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Kathmandu is the cluttered, colorful, and cultural capital of Nepal. The city is home to 1 million Nepalis and is the biggest city in Nepal. Thamel, the central tourist district, is where much of the action is. Business people, trekkers, and backpackers all accumulate in Thamel, which is home to many cafes, restaurants, bars, and even night clubs. During the day you’ll see all the souvenir and trekking shops with their doors wide open, selling colorful prayer flags and maps of the Himalayas. In Kathmandu at night, the city is still bustling with people going out for dinner and happy hour drinks. There are many tourists places to visit in Kathmandu, to keep you busy after work.
Climb up to the Swayambhunath Temple, also known as the Monkey Temple, for a view over the Kathmandu valley. Entry is 200 rupees ($2) and you have to climb up a massive staircase to get there. The view is more than worth it though, and there are many temples and a large stupa at the top to explore. On very clear days you can see the peaks of the Himalayas! It’s called the monkey temple because it’s home to dozens of naughty monkeys that hang out wherever they want – even directly in your way.
How to Get to Kathmandu
The majority of travelers to Nepal will arrive to Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Most passport holders are able to get a visa on arrival, so carry some cash with you to pay for the visa (USD, Euros, GBP). The airport has ATMs to withdraw Nepali rupees, and it’s easy to hire a taxi to Kathmandu city center for 800 rupees ($8 USD) or less.
If you stay in Thamel in central Kathmandu, you can go everywhere on foot. You can also hire a bicycle rickshaw for short distances. If you want to get further out of the city, there are endless taxi drivers waiting on street corners to pick up passengers. At designated spots there are minibuses that take locals and tourists to locations around Kathmandu too.
Where to Eat in Kathmandu at Night
OR2K // An Israeli restaurant with amazing vegetarian options and quality food, this is a favorite restaurant for backpackers. Take off your shoes at the entrance and cozy up family-style around their low tables.
Fire & Ice Pizza // Famous among tourists and locals alike, this pizzeria serves pizza cooked fresh in their large clay ovens.
Roadhouse Cafe // A bit of a high-end restaurant in comparison to the others, you’ll often find people dining here who are in Kathmandu on business. Many delicious western food options are available, paired with top-notch service!
Syanko Katti Rolls // Katti rolls are Nepal’s answer to Mexican burritos – delicious filling wrapped in warm naan bread. Head to the edge of Thamel to pick up a roll or two to eat in, or take away.
Any mom-and-pop shop // Just outside the main Thamel area are endless local Nepali shops that will serve meals for 100 rupees ($1). Local favorites include fried noodles and fried rice, momos (Nepali dumplings), or Dal Baht (Nepali curry and rice).
Tourists Places to See in Kathmandu at Night
Explore the Thamel labyrinth // Once you leave the main tourist streets in Kathmandu, the scenery gets very local very quickly. Find locals selling fruits, clothing, and spices on mats on the ground, stumble upon tiny temples, and explore small alleyways.
Visit Durbar Square // For 1000 rupees ($9) you can walk through the most historical section of Kathmandu. The temples here have been mostly restored since many of them were destroyed in the 2014 Nepal earthquake. Locals can walk through here freely but tourists have to pay this entry fee.
Hike up to the Monkey Temple for sunset // The holy Swayambhunath temple complex is built upon a large hill overlooking the Kathmandu valley. Walk around the main stupa clockwise, while spinning the prayer wheels with your right hand for good karma.
Escape from the city in the Garden of Dreams // This tiny but scenic park is walled off from the noise and dust from Kathmandu. Open until 10pm, for a small fee you can relax in the garden or grab a bite to eat at their cafe.
Enjoy live music at Purple Haze // My favorite bar in Kathmandu is Purple Haze, a live music venue where local (very talented!) bands come to cover some rock n’ roll oldies and current favorite tunes. It’s a great place to hang out and make new local and foreign friends.
Kathmandu is only the tip of the iceberg for what Nepal has to offer! During short trips to Nepal, I recommend trying to get to Pokhara, a beautiful lake-side town that is an expat hot spot. For longer stays, trekking in the Himalayas is a must. Trek durations can be as short as three days, up to more than 25 days!
Also check out:
- Kathmandu, Nepal After 5:00 pm
- Beijing After 5:00 pm
- Moscow, Russia After 5:00 pm
- Tokyo, Japan After 5:00 pm
- St. Petersburg, Russia After 5:00 pm
- New Delhi After 5:00 pm