Most of the tourists come to Nepal by air and stay in Kathmandu atleast for a day, as the only international airport is in the Kathmandu Valley. Being the capital city, Kathmandu has a lot of touristic things to offer and is always on the list for every traveler in Nepal.
Places you can visit in Kathmandu in one day
It is the Kathmandu Downtown and almost every foreigner visiting Nepal stays/goes around this place. It has star hotels, hostels, travel agencies, bars, pubs, souvenir shops to branded outlets for trekking/mountaineering gears. You will find people from every country in the world in Thamel as it is the most happening places in Kathmandu.
Things to do in Thamel
Take a walk around Thamel. It is the place where Hippies stayed in 1960s. With narrow gullies, stone paved roads, prayer flags, smell of local incent sticks and traditional folk music playing in the background, makes it a very enriching experience. It has many restaurants offering delicacies from all over the world, many live music places, bars, pubs, money exchangers and travel agencies. Its recently been vehicle free. Buy or rent trekking/mountaineering gears at Thamel. Buy souvenir/gifts for your friends and family back home.
Basantapur Durbar Square
It is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites in Kathmandu and has some of the uniquely built ancient temples and palaces. A visit to the area requires a permit costing NRs.1000 for a day. It is just 15mins walking distance away from Thamel.
Things to do in Basantapur Durbar Square
Visit the Ancient Palace, Museum and Temples within the Basantapur Durbar Square
. Go see Kumari (the living goddess). Check out the gift/curio shops. There are different rituals performed throughout the year at the Durbar Square such as in Dashain, Fagu Purnima, Local Jatras. Freak street is right next to the Durbar Square. There are 100s of local restaurants serving authentic Newari/Nepali food. A walk in the evening is highly recommended.
It is also known as Monkey Temple and a UNESCO world heritage site. From the Stupa, one can see the entire Kathmandu valley and surroundings, as it is on a hill top. This place is filled with a lot of Buddhist monks as it is a sacred place from them. It is one of the largest dome shaped stupas in the world and has other temples in the area to learn about Gautam Buddha. Lights and prayer flags make the stupa shine in the evening. Foreigners are required a permit to enter the premises. Swayambhunath
is on the Kathmandu Ringroad to the west.
Pashupatinath temple is mainly famous for Indian tourists who follows Hindu religion. This is the holiest temple for lord Shiva in Hinduism. It lies on the banks of holy Bagmati river. This is also a very sacred place for cremation as it is believed that getting cremated at Pashupatinath Aarya Ghat purifies your soul and you get a place in Heaven. The funeral ritual by burning body on a stack of wood is a very enriching scene. There are monkeys in the temple area too. Everyday around 5:30pm, the holy Pashupatinath Sandhya Aarati (evening worship of the deity) along with Bagmati Aarati is held. Hundreds of people gather inside the temple and on the banks of Bagmati river to witness the sacred Aarati in the evening, chanting holy mantras and dancing to the music. Pashupatinath lies on the Ringroad very near the Kathmandu International Airport to the North East. Pashupatinath temple is crowded during the famous festival Maha Shivaratri, Teej Festival and most of the tourists also visit pashupatinath to see the Baba ji or Sahdus.
Kathmandu city has many stupas and temples as it is also known as the City of Temples. Boudhanath stupa, some 2kms out of Ringroad from Chahabil has recently been renovated and is another holy sites for Buddhists. It is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to a lot of Buddhist monks chanting holy mantras with prayer wheels. Try Tibetan momos and Laphing in the restaurants nearby.
If you just have a day in Kathmandu, we have a simplified itinerary for you to get around and see the most of Kathmandu
Patan Durbar Square
This is another square with ancient palaces from the Malla Regime. This UNESCO world heritage site has the very famous Krishna Mandir with finest stone architecture and stories carved on these stone pillars. There are museums and other temples in the area. Try some local Newari sweets (Lakhamari) in the nearby outlets.