Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal, and also a center of Nepalese economy, culture, education, and art.
The population of the city is approximately 1 million, making it the largest metropolis in the Himalayan region.
Kathmandu is located in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountain ranges at an elevation of 1,400 meters above the sea level. From the mountains, you can get an incredible panoramic view of Nepal capital.
The capital is often called the City of Temples. With the majority of the population being Hindu or Buddhist, you will see a lot of temples of both religions in the valley.
VISA TO NEPAL
Nepal has a very tourist-friendly visa policy. Most nationalities can get a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport. Visitors from all countries, except India must apply for a visa.
NEPAL VISA APPLICATION
- Passport valid for at least 6 months with at least one empty page
- Passport size photo
- Visa application form
- Visa fee in US dollars
To speed up the process, you can submit an electronic application before arrival.
Online application for a tourist visa for Nepal:
For the following countries, the visa fee is waived: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and China.
Most of the visitors arrive through International Tribhuvan airport (KTM) in Kathmandu.
The airport is located in the Kathmandu valley and is 5 km away from the Kathmandu city center. Yet, you can often encounter traffic jams on the road between the airport and the city and it is best to leave enough time for traveling. Although the nearest hotel from the airport is only 200 meters away, most travelers stay in the Thamel area of Kathmandu.
The airport runway was renovated in the spring of 2019, and it should allow it to work more efficiently.
If you are staying in Kathmandu, you can request your hotel to send a car to pick you up in the airport or you can hire one of the taxi cars outside. Taxi accepts cash only. You can exchange your currency before exiting the terminal. The exchange rate may be less favorable than typical rate in the capital. You can exchange just small amount to cover the taxi ride.
KATHMANDU TO LHASA FLIGHTS
There is one daily flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa operated by two different air companies:
- Air China flight (Flight 408) departs on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Departure from Kathmandu: 12:10pm. Arrival in Lhasa: 4:00pm
- Sichuan Airlines flight (Flight 8720) departs on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Departure from Kathmandu: 11:30am. Arrival in Lhasa: 3:05pm
The flight duration is about 90 minutes. If the weather is clear, you will enjoy an incredible view of the Himalayan Mountains while flying above them.
CHINESE GROUP VISA
When you travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa, you will need Chinese Group visa. It is a special visa type that you can get in Kathmandu Embassy. Please, note, if you have any other Chinese visa, it will be discontinued.
It takes 3-5 business days to receive the visa. During that time, you can travel in Kathmandu and Nepal.
Details about Chinese group Visa
GETTING AROUND KATHMANDU
Kathmandu is a large city with complex road systems and very few traffic rules that people follow. For many visitors, it might seem chaotic. In Nepal, vehicles are driving on the left-hand side. If you want to get around the city by yourself, make sure you are comfortable with Kathmandu’s traffic.
If you are taking a taxi or rickshaw, it is important to agree on the price before you start your ride. For scooter or bike rides, get a helmet and we recommend using a face mask to protect you from dust.
TAKE A TAXI
You can either hire a car from your hotel or get a taxi outside. The first option will be a little more expensive, but you can discuss the route in advance and have a guided tour. With a taxi from outside, you will have a cheaper ride. You can negotiate the price with the driver. Most of the taxi cars are narrow Suzuki Marutis.
RENT A BIKE/MOUNTAIN BIKE OR A SCOOTER
It can be a good option for sightseeing in the city, the rental fee is inexpensive. However, you should be confident in your driving skills as traffic in Kathmandu is chaotic. Also, you might need an International drivers license to drive there. If you are cycling, keep in mind the roads are rough and uneven and some landmarks are on hills.
HIRE A RICKSHAW
This option is perfect for getting around Thamel. Rickshaws are not expensive and you can bargain.
It will allow you to experience the culture from up close. Kathmandu is a large city, so walking would be best in Thamel and around main landmarks, such as Boudhanath stupa area. To visit remote locations, walking won’t be an optimal choice.
For both taxi rides and rickshaws, it is important to agree on the price before you start your ride. For scooter or bike rides, get a helmet and we recommend using a face mask to protect you from dust.
WHERE TO STAY IN KATHMANDU
By far the most popular place to stay in Kathmandu is in Thamel area. If you would like to narrow it down even further, the good place to stay is around Kathmandu Guest House (KGH). The guesthouse is always marked on all maps and it will be easy to locate the area. You will find yourself in the center of all activities. There are many great restaurants, coffee shops, yoga studios, and hundreds of various size shops. Cars are no longer allowed to drive through Thamel and it became much quieter. You can walk anywhere and explore the center of the city, enjoying the views and not trying to avoid approaching cars.
Another great area to consider is around Boudhanath Stupa. There are several Buddhist monasteries in the area. Many of the monasteries have guesthouses with affordable accommodation. Monastery complexes are very quiet, providing a relaxing atmosphere compared to busy Kathmandu streets. In addition, some monasteries have special programs that you can join to learn about Buddhism and meditation.
TOP THINGS TO SEE IN KATHMANDU
Durbar square means kings or Royal square. There are total three Durbar squares in Kathmandu valley, all of them are UNESCO World Heritage sites. One of them is in Kathmandu city, in the heart of its old town and in front of old royal palace of Kathmandu.
The Durbar square features brilliant architecture, showcasing the skills of Newary artists.
The prominent palace and temples complex – Hanuman Dhoka is named after monkey devotee of Lord Ram. You can see his statues and images in the square.
One of the most interesting temples is Kumari Bahal. In the temple you can see Kumari Devi. The young girl that is believed to be a living Hindu mother goddess Durga.
After the earthquake in 2015 many of the temples and building of the complex are damaged. Reconstruction will take a long time to complete.
The Boudhanath Stupa is one of the largest stupas in Nepal. Its complex represents Mandala. This magnificent Stupa is in UNESCO World heritage list. Is became a center of Buddhist life in Kathmandu with many Buddhist monasteries located around Boudha. The most famous monasteries are Kopan on the hill above the Stupa and Shechen just a short walk to the North from the stupa. Both have peaceful gardens where you can relax and guesthouses.
SWAYAMBHUNATH/ MONKEY TEMPLE
Swayambhunath is located on the hill above the capital. You can enjoy a panoramic view on Kathmandu from there. Tibetan name of the temple means “sublime trees” for the rich greenery on the hill. These trees provide home to many monkeys. It gave the site another name – “Monkey Temple”. The temple combines traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism which are closely connected in Nepal.
The easiest way to visit Swayambhunath is to take car to the top of the hill, and after visiting the temple, walk down the stairs.
Be very careful with monkeys, don’t show them food as they can grab it from you and don’t look them in the eyes as they perceive it as aggression.
Pashupatinath is in important sacred Hindu complex, included in UNESCO World Heritage list. The main temple of the complex is open only for Hindus. Everyone else can explore the surrounding complex.
The Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple complex features ashrams, temples, images and inscriptions dedicated to lord Shiva.
The complex is located on both sides of the sacred Bagmati River that flows into Ganges. On the bank of the river you can witness cremation.
You can usually meet yogis (Baba) in the complex. Keep in mind that they will ask you for money if you take photos.
Kopan monastery is one of the most famous Buddhist monasteries in Kathmandu. Monastery is located on top of the hill above Boudhanath Stupa with an incredible view on the capital. The complex has large gorgeous park with statues, stupa and small scenes depicting the life story of Lord Buddha.
Kopan monastery offers retreats and teachings, you can learn and practice meditation. When there are no other events, you can visit monastery daily Dharma talks in English. These talks are about various Buddhism teachings and concepts.
Monastery offers simple guesthouses. If you wish to stay there, you need to follow monastery rules.
GARDEN OF DREAMS
The Garden of Dreams is also known as the Garden of Six Seasons. The garden was built in 1920 with an infrastructure based on Neoclassical historical standards. Is is located in the center of Kathmandu, steps away from Thamel. However, it seems like a different world. Its serene atmosphere offers peaceful escape to visitors.
Pullahari monastery is another great Buddhism monastery in Nepal. It is located to the North from Boudhanath Stupa on the hill above Kathmandu. Its serene location is perfect for meditation and studying Buddhism.
You can walk between Kopan and Pullahari monastery. There is a cafe with terrace. from there you get an incredible nice view on the city.
Shechen monastery is located a short walk away from Boudhanath Stupa. It belongs to the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Monastery has a peaceful garden with vegetarian restaurant. It also offers guesthouse rooms for travelers.
7 DAYS LHASA TO NEPAL OVERLAND TOUR
This tour starts in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. In Lhasa, we visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temle, Sera and Drepung monasteries. After that, we drive towards Shigatse, visiting Yamdrok Lake, Karola Glaciers, Gyantse monastery and Kumbum Stupa on the way. On the next day we drive to Everest to spend one night with the view on the highest mountain. Finally, we will reach Tibet-Nepal border from where you will travel to Kathmandu.
LHASA TO MOUNT KAILASH AND NEPAL
In this 14 days private tour we will explore the most important sites in Tibet before heading to Nepal border. First, we will spend time in Lhasa, visiting Potala Palace, Jokhang Temle, Sera and Drepung monasteries. Then we will drive to Everest through Gyantse and Shigatse. After that, we will head to Western Tibet to visit Manasarovar lake and trek for 3 days around sacred Mount Kailash. From Kailash, we will drive to the border.
MOUNT KAILASH FROM NEPAL BY FLIGHT AND HELICOPTER
This tour starts in Kathmandu. In Nepal capital you will spend the first few days waiting for your Chinese group visa. After that, you will take two short but scenic flights to Semikot on the North-West of Nepal. From there, you will take a helicopter to Hilsa near Tibet border. This route is magnificent, with a view on snow mountains, dense forests and canyons.