The ultimate tourist places in Kathmandu will sure be on your agenda when visiting the Nepal Capital, get ready to be mesmerised by history, culture and beauty in a proud country.
Culture and religion are a healthy mix within Nepal, and it flows through to the Kathmandu Valley and onwards to their vividly beautiful attractions. Checking out the best sightseeing places in Kathmandu needs to be a priority for all tourists who venture to the busy region. Not only because it’s the right thing to do when travelling into any destination, but you’ll also learn a large amount of the country’s proud history in the process.
The Kathmandu attractions vary from stunning temples to gorgeous gardens. From busy and crowded places to tranquillity and peace in a city that is continually flowing. While a few attractions are still getting rebuilt from the tragic 2015 earthquake that rocked the nation, there is still brilliance provided at each Kathmandu Place you stroll into during your Nepal trip.
In the end, you’ll be happy you caught the taxi through the chaotic traffic in the vibrant city and found inspiration within the important Kathmandu sightseeing places because Nepal tourism is not only about the stunning Himalayan Mountains.
10 Tourist Places in Kathmandu You Must Visit
A couple of basic tips before entering the Kathmandu Attractions
- Do you need a guide? – At some of the tourist attraction in Kathmandu, you’ll get locals coming up to you and asking if they can be your guide. They are only there to make a dollar or two and while they can appear persuasive in their actions are harmless and friendly. If you want a guide, negotiate a price and accept if you wish. If you do not want a guide, just say no.
- Beggars – At most attractions you visit, there will be the unfortunate who are desperate for a few rupees from tourists. Such people from the elderly, people who are sadly missing limbs and school-aged kids are usually seen at entrances or throughout the attractions in hope for a gift in return. Please don’t feel pressured to donate, because it will be impossible to hand out to everyone. If you do want to help, there are charities where you can add a donation.
- Take a passport or copy of your passport – The Durbar Squares within the Valley may ask for your passport as prices vary from nationality to nationality. While not mandatory, taking your passport with you can come in handy.
- Secure your belongings – At any country, you visit worldwide petty crime can happen, same for Nepal. Keep your belongings secured in a travel bag or travel wallet and don’t leave anything expensive lying around next to you.
Now let’s get into the best places to visit in Kathmandu.
The Thamel area is where most tourists converge during their Kathmandu trip. It’s also the central hub of the city that has the most affordable accommodation, with a plethora of restaurants, bars and cafés, all with Free WIFI. For those travellers staying in Thamel it will also be the main starting point to the beautiful places in Kathmandu you plan to visit.
In this popular precinct, you’ll be able to go shopping for a range of local goods such as cashmere merchandise, singing bowls and a variety of other Nepalese souvenirs. If you need to recover from a trek, you’ll also find a range of massage parlours to soothe away the aches and pains.
2. Durbar Square Kathmandu
The Hanuman-Dhoka Durbar Square (Kathmandu), has many temples and shrines on the grounds that represent the two most common religions in Nepal, which is Hinduism and Buddhism. Up until the 20th Century, the Durbar Square was the home to the King of Nepal, whereas of today, there is no royal family in Nepal.
With the devastation of the 2015 earthquakes, there are still quite a few structures in the process of being rebuilt. However, such maintenance work will not dent your visit with many fascinating things to see in the favourite Kathmandu tourist place with main temples and idols within Durbar Square including the Trailokya Mohan Narayan Temple, Basantapur Tower and the Courtyard of Kumari Bahal.
It’s at the Kumari Bahal that holds quite a significant fascination. Inside the Bahal, at the time of publishing this article, is a six-year-old girl, who lives within the walls of the Bahal, she is called a Kumari, “a living goddess of Nepal. The Kumari can show herself to tourist during a specific timeframe, but photos are not allowed. She stays living in the Bahal until her bloodshed, and up until that point she is only allowed to leave the premises for ceremonial occasions. When it is time for the current Kumari to move from the Bahal, a new one is selected to live in the walls of the red-bricked, three-story building.
At Kathmandu Durbar Square, it is indeed worth paying for a guide, as these stories are rather incredible and will give you a new education and history lesson on the history of Nepal.
- Entrance Fee: 1000rupees
- Distance from Thamel: 15-20-minute walk
3. Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square is situated in the city of Lalitpur and again a representation of both Hindu and Buddhism. This iconic attraction which is UNESCO Heritage listed is a must when you visit Kathmandu and has many structures of temples, religious relics and idols in the precinct.
The main tourist attractions in Patan Durbar Square is the Ancient Royal Place (museum), the Krishna Temple and the Mul Chok courtyard; however, when you’re stumbling through the area, you’ll find many beautiful structures, temples and religious artefacts located in the area.
- Entrance Fee: 1000-rupees.
- Distance from Thamel: 35-40 minutes by Taxi.
4. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kathmandu, not only for its beautiful structures that are set up in Bhaktapur, but also, there is a little less hustle and bustle, and the atmosphere is quite pleasant.
The main set up within the Durbar Square is again made up of many temple and idols with the most popular attractions being the Vatsala Temple, a statue of Bhudatindra Malla, the Lion’s gate and the Nyatapola Temple along with many other structures. Never threat too much about all the temples in the area, once you pay your entrance fee, you’ll get a map, and you can wander through the Square and take pictures at will. You can even hire a guide if you wish.
The Durbar Square in Bhaktapur was less affected by the earthquakes, meaning there is less construction work happening and most structures are standing there all before you ready to amaze you. During your walk through Bhaktapur, you’ll come across many alleyways that contain market stalls, restaurants and café’s and you can make the most of your day of Kathmandu sightseeing wandering through the area.
- Entrance Fee: 1500-rupees
- Distance from Thamel: Around 60-minutes by taxi.
5. Swayambhunath Stupa
When it comes to what to see in Kathmandu, the Swayambhunath Stupa will get your attention, especially with the popular tourist attraction coming with the best views in the Kathmandu area.
It begins with steps, many of them, 365 of them to be exact, represent 365-steps to Illuminati. It’s once you reach the great heights at Swayambhunath Stupa, also known as the Monkey temple when you’ll witness the incredible views that are there before you. It certainly makes for an ideal sightseeing opportunity, which is even better at sunrise or sunset.
The name of Swayambhunath Stupa is of Tibetian origin and means “sublime trees” representing a variety of trees that are on the hill of the Stupa. At the top, where the famous Stupa stands, you will see a wave of tourists who are all queuing up for the best view in the city and even checking out the monkeys who make permanent occupation at the Kathmandu attraction.
Apart from the Stupa, you can wander further around the area and see other religious architectural sights, such as, the Statue of Peace and the Maha Manjushree Sarashwati Temple, it’s less crowded as you wander through the temple grounds, but you will come across more steps if you decide to return to the main Stupa.
- Entrance Fee: 200-rupees.
- Distance from Thamel: 30-minute walk or 10-minute taxi ride.
6. Amideva Buddha Park
A smaller attraction in Kathmandu is the Amideva Buddha Park, which is a 10-minute walk from the Swayambhunath Stupa. Amideva is the home to the three Buddha statues that sit side by side, with the golden figures representing the Sakamuni Buddha, a four-armed Chenresig and the Guru Rinpoche.
- Entrance Fee: Free
- Distance from Thamel: 10 minutes by taxi.
7. Bouddha Stupa
Bouddha Stupa in the Boudhanath area of Kathmandu Nepal, has a buoyant atmosphere, except it isn’t the purpose, it happens to be this way. The energy created within the grounds of the Bouddha is entirely electric, and it’s much fun to wander around another of the Kathmandu sights and take plenty more photos.
Naturally, the main attraction is the Stupa, which takes centre stage for all to see and is known to be one of the biggest in the world. Created in the 14th Century, Bouddha Stupa is of rumoured to be built at the time of the passing of Buddha as now a stable place for worship in the Buddhist faith.
While many tourists come to the main attraction to gaze at the Buddha and take many photos of the centrepiece, you’ll also get sidetracked by the happening around the main sight, with many market stalls, retail shopping, café’s with views of the Stupa and many restaurants that make it a worthwhile couple of hours at Bouddha Stupa.
- Entrance Fee: 250-rupees
- Distance from Thamel: 25-minutes by taxi.
8. Pashupatinath Temple
It’s one of the fascinating temples you’ll ever see during your travels.
The Pashupatinath Temple host many major religious festivals of the Hindu faith in Kathmandu and is a location tourist rush to enhance their Nepal sightseeing and the locals come to for worship and offerings.
However, the most captivating part about Pashupatinath is the cremations. That’s right! The cremations that happen over the Bagmati River in plain sight of anyone who may be passing by. For the average foreigner it can feel a bit heavy on the stomach, yet, for the locals of Nepal, it’s a part of life and very much ingrained into their culture.
Another UNESCO site in Kathmandu tourist area, the Hindu precinct of Pashupatinath is a collection of temples and Ashrams, not to forget the sacred happenings over the Bagmati River. Each year, Millions of people make their way to this Kathmandu temple, with many of the Hindu faith coming across from India.
- Entrance Fee: 1000-rupee
- Distance from Thamel: 20-minutes by taxi
9. Garden of Dreams
The Garden of Dreams is where you escape when you need to avoid the chaotic scenes in the city and relax in nature for a couple of hours. These gardens are famous for tourists for it does offer relaxation where you can read a book on a park bench, stroll through the gardens with your lover or have a bite to eat and coffee in the Kaiser Café.
Inside the gardens, you’ll find beautifully landscaped gardens, stunning pavilion structures, an amphitheatre, pergolas, divine water features and lookout areas where you can view the Garden of Dreams from above.
You can read more about Kathmandu’s Garden of Dreams with Fair Dinkum traveller’s feature article.
- Entrance fee: 200-rupees.
- Distance from Thamel: 5-minute walk
10. Kopan Monastery
It’s the most peaceful location in all of Kathmandu valley, The Kopan Monastery, a home for Buddhist Monks who live on the premises the monastery but also invite guests into their home. The boutique monastery is on a hilltop on the outskirts of Kathmandu, and you get sweeping views of the valley below and into the surrounding mountains, it is excellent viewing.
A the Kopan Monastery, it does not only home monks, but tourists are also invited to participate in a variety of courses and discover the way of Buddhism and to be at peace with your mind. Such sessions usually run over a period of days from 5-to 15 days, where you stay and live in the boundaries of Kopan Monastery. There are one-day courses available too; you can find information with this link.
If all you want out of the Monastery is to add to your Kathmandu travel experience. You can stop by for an hour or two and wander through the monastery grounds. It’ll make an excellent opportunity to take photos of the beautiful structures, enjoy a relaxing nap on the grassy areas, where time is of no issue, and even buy a few Buddhism related books and other merchandise from the Kopan Library.
- Entrance fee: Free for a visit, courses will cost.
- Distance from Thamel: Around 40-minutes by taxi.