Discover Kathmandu Hidden Gems: A Guide for Adventurous Travelers
Kathmandu is a city of contrasts, where ancient temples and modern skyscrapers coexist. But beyond the tourist hotspots, many hidden gems are waiting to be discovered by the adventurous traveler. In this article, you’ll learn about some of the best cultural, historical, and natural attractions Kathmandu offers. You’ll also get some tips on how to find them when to visit them, and what to expect from them. Whether looking for a unique and authentic experience, a glimpse into the past, or a breathtaking view of nature, you’ll find it in Kathmandu hidden gems. Read on and get ready to explore the soul of the city.
1. Kathmandu’s Cultural Hidden Gems
Kathmandu is a city that boasts a rich and diverse culture, influenced by its Hindu and Buddhist heritage, its ethnic diversity, and its historical role as a trade and religious hub. While you can find many cultural attractions in the city, such as the Durbar Square, the Hanuman Dhoka Palace, and the Narayanhiti Museum, some hidden gems are less crowded but equally fascinating. Here are some of the cultural hidden gems that you can discover in Kathmandu:
1.1. Kumari Ghar
This is the residence of the Kumari, or the living goddess, a young girl who is revered as the embodiment of the divine. The Kumari is selected from the Newar community, the original inhabitants of Kathmandu, and she lives in the Kumari Ghar until she reaches puberty. You can visit the Kumari Ghar, a beautiful three-story brick building with intricate carvings and paintings, and catch a glimpse of the Kumari as she appears on the balcony at certain times of the day. You can also learn about the history and rituals of the Kumari tradition from the friendly priests and caretakers.
1.2. Garden of Dreams
This is a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city, where you can escape the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. The Garden of Dreams, also known as the Kaiser Mahal, was built in the 1920s by Kaiser Sumsher Rana, a Nepalese aristocrat who was inspired by the European gardens he visited. The garden features a neoclassical pavilion, a pond, a fountain, and a variety of flowers and plants. You can relax on the benches, enjoy a picnic, or read a book from the library. You can also visit the Kaiser Cafe, a cozy restaurant that serves delicious food and drinks.
1.3. Patan Museum
This is a museum that showcases the art and culture of Patan, one of the oldest cities in Nepal, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Patan Museum is housed in a former royal palace, which dates back to the 17th century. The museum displays a collection of exquisite sculptures, paintings, and metalwork, as well as interactive exhibits that explain the history and significance of Patan’s artistic heritage. You can also admire the architecture and design of the palace, which features courtyards, fountains, and windows with intricate latticework.
1.4. Thamel Eco Resort
This is a hotel that offers a unique and sustainable experience for travelers who want to stay in Kathmandu. The Thamel Eco Resort is located in the Thamel area, a popular tourist district that has many shops, restaurants, and bars. The hotel is built with eco-friendly materials, such as bamboo, stone, and mud, and uses solar power, rainwater harvesting, and organic farming. The hotel also supports local communities and charities, such as the Nepal Children’s Organization and Animal Nepal. You can enjoy a comfortable and cozy stay in the hotel, which has spacious rooms, a rooftop garden, and a spa. Additionally, you can taste authentic Nepalese cuisine, which is prepared with organic ingredients from the hotel’s farm.
2. Kathmandu’s Historical Hidden Gems
Kathmandu is a city that has a long and fascinating history, dating back to the 2nd century AD. The city has witnessed the rise and fall of various dynasties, kingdoms, and empires, as well as the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism. While you can find many historical attractions in the city, such as the Durbar Square, the Hanuman Dhoka Palace, and the Narayanhiti Museum, there are also some hidden gems that are less crowded, but equally impressive. Here are some of the historical hidden gems that you can discover in Kathmandu:
2.1. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
This is one of the three Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley, and the most well-preserved one. The Bhaktapur Durbar Square was the seat of the Malla kings, who ruled over the city from the 12th to the 18th century. Particularly, the square is a masterpiece of architecture, art, and culture, featuring ancient palaces, temples, and statues, adorned with intricate carvings and colorful paintings. You can walk around the square and admire monuments like the 55-window Palace, the Nyatapola Temple, the Golden Gate, and the Lion’s Gate. You can also chat with a local guide who can explain the legends and stories behind each monument.
2.2. Pashupatinath Temple
This is one of the most sacred Hindu temples in the world, dedicated to Lord Shiva, the destroyer and transformer of the universe. The Pashupatinath Temple is located on the banks of the Bagmati River, where Hindus perform cremation rituals for their deceased relatives. The temple complex consists of several shrines, ashrams, and ghats, as well as a deer park and a monkey temple. You can visit the temple and witness the ceremonies, rituals, and festivals that take place there. You can also meet the sadhus, or holy men, who live in the temple and practice asceticism and meditation.
2.3. Boudhanath Stupa
This is one of the largest and most revered Buddhist stupas in the world, and a symbol of peace and harmony. The Boudhanath Stupa was built in the 5th century AD and is said to contain the relics of the Buddha. The stupa is surrounded by a circular plaza, where pilgrims and tourists walk clockwise, spinning the prayer wheels and chanting mantras. The stupa is also surrounded by dozens of monasteries, shops, and restaurants, where you can experience Tibetan culture and cuisine. You can visit and learn more about the facts of Boudhanath Stupa, and join the prayers, offerings, and celebrations there.
2.4. Swayambhunath Temple
This is one of the oldest and most sacred Buddhist temples in Nepal, also known as the Monkey Temple, due to the large number of monkeys that live there. The Swayambhunath Temple is located on a hilltop, overlooking the Kathmandu Valley. The temple is a complex of stupas, shrines, and statues, representing various aspects of Buddhism. You can climb up the 365 steps to reach the temple and enjoy the panoramic view of the city. You can also explore the temple and learn about its history and significance from the monks and nuns who reside there.
3. Kathmandu’s Natural Hidden Gems
Being one of the world’s most beautiful capital cities, Kathmandu is a city that offers stunning views of nature and wildlife, both within and outside its boundaries. The city is surrounded by the majestic Himalayan mountains, which provide a backdrop for many outdoor activities and adventures. While you can find many natural attractions in the city, such as the Garden of Dreams, the Godavari Botanical Garden, and the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, there are also some hidden gems that are less crowded, but equally amazing. Here are some of the natural hidden gems that you can discover in Kathmandu:
3.1. Nagarkot Hill
This is a hill station that is located about 32 km from Kathmandu and is famous for its sunrise and sunset views of the Himalayas. You can reach Nagarkot by bus, taxi, or bike, and enjoy the scenic ride through the countryside. You can stay in one of the many hotels, resorts, or homestays that offer comfortable accommodations and panoramic views. In addition, you can hike or bike along the trails that lead to various viewpoints, such as the Nagarkot Tower, the Nagarkot Panoramic Hiking Trail, or the Nagarkot Buddha Peace Park. You can also visit the nearby attractions, such as the Changu Narayan Temple, the Bhaktapur Durbar Square, or the Nala Village.
3.2. Phulchowki Hill
This is the highest hill in the Kathmandu Valley, standing at 2,782 meters above sea level. It is a paradise for birdwatchers and nature lovers. You can reach Phulchowki by bus, taxi, or bike, and enjoy the lush greenery and the diverse flora and fauna. Then, you can hike up the hill, which takes about 3 to 4 hours, and admire the views of the valley and the mountains. You can also spot more than 250 species of birds, such as the Himalayan cutia, the crimson sunbird, the kalij pheasant, and the Nepal wren-babbler. You can also visit the Phulchowki Mai Temple, a Hindu shrine dedicated to the goddess of the forest.
3.3. Godavari Botanical Garden
This is a botanical garden that is located about 14 km from Kathmandu. In particular, it is a haven for plant enthusiasts and picnic lovers. You can reach Godavari by bus, taxi, or bike, and enjoy the serene and beautiful environment. You can explore the garden, which covers an area of 82 hectares, and features more than 500 species of plants, including orchids, ferns, cacti, and medicinal herbs. Besides that, you can relax on the lawns, enjoy a picnic, or play games. You can also visit the nearby attractions, such as the Godavari Kunda, a sacred pond, the Pulchowki Mai Temple, a Hindu shrine, or the Godavari Marble Quarry, a historical site.
4. Kathmandu’s Adventure Hidden Gems
Kathmandu is a city that offers thrilling and challenging adventures for those who seek them. The city is a gateway to the Nepal Himalayas, where you can find some of the highest and most spectacular peaks in the world. While you can find many adventure activities in the city, such as bungee jumping, paragliding, and mountain biking, some hidden gems are less crowded but equally exciting. Here are some of the adventure hidden gems that you can discover in Kathmandu:
4.1. Everest Base Camp Trek
This is one of the most famous and rewarding treks in the world. Especially, it’s where you can follow the footsteps of the legendary mountaineers who conquered Everest, the highest mountain on Earth. You can reach the Everest Base Camp by taking a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, and then trekking for about 12 days, passing through Sherpa villages, Buddhist monasteries, and stunning landscapes. You can also enjoy the views of Everest and other Himalayan giants, such as Lhotse, Nuptse, and Ama Dablam. Furthermore, you can visit the Kalapatthar, a viewpoint that offers the best panoramic view of Everest.
4.2. Langtang Valley Trek
This is one of the most scenic and diverse treks in Nepal, where you can explore the Langtang Valley, also known as the Valley of Glaciers. You can reach the Langtang Valley by taking a bus from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi, and then trekking for about 7 days, passing through Tamang villages, pine forests, and alpine meadows. Moreover, you can see the Langtang Lirung, the highest peak in the Langtang range, and the Langtang Glacier, the largest glacier in Nepal. You can also visit the Kyanjin Gompa, an ancient Buddhist monastery, and the Cheese Factory, where you can taste the local cheese made from yak milk.
4.3. Chitwan National Park Safari
This is one of the best wildlife experiences in Nepal, where you can see the rare and endangered animals of the Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can reach the Chitwan National Park by taking a bus or a flight from Kathmandu to Bharatpur and then taking a jeep or a canoe to the park. You can also stay in one of the many lodges, resorts, or homestays that offer comfortable accommodations and guided tours. Additionally, you can enjoy various activities, such as elephant riding, jungle walking, bird watching, and cultural shows. You can also see the one-horned rhinoceros, the Bengal tiger, the gharial crocodile, and the sloth bear, among other animals.
Kathmandu’s Best Places to Stay
Kathmandu is a city that offers a wide range of accommodation options, from budget hostels and guesthouses to mid-range hotels and resorts to luxury, boutique, and heritage hotels. You can find a place to stay that suits your taste, budget, and location preferences. Here are some of the best places to stay in Kathmandu, categorized by budget, mid-range, and luxury:
If you are looking for a cheap and cheerful place to stay in Kathmandu, you can choose from one of these budget options:
This is a hostel unlike any other hostel, Rest Up is a perfect place to make new friends, relax, and rest up. Rest Up Kathmandu Hostel is located in the central hub of tourist Paknajol Marg, Thamel, where an array of restaurants, shops, and travel agencies are located. Sometimes the best way to experience a destination is from a good dorm room with good people. Book one of these sweet hostels in Kathmandu and get ready for the time of your life!
This is a hostel that offers a fun and social atmosphere, with a rooftop terrace, a bar, and a restaurant. Alobar1000 is located in the heart of Thamel, close to many attractions, shops, and cafes. You can choose from dorms or private rooms, all with free Wi-Fi, lockers, and hot showers. You can also join the activities and events that the hostel organizes, such as movie nights, yoga classes, and live music.
If you are looking for a moderate and affordable place to stay in Kathmandu, you can choose from one of these mid-range options:
Hotel Mulberry Kathmandu
This is a hotel that offers a fine and elegant stay, with an outdoor pool, a spa, and a restaurant. Hotel Mulberry Kathmandu is located in the Thamel area, within walking distance of many attractions, such as the Garden of Dreams, the Durbar Square, and the Narayanhiti Museum. You can enjoy the modern and stylish rooms, all with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and minibars. You can also enjoy the views of the city and the mountains from the hotel.
Kathmandu Guest House
This is a hotel that offers a historic and charming stay, with a garden, a library, and a cafe. Kathmandu Guest House is located in the Thamel area, close to many attractions, shops, and restaurants. You can enjoy the cozy and traditional rooms, all with free Wi-Fi, fans, and en-suite bathrooms. You can also enjoy the hospitality and service that the hotel provides, as well as the famous guests that have stayed there, such as the Beatles, Ricky Martin, and Jeremy Irons.
This is a hotel that offers a royal and luxurious stay, with a pool, a spa, and a restaurant. Hotel Shanker is located in the Lazimpat area, a short drive from the city center and the airport. You can enjoy the spacious and elegant rooms, all with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and bathtubs. You can also enjoy the architecture and decor of the hotel, which was once a palace of the Rana dynasty.
If you are looking for a splurge and extravagant place to stay in Kathmandu, you can choose from one of these luxury options:
The Dwarika’s Hotel
This is a hotel that offers an authentic and cultural stay, with a pool, a spa, and a restaurant. The Dwarika’s Hotel is located in the Battisputali area, near the Pashupatinath Temple and the Boudhanath Stupa. You can enjoy the exquisite and spacious rooms, all with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and balconies. You can also enjoy the art and culture of the hotel, which features a collection of sculptures, paintings, and metalwork, as well as live performances of traditional music and dance.
Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
This is a hotel that offers a modern and sophisticated stay, with a pool, a spa, and a restaurant. Hyatt Regency Kathmandu is located in the Boudha area, near the Boudhanath Stupa and the Kopan Monastery. You can enjoy the contemporary and comfortable rooms, all with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and minibars. You can also enjoy the views of the city and the mountains from the hotel.
Baber Mahal Vilas
This is a hotel that offers a boutique and exclusive stay, with a pool, a spa, and a restaurant. Baber Mahal Vilas is located in the Baber Mahal area, a short drive from the city center and the airport. You can enjoy the unique and luxurious rooms, all with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and jacuzzis. You can also enjoy the architecture and ambiance of the hotel, which is located in a restored 19th-century palace, with a neoclassical and Rana style.
Discover the Soul of the City with Kathmandu Hidden Gems
Kathmandu’s hidden gems are more than just attractions. They are windows into the soul of the city, its people, and its culture. They offer a unique and unforgettable experience that will enrich your travel and your life. Have you visited any of Kathmandu’s hidden gems? If so, I’d love to hear from you. If not, what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Kathmandu today and discover its hidden gems for yourself. You won’t regret it.
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