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Experience Kathmandu Like a Local Uncover the City’s Hidden Gems

Hey there, I’m Wilson Shrestha, a Kathmandu local who loves exploring both cultural and natural gems on a budget without compromising on comfort. I’m a fan of local food joints and affordable hotels that serve delicious dishes.

For those planning a visit to Kathmandu, I highly recommend checking out cultural hotspots like Bashantapur, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath Temple, and Boudha. These places give you a real taste of the city’s rich heritage, covering about half of what Kathmandu has to offer.

Don’t miss the chance to explore the natural beauty around Kathmandu, such as Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park and the serene Garden of Dreams. They provide a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle.

And if you’re into touristy vibes, places like Thamel, Ason, and Kathmandu Fun Park are worth a visit. These spots add a different flavor to your Kathmandu experience.

In a nutshell, these landmarks are must-visit destinations that offer a blend of culture, nature, and entertainment. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable Kathmandu adventure!

starting a day in Kathmandu

Start a day in Kathmandu.

Begin your day in Kathmandu by embracing the local flavors – kick off with a warm cup of Chiya (Nepali tea) paired with Sel Roti, a delightful fried bread. Rise and shine at 7 AM, and venture out to discover a nearby tea shop for a classic Nepali breakfast experience.

Once fueled up, head over to Kathmandu Durbar Square. Early mornings here offer a serene ambiance and crisp, fresh air. Take in the historical richness of the square, surrounded by ancient palaces and temples. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with cultural and religious significance.

Continue your morning explorations by strolling through the local markets. Witness the hustle and bustle as vendors showcase their diverse array of products – from vibrant vegetables to intricate crafts. Immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of daily life, capturing the essence of local business.

Starting your day with Chiya and Sel Roti sets the tone for a day filled with cultural exploration and the unique charm of Kathmandu. Whether sipping tea in a bustling market or taking in the historical beauty of Durbar Square, your Kathmandu morning is bound to be an unforgettable experience.

Arrival in Kathmandu Nepal

The on-arrival visa fees for Kathmandu, Nepal, vary depending on the duration of your stay:

Duration Fee (USD)
15 Days $30
30 Days $50
90 Days $125

Additional information:

    • These are the standard fees. Some nationalities may be eligible for a visa on arrival free of charge or at a reduced fee. You can check the Department of Immigration website ( for the latest information.
    • You can also obtain a visa in advance from a Nepalese embassy or consulate.
    • You must have a valid passport with at least 6 months of remaining validity and a return or onward ticket to be eligible for a visa on arrival.
    • You can pay the visa fee in USD, EUR, or Nepalese Rupees.
  • It is recommended that you have the exact amount of money ready, as change may not always be available.

Best things to do in Kathmandu

Explore beyond the typical tourist attractions in Kathmandu to discover the true essence of this vibrant city through these unique experiences:

Cultural Immersion:

  • Traditional Puja: Witness a worship ceremony at a local temple or monastery to delve into the spiritual heart of Kathmandu. Observe Hindu and Buddhist traditions, from rituals to chanting, gaining cultural insights.
  • Learn a Traditional Craft: Engage in a workshop on thangka painting, wood carving, or metalworking. Create your souvenir while supporting local artisans and discovering skills passed down through generations.
  • Join a Cooking Class: Dive into Nepali cuisine by participating in a cooking class. Learn to prepare momos (dumplings) and dal bhat (lentil soup and rice), savoring both the flavors and cultural significance.

Adventure and Nature:

  • Hike to a Viewpoint: Challenge yourself with a hike to Chandragiri Hills or Champa Devi for panoramic views of the Himalayas and Kathmandu Valley. Enjoy the exercise, fresh air, and stunning scenery.
  • White-water Rafting on Seti River: Experience the thrill of navigating rapids while appreciating the natural beauty of the Seti River. Perfect for both adrenaline seekers and nature lovers.
  • Take a Yoga or Meditation Class: Connect with your body and mind in a yoga or meditation class. Many studios cater to various styles, suitable for beginners and experienced practitioners alike.

Local Connections:

  • Volunteer with a Local NGO: Give back to the community and gain insights into social issues by volunteering with a local NGO. Connect with locals and understand their lives in a meaningful way.
  • Homestay Experience: Immerse yourself in local life by staying in a homestay. Enjoy home-cooked meals, conversations with hosts, and a unique cultural experience.
  • Attend a Local Festival: Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Kathmandu by attending a local festival. Witness colorful costumes, music, dance, and food, gaining a deeper understanding of Nepalese culture.

Unique Experiences:

  • Rickshaw Tour: Navigate Kathmandu’s bustling streets on a traditional rickshaw. Interact with your rickshaw driver, experiencing the city’s sights, sounds, and smells firsthand.
  • Visit a Local Market: Explore the diverse sights, sounds, and aromas of Kathmandu’s local markets. Bargain for souvenirs, sample street food, and observe the daily life of locals.
  • Evening at a Traditional Music Bar: Immerse yourself in the local music scene by visiting a traditional music bar. Enjoy live performances of Nepali folk music and dance, soaking in the cultural richness of Kathmandu.

Places to visit in Kathmandu

Kathmandu, Nepal’s lively epicenter, is a blend of history, spirituality, and modern allure. During my recent journey, I explored its iconic landmarks and hidden treasures, each offering a distinctive peek into the city’s soul.

Pashupatinath Temple: Along the Bagmati River, I witnessed sacred life and death rituals. The air buzzed with mantras, incense, and mourning flutes. Though photography is restricted, the intricate architecture and poignant atmosphere made a lasting impression.

Boudhanath Stupa: This UNESCO World Heritage Site emanates Buddhist serenity. As I circled the stupa, the monks’ chants and fluttering prayer flags created a mesmerizing ambiance. The Buddha’s eyes painted on its face exuded peace and compassion.

Swayambhunath: Known as the “Monkey Temple,” its hilltop location provided stunning views of Kathmandu Valley. Playful monkeys added a whimsical touch, and exploring the shrines and stupas offered a journey through Buddhist history.

Kathmandu Durbar Square: Stepping into this historical square felt like a time warp. Elaborate temples and courtyards whispered tales of the Malla dynasty. Despite earthquake damage, the square’s resilience and historical significance shone through.

Narayanhiti Palace Museum: Once a royal residence, this museum showcased the opulence of the Shah dynasty. Grand halls contrasted with the simplicity of traditional Nepali life and exhibits documented the monarchy’s end.

Garden of Dreams: Amid urban chaos, this oasis surprised me. Themed gardens provided a peaceful escape, from a Roman garden to a serene Japanese one, offering unique atmospheres to relax.

Hike to Jamchen Vijaya Stupa: Seeking adventure, I hiked to this stupa. Lined with prayer flags, the trail offered breathtaking views. Reaching the hilltop stupa was a rewarding accomplishment and a spiritual connection.

Beyond the Sights: Kathmandu’s essence lies in its people and traditions. Engaging with locals, trying street food, and attending cultural events enrich your understanding of this captivating place.

Kathmandu’s tapestry of ancient temples, vibrant festivals, and warm people stays with you. So, pack your bags, embrace the chaos and beauty, and embark on your own Kathmandu adventure!

Best Local Food Restaurants in Kathmandu

Kathmandu is more than momos and dal bhat. Move away from the usual spots and discover authentic Nepali flavors at hidden gems. From traditional Thakali feasts to Newari specialties, here are some must-try local restaurants to satisfy your taste buds:

Traditional Nepali:

  •  Jimbu Restaurant: Local favorite offering Thakali sets – a mix of curries, veggies, and rice for an authentic Nepali dining experience.
  • Yangling Restaurant: Family-run joint serving home-cooked Newari cuisine; try the spicy buff chhoyela or the savory alu tama.

Hidden Gems:

  • Thamel House Restaurant: A tucked-away spot in Thamel, offering affordable Newari cuisine, featuring the juicy khasi ko sekuwa.
  • Rosemary Kitchen & Coffee Shop: This cozy cafe with Nepali specialties, tea, and homemade cakes; is a delightful place to unwind.


  • Narayan Dai Ko Famous Momo: Affordable and delicious momos in various flavors and styles; a local favorite.
  • Annapurna Chautara: Popular spot for budget-friendly local snacks and street food; try samosas, pakoras, and fresh fruit juices.
  • Cafe Soma: Located in Thamel, serves affordable Nepali thalis with a focus on healthy ingredients.


Cooking Class: Dive deeper into Nepali culinary culture by taking a cooking class to recreate authentic dishes at home.


– Explore local markets for fresh ingredients and snacks.
– Don’t hesitate to try new dishes and seek recommendations.
– Be mindful of spice levels and customize according to your preference.
– Carry cash, as some places may not accept cards.

Embark on a culinary journey in Kathmandu, exploring diverse and delicious local eats.

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