Hiking Around Kathmandu
When in Kathmandu for business or pleasure, do not miss out on the opportunity to explore its surrounding hills. Take on one of the many trails for an exhilarating day hike. Hike at dawn to witness the waking hills and city streets below come alive in a blanket of mist. Traverse thick forests flush with rhododendrons and pines alongside 360° Himalayan panoramas that unfurl with each step. Almost all the trails culminate on top of a hill, above the treeline with sweeping valley outlooks. Some of the most recommended hiking trails include the Sundarijal-Shivapuri trail, the Champadevi trail, and the Jamacho hike.
Just beyond Kathmandu’s busy streets lie trails winding through forests and rural villages, rewarding adventurous mountain bikers with unobstructed views of the valley and thrilling trails to take on. Cycle at your own pace up and down trails used for centuries by villagers. Stop to take in sweeping Himalayan vistas or perhaps glimpse locals going about their daily routine. Return exhausted yet refreshed, rewarded with nature and solitude.
Perched atop a verdant hill west of Kathmandu, the iconic Swayambhunath stupa has overlooked the valley for centuries. Its gleaming white dome and piercing eyes on all four sides make it one of Nepal’s most distinctive Buddhist sites. Pilgrims spin prayer wheels while monks partake in rituals amid fragrant incense. The imposing temple complex features classic pagoda architecture along with lush monasteries and shrines. With monkeys playfully darting about, novice monks studying scriptures, and devotees paying homage, a visit here offers a window into thriving spiritual traditions still very much part of today’s Kathmandu.
With its towering dome, fluttering prayer flags, and ever-present drone of mantras, Boudhanath is Kathmandu’s largest and most vibrant Buddhist stupa. Monks in burgundy robes and pilgrims lighting butter lamps keep the spiritual energy palpable even amid tourist bustle. Circumnavigate the stupa spinning engraved prayer wheels as you soak in the heavenly aroma of juniper incense. Visit the main monastery and be in awe of its paintings. While here, don’t only fill yourself spiritually, also treat your palate to some local Tibetan dishes.
An oasis of reverent calm along the storied Bagmati River, Pashupatinath Temple stands as one of the most sacred Hindu sites in the world. Intricately carved woodwork and shining metal statues surround priests performing lively rituals of songs, chants, and offerings. The smell of incense and sound of temple bells fill the air as devotees come seeking blessings at the stone Linga shrine. From the ghats where open-air cremations take place to wandering sadhus cloaked in orange, bear witness to the cycle of life unfolding daily across these time-worn grounds. Feel the spiritual force that has drawn the faithful to Pashupatinath for centuries.
Patan Durbar Square
A center of Nepali art and architecture, Patan Durbar Square transports visitors back in time. Lose yourself wandering meticulously carved timber windows along brick lanes. Get a glimpse into the lives of the Malla kings as you explore the exquisite palace complex. Gaze up at the towering Krishna Mandir temple forged from stone and protected by royal elephants. Admire the finely carved and crafted ancient water spouts. From exquisite stone carvings to sweeping palace courtyards, discover the ancient Newari craftsmanship that earned this magical Square UNESCO fame.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Cobblestone alleys winding between terracotta tiled roofs lead to Bhaktapur Durbar Square, where medieval Nepal still thrives untouched by modernization. Intricately carved wooden windows look onto hidden courtyards filled with locals keeping tradition and ancient customs alive. Pause to admire the ornate Golden Gate or 55-Window Palace, appreciate potters and weavers practicing ancient arts, and tantalize your taste buds with local flavors.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
The historic Kathmandu Durbar Square is a unique tapestry of sacred rituals and modern dynamism. From majestic Hanuman guarding the old royal palace’s gilded gates to countless temples displaying intricate wood and stone craftsmanship, the square holds rich tales and legends in every corner. Step into the many courtyards within the palace complex where Nepal’s kings were crowned until early 2000s. Gaze up at pagoda tiered rooftops concatenated like a cityscape silhouette. Duck into hidden courtyards, trace carved columns with your fingers, and observe daily rituals still breathing life into the Square’s storied past.
The tourist hub Thamel is a lively destination brimming with eateries, trekking gear suppliers, tour agents, and everything you might need in a foreign land. Stroll through the colorful streets, some lined with prayer flags, others with fairy lights. Walk into live-music bars and meet fellow travelers over a drink. Be amused by buskers and street performers. It is also a great shopping district if you are looking for hand-made crafts and souvenirs to take back home.
One of the joys of staying in Kathmandu is that the mountains are never too far away from the city. One can easily access the serene vistas of the mountain range from the comforts of Barahi Kathmandu. And if you want an up-close experience, a 60-minute mountain flight from Kathmandu should do the trick. See the snowy peaks, from the Annapurna range to the towering Mount Everest, unobstructed. Take plenty of photographs from your window seat as well as from the cockpit, and learn which giant peak is which. It is an exhilarating experience and comes highly recommended. Reach out to our Travel Desk for bookings and more information.