Kathman-DO! Why now is the time to visit Nepal
The earthquake that ravaged the Kathmandu Valley on April 26th shocked the world by the seemingly limitless devastation that natural forces can inflict on humanity. If you, like millions of others worldwide, felt powerless in helping the people of Nepal recover from the tragedy, then we have good news for you. As of June 15th, Nepal is back in business and ready to start welcoming tourists back to the country. Given that the nepalese economy relies heavily on tourism as a reliable source of income, visiting this proud himalayan nation is perhaps the best way to help rebuild the Kathmandu Valley. Perfect even for a short break, discover here what you can do in Kathmandu.
Photo credit: Michael Rinaldi
DO! The Durbar Challenge
Leaving the Kathmandu Valley without having visited at least one of three Royal Durbar Squares is about as ridiculous as a trip to Paris without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. Thamel, Patan and nearby Bhaktapur are all home to beautiful royal complexes varying only in the museums on offer and the districts they dominate. Thamel is perfect for history buffs, while Patan and Bhaktapur are great choices for artsy types and shopaholics. Although the earthquake may have destroyed some temples and monuments, many are as beautiful as ever and still central to the culture of the citizens of Kathmandu. Check out Tripsle’s Patan and Bhaktapur Tour that will cover two locations in just one day! Book here and visit Nepal today!
Insider tips: The district surrounding Patan is home to a few shabby stores selling cheap second-hand goodies. If you love mandalas but fancy one with a bit more rustic charm, head to Patan.
DO! Try every flavour of momo you can
Momos may just be the world’s yummiest comfort food. Delicately spiced and perfectly proportioned; at least one of the many combinations of filling and cooking method will be able to win you over. Momos are either steamed or pan-fried, filled with a vast variety of vegetables or meats and all served with a beautifully tangy achhar. For simple and authentic flavours and textures, go for steamed buffalo meat Momos: you’ll never want pork and leek dumplings again! For excellent quality momos try Yangling Tibetan Restaurant!
Insider tips: If you fall in love with Nepal’s most famous dish, check out Thamel Momo Hut for an even wider variety of innovative flavours!
DO! Ethical Retail Therapy
You may have heard that Kathmandu is a paradise for shopaholics. It’s true. You’ll need an extra bundle of cash to spend on all the pretty knick-knacks on offer ranging from bronze figurines and handmade cloth to yak wool scarves and specialty teas. If you’re looking for something a little more special, make sure you visit some of the capital’s fair trade stores that specialise in goods hand-made by craftswomen from the country’s rural communities. With four floors of homewares, stationery, decorations and more, Dhukuti is one of the better options for an ethical shopping trip.
Insider tips: Don’t worry, if that’s not enough, there are a few more stores located Kupondole Road if that didn’t satisfy your wallet.
Photo by Sharada Prasad CS / CC BY 2.0
DO! Get serious with Newari Cuisine
Don’t worry, Nepalese food is not all about dahl and simple curries. Quite the opposite, actually, as the Kathmandu Valley is home to the Newari who have spent centuries perfecting the mouthwatering flavours of all 200 of their signature dishes. Although you’ll find examples of Newari food all over the city, none will quite match to the quality of the dishes served up at Krishnarpan, a premier restaurant at the famous Dwarika’s Hotel. Don’t worry about eating too many momos the night before, you can swap the 22 course marathon for a more manageable 16 course sprint.
Insider tips: If Krishnarpan is way out of your price range, then Tripsle has it covered! At only US$20, you can enjoy a Cultural Dinner and Show at one of 3 fantastic restaurants offering Newari and Nepalese cuisine. Book here.
DO! Unwind on top of the world
If you aren’t planning to head further afield than Kathmandu during your in stay in Nepal, don’t worry, you don’t need to commit to days of trekking or cross country journey to experience the Himalayas. Nagarkot is located just over an hour from the capital and offers stunning views of the snow capped mountains of the Langtang National Park. Here is your chance to escape the bustle of the city centre and relax. Club Himalaya is the perfect place to lay your head; high quality accommodation, excellent food and stunning scenery are all second only to the extensive list of spa treatments available to help you unwind above the clouds.
Insider tips: If you’re not the relaxation type, Nagarkot is also the perfect location for cycling, day hiking and visiting rural communities! Tripsle’s Nagarkot Day Hike is perfect for a flavour of the Himalayas without missing out on an evening back in the capital. Book here.
Photo by Hendrik Terbeck / CC BY 2.0
DO! Feast on Tibetan cuisine
Given the close cultural and political relationship between Nepal and Tibet, it’s only natural that many Tibetans have made Kathmandu their home over the years. That’s great news for us foodies because Tibetan food is fantastic. Tibetan Kitchen Restaurant and Bar is a great initiation into this hearty cuisine. Delicate currys, fluffy breads and warming soups are the signature dishes on offer. Want something even more adventurous? Give the Bhutanese Cheese Curry a go. It’s an acquired taste (some might even say pleasant) and probably the closest many will get to tasting authentic Bhutanese food.
Insider tips: This restaurant has a rooftop terrace that overlooks the awe inspiring Boudhanath Stupa, another of Nepal’s UNESCO world heritage sites. Could you ask for anything more?
DO! Learn how to cook a Nepali meal
The Nepalese culture is a rich fabric of culture and tradition, that’s clear from the moment you step onto the tarmac in Kathmandu. The food, the shopping, the sightseeing are all excellent ways to experience Nepal but to really get to grips with the culture, how about spending a day with a local family learning how to make yummy Nepalese staples. Tripsle offers a Nepali Cooking Class that will have you shopping for ingredients, learning to cook and feeding yummy creations to your host family. Book here.
P.S. Yes. You can learn how to make momos!
DO! Escape the capital
Kathmandu can be a real shock to the system even to the hardiest of travellers. Fortunately for those who need to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital, the valley is littered with beautiful ancient villages that encapsulate the flavour of Kathmandu but are characterised more by the laidback lifestyle of provincial life. Bungamati and Khokana are two of the most stunning examples of Newari settlements that provide visitors a clearer understanding Nepalese culture and its expansion into the hills and valleys of the Himalayas. More importantly, escaping Kathmandu will give you an opportunity to support communities who have suffered in equal measure to those of the capital. Supporting local businesses is key to getting the Kathmandu Valley back on its feet.
Insider tips: Again, Tripsle has this one covered. For a thorough tour of Bungamati and Khokana without figuring out the logistics yourself, book here.
DON’T! Give Kathmandu a miss
Whatever you do, don’t underestimate Nepal’s frenetic capital. In the face of adversity, Kathmandu and her stoic citizens have sprung back to life, ready to rebuild their beautiful capital. In light of the devastation of the earthquake, visiting Kathmandu now would be an even more inspiring journey, to experience the resilience of Nepal’s people and to play your part in the nation’s effort to rebuild.