When in Kathmandu: Top 10 list that won’t break the bank

written by Anjula September 21, 2007


Traveling to Kathmandu, not sure what you can afford? Not to worry, we’ve scoured the web and consulted with many Nepal trekkers…to come up with our list of top 10 attractions that you can enjoy without breaking your piggy bank.


Kathmandu sits at the heart of the Kathmandu Valley and is like an open-air museum complete with temples, palaces, shrines and pagodas. Old Kathmandu stretches from Thamel, south to Durbar Square: complete with a maze of streets, where you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. These streets are best explored on foot so that you can fully soak up the sights and sounds that are unique to this amazing city where tradition and modernity are intertwined.

Durbar Square is undoubtedly the main attraction with its stunning Newari architecture. Patan’s Durbar Square is much quieter, with even more temples packed into the square than across the river in Kathmandu. Visit at the beginning or end of the day so you can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. The Thamel area is where most travelers find their way for: accommodation, food, Internet cafés, bookshops, trekking permits and nightlife. Freak Street (or Jochne), south of Durbar Square used to be famous for being the hippy hangout in the 60s and 70s and earned its name because of the strange assortment of people it attracted. Rather faded now, with the action moving to Thamel, it’s still worth a looksey.

Key Attractions:


Durbar Square

A delightful complex of palaces, courtyards and temples at the heart of the old city, many built between the 12th and 18th centuries and now a World Heritage Site.
(South of Thamel area)


Hanuman Dhoka

The old Royal Palace, no longer home to the royal family, with buildings of intricate architecture and ornate courtyards.
(Durbar Square / Tel: (01) 4269452)


Kumari Chowk

The residence of the Living Goddess Kumari, with exquisite carved wooden balconies and window screens, at which she can occasionally be seen.
(Durbar Square)


Bouddhanath Stupa

Buddha’s eyes are painted on all four sides of this 36m (118ft) high stupa, dating back to circa AD600. The religious center for Nepal’s population of Tibetans, this holy site houses hundreds of prayer wheels.
(Boudha / Tel: (01) 4489257)



Enjoying a hilltop setting, this lovely Buddhist temple has great views of the city and is home to a boisterous troupe of monkeys. (Swoyambhu / Tel: (01) 4281889 or 4277236)


Dress up in National Dress

For as little as Rs 150 (US$2) you can get a piece of clothing tailor made just for you! Feel like royalty as you parade the streets in colourful and ornate outfits, and don’t forget to send a photo home! Cost: from Rs 150


Ride a Rickshaw

Give a rickshaw driver a break and offer to pedal instead – a great way to see the valley and work off all the sweet tea you’ve been drinking! Pick up some locals to earn your lunch if you think you can cut it! Cost: think earning potential!


Visit the Temples

In Kathmandu, one sees how Hinduism and Buddhism exist peacefully together. Wherever you turn, you are sure to find temples of either Shiva or Buddha. The best Shiva Temple can be found in Pashupatinath. Although, as a tourist you are not allowed to enter the temple itself. For big Buddhist temples, the biggest recommendation is for Boudanath. Both temples are not far from Kathmandu and are definitely worth the effort.


Meet the King

Line up with all the local well wishers to meet the King on his birthday. How many other chances will you get to meet royalty? Cost: time spent queuing up on line and purchase of a gift, (usually flowers).


Participate in a Festival

From Diwali, the festival of lights there are few places you will find a celebration almost everyday that you are welcome to join! Our favorite is Holi (March Holiday) where you will be covered in water and colour from head to toe! Cost: free!


Watch a Film

Join the locals laughing uproariously, crying, screaming and throwing things at the screens. The plots are usually easy enough to follow (boy meets girl and falls in love) and fellow moviegoers reactions are an added bonus. Cost: Ticket Rs 50 (You can’t even rent a movie for that $$ stateside)

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