It is hard to fall in love with Kathmandu at first sight. However, if you’ll stay longer you will get used to noise and dust and begin to see hidden beauty of the city.
1. Durbar square
The most popular place for visit in Kathmandu, Durbar square is a complex of more than ten temples with wooden carvings of exceptional beauty. All temples went through reconstruction, however the oldest temples came from 16 century. Sit on the steps of the temple and watch the life of this unique UNESCO site.
We reached Durbar square by foot from Tamel in about 15 minutes (approx. distance is 1 km) by narrow streets with many small shops and people.
Entrance fee for foreigners is 750 NPR (~7USD), however we didn’t know about this fee and came in for free. But next day when we decided to explore the square one more time, we were caught by police officer who asked us to pay…. We refused :)
Our own opinion: Kathmandu Durbar square is nice, but very small and expensive. Patan and Bhaktapur durbar squares impressed us much more.
2. Pashupatinath Temple
Pashupatinath complex is one of the most sacred places in Nepal and one of the most visited places in Kathmandu. It consists of more than 500 temples and you could oversee the cremation ceremony there.
Pashupatinath is located in 4 km from Tamel, but we walked there by foot. It is not very clear how to reach it by public transport (there are some buses from Ratna park bus station).
Entrance fee for foreigners is 500 NPR (5 USD), during the Shivaratrifestival entrance fee raises up to 1000 NPR. We made attempts to enter Pashupatinath for free but security guys asked us to pay and we didn’t visit it inside. However, it was interesting to visit the area around, saw shops that sell goods for cremation ceremony and feel the atmosphere of that place.
3. Swayambhunath Stupa
Swayambhunath complex is located on the hill in 3.5 km from Tamel. We reached it by foot through dusty roads and living quarters.
We got over 365 steps, paid entrance fee (200 NPR =2USD) and went into the small compact complex of Swayambhunath with stupa dominated over all other buildings.
Traditional music, views over Kathmandu, old nice buildings, bright souvenir shop make this place attractive and pleasant.
Our own opinion: I was not sure is it worth to visit Swayambhunath, but when we reached it and walk around, I could say it is worth visiting for sure. It is easy to walk by foot there, there are nice views over Kathmandu and the whole atmosphere of the place is enjoyable.
4. Boudhanath Stupa
Boudhanath is one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal. We reached it by foot from Pashupatinath Temple (it’s about half an hour walk) and came back to Ratna park bus station by minibus.
You should pay about 200NPR (2USD) to enter the square where Boudhanath stupa is situated, however there are small narrow streets that lead inside the square for free.
Own opinion: It is very nice inside, I really advise you to visit this site.
Tamel is a touristic heart of Kathmandu. Most hotels and guesthouses are concentrated here as well as restaurants and shops. It is noisy and bustling but safe and colorful.
Our travel story about Kathmandu
After we landed in Kathmandu International airport we found ourselves in the small building, it was the smallest airport we’ve ever been. Using the modern machine, the only modern thing in the whole airport, we applied for the visa on arrival. There was no queue so we quickly got our Nepalese visa and went out from airport….
There were many taxi drivers who want minimum 800NPR (8USD) to drive us to Tamel – tourist heart of Kathmandu. But we believed we could get to the center of the city by our own… We found bus stop right there (it is on the left if stand facing to the airport entrance) and asked if we could get to Tamel. Driver said there are no direct buses to Tamel and we should make several changes before we reached the city, but we still didn’t give up.
Make a long story short, we changed two buses and then decided to reach Tamel by foot. Walking by dusty bustling road (my friend carry one backpack on back and one in hands) for about 2 km and finally we understood that we reached it, but it was early to be happy as it was problem to find our hotel that we booked the day before. Tamel is a net of narrow, very similar streets where you would easily get lost for the first several times.
Next several days we did nothing but rest in hotels, search for new better hotel, walking around city and discover its best places.