Kathmandu

Destination Guide  : Subcontinent : Kathmandu

About Biman

The Capital of Nepal

Prayer flags, temples and an urban melting pot nestled in a beautiful Himalayan valley – welcome to Kathmandu. More than 93 languages and dialects are spoken by Nepal's 30,000 people so it's common to hear a peppering of varied vocabularies throughout Kathmandu. However, English is spoken within government, business and many private schools. The spiritual seeker of enlightenment is likely to brush shoulders with the hiking gear-clad backpackers in Kathmandu amid the colorful market stalls and alleyways. Whatever brings you here, be sure to find the World Heritage-listed Durbar Square: 3 remaining squares of the city's finest traditional architecture.

Top Attractions

The cultural array represented in Kathmandu's history has left a beguiling architectural legacy. Palaces, pagodas, temples, shrines, monasteries, stone water towers and minarets are among the skyline here. Kathmandu's Hanuman Dhoka Durbar (a palace) is a World Heritage-listed site spread over 5 acres in the Durbar Square district. Its oldest section dates from the mid-16th century. Another of the many things to do Kathmandu is visit the Boudha Stupa, one of the most sacred sites for Tibetan Buddhism. The National Museum features a culturally-significant collection of art, antiques and weapons and gives a fascinating overview of the region. Kathmandu is also a base for exploring the surrounding hill villages, lakes and mountains.

Eat and Drink

This city serves everything from Mexican to Middle Eastern, pizzas to pina coladas. The large international tourist contingent means you'll find a taste of home regardless of where you're from. But Kathmandu restaurants do dish up authentic tastes of Nepali culture too. If you're ordering from a set menu, a Nepali meal will usually include rice, dhal, a vegetable or meat curry, vegetable dish, chutney and curd. To try the most popular local fare, keep your eye out for 'momos' – these are dumplings which can be stuffed with buffalo, chicken or vegetables. Ask the locals where the best top-floor restaurants are: you'll get good food and views.

Where to Stay

Kathmandu hotels span the budget of any traveler to Nepal's capital. From hostels to hotels, apartments, room and board or complete 5-star luxury. You'll find most accommodation in the neighborhood of Thamel, with high-end properties on Durbar Marg. Prices can range from AUD5 to about AUD350 per night. There are family-run guesthouses which build their own following and return visitors, alongside international brand-name properties. Kathmandu Guesthouse is the original in Thamel and other addresses are given in relation to this property. At the other end of the spectrum, Hotel Yak and Yeti is a character-filled 5-star option, blending modern amenities with cultural heritage, in the grounds of a 100-year-old palace.

Shopping

Books, art, crafts, clothes, carpets and silver may all cross your palm here. Kathmandu shopping includes colourful markets, boutiques and trendy malls. Fashionistas flock to Durbar Marg, New Road caters to the shopper with a shoestring budget and the Traditional Craftsman's Colony in Patan affords fine Nepalese handicraft. Handwoven Nepali fabrics – in their array of patterns and colors – are available at minuscule prices and any item can be made to order and tailored to perfection. If you're buying cultural artifacts, just double-check what's presented as wood isn't plastic. There are fine silver and goldsmiths to be found here too and Nepal's most distinctive gems are tourmalines.

Kathmandu like a Local

It's said that in Nepal, every other building is a temple and every other day is a festival. So regardless of when you grab a flight to Kathmandu, chances are you'll arrive in time for festivities somewhere across the city or surrounding area. Here's a couple: Dashain is usually held for 10 days in October and is Nepal's favorite festival – the sky fills with kites and the goddess Durga's victory over evil is celebrated. Tihar, held in November, is the second-biggest festival after Dashain – lights, tinsel, decorations and sweets feature heavily.