Gaining popularity among backpackers, the Himalayans have been a haven for many. In the midst of its recovery from the 2015 earthquake, Nepal now offers a poetic mix of chaos and beauty.
For many, the first place one would visit would be the the labyrinth-like streets and alleys of souvenir shops, bars, restaurants and hotel in Thamel. Thamel has been a popular site for many backpackers since it opened itself to the the public in the 1950s. But Kathmandu has so much more to offer. Here are tips on getting around Nepal and discovering its spiritual charms.
The Garden of Dreams
The city has a handful of green enclaves. The Garden of Dreams, which is across the former royal palace—now turned museum, the garden is a serene spot in which one can escape the hustle and bustle of the streets. The garden is decorated with pavilions and ponds, making it the perfect spot to unwind, either with a book or even take a short nap on the lawn mats.
Formerly a popular stamping-ground among the Nepali youths in the late 90s, Jazz Upstairs is an intimate seating area on the floor of an old rundown house with a small side entrance. It was a hit among those who preferred a more private dating scene and jazz music.
Jazz Upstairs may have gone through a concrete transformation, but it still remains popular among the locals. Located in the Lazimpat neighbourhood, a walking distance from Thamel, it hosts live jazz performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The bar is affordable and is rich on views, giving you a 360-view of the hills that surround the valley.
One of the holiest places for Buddhists, the Boudhanath is listed as a UNESCO site. That being said, don’t expect to feel a sudden rush of zen right away, the passage way on the way there can be loud and busy. Once you have blocked off the traffic around, you will be able to hear the soft chanting and smell the burning incense.
The grandeur of the white coloured dome of the Boudhanath will take a moment to settle in. Due to the earthquake that struck Nepal back in 2015, the Boudhanath was badly damaged, but has since been restored. The Boudhanath is also an important place for Buddhist scholars, with numerous monasteries built around the holy site.
Dine like a local
Nepal has a wide selection of fiery dishes that will shake up your taste buds. Have a go at the thakali-style thali, a Nepali staple that comprises of rice, lentils, meat, vegetable curry, leafy greens and pickles. The thakali-style thali uses a generous amount of Sichuan pepper and jimbu, an aromatic herb which is native to the Himalayas.
You can also try out momos, a type of steamed dumpling filled with either meat of vegetables. Everyone has their own favourite place to get momos, whether it’d be an eatery at the side of the road or in a posh restaurant, momos is a great symbol of Kathmandu valleys ethnic diversity.
Only a 20-minute taxi ride from Thamel, Patan gives off a different distinctive feel that separates it from Kathmandu. Formerly known as Lalitpur, City of Beauty, a walk around will give you a glimpse of the indigenous inhabitants of Kathmandu valley, the Newari people.
Its Durbar Square has one of the finest collections of temples and palaces in Nepal. When dusk falls, temples and monasteries light up to get ready for evening prayers. The lights would make the place look like it was glowing with gold-plated spires that reflect the lights.