The Nepal trip is now wrapped up, and now I am trying to get my head around my thoughts of this unique, yet exciting city of Kathmandu Nepal. Many experiences during the Kathmandu trip were mostly positive, a couple of negatives, however, in this honest opinion, I delve into the positives and the negatives of a city that I’ll never forget.
I loved my Kathmandu, I really did, perhaps it’s love more reserved to a distant friend that you are happy to see from time to time, but the love is still there. I guess that’s my sincere feelings towards the Nepalese Capital City, glad to come back and delighted to see the changes in the future when I do return.
One thing is for sure; I will return for a second Nepal tour will happen at some stage in the coming years because I would love to see those breathtaking mountains once again and further explore other areas of the country.
In my honest opinion, when discussing the positives and negatives of my Kathmandu trip in this article, I will go through what I enjoyed most and the things I didn’t enjoy so much. However, one thing is for sure, if anyone were to ask me whether they should travel to Nepal, especially the big chaotic city, I would give a resounding, yes!
An Honest Review of A Hectic Kathmandu Trip in Nepal
Travel into foreign countries can bring challenges, no doubt about that. Whatever the problems I’m confronted with, l always understand that I’m a guest in their country and that their way of life must be RESPECTED at all times.
I can’t stress the word enough. Respect!
Respect for their religion, respect for their livelihood, respect for the food they eat and respecting the laws of the country. That is of most importance, no matter how I am feeling while travelling into a foreign country.
The sadness of Kathmandu Nepal
Before I get into the pros & cons, it’s essential to know, in case you lived under a rock for the last few years, that the Kathmandu Valley area was struck with a tragic earthquake in 2015, killing thousands of people.
Repairs and maintenance in a city like Kathmandu are understandably a slow process, and the rebuilding is taking its time. There are lots of Kathmandu tourist attractions and structures still going through the process of being reconstructed, specifically the Durbar Squares of Patan and Kathmandu, where the quake hit hardest.
Don’t let it deter you or your travel plans into Nepal, every Kathmandu attractions still look fantastic, and you’ll even capture a positive experience wherever you visit.
The Negative experiences of my Kathmandu Trip
Let’s check out the negatives first of my own Kathmandu travel experience and move on from there. You’ll notice that the positives do outweigh the negatives, but that’s life in the real world, not everything is perfect, even in the world of travel.
The Road conditions of Kathmandu City
Like many third world countries, road conditions and traffic laws have a fair way to go regarding Western Civilisation.
Many roads have bitumen, yet conditions are quite weak with potholes appearing without warning. You’ll also come across some streets which have no asphalt, and a dusty haze will cover the city, especially during the dry months.
Road works can happen at random locations; usually, there is minimal signage, and you’ll have to navigate a way through on your terms. At times, some locals or workers may give instructions for road users to go through, and sometimes if possible, you may need to turn around and go an alternate way.
If you are on foot, generally walk on by and hope the excavator digging the roads doesn’t lose control. I am not joking either, because there were many times, I had walked through busy road works while wandering through the city to my next attraction.
The traffic is chaotic
The traffic is a nightmare, with many bikes, cars and buses all over the roads. When you first look at the distance in kilometres to a Kathmandu place you’re visiting, you’ll think that’s not so bad, and it shouldn’t take too long. That is until you get into the taxi and realise you have moved a hundred metres in five minutes. It will get frustrating.
You will think it may be better to walk, and with Kathmandu sights close by to Thamel, you may be right. However, distant places such as Bhaktapur and to a lesser degree Patan, a taxi or other modes of transportation is your only way there, and you’ll need to put with the chaotic traffic.
Many approaches from locals while walking the streets of Thamel
One thing is for sure; the locals know the tourists are in Thamel, and many are out on the streets in an attempt to make money. It’s as simple as that.
During my travels in Kathmandu, I couldn’t walk 10-metres in Thamel without continually being approached to buy drugs, go on a hike in the mountains, have a rickshaw ride, purchase a souvenir, buy this, buy that, it all got very annoying. Ultimately, the politeness went away, and you would not answer any request. Sometimes you were followed, but never for too long.
Even at the Tourist places in Kathmandu, you would often get approached; in this case, it is someone requesting to be your guide. I am the kind of traveller that likes to wander through attractions in quiet, I am not a fan of tours, and I prefer to read up specific details.
In saying that, on one occasion, I did pay for a guide at the Kathmandu Durbar Square for a negotiated price. Everything was excellent, he walked me around and was very knowledgeable in the details of the temples and buildings. So, if you do want to pay for a tour guide, many will appear at the entrance, negotiate a price and enjoy the tour. If not, walk away.
Bartering in Kathmandu City
Bartering pisses me off wherever I go, I hate it and try to avoid it, whether it’s Nepal, Southeast Asia or another destination. It’s something I am not particularly eager to do for the sake of saving a couple of dollars, besides that, I don’t shop too often when I travel, albeit to buy a couple of souvenirs.
Bartering is a part of life when you visit Kathmandu, whether you’re purchasing a souvenir, hiking clothes, needing a taxi ride or paying for a guide at the Kathmandu tourist attractions.
Generally, the rule of thumb is you try to knock the initial prices down by around 50% and work from there. Try to remember, even if you’re no good at negotiating a price, you’re not going to be left shorthanded too much, so don’t stress about it.
The Many positives of my Kathmandu Trip
The Negative Nellies are over with, now it’s time to get stuck into the positives because there are many to go through.
The People of Nepal
I have spoken about bartering and getting approached on the streets, but as a whole, the people of Nepal are fantastic, genuine people and I loved to have a conversation with them. If you’re drinking at a bar, dining at a restaurant, going on a hike or staying at a hotel, you’ll find the locals are great to have a chat with, so open yourselves up and get to know them.
Even a few of the locals I was getting approached by on the streets of Thamel, after a couple of days, it turned into daily chat sessions on the side of the road and even becoming Facebook friends by the end of the Kathmandu trip. They were great people trying to make a dollar in hard times, and that is it.
The UNESCO Kathmandu attractions
I love the culture, I love tradition and love historical buildings, and in Kathmandu, I was spoilt with choices of places to visit.
There are many fascinating sightseeing places in Kathmandu with Temples, Stupas and Dubar Squares in many locations. Many people love to go to the top of Swayambhunath Stupa to capture a gorgeous sunrise or sunset.
I found the Pashupatinath Temple to be the most fascinating with live cremations happening over the Baghmati River, and every day the crowds would make their way to the temple for worship.
However, it was at the Bhaktapur, Patan or Kathmandu Durbar Square’s that show classed the city’s authentic historical and traditions with beautiful temples, structures and relics located throughout the main attraction area. You could also wander through the narrow backstreets and enjoy shopping and dining experiences.
The Garden of Dreams
A quiet sanctuary in the busy city, The Garden of Dreams was my favourite place to visit in Kathmandu. At this dream gardens, the crowd was missing, nature was alive, and everything from the pavilions, water features and gardens were simply beautiful.
A lot of locals and foreigners make their way into the Gardens for its tranquillity, it’s merely a great place to sit on the park bench and read a book for a while, or to have a quiet lunch in the café, even if you have to spend more money than you would usually.
Visiting the mountains of Nepal
You don’t have to go too far to visit the mountains of Nepal, or even see the Himalayas from a distance in Nagarkot. There are many tours from Kathmandu that will provide mountain bike riding, short treks and even a sunrise tour over the mountains for an unforgettable Kathmandu sightseeing experience.
I will never forget my own experience when I did a 3-day Chisapani to Nagarkot trek, and the Himalayan mountains would follow for practically the duration of the hike. In the mornings, if there were little cloud coverage, you would wake up to the most beautiful sunrise you could imagine.
If you want to be a little more luxury, less walking and spend a bit more money, you can organise a sightseeing flight tour and see Mount Everest from above in the comfort of an aeroplane. Much better than hiking for some people and from all reports, the trip is safe.
Relaxing with free WIFI in a Café in Kathmandu
What tourist while travelling doesn’t like to go straight to a café, buy a delicious cappuccino, perhaps a sweet cake and sit back for an hour two and browse the internet. It’s a great chance to conduct some work and get in contact at home for an hour two. I know I do it during spare time and I don’t want to be holed up in a hotel room.
The coffee and food in Kathmandu café are quite cheap, and there are plenty of café’s, particularly in the area to visit. I know after a big day doing some Kathmandu sightseeing, I would find indulge myself with a caffeine boost and be busy on my phone or laptop for a while. The WIFI reception was pretty good too.
Momos and Dal Bhat
One of my favourite things that I did in Nepal was head the Helena’s Bar in Thamel, go straight to the top of the rooftop bar, buy a local beer, eat tasty momos and watch the sun go down over the valley. It was gorgeous.
The Momos are merely delicious, and on this occasion, I tried the Buffalo version, although you can also choose from vegetarian and chicken. Whatever your choice of momos, you will enjoy, it and there is no better atmosphere than at a rooftop bar.
Next, is the most famous Nepalese dish, Dal Bhat, a traditional meal consisting of lentil soup, rice, curried dishes, a mixture of vegetables and meat if desired. The fulfilling dish is delicious, and you must give it a try while on holidays in Nepal.
The Affordability of Kathmandu city
With all the Kathmandu tips and advice I have given you, at the end of the day, Kathmandu City is an affordable place to travel. Whether it’s the restaurants, bars, shopping, massages, tours, accommodation, taxis and anything else, most things are relatively cheap.
If you want to catch a taxi to an attraction that is 60-minutes away, you’re not paying more than ten dollars. You want to find a cheap hotel in Kathmandu with a private room, and you can from as low as $10-15 a night. At Kathmandu restaurants, you’ll find many affordable meals from as little as a few dollars.
The most expensive part about your trip to Nepal will be the flights to Kathmandu, from there, everything is pretty stock standard if you be wise and plan everything well enough.
Conclusion of the Kathmandu Review
It is quite clear the positives outweigh the negatives, and on this occasion, it’s ten-goal hiding in favour of the Positives.
At least once in your life, make sure you visit Kathmandu and the rest of the country when the opportunity arises because if you get past a few of the negatives that come with any destination around the world, there is a memorable vacation waiting for you.