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Stepping off a flight to Kathmandu presents an exhilarating feast for the senses, which will stay with you for the duration of your trip. The capital of Nepal is also its most populous, with more than 2.5 million people calling it home. So on your visit, expect the city’s streets to be a frenetic scene.
However, amid the chaos, there’s charisma. Kathmandu has several awe-inspiring attractions, including elaborate temples dating back to the 5th century and ancient palaces that once housed the country’s monarchy. A misty mountain backdrop adds to the city’s allure.
Fly to Kathmandu with Qatar Airways, to discover an expanding metropolis filled with ancient relics, beautiful walled gardens and an inimitable urban bustle.
If your trip to Kathmandu is motivated by a desire to see its famed temples, then you’ll be spoiled for choice. Start with Swayambhunath, the oldest and holiest temple in Nepal. It has earned the nickname “Monkey Temple” due to the hundreds of revered monkeys that have taken up residence in this hilltop religious complex.
Your effort to climb 365 steps to the top of the hill will be rewarded with a splendid view of the city. In the complex, you’ll also find a 2,500-year-old Buddhist stupa, which is a place for meditation. Around 30 minutes’ drive from Swayambhunath is an even bigger stupa, the Boudhanath, which attracts thousands of pilgrims from across the Himalayan region every year.
Also find time to visit the Durbar Squares: Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. All three plazas have earned World Heritage Site status, together with Swayambhunath and Boudhanath. The squares feature remnants of the old city, including palaces, museums and more temples.
Other must-sees include the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath and the sanctuary of Kaiser Mahal, also known as the Garden of Dreams. Narayanhiti Palace Museum will add some cultural and historical depth to your trip.
One of the joys of a trip to Kathmandu is simply wandering among the many sights and soaking up the atmosphere of the streets. There are also plenty of opportunities for leisure activities and sports, including one of the most picturesque rounds of golf you’ll ever play. Rock climbing and mountain biking in the Kathmandu Valley is also possible.
Birdwatching is a special part of many trips to the city, as there are more than 500 species of bird living in Kathmandu Valley. Outside the city, hiking is a popular activity, while helicopter tours offer unrivalled views.
If relaxation is on your agenda, there are several resorts in the city that offer Ayurvedic therapies, to help you find your balance.
Kathmandu is a great place to sample Nepalese cuisine. Rice and curry dishes are popular staples in the city, as are fried or steamed momo dumplings. In addition to the many traditional eateries, there are plenty of high-quality restaurants serving dishes that appeal to a more global palate.
Nepalese cuisine has been inspired by its neighbours. You’ll find elements of Indian, Tibetan and Thai traditions in many dishes, most of which are on the spicy side.
Travel to Kathmandu is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in rare books (particularly spiritual ones), as there are many English-language bookshops in the city.
Typical souvenirs include an assortment of local crafts, pieces of jewellery and traditional clothing. The markets are also a good place to pick up meditation aids, such as singing bowls and authentic incense. However, before buying incense, check first with your country’s customs whether it is included in the list of prohibited or restricted imports.
Essential facts about Kathmandu
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip