You’d be in the hills, those far fetched valleys with people warmest from their hearts, always welcoming you in their homes, and here you are, dreaming of it.
Now, this isn’t any makeshift rulebook, but when there is a city as dynamic as Kathmandu, you sure have places to be, and of course, you’d love to reach it with all your hands. But, hey, where do you begin? Especially when you have just four days in your schedule?
Nepal has so much to offer to everyone. From trekkers to wildlife enthusiasts and architectural admirers to the food lovers, Nepal is a paradise. Arriving in Kathmandu could be a bit overwhelming to people traveling the first time to this region. A total of ten World Heritage sites are here in Nepal, and of these, seven are located here in Kathmandu itself. So, where to start could be a choice paradox for the travelers coming to this beautiful city. We stayed for ten weeks in Nepal and the first ten days in Kathmandu.
From our ten days of exploring the city, we had an up, close and personal experience with it. So here’s how you should go about exploring Kathmandu while on a budget of 4 days:
Morning: If today is the day you arrive, you might want to take it slow. I always prefer traveling overnight rather than the day. So, say you got down the road, or have just landed in the city during the break of the day and are a bit tired. You can check in to your room and get some rest. I’d say opt for a prime locality like Patan or Thamel, which offers the right options of accommodations, from backpacker hostels to boutique hotels, for your stay if you don’t want to travel much on traffic-ridden roads.
Noon: It’d be lunchtime soon, and if you’re staying in any downtown locality, you’d know why it’s great to do that. Get down on the streets, roam around and explore the city’s rawness in its pure form. Lively markets, fantastic street food, and some excellent restaurants, you’d probably also find really over the top architecture that surely will give you the feels. Not sure where’d you find great food? Check it out here- Our favorite cafes in Thamel. Go to some fantastic cafes, meet great people, most of whom are travelers, watch football and cricket matches there, maybe read a good book.
Evening: While you’re still in the markets, you’d notice how beautiful lights engulf markets and streets of Kathmandu. The nightlife sure is different than a regular metropolis, but it sure is every bit of amazement. Stars capture most of the skies, and the city becomes alive. You sure would love to visit one of the many temples that make this city the spiritual wonder it is. It’s night already, and time to take some good rest for an exploration follows.
Morning: Pumped up already? You probably are! Prep up for an early start, have a quick breakfast at any of the multiple cafes you like and head straight towards the Durbar Square. Mornings are very cheerful in this tourist hub of Kathmandu, where everyone is a tourist and the locals thrive with their businesses spun around it. There is more than history to explore here, with the palace, museum, art gallery, and their living goddess (the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu) home all in the neighborhood.
You’ll have to give it a good time to enjoy walking around here. Find a good restaurant around here and have a Newari meal, maybe? Traditionally, in a Newari kitchen, you sit on the ground with a low top table in front of you, and you are served with a piping hot Thakali platter filled with flavors of Lentils, rice, Veggies/ Chicken, marinated salads, totally drenched in Nepali flavors. I bet you’d love to spend most of the day here in Durbar Square.
Evening: And if you are one of those quick kinds, you can go ahead to Swayambhunath Temple. The temple, which is a quick hilltop climb, and offers you an amazing sunset view of the city, you’ll have to be at ease with the monkeys, and if you stay, you will even see the skyline of Kathmandu after dark. Get down, walk to the Asan Tole for some shopping (if you still want to explore), and the night’s yours to sleep under the skies.
Morning: It has to be slow this morning, and so you could wake up at ease. Have a brunch today with some coffee, and grab your sunglasses and backpacks today. It’s time for a quick day trip. About 15 odd km from Kathmandu is Nagarkot, a beautiful little hilltop destination that is revered by many as a great hike. You’d love to walk the trails, and when you are there, you’ll be amazed all the way more with the mountains you see at a distance, and obviously, the feeble-gorgeous setting of the evening sun.
Evening: On your way back to Kathmandu, you could take a halt at Bhaktapur, which lies midway between Nagarkot and Kathmandu. This little town happens to be accomodating one of the three prominent Durbar squares in the Kathmandu valley. The beautiful architecture, ancient vibe, and rich history are sure to take you by surprise. But when you’re there, instead of opting for museums or temples, I’d say have a stroll around the city, watch it at work, go around to watch their beautiful pottery square, it’s a wonder how they have managed to keep their craft still intact.
Morning: On your final day in Kathmandu, you can kick-start the day with some spirituality. Quick, try and have an early breakfast of Thukpa or ‘Sel roti’ (doughnut looking rice flatbreads, that are sweet parcels of deliciousness), for today, you’ll begin early.
Quickly, you are out to visit Pashupatinath Temple and Boudhanath Stupa today, both UNESCO World Heritage sites; you’ll have an exquisite feel about it. Just the sonorous temple bells tearing absolute silence, light morning sun, and amazing views you get to explore while you gaze at the architectural marvel.
Noon: In close vicinity of the Boudhanath Stupa, there is a Tibetan kitchen, have a good lunch of Ema Datshi (the national dish of Bhutan, made from Chilli peppers and Cheese) or Kewadachi (Potatoes, Chilli and Cheese) with freshly steamed Tingmo bread. After the sumptuous meal, head towards the south of Kathmandu to the city of art and crafts – Patan (now known as Lalitpur).
This cultural hotspot in the Kathmandu valley is a majestic one. Of its multiple temples, watchtowers, houses built with features of Newari architecture, there’s so much to explore in this beautiful neighborhood, that you’ll already love coming here. The scenery from Patan is pure magic and their cafes? Oh, they have more than a couple of good cafes with equally lovely ambiance and scenics. Walk around in Patan, and spend your day at complete leisure, you have so much to do, choose for yourself today.
Evening: You’ll already be done for the day before it’s dark, so probably you could end this on a sweet note. Laze around listening to some good Nepali folk music (mind you, they have great live bands playing around at multiple gorgeous open-air restaurants in the city), and wouldn’t it be superb if you could find a glass of Chhang (rice beer native to the Tibetians) or maybe an easier to find version called Gorkha Beer, which is locally brewed in Nepal.
I hope you have a great time in Kathmandu.