Kathmandu is the hub of Nepal's traditional culture and arts. This is the place for rest, relaxation and easy-day sightseeing of historic and artistic temples and monuments, and mountain views. One also enjoys Kathmandu for night life, shopping and of course for the mountain views.

Arriving in Kathmandu

Arriving in Kathmandu
Tribhuvan International Airport is situated just over five kilometres east of Kathmandu.

As the only international air transport hub in Nepal, the airport is used as a base by about 30 airlines that connect the country with destinations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Most flights to Kathmandu arrive via Delhi, Dhaka and Bangkok. 

There are also a number of domestic carriers, such as Royal Nepal Airlines, that offer flights to and from other airports in Nepal. Passengers can often enjoy a stunning view of the surrounding mountain ranges as their aircraft descends at Tribhuvan.

Once they leave the airport, travellers will need to catch a bus or taxi to reach the city. The bus services are not always for the faint-hearted, as some vehicles drive at dangerous speeds through the narrow mountain passes.

However, some hotels will pick guests up from the airport if given enough notice and there are also pre-paid taxis available.

Exploring Kathmandu

Kathmandu has close to one million inhabitants and forms the urban centre of the Kathmandu Valley, an area of rich historical and cultural significance.

It is located in the north-western part of the valley, which was designated as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1979. There are several other settlements in the valley that are famous for their religious monuments and cultural heritage, including Kathmandu's sister cities Patan and Bhaktapur.

Lonely Planet has described arriving in Kathmandu for the first time as "an exhilarating shock", as people are likely to be unprepared for the intoxicating blend of sights, sounds and smells it has to offer.

Cycling is an option for getting around, although it is not generally recommended due to the heavy traffic and pollution in the city. Many people choose to travel by taxi or rickshaw, which can be useful and affordable providing the fare is negotiated with the driver beforehand.

Kathmandu's top 5 attractions

Kathmandu's top 5 attractions
Durbar Square, where kings were once crowned, is considered by many people to be the traditional heart of the city. Here travellers will have plenty of opportunities to take in the famous architecture of Kathmandu, with spectacular palaces and temple buildings surrounding the main plaza.

The Garden of Dreams offers a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. This peaceful enclave, which underwent a major restoration after lying neglected for many years, lies close to the popular tourist district of Thamel. The garden was created in the Edwardian style by Field Marshal Kaiser Sumsher Rana in 1920.

Freak Street offers a vivid reminder of Kathmandu's former status as a haven for travelling hippies in the 1970s. Officially known as Jochhen Tole, this thoroughfare is a chaotic but charming collection of cheap hotels, restaurants and shops that remains popular with modern day visitors.

Thamel has replaced Freak Street as the meeting place of choice for European backpackers, western travellers and mountain trekkers in recent years. The narrow streets of this bustling area contain shops offering plenty of bargains and a number of popular restaurants.

Swayambhunath, an ancient temple complex to the west of the city, offers a unique atmosphere and spectacular views across the Kathmandu Valley. It is also known as the Monkey Temple, due to the holy monkeys that live on the site.

Direct Flights travel tip for Kathmandu

 Travellers should make sure they pick up a free map of the Kathmandu Valley at the airport, as the area can be confusing for those who have not visited before. Street names are generally only used for major thoroughfares, which can make it difficult for newcomers to find their way around.

When to go to Kathmandu

Spring (February to April) and autumn (October to November) are generally regarded as the best times to visit Nepal. The latter period is preferable for many holidaymakers, as it is the start of the dry season and the countryside around Kathmandu is lush following the monsoons.

Visibility is also at its best at this time of year, providing travellers with stunning mountain views.