really isn’t an adequate way to describe Kathmandu.

Crazy, chaotic, historic, spiritual, haphazard, enticing and vibrant come to mind yet they don’t do this city justice; Kathmandu is just Kathmandu. Totally unique and different to anywhere you’ll visit anywhere in the world.

Originally known as Kantipur, it was once the main trading route between Tibet and India and gradually grew into the metropolis known today.

With a population of around 1.7million, the city will, at times, frustrate you; the constant nagging of street vendors, the beeps of passing cars, exhaust fumes, rubbish and the ever present crush of humans can be hard to manage.

Yet push through these and you’ll soon realise that this city is actually a welcoming, achingly beautiful melting pot of Buddhist and Hindu religion, ethnicity and history, with so much to see and do.

Most tourists visit for a short time before setting off to tackle the Himalayas, relax in Pokhara, or explore the jungles of Chitwan. But trust us when we say Kathmandu is worth investing a little more of your time.

Our Kathmandu travel guide has all the information you need to enjoy your time in this city, from where to stay, what to eat and all the Kathmandu attractions you must visit.


Kathmandu travel guide | where to stay, what to eat, and key attractions


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What to know before visiting Kathmandu | Kathmandu travel guide

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Facts about Kathmandu, Nepal

Date founded | 12th century AD

Religion | 81% Hindu, 9% Buddhist, 4.4% Muslim, 3% Kiratist

Population | 1.4 million

Currency | Nepali Rupee

Best time to visit | October

Top attractions | Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhanath Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa, Thamel

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Where is Kathmandu?

Kathmandu, the capital and largest city of Nepal, is located in the Kathmandu Valley, central region of Nepal.

The city itself is located 1296m above sea level and is home to around 1.4 million people.

Nepali is the spoken language of Kathmandu, although English is widely spoken in all major tourist hotspots.

Nepal itself is home to over 26 million people and shares borders with China/Tibet to the north, and India to the south, east and west.


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A brief History of Kathmandu

Although evidence suggests ancient civilisations existed in the Kathmandu Valley from the 7th century BC, Kathmandu’s recent history begins around the 9th century, when the city was founded by Gunakamadev, who reigned across the area. Sophisticated urban centres existed under the Lichhavi kings at Pashupatinath and other areas in the valley, however it was the Tibet India trade route that led to the growth and construction of present day Kathmandu.

The city actually takes its name from a 12th century pavilion and rest house on the trade route from Tibet to India named Kasthamandap. That pavilion can still be seen today, right in the heart of modern day Kathmandu.

It was during the Malla era, starting in the 13th century, that the city really flourished. During this time, the majority of incredible temples, structures and monuments of the Kathmandu Valley date from this time, including the famous Durbar Squares.

During this time, Kathmandu was an independent city within the Valley, which was divided into three seperate kingdoms, Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. Rivalry, infighting and wars led to the decline of the Valley’s kingdoms, and the 1769 invasion by Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha led to the unification of Nepal.

Kathmandu became the capital of the new nation of Nepal, and the seat of the Shah dynasty.

After the Kot massacre in 1846, in which most of Nepal's high-ranking officials were massacred, the Rana family became the ’second’ Royal Family in Nepal for over 100 years between 1846 to 1951, rendering the Shah’s impotent figureheads in the Kingdom.

From the 1950’s to early 2000’s, Nepal has been consumed by political wrangling and infighting between supporters of democracy, Communism and Nepal's own Royal council, with Kathmandu too epicentre.

It was also during the 1950’s that tourism to Nepal started to blossom (up until this point, the country had been cut off from the World for over 100 years). In the late 60’s and 70’s, Hippies made Nepal their own, with backpackers arriving from all over the world to enjoy the exotic and incredible scenery of Nepal, and the marijuana and hashish.

It was only in 2006, when, after years of infighting and ‘civil war’ throughout the country, parliamentary democracy was restored. Since then, Nepal has enjoyed somewhat of a politically stable period.

Despite all of the issues the country has faced, the one constant in Kathmandu has been the hoards of trekkers and adventure lovers visiting Nepal.

The impact of tourism can be felt throughout Kathmandu, from the chaotic streets of Thamel through to the throngs enjoying the historic treasures throughout the city.

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Kathmandu weather | When is the best time to visit Kathmandu?

We’ve visited Nepal in October, March, April and May and can safely say that the post monsoon period (autumn) is the best time to visit Kathmandu.

Between the months of October - December, the monsoon rains have cleared the dust in the atmosphere, giving way to blue skies and views of the Himalayas (on a good day!). Despite being peak season, it really is the best time to enjoy Kathmandu at it’s finest.

If this doesn’t suit, Spring (Feb - mid April) can also be a good time to visit. However, due to crop burn off, the perfect days are somewhat ruined by a haze which sits over most of Nepal. Visibility, especially in the Kathmandu valley can be low.

Overlooking Kathmandu from Swayambhunath stupa, Kathmandu travel guide


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The power situation in Kathmandu

Although the infamous load shedding of our first visit to Kathmandu are thankfully a thing of the past, power outages still occur on an almost daily basis. These outages can range anywhere between 10mins - 2 hours.

Most big hotels, hostels and restaurants operate using a backup generator, so you may not have any issues, but it’s worth making sure you plan charging your gear (especially cameras!) around the blackouts just in case. A flashlight is also advisable in case blackouts extend to darker hours.

We recommend keeping a power bank (like this one) charged and available, just in case. There’s nothing worse than having no power on your devices, especially in the mountains where you want to take all the photos!

BUY | Purchase this power bank


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The internet situation in Kathmandu

Don’t expect super fast internet in Nepal.

Internet access is available in almost all cities and towns, and is becoming more widely available on main trekking routes. In Kathmandu, many cafes offer a fast connection, but are at the mercy of load shedding.

Nepal does have 4G phone reception and sim cards are fairly cheap to purchase.

We recommend buying a sim card with data on arrival to avoid using wi-fi services.


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The water situation in Kathmandu | Can you drink the tap water in Kathmandu?

The overall water quality in Kathmandu isn’t the greatest. While showering and brushing you teeth are fine, it’s not drinkable.

For this reason, we 100% recommend buying a water filtration and purification system, such as this one by The Grayl.

It literally is the best investment we’ve ever made, and we’ve not had to buy a plastic bottle anywhere in the world for the last 18 months… let that sink in! It allows you to fill up from any water source, anywhere in the world (including Kathmandu’s taps!).

If the Grayl isn’t your thing, we also recommend either water purification tablets, investing in a SteriPen or using a Water To Go bottle.

BUY | The Grayl water purification bottles


Nepal travel advice | Read this before visiting nepal


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Transport in Kathmandu | How to get around Kathmandu

Despite trying our best to master the Kathmandu transport system, we couldn’t - it’s limited, slow and outdated, and unless you’re a local with intimate knowledge of the system, you’ll struggle.

Having said that, some of our favourite experiences have come on local transport, so if you’re willing to give it a go, jump aboard.

Below is the best form of transport in Kathmandu:


| BUS |

If you want to experience the chaos of Kathmandu, look no further than catching a local bus to any of the tourist sites out of the city, including Boudhanath, Bhaktapur and Swayambhunath. They’re cramped, packed full and driven like a rally car, but they are a great way to see how the locals commute. It’s also the cheapest way to get around town.

Most leave from Kantipath or Ratna Park bus stops just outside of Thamel. Always establish the fare before getting on board.

READ | How to get from Kathmandu to Pokhara (and back)

| TAXI |

Taxis are the best form of transport within Kathmandu.

They’re much quicker and more comfortable than a bus, and quite a bit of fun zipping through the chaotic Kathmandu traffic.

You’ll almost always have to negotiate a fare, but they’re generally cheap (not negotiating a fare = being ripped off).

Taxi fares generally range from NPR 100 - 500, depending on distance.

Kathmandu travel guide | transport

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Safety in Kathmandu | Is Kathmandu safe?

We’ve always found Kathmandu a relatively safe city; we’ve not ever had an issue in the city, and we’ve not heard of any incidents either.

The locals in Kathmandu are friendly and generous and realise that tourism is a mainstay of their economy. Travellers will find themselves welcomed warmly, and with little to worry about in terms of personal safety.

BUT.

This doesn’t mean you should become complacent. While it’s safe, there are a number of dangers and annoyances you need to look out for:

POLLUTION | Kathmandu is seriously polluted and dusty, especially during the March/April burning off season. If you’re asthmatic or suffer from any other respiratory ailments, be prepared and take usual precautions, or travel just after monsoon, when the air is cleaner.

DRUGS | Although the drug scene isn’t huge in Kathmandu, you’ll be approached to buy weed or other drugs daily. Just say no and move on, as it’s not worth getting caught and jeopardising your holiday, or worse still ending up in prison.

TOUTS | The streets of Thamel in particular are filled with annoying touts selling everything from tours through to Tiger Balm. Again, a firm ‘NO’ will keep them away.

TRAFFIC/PEDESTRIAN | The streets of Kathmandu are a little haphazard, and it’s often a game of Russian roulette just to walk into town for lunch. Always keep as far left or right as possible, and if you ever feel uncomfortable on the sidewalk, just stop and let the car/motorbike pass.

POLITICS | Politically, after a few years of Maoist turmoil, the country has now made great strides in political stability and is largely peaceful, although demonstrations might still occur (don’t get involved in these).

SOLO FEMALES | For women, the risk of sexual harassment is quite low, however we still advise against walking through Kathmandu’s streets alone past midnight, even in Thamel. We recommend buying a local SIM so you have connectivity in Nepal. Finally, use reputable hotels in Kathmandu, just in case, as there have been incidents of sexual harassment by hotel managers or staff.

NATURAL DISASTERS | Earthquakes are common. In 2015, Kathmandu was extensively damaged by a large earthquake which killed over 9,000 people.

When visiting, be on alert for any sign of danger and follow the locals lead if something does occur. If you’re concerned, read our post on what Nepal’s like now.

READ | Our top Nepal travel tips

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Travel insurance for Kathmandu

We’re always surprised by how many people still travel without travel insurance.

To us, it’s as essential to travel as buying a plane ticket, backpack or accommodation, and we’ve never gone without it.

Although Kathmandu is relatively safe, the 2015 Nepal earthquake shows that the unexpected can, and does, happen.

Adequate insurance provides you with medical coverage if you get sick or break your leg on the side of a mountain, your camera full of epic hiking shots is damaged or stolen, your flights are cancelled, or you get caught up in a natural disaster.

It’s an insurance against potential issues that arise when you’re on the road, and can save your life (or at the very least, a lifetime of debt).

BOOK | We recommend booking World Nomads travel insurance


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Responsible travel in Kathmandu

We’re massive advocates for travelling responsibly and minimising our footprint (while still having oodles of fun!) both on the road and at home, and we feel you should be too.

Nepal is full of absolutely everything you need to travel in a way that’s ‘good for all’; ourselves, the epic landscapes, and incredibly kind, welcoming Nepali people.

Below are a few important points to remember when visiting Kathmandu:

  • Respect the local culture and customs

  • Dress appropriately at temples and religious monuments

  • Say NO to plastic, every time

  • Use reusable water bottles (Like this: The Grayl GEOPRESS water purification and filtration bottles)

  • Try to visit locally run hotels, restaurants and shops

  • Pay fairly and bargain respectfully

  • Be respectful when photographing

  • Don’t support animal tourism/don’t ride animals

From how you can empower women and respect local customs, to how to trek with care and support local business, we’ve put together a responsible travel guide that will help you travel better in this amazing country.

READ | Our guide to responsible travel in Nepal

Safety in Kathmandu is important - Kathmandu travel guide

Responsible travel | Our guide to responsible travel in Nepal


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MONEY Matters | what is Nepal’s currency?

The official currency of Nepal is the Nepali Rupee. We recommend carrying a combination of Nepali Rupee and American dollars at any time.

The current exchange rate is $1 USD = 103Rs.

Nepal has both coins and notes, however we’ve only ever dealt with notes. Notes from from 1 – 1000.

You can find ATMs just about anywhere in most Kathmandu. Most ATMs have a maximum withdrawal limit of 10,000Rs, however some NABIL machines have a 35,000Rs limit.

The 10,000Rs limit can get very frustrating, and can cost a lot in bank fees, however we do recommend getting out as much money as possible each time you visit an ATM; that way you’ll be covered should any issues arise (political, social etc.).

Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Kathmandu at most tourist class hotels, restaurants, airlines, and tour agents. Again, fees do apply.

Money exchange offices are readily available in Thamel, and exchange rates are generally competitive. It’s worth shopping around for the best rate, or negotiating. While all major currencies are accepted, USD, Euros or Pounds are the best.

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WHAT does it cost to travel IN KATHMANDU?

Kathmandu is an affordable travel destination which caters for all types of tourists, from budge backpackers through to those who like the finer things.

However, as is the case with most capital cities worldwide, Kathmandu is much more expensive than the rest of Nepal.

Food and accommodation, especially in the tourist area of Thamel, is at least 10-20% more expensive than most parts of the country, however by western standards, it’s still very cheap.

Below is a snapshot of what things cost in Kathmandu:


| The cost of food & drink in Kathmandu |

Snacks | 50 – 200Rs

Inexpensive meal (Dal Bhat)| 180 – 300Rs

Three course meal | 800Rs

Beer | 200Rs

Water | 20Rs

Soft Drink | 50Rs

| The cost of accommodation in Kathmandu |

Guest house | 400 – 2,500Rs

3 star double room | 2,000 – 8,000Rs

Luxury accommodation | 15,000 – 25,000Rs

| The cost of transport in Kathmandu |

Local Bus | 20 – 50Rs

Taxi | 45Rs (per KM)

Tourist Bus | 800 – 2000Rs (Kathmandu – Pokhara/Chitwan)

READ | What do things cost in Nepal? Find out in our Nepal Travel Guide

Enjoying a chiya on the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal
Fresh street food on the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal


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Essential travel items for Kathmandu

Travelling through Kathmandu (and indeed Nepal) comes with a unique set of needs. To help you have a comfortable, happy journey, we recommend bringing the following items with you:

Reusable water bottle | THE BEST INVESTMENT WE’VE EVER MADE! We use the Grayl water purification bottles, which allows us to fill up from any water source, anywhere in the world

Biodegradable Wet Wipes | Keep clean without destroying the planet!

Hand sanitiser | not something we’d actually recommend normally, but in Sri Lanka it can be a bloody great investment.

A spork | to cut down on unnecessary plastic usage at meal times

Power bank | power does drop out… often! Don’t get caught out without power for your devices buy purchasing this power bank

READ | check out our eco-friendly packing guide to travel through Nepal consciously and comfortably



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WHAT TO DO in kathmandu | Kathmandu Travel Guide

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In Kathmandu, almost everything revolves around the thriving backpacker district of Thamel.

Here, winding alleyways lead to UNESCO World Heritage listed sites, thriving markets, bustling bazaars, and restaurants with just about every cuisine imaginable. We found it incredible, intoxicating and just a little exhausting.

To see the 'real' Kathmandu, we recommend stepping outside of Thamel.

The rest of the city is jam-packed with cultural and artistic history to rival any European city, endless streets worth exploring, and you'll find some of the friendliest locals all around.

It's also a little slower paced than Thamel, which you'll appreciate after a while.

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Kathmandu if you need some inspiration.

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What to do in Kathmandu | CULTURE & HISTORY

Kathmandu is home to some of the most revered cultural sites in both the Buddhist and Hindu communities.

If time is limited, you HAVE to visit the following temples and stupas:

| KATHMANDU, PATAN, AND BHAKTAPUR DURBAR SQUARES |

Going back in history, Nepal was actually split into three main kingdoms - Basantapur (Kathmandu), Bhaktapur, and Patan, each of which had a royal palace and surrounding Durbar squares located in the Kathmandu Valley.

Today, each Durbar Square is made up of temples, idols, statues, open courts and fountains along with other structures. They are the perfect place to admire ancient Nepali architecture, Newari wood carvings and historic traditions. 

Also located at Kathmandu Durbar Square is Hanuman Dhoka, Kathmandu's former royal palace.

It’s currently only partially opened due to damage sustained in the 2015 earthquake, however it is worth your time for a quick visit.

This guided tour takes in all of the Durbar Squares, with a local guide who can share the secrets of each of these important Nepalese cultural sites. Book your place here.

BOOK | Kathmandu Valley Durbar Squares tour

 

| PASHUPATINATH Temple |

Pashupatinath, dedicated to the god Shiva, is one of the holiest sites in all of Hinduism and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

On the banks of the Bagmati river, Pashupatinath is also the location for many buddhist and Hindu cremations, so you’ll likely see one of these taking place on the banks of the river.

It’s a pretty confronting sight but incredibly interesting to witness.

NOTE | The Pashupatinath temple itself is only open to Hindis, however you can still explore the rest of the complex with no issues

 

| SWAYAMBHUNATH STUPA |

There may be a few stairs (365) and a heap of monkeys to navigate before you summit, but a visit to Swayambhunath (or the Monkey temple) is an essential experience in Kathmandu.

Apart from the beautiful temple, this lofty hilltop also provides the best vistas of Kathmandu, perfect for a sunset snap.

 

| BOUDHANATH STUPA |

A visit to Boudhanath stupa is a must if you really want to experience Kathmandu's spiritual side. T

housands of pilgrims visit each day to walk around the central dome, spinning prayer wheels as they go; Tibetan monks chant mantras and pray in the surrounding monasteries while tourists take it all in.

 

| KATHESIMBU STUPA |

If you're looking for a quieter alternative to Boudhanath, Kathesimbu is your place.

It’s an incredibly beautiful stupa located close to Thamel, yet off off the main tourist drag, so it's very relaxed!

NOTE | These UNESCO World Heritage sites may have suffered more than most in Kathmandu during the earthquake, but they still retain the beauty and intricacy which made them so famous. It’s easy to spend a day exploring these squares and we absolutely recommend it.

Kathmandu Durbar Square
Swayambhunath Stupa, kathmandu
Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu

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What to do in Kathmandu | The OUTDOORS

| THE GARDEN OF DREAMS |

The hustle and bustle of Kathmandu will get you down, so we recommend stepping into the tranquil neo-classical oasis, Garden of Dreams. Located just outside of Thamel, the Garden of Dreams is filled with pavilions, verandahs, fountains and a relaxing amphitheatre where you can chill out on one of the pillows provided.

There's also the Kaiser restaurant which does a damn fine hamburger if you're craving a western delicacy!

READ | Our guide to the Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu’s urban oasis

The Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu
Relaxing in the garden of dreams, Kathmandu


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What to do in Kathmandu | the best MARKETS/BAZAARS

| THAMEL |

Kathmandu’s non-sleazy answer to Bangkok’s Khao San Rd; Thamel is colourful, busy and brash! It's a complete rabbit-warren of narrow streets and alleyways, and has everything a traveller needs; hotels and guesthouses, restaurants, bars, top quality bakeries (seriously, they are that good!), supermarkets, book stores, pirated DVD’s and everything in between.

It’s also the place to find all your trekking gear (mostly imitation but still good quality), with literally hundreds of stores selling pretty much the same stuff.

It’s worth the effort to haggle the prices down as you can save up to 50% from the first offer.

 

| ASAN MARKET |

Located between Thamel and Kathmandu Durbar Square, the bustling market street of Asan has just about everything you could ever need. However, that's not the reason we recommend visiting.

It’s more about watching the action that unfolds each afternoon, when locals fill the streets in search of a bargain, or some delicious street food. It really is a sight to behold.

The crazy streets of Ason tole, Kathmandu

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Our recommended tours of Kathmandu

From spiritual tours to some of Kathmandu’s most important sights, to food tours sampling the most traditional Kathmandu fare, we’ve done a number of tours in Kathmandu.

Below are some of our top recommendations:

KATHMANDU SECRET FOOD TOUR | This half day tour takes in the best of Kathmandu’s street food stalls and delicious food. Probably our favourite tour of Kathmandu.

BOOK | Kathmandu Secret food tour with Backstreet Academy

KATHMANDU DURBAR SQUARES DAY TOUR | A day tour exploring all of Kathmandu’s historic Durbar Squares

BOOK | Full day Durbar Squares day tour

MT. EVEREST SIGHTSEEING FLIGHT | See Mt. Everest, without the hike.

BOOK | 1-hour Everest Scenic Flight

TRISHULI RIVER RAFTING DAY TRIP | Something a little different - a white water rafting trip on the Trishuli river

BOOK | Trishuli River rafting experience



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WHERE TO STAY in kathmandu

Kathmandu has a huge range of accommodation options to meet any budget. Most properties are located centrally, primarily around the Thamel district.

Prices vary dramatically, depending on where you stay and when. The most common form of accommodation – guesthouses, will set charge between $5 – $35 per night. If you’re travelling outside of high season, prices can drop, so always ask if any discount is applicable.

READ | A comprehensive guide to the best places to stay in Kathmandu

On the whole, accommodation in Nepal is pretty standard (read our guide to Nepal accommodation here).

Most places have a range of rooms, from budget to doubles with en suite. Beware, that cheaper accommodation is of a poor standard; if you’re backpacking, this might be okay, but otherwise, invest a few extra dollars for something nicer.

We recommend the following accommodation options:

| BUDGET HOTELS/GUESTHOUSES IN KATHMANDU |

HOTEL HOLY LODGE | The location, right in the heart of Thamel, massive rooms and great bang for your buck, makes Hotel Holy Lodge the best budget accommodation we’ve stayed at in Kathmandu (we’ve stayed in about 10 different places!). It can be a little hard to sleep at night, so ask for a room at the back of the property.

BOOK | Check prices and book Hotel Holy Lodge

Or, search for budget hotels/guesthouses in Kathmandu here

| MID-RANGE HOTELS IN KATHMANDU |

NEPAL PAVILION INN | Pretty much our favourite place to stay in Kathmandu, this quaint, Newari-style hotel has beautiful rooms, is located in the heart of Thamel and has the most wonderful hosts.

BOOK | Check prices and book Nepal Pavilion Inn

HOTEL TRADITIONAL COMFORT | Large, clean rooms and a brilliant morning breakfast, Hotel Traditional Comfort is a really enjoyable place to stay at. Located just outside of Thamel, but it’s far quieter in the evening allowing for a good nights rest.

BOOK | Check prices and book Hotel Traditional Comfort

KATHMANDU GUEST HOUSE | A beautiful location, stunning gardens and agreeable rooms - Kathmandu Guest House is an institution for a reason. While not the finest place we've stayed, it's the perfect mid-range guesthouse right in the heart of Thamel.

BOOK | Check prices and book Kathmandu Guest House

Or, search for mid-range hotels in Kathmandu here

| LUXURY HOTELS IN KATHMANDU |

DWARIKA'S HOTEL | The best place we’ve ever stayed at in Kathmandu, Dwarika's is a collection of former traditional heritage Nepali houses formed around a courtyard. It feels like you're stepping back in time and absolutely worth the (very) expensive cost. Oh, and the restaurant is one of Kathmandu's best.

BOOK | Heritage Deluxe from £230 per night

Or, search for luxury hotels in Kathmandu here

| AIRBNB IN KATHMANDU |

A relative newcomer to the Nepal accommodation scene, Airbnb is available in Kathmandu, including some swish apartments in (honestly, we couldn't believe our eyes at how beautiful some were).

BOOK | Use our Airbnb code for up to £30 off your first booking!

READ | Still unsure about Nepal’s accommodation styles? Read this guide!

Save on your hotel - www.hotelscombined.com

Accommodation in Kathmandu


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WHERE TO EAT IN KATHMANDU

Don’t be worried by the quality or variety of food in Kathmandu because it’s incredibly good! Nom.


| NEPALI FOOD |

For the local variety of snacks, start with Momos.

The Nepali answer to dumplings, these pockets of joy come in vegetable, buff (buffalo) or chicken and can be fried or steamed. Next, find yourself some Choila, spicy grilled buffalo meat which goes down a treat with a beer. You can also find amazing pakora and samosas on any street corner!

We recommend checking out Yangling in Thamel for cheap Nepali/Tibetan food. It has amazing Momo's, Choila and Thukpa at seriously cheap prices.

For cheap, larger meals, you really can’t go past Dal Bhat, the Nepali staple meal for lunch and dinner. Dal Bhat is a traditional Nepali meal consisting of rice, a lentil based soup and other condiments. It's very cheap, generally all you can eat, and can be found just about anywhere in Kathmandu; it's best to speak to a local who'll be able to show you their favourite restaurant (we went to an amazing place and never got it's name!).

Learn more about Nepal's delicious cuisine with this traditional Nepali cuisine guide by Nomadic Boys

Our favourite Nepali restaurants in Kathmandu include:

Yangling | Amazing and cheap Nepali/Tibetan food including Momo's, Choila and Thukpa. Our favourite restaurant in Kathmandu! - Read Yangling Tripadvisor reviews

Thakali Kitchen | Genuine Nepali dishes at cheap prices, it’s frequented by locals so you know it’s good

Silauta Restaurant | Another local gem in the heart of Thamel, order the veg Thali and wash it down with a sweet lassi


| WESTERN FOOD |

If you're keen on western food (which you will be after hiking), Thamel is literally overflowing with options. No matter what cuisine you're after, you're sure to find it in Kathmandu, including Mexican, Italian, French and American.

Our favourite western restaurants in Kathmandu included:

Roadhouse Cafe | In our opinion, Kathmandu’s best pizzas at (almost) affordable prices. Always packed, so get there early

La Dolce Vita Italian | Kathmandu’s best Italian food, but also on the more expensive side

OR2K | A Thamel institution serving western and local dishes. Never been disappointed with a meal here

Rickshaw Cafe and Bar | New on the scene, this cool bar cum restaurant serves great western food. The bar/terrace is awesome

Cafe Mitra | Serves delicious western food, including their burger, which is the best we’ve had in Kathmandu!

Upstairs Cafe | Quieter, and slightly cheaper than most western-style restaurants in Thamel, serves very good quality, fresh food

Delicious Momos are essential food to eat in Kathmandu


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HOW TO GET To/AWAY from Kathmandu

| FLIGHTs to Kathmandu |

Almost all international arrivals into Nepal are through Kathmandu’s international airport. If travelling over peak periods, book flights months in advance as routes fill up. Only a small number of international airlines fly to Nepal, including Qatar, KLM and Malaysian.

Depending on the time of year, the cost of airfares vary. The timing of the high, low and shoulder seasons differ from airline to airline, and don’t always coincide with tourist seasons.

WE RECOMMEND USING SKYSCANNER TO SEARCH AND BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS TO NEPAL

NOTE | Nepal’s airport is extremely old and inefficient, so be prepared to wait for immigration/visas, baggage, and baggage checks.

| TOURIST BUS |

When travelling out of Kathmandu, be prepared for a long, slow journey. In Nepal, the roads are shocking and windy, the traffic is appalling, buses stop often for meal/tea stops, and a breakdown/flat tyre will no doubt occur.

Tourist buses are your best option for travel within Nepal.

Tourist buses connect Kathmandu to Pokhara (read our guide here), Sauraha (Chitwan National Park) and Sonauli, as well as Pokhara with Sauraha and Sonauli. Expect a day (6-9hrs) to travel to any of these destinations.

We found Greenline tours to be the best bus company in Nepal. 

BOOK | Book Greenline bus tickets here

Tourist buses can be booked through agents or accommodation providers, or at bus stations.

We do recommend purchasing at least two days in advance, especially in peak periods.

The buses are in okay condition (read: better than public buses) and you’ll often have your own seat. This means a far more comfortable journey, even with the incredibly long travel times. We found bus travel in Nepal the perfect time to read a book, listen to a podcast or sleep.

READ | How to get from Kathmandu to Pokhara

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NEPAL BACKPACKING ESSENTIALS

Travelling through Nepal comes with a unique set of needs.

To help you have a comfortable, happy journey, we recommend bringing the following items with you:

  • Reusable water bottle | THE BEST INVESTMENT WE’VE EVER MADE! We use the Grayl water purification bottles, which allows us to fill up from any water source, anywhere in the world (including train taps!).

  • Biodegradable Wet Wipes | Keep clean without destroying the planet!

  • Hand sanitiser | not something we’d actually recommend normally, but in Sri Lanka it can be a bloody great investment.

  • A spork | to cut down on unnecessary plastic usage at meal times

  • Power bank | power does drop out… often! Don’t get caught out without power for your devices buy purchasing this power bank

READ | check out our eco-friendly packing guide to travel through Nepal consciously and comfortably


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PLANNING TO VISIT NEPAL?

We have a heap of essential reading before visiting or trekking in Nepal!

THE BEST OF NEPAL | The top things to see and do in Nepal

NEPAL TRAVEL TIPS | Everything you need to know before visiting Nepal

KATHMANDU ATTRACTIONS | 21 amazing things to do in Kathmandu

ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT | Everything you need to know before you hike the Annapurna Circuit

POON HILL | The most comprehensive guide to Poon Hill on the internet

TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t leave home without travel insurance (seriously, don’t!). Click here to get the best deals with World Nomads, our trusted travel insurance provider

PHOTOGRAPHY | Love our photography? Wondering what gear we use to get all of our photos around the world? Click here to view our detailed photography gear guide, as well as our top travel photography tips!

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL | Responsible travel is important. REALLY IMPORTANT. Learn our top responsible travel tips to help you, your family and friends travel more consciously around the globe

ECO FRIENDLY PACKING ESSENTIALS | Don’t leave home without our favourite eco-friendly travel essentials


Life after the earthquake - Nepal Now: the only thing missing is you


Anything missing from our Kathmandu travel guide? Tell your fellow travellers in the comments below!


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thinking of visiting nepal? try these posts!


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