Here is the full guide to the things you can do in 24 hours in Kathmandu valley.
Kathmandu city is the capital and largest city of Nepal. This city is also known as the city of temples, artifacts since you can find at least 130 important temples. Located at an altitude of 1400 meters above the sea level in the bowl-shaped, the majority of Hindu and Buddhist people live in this city. Kathmandu city is the best city to travel in Asia and gateway to the Nepalese Himalayas like Mt. Everest, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Kanchenjunga, etc.
Bhaktapur was the capital city until the 15th century when Kathmandu and Lalitpur were established. In 2015, Kathmandu city was hit by the earthquake, causing thousands of deaths and destruction of many infrastructures across the valley. Due to this, Kathmandu has to lose lots of ancient architectures, and artifacts.
From the city of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, the city of Banepa, Panauti, and Dhulikhel is considered to be the part of Kathmandu as these cities share a similar culture. This city includes 7 World Heritage Sites enlisted by UNESCO out of 10.
All the independent travelers pass through the capital because it is home to one and the only international airport in Nepal. Allowing some time in Kathmandu is worth it because there are pockets of exquisite beauty and calm too. A single day is not enough to explore the capital city of Nepal, you can see the highlights without trying to pack in too much.
Practical Tips for a Perfect Day/ 24 Hours in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
As Thamel is the center of Kathmandu and near to the international airport there is a great concentration of hotels, luxury dining places, traveler-friendly restaurants, souvenir shops, which leads many travelers to stay in Thamel.
The alternative to Thamel is Old Patan. We recommend you to stay there because it is less crowded than Thamel. You can get the same kind of hotels, restaurants, and other handicraft shops. The atmosphere of this area is more local, which will make you more relaxed and calm.
Traffic can be the main problem for you while traveling around the Kathmandu valley. It is better to hire a bike or get a ride by using applications like Tootle or Pathao, which helps you to get to your destination faster. If you can’t speak Nepali it’s not that easy to travel on public transportation, taxis are affordable, but take a lot of time to reach your destination and drivers are likely to overcharge tourists a bit. Having the only a day to explore Kathmandu it is better to focus on a certain site, rather than trying to hob between too many places. So, if you have only 24 hours to explore the Kathmandu valley you can follow the following itineraries.
7 am: Tea and Temple to Start the Day
Generally Nepalese start their day too early, so you can take a short walk from your hotel to see the early morning market in the Patan area. You can walk around Patan Durbar Square and feed food to pigeons. It gives you a better experience. Similarly, is a good place to head after breakfast to take in the scenes of people worshipping at the temple. There are many cafes surrounding the square, you can grab a masala chaiya (tea) or a coffee, anyone of them. There are various temples of Hindus and Buddhists in this city, which will attract you more. You can head to Patan Museum, around mid-morning, which is located within the Patan Durbar Square. You can get a lot of information and artifacts of the Kathmandu valley’s religious traditions. Patan Museum is considered to be the best museum in South Asia, and the building is beautifully restored. There are many restaurants which sell dal hat, tarkari (Nepali lentils, rice, and curry), you can try this in the late morning. There is also one saying, dal bhat power, 24 hours. It is kind of heavier than other meals.
1 pm: Tour to Sacred Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu Sites
After exploring the Patan Durbar Square you can head towards a Hindu religious site Pashupatinath temple. You can hire a bike or use Tootle (a bike taxi application) or get a taxi. We don’t recommend you to get a taxi because you might get stuck in a jam for an hour.
Pashupatinath Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Nepal, located in the Kathmandu city. Built-in the 19th-century and stands on the bank of the Bagmati River, this temple is a famous 5th-century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (Pashupati). The significant part of this temple was destroyed by Mughal invaders in the 14th-century, so the temple exterior is not as same as it was in the 5th-century.
Thousands of devotees and sadhus visit this temple from different parts of the world on the day of Sivaratri (night of Lord Shiva). Non-Hindu visitors are not allowed to enter the temple, but they can see the temple from across the Bagmati river. It is a cremation ghat (burning platforms) of Hindu religion people.
After visiting the Pashupatinath temple you can visit Boudhanath which is about 30-Minutes of walk from Pashupatinath or you can take a taxi.
Bouddhanathi is a tourist site and the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Kathmandu. This place is the hub for many Tibetan Buddhist refugees as well as foreigners who come to learn about Tibetan Buddhism. Situated in the northeastern outskirts of Kathmandu, this stupa’s massive mandala is the largest spherical stupa in Nepal. This place is perfect to pick up a few souvenirs like prayer flags, incense, jewelry, Thanka, traditional paintings and so on.
5 pm: Dinner With a Dazzling View
There are a lot more restaurants around Boudhanath, where you can enjoy your dinner with the majestic view of stupa. International cuisine is the best here. There are many restaurants which offer you a Tibetan food, but don’t tend to come with the stupa view. So choose the best restaurant which provides you the best food along with the stupa view. This helps you to remain relaxed and calm.
7 pm: Live Music Under the Stars
It is the best way to end your day. You can get a chance to attend a free classical music concert if you head back to Pashupatinath. It is performed by the priest to Load Shiva on the hill above the Pashupatinath Temple at the Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple. You don’t need to get a ticket to watch this classical concert because it is not held within the main temple complex.
If you are fond of nightlife and rock music you can head towards Thamel, Durbar Marga, or Patan area. Kathamanduites are well in music and arts. The city has various artists, who do have a beautiful vocal. So, you need not worry about being in the wrong place. You can catch rock cover bands or a select a few places that host original local acts and enjoy the nightlife of Kathmandu till midnight. Do not worry about heading back to hotel that late, you can easily get a taxi heading back to your hotel.
This is how you can spend 24 hours in Kathmandu Valley. If you have more days, then please go through our article on “How many days is enough in Kathmandu?”
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This post was written by Pinnacle Expedition