Backpacking to Kathmandu
Updated: Jul 26, 2019
"Going to Himalaya my friend?"
The first question threw from the taxi driver for the first time I arrived in Kathmandu. For many visitors, when talking Nepal means talking about its mountain. As I drove into Kathmandu, I see the line of the outdoor gear shop swell the chaotic sidewalk. Illustrating how enormously this country is all about hiking the Himalayas.
My first impression when hitting the Kathmandu as the first-goers is a chaotic, wild, and dusty city. However, flying thousands of miles to stand in Nepal is just not for the mountains. You can explore the wild Kathmandu as its a sprawling city.
Best time to visit Nepal.
The high seasons in Nepal starts from September to November as it promising the clear skies and warm day to explore the Himalaya. The crowd is swelling during this season as more people go hiking in the popular Annapurna region. The low season falls during April through August, as the heavy rainfall can be very dangerous in Annapurna trails.
Applying for a visa at Kathmandu.
Visa on arrival is available upon your arrival at Kathmandu International Airport. A single entry visa is available depends on the number of your visit days in Nepal. For 15 days visit you will be charged for $25 while 30 days visit cost $40. Applying for the visa on arrival is very easy as you only have to load your databases in a computer provided and pay the visa at the cashier counter.
Transportation in Nepal.
Did I mention chaotic before? This is also applied to transportation in Nepal. Taxi is the only option you have to explore Kathmandu unless you could understand this writing नेपाल भाषा posted on the bus front glass. If you are looking comfort and luxury when traveling into this country, you already waste thousands of miles for a disappointment. Taking a taxi in Nepal could be the most adventurous ride ever in my life. With no air conditioning, a worn car from the '90s, a jammed door, and a smoking driver makes me feel far away from home. No meter system in Kathmandu taxi's, specify your destination and make a bargain for a price to avoid scam. Upon your arrival at Kathmandu International Airport, look for a taxi counter in the parking area (outside the terminal building) to get a taxi with a fixed price to several destinations in Kathmandu.
Accommodation and getting food in Kathmandu.
The best way to find cheap accommodation during your stay in Kathmandu is staying in Thamel. Thamel is most popular as a tourist area where you can easily find all the amenities you need. It starts with the cafe, restaurant, ATM, pub, clothes store, and travel agency.
A lot of hostels or hotel registered in Thamel area, I was spending a two night at Amarylis hotels. Not a budget hotels but quite reasonable compared with other hotels. If you are really on a budget, here are my hotel's recommendation:
Zostel - Dorms, starts with $7 with great facilities.
Mountain Backpacker Hostel - Dorms, starts with $9 having super clean rooms and fast WiFi connection.
Rest Up Kathmandu Hostel - Budget Double Room only cost $13 without breakfast.
Thamel is stretched with wondrous food restaurants, serving the local and international food. Try the Nepali momos (dumpling) while staying in Thamel. My favorite restaurant serving momos is Thamel Momo Hut which located across Ibiza Lounge Thamel. Searching for this restaurant can be tricky as you need to enter a doggy alley to find the stairs that bring you to the 2nd floor. But do not be fooled by the place, the variety of momos is impressive and will please your day.
Things to do in Kathmandu
Kathmandu has been awarded as the home of seven Unesco World Heritage Sites which will be a shame if you miss these remarkable sites.
Boudanath Stupa which has the giant Budha eyes on top of it makes it the largest stupa in Nepal. The Budha eyes directed to all four directions on the top of the stupa describing that God is omnipresent (the all-seeing). To enter the temples area you will have to pay 200 rupees ($2.5). Placed on the top of the hill requires you to step up 365 stairs. Once reached to the top you will see a lot of Nepali praying around the temple. The most notifying thing to Swayambunath temple is the collection of praying bells hanging rounding the temple itself.
Feeling tired after wandering the temple?
Here is my tip: Look for a small alley behind the temple, which will direct you to the communal resident. Locate a three stairs home selling cold drinks and coffee. Ask to be sited on the top floor as the view is magnificent.
Located on the sacred Bagmati river, you will find Pasupatinath, a Hinduist temple. The temple has a massive location to explore. The ticket cost will be 1,000 Rupees. I advise you to come in the evening, around 4 pm to see the outstanding cremation ceremony. This is the ritual when Hindu people cremate the body of their loved and spray the ashes down the river. This supposes to be done so the dead find the way to the nirvana. You could see the smoke and ashes spreading in the air from the burnt. Mind your attitude while attending the ceremony as the whole family gathered in grieves.
Patan Durbar Square
Located 5 km from Thamel, Patan is known as Lalitpur offers the enchanting historical building. Famous by its red brick building known as Royal Palace and surrounded by four high stupas make Patan is worth your time to visit. Make sure to enter the Royal Palace as you can see the historical stuff from the ancient times. Its little bit shame on my last visit, not all the building can be entered as it being renovated due to a major earthquake that destroys most of the construction in Nepal. There are also lots of catchy restaurant or cafe with old-theme building around Patan Durbar Square, make sure you make a quick stop on one of them.
Well, to be honest from my view of opinion Boudhanath stupa is not so flatter me well. It just looks like any other stupas I meet on the street, in the bigger size, and with flags. Hey, do not blame me, it's the ethic code of writing, I am expressing what I feel. Not so much thing I could tell. Go ahead mate, check on your own and let me know the stories in a comment. This Buddha prayer site can be reached 19 mins to ride from Thamel.