Located at the crossing point between South Asia and East Asia, Kathmandu Valley is undoubtedly a melting pot where you can experience various kinds of cultures from the neighboring countries and places. Not only as the center of Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, the Kathmandu Valley is also an important travel destination for tourists from all over the world to explore the exotic religions and cultures. Meanwhile, it is a relaxing stop for trekkers and hikers to the Mount Everest. No matter it is your final destination or just one stop along your trip to Tibet Nepal and Bhutan, the Kathmandu Valley is must on the to-do list of your trip to Nepal.
Top Buddhist Sites in Kathmandu Valley
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Boudhanath Stupa, one of the largest Buddhist Sutpa in the world, is a landmark of Nepal. The big stupa is standing at the center of a square, which is surrounded by many little commercial stores, coffee shops, hotels, and souvenir stores. With hundred years of history, the giant Boudhanath Stupa is said to be built around 14th century just after the passing of the Buddha. The giant eyes on each side of the stupa tower symbolize the all-knowing nature of the Buddha. With the praying flags, the white Buddhist tower stands as the holy site for pilgrims from Nepal and surrounding areas for centuries.
For tourists, the site is opened for the public all day long, and the suggested travel length is around 1 to 2 hours. If you visit the Boudhanath Stupa in the early morning, you can enjoy the quiet and peaceful atmosphere by seeing the local monks passing by and the sacred pilgrims praying around the stupa. If you come to this site later in the daytime, you can join in the locals to do a small kora clockwise around the stupa. Just forget about the noisy streets, the crowded groups of tourists behind you, when you face the silent stupa, you can feel the strength of religions and the power of the nature.
Swayambhunath Temple (Monkey Temple)
The Swayambhunath Temple, a typical Hindu temple, is next to the Boudhanath Stupa, which is another must-see in Kathmandu. Built in the 5th century, the temple is a typical Hindu temple that decorated with gold, traditional wood carvings and five-colored praying flags. It is located in the middle of the Kathmandu Valley, from which you can enjoy a great view of the whole city. To reach the temple at the hilltop, you need to climb 365 steps, but the splendid views from the temple definitely worth the pain.
It is also a holy home for lots of monkeys, which seems like as a holy creature in both Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists. That’s why the temple is also called the Monkey Temple. Please pay attention to the wild monkeys and take care your belongings. The opening hours of the temple are from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. The suggested travel length of a trip to the temple is around 2 to 3 hours.
Located in the eastern part of the Kathmandu Valley, the Pashupatinath Temple is the largest Hindu temple complex in Nepal, which devoted to Pashupati, the lord of the animals in the Hindu world. It is not a single temple, but a temple complex along the banks of the Bagmati River that consists of over 500 temples, ashrams and cremation spots. While you are walking through the Pashupatinath Temple, you could see the religious treasures kept for centuries, the life of the local pilgrims and even death from the ghat for cremation. The trip to the Pashupatinath Temple is just like an epitome of life journey, which seems nothing special, but really something different behind the scenes you see. It is suggested to hire a guide so that you can know better about the history and the meaning of the temple.
Don’t Miss the Kathmandu Durbar Square
Located at the center of Kathmandu city, the Durbar Square is one of the must-sees in all Kathmandu Tours. The historical site is always crowded with both foreign tourists and the locals. Though badly damaged by the earthquake in 2015, most areas of the square are opened for tourists. You can still some signs of destructions and ruins remained but all are been built. Recently, tourists need to pay 1000 Rupees (less than 10 USD) to get into the square, which may help the locals to rebuild this square.
The Durbar Square, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu Valley , is praised as the Museum of Temples for there are over 50 ancient temples and palaces with hundreds of years of history. While walking around the Durbar Square, you will not only explore the cultural and religious heritage, but also taste some of the traditional Newari food there. There are many coffee shops and restaurants where you can eat the traditional Nepal food as well as some foreign cuisines.
Best Places to Go for a Walk in Kathmandu Valley
Undoubtedly, the Thamel Neighborhood is the commercial center of Kathmandu city, where there are plenty of local shops, bars, hotels and restaurants for both local people and tourists from all over the world. It is a good place for shopping and relaxing during your day tours in Kathmandu Valley. While walking through the narrow alleys of Thamel, you can experience the vivid daily life of the locals. No matter you are looking for the distinctive souvenirs for your families and friends at home, or want something delicious to eat and drink, you can find something you want here. Also, there are many travel agencies offering tour packages and travel services to other regions of Nepal as well as the neighboring Tibet, Bhutan and India. For trekkers and mountaineers, there are also professional shops selling trekking gears. You can make a good preparation for your EBC trek in Nepal.
Horned as the City of Beauty, Patan is the home of 55 temples, 136 Buddhist monasteries and some other cultural heritages of Hinduism and Buddhism, such as the famous Durbar Square. Located 5 kilometers away from Kathmandu city, Patan is a good place for a walking day tour in Kathmandu Valley with easy access from the downtown. It takes about 20 minutes to drive from Kathmandu to Patan by private car. The general travel length for a trip to Patan takes around 2 hours.
Known as a valley for local craftsmen, Patan offers much to explore. You can not only appreciate the ancient architectures built for centuries with typical Hindu and Nepalese style, but also see the live making process of local handicrafts, such as the Thanka painting.
Besides the city sightseeing tours in the Kathmandu Valley, there are some other places for one-day trekking and hiking tour near Kathmandu. Nagarkot is one of the best places to see a marvelous mountain view in the Kathmandu Valley that only 32 kilometers away from the Kathmandu city. Most tourists plan to get to Nagarkot in the afternoon and stay one night in Nagarkot so that they can enjoy the splendid sunrise in Himalaya Mountains.