From its rugged terrains to its fascinating history and untainted culture, few places can hold a candle against Nepal as one of Earth’s most naturally exotic destinations in the world. The birthplace of Lord Buddha holds an alluring infusion of Buddhism and Hinduism, and is blessed with stunning temples and Sherpa villages set against a backdrop of natural wonderment such as Mount Everest and the iconic Himalayas. Adventurous travellers all over the world make their way to Kathmandu, the political, commercial and cultural hub of the country, as the starting point to their amazing journey ahead.
Best of Kathmandu
If there is one thing that should be on any adventurous travellers’ bucket list, it would be trekking the Himalayas. Absorb in the natural wonderment of breathtaking mountainous and vast lands, with Sherpa villages along the way where you can see and experience for yourself the simple lives of the Nepalese natives. Though the Annapurna peaks are the world’s most challenging terrains, the trekking trails are more welcoming, with diverse scenery and easy accessibility, as well as guest houses sprawled across the hills.
The late Edmund Hillary had once said “If there is a paradise on earth, it begins from the north to Pokhara”. The rare combinations of snow clad peaks and snow-fed lakes and rivers helped make this valley nature paradise one of the most picturesque natural attractions in Nepal. People from different parts of the world arrive here just to awaken the sleeping beauty of this geographical paradise.
3. Mountain Flight around Mount Everest
The average Joes can only dream about climbing up the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest, but if hiking is not your cup of tea, there is another option for you! Charter flights services are available to bring you around the elusive mountain, where you’ll get to enjoy a spectacular view of Earth’s most magnificent natural marvels.
4. Kathmandu Durbar Square
Beautiful architecture and intricate detailing adorn this huge square in the heart of the old city. With heritage buildings representing the four kingdoms (Kantipur, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kirtipur), the complex is one of the must-visit places in Nepal. There are 50 temples distributed in two quadrangles, such as Taleju Temple, Jagganath Temple, KalBhairav, Swet-Bhairav, Kumari Temple, Kasthamandap, Nautalle Durbar and more.
5. Swayambunath Stupa
Popular folklore has it that the whole valley was once a lake, out of which grew a lotus. Manjushree (a bodhisattva of wisdom) cut the gorge with his magic sword, allowing the water to flow out of the lake and the lotus flower was transformed into a stupa. The stupa has since become one of the recognizable symbols of Nepal, along with a variety of shrines and temples in the religious complex, a Tibetan monastery, museum and library which were added in the later years.
As the bustling shopping and dining area of the city, the lanes of popular Thamel are packed with stores selling hiking gears, clothes, and handcrafted souvenir items. If you are planning to trek the Himalayas you can get pretty much anything that you would need for the trip here. Thamel has been referred to as the Traveller’s Ghetto for its many affordable guest houses, cafes, music stores, bookstores and more.
7. Narayanhiti Palace Museum
The salmon-coloured granite building was constructed in 1970 as the official palace for the Nepal royal family, but was turned into a museum a few months after the abolition of the Nepali monarch system. A visit here offers visitors a glimpse into how the royals lived and ruled the country, showcasing royal belongings including the diamond-studded crown and a 1939 Mercedes Benz that was a gift from Adolf Hitler to King Tribhuvan. The palace was also the scene of the Nepalese Royal Massacre in 2001.
8. Boudhanath Stupa
Dominating Nepal’s skyline, this centre of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu is the largest and one of the holiest stupas in the world. Built in the 14th century, it’s said to entomb the remains of Kassapa Buddha. When seen from above, the stupa looks like a giant mandala or diagram of the Buddhist cosmos. Today it remains an important place of pilgrimage and meditation for Tibetan Buddhists and local Nepalese, as well as a popular tourist site.
9. Patan Durbar Square
Located about 5 km south of Kathmandu on the southern side of the Bagmati River, Patan is one of 3 royal cities in the valley. A destination for connoisseurs of fine arts, Patan is filled with wood and stone carvings, metal statues, ornate architecture, including dozens of Buddhist and Hindu temples, and over 1200 monuments. The city is known for its rich tradition of arts and handicrafts and as the birthplace of master craftsmen and artists such as Arniko and Kuber Singh.
10. Kasthamandap temple
Built in the early 16th century by King Laxmi Narsingha Malla, it is said to be the oldest surviving structure in Kathmandu, and from which the city got its name. Interestingly, the structure of the 3-storey pagoda temple was built from wood from a single Sal tree. ‘Kath’ means wood and ‘Mandu’ means small area of human residence.
11. Garden of Dreams
This neo-classical historical garden was created in 1920 by the late Field Marshal Kaiser Shamsher Rana as a place to unwind, relax and enjoy the beautifully landscape. Paved pathways along various perfectly-manicured trees, blossoming flowers, romantic pavilions, lively birdhouses and interesting trellises lead the way to the big pond at the centre.
12. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Located about 20 km east of Kathmandu in the Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur is known as the ‘City of Devotees’, the ‘City of Culture’, the ‘Living Heritage’, and ‘Nepal’s Cultural Gem’, dotted with pagodas and religious shrines. The city is filled with monuments, most terra-cotta with carved wood columns, palaces and temples with elaborate carvings, gilded roofs and open courtyards.
Thickly vegetated hills, lush green valleys, authentic villages, welcoming hospitality and breathtaking Himalayan views await you in Nagarkot, the premiere Hill Station on the Kathmandu Valley Rim. Situated above the Kathmandu Valley to the north of the city at an altitude of 2300 meter, this quaint Hill Station is the ideal place to enjoy the fresh air, soak up the mountain views and discover Nepal’s rich rural culture.
Lumbini is the birth place of Lord Buddha, located 285 km south-west of Kathmandu. Within the popular sacred garden is where one will find the Maya Devi temple depicting the birth of Lord Buddha, Ashoka Pillar pinpointing the birth place of Buddha and Shakya Tank where Maya Devi, the mother of Lord Buddha, is supposed to have taken a dip before bringing forth the baby. Around this holy site, there are remnants of Monasteries and Chaityas built over the centuries following Buddha’s birth in 632 BC.
15. Chitwan National Park
Camp out under the moonlight or stay at one of the lodges, come and embrace nature at Nepal’s first national park, awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Trek the jungle safari to see the amazing flora and fauna, tour around the villages on a pony rickshaw or ox cart, watch the enchanting local native dances while enjoying an authentic Nepali dinner, plus a whole load of other activities that make for an amazing nature holiday.