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Guide to Kathmandu Outdoors

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It may be snowing high in the Himalayas, but even in the winter Kathmandu's weather is suitable for enjoying the great outdoors. This list highlights some local favorites and must-see tourist attractions that will make your time in Kathmandu a natural highlight.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Thrifty Traveller

7 Places

4 City Tips

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Map

7 Places

Swayambhunath Temple

Sacred & Religious Sites

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Sites

Boudhanath Stupa

Sacred & Religious Sites

Bhaktapur

Destinations

Changu Narayan

Sacred & Religious Sites

Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park

National Parks

Nagarjun Forest Reserve

Forests, Nature & Wildlife Areas

Vincent M's City Tips

  • Bear in mind that after the April 2015 earthquake certain parts of the old city complexes in Kathmandu Valley suffered damage and may still be being cleared or reconstructed at the time of your visit. A large part of the city was not affected by the earthquake however — including Thamel — and it's a good idea to use a local guide to show you these parts.
  • "Namaste" is the traditional word for "Hello," but its literal translation is along the lines of "The god in me sees the god in you." Try it!
  • Tipping is not part of the local culture. At some of the more touristic restaurants, there may be a 10% service charge and/or a 13% VAT charge added to the bill.
  • Taxis are generally always available, and micro buses are an efficient and budget-friendly form of public transport.
  • Save
    Swayambhunath Temple
    Sacred & Religious Sites
    See more photos
    Vincent M Says:

    Also known as the 'Monkey Temple,' Swayambhunath is about a 40-minute walk from Kathmandu's Thamel area, close enough to make for a nice half-day trip; and if you do arrive by foot, you'll also have the chance to get away from the touristic areas and see a more authentic part of the city. Upon reaching the temple, you will find lots of monkeys that are comfortable in human company, making for some great photo opportunities.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There is a small entrance fee.
    • This is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the area, so please be respectful.
    • Affording stunning views of Kathmandu, sunset is an ideal time to visit; however, it's also the busiest time of day, so if it's peace and quiet you want, go during early morning.
    • Following the April 2015 earthquake, areas of this complex may still be undergoing reconstruction efforts during your visit. This in itself is a moving sight to see!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 173 things to do in Kathmandu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Maybe I was just all templed out! 27/03/2017
    • Om manapemi ho 27/03/2017
    • Swayambhunath Temple
    Address:
    Manjushree Marg
    Kathmandu 44620
    Nepal
    Phone:
    +977 986-5713743
    Other:
  • Save
    Kathmandu Durbar Square
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Vincent M Says:

    Kathmandu's Durbar (Palace) Square is picturesque and historic — and to get here from Thamel, you'll get to explore some colorful and lively alleyways along the way. Guidebooks list this as a must-see, and they aren't wrong; however, what I would add as a suggestion is to leave yourself plenty of time to walk from Thamel, so that you can check out some of the side streets on the way. On this stroll, you will find little shops selling everything from western clothing and colorful Saris to pots and pans, baked goods, coffee, and, of course, tea (or 'chiya' in Nepalese).

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There is an entrance fee because this is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
    • The streets will be packed with pedestrians and motorists, so watch where you are going and try not to get irritated by the horns — constant beeping is part of the Nepali culture.
    • Bear in mind that parts of the monument were damaged during the April 2015 earthquake. It is still amazing to experience it however.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 173 things to do in Kathmandu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Damaged but still worth it 28/03/2017
    • Refused to pay an entrance fee to visit a square 27/03/2017
    • Kathmandu Durbar Square
  • Save
    Boudhanath Stupa
    Sacred & Religious Sites
    See more photos
    Vincent M Says:

    Located about 10km (6mi) outside of Kathmandu's Thamel region, Boudhanath Stupa may not be the easiest to reach, but it's worth the trip — this is one of the largest stupas in the world, and the most important Kathmandu pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists. Take some time to walk around and marvel at the stupa's massive proportions; and don't forget to try some local food from one of the small restaurants in the surrounding area.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Find any restaurant with the name "Sherpa" in it and try the "Rildok" — it's along the lines of a potato soup, but unlike anything you'll have eaten before.
    • The best ways to get here are by taxi, local bus, or renting a motor bike.
    • Note that although the top of Boudha shifted slightly during the April 2015 earthquake, reconstruction works — based entirely on faith, as no donations were sought — began within seven days. Amazing to think that Nepal had the experts on hand to restore a 12th century monument, and their efforts are an inspiring sight to see, should they still be ongoing when you visit.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 173 things to do in Kathmandu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing Boudhanath Stupa 28/03/2017
    • Try to go early morning 28/03/2017
    • Boudhanath Stupa
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 23:59
  • Save
    Bhaktapur
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Vincent M Says:

    If you're looking for a little getaway from the capital, then spend a day in Bhaktapur, an old Newari Kingdom. It's not a touristic place, and there are plenty of beautiful traditional-style buildings to explore. In fact, the whole village is an attraction in itself, the entire area being a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plus, since it's just a 30-minute drive from the center of Kathmandu, it makes for an easy visit.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you like yogurt, then stop at a local shop for a cup. It is fresh and exceptionally tasty.
    • Do spend time admiring the detail and craftsmanship of some of the older buildings.
    • Buses also run here regularly from Kathmandu, and there are guesthouses if you'd like to spend the night.
    • While a big brunt of the devastation from the April 2015 earthquake was on the old houses in Bhaktapur, in fact only 13% of them suffered damage. A large part of the area's heritage still stands, and it's amazing to see the ongoing reconstruction efforts with the help of a local guide.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    • Bhaktapur
  • Save
    Changu Narayan
    Sacred & Religious Sites
    See more photos
    Vincent M Says:

    Changu Narayan is the oldest temple around, and it is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. It's just far enough off the beaten path that you won't see many other tourists, but it's close enough to be easily accessible. At about 20km (12mi) from the center of Kathmandu, it may be a little far to walk the whole way, but taxis are available after you've had your fill of strolling through some of the truly authentic areas leading up to the temple. Once you arrive, it is peaceful and serene, meaning you won't have many distractions while marveling at the craftsmanship that went into the construction.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • There is a small entrance fee, which comes with an informational pamphlet; I recommend reading the pamphlet, as the history is quite interesting.
    • The temple has been closed since the April 2015 earthquake due to access problems. Please check for updates before you travel!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 28 things to do in Bhaktapur
    Certificate of Excellence 2014Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A very old historic temple. 21/03/2017
    • Amazing -- worth the little trip out of Kathmandu 19/03/2017
    • Changu Narayan
    Other:
  • Save
    Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park
    National Parks
    See more photos
    Vincent M Says:

    Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is only located a little over 10km (6mi) outside of the city, but after a quick taxi/bus ride, you'll feel like you've entered into another world! The entrance fee is reasonably low for tourists, especially considering the diversity of animals that live here: multiple types of leopard, bears, deer, boars, and many others. Join a tour or spend the day walking around on your own — either way will be special as you amble through thick forests of pine and oak, binoculars at the ready!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • It's easy to rent a bike for the day and ride around the park, but be aware that the entrance fee on a bicycle is a little more than if you are on foot.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #54 of 232 things to do in Kathmandu Valley
    • A Quick Getaway From Busy Kathmandu 14/03/2017
    • Best day Hiking destination from Kathmandu 09/02/2017
    • Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 22:59
    Other:
  • Save
    Nagarjun Forest Reserve
    Forests, Nature & Wildlife Areas
    See more photos
    Vincent M Says:

    Nagarjun Forest Reserve is a real breath of fresh air, and the first time I visited, I was thoroughly surprised by how close it was to the city. After just a 10-minute taxi ride, you can find yourself among numerous mountain bike trails to ride and places to rock climb. You could also enjoy the nature from the comfort of a jeep — a dirt road winds its way to the top, where on a clear day you'll be rewarded by excellent views.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Like a Local
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you have trekking poles or a walking stick, bring them. It is a steep climb to the top.
    • Walk at a leisurely pace and you'll reach the top in about two hours. It's about 5km (3mi) from the entrance to the summit.
    • Bring an extra photo ID with you. The police/military personnel like to keep one while you are in the park so that they can make sure everyone gets out safely!
    From the community
    Ranked #67 of 173 things to do in Kathmandu
    • Good place to take day hiking near Kathmandu 10/12/2016
    • Lovely forest topped with a stupa 14/11/2016
    • Nagarjun Forest Reserve
    Phone:
    14352572
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 - 16:00
    Other:
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