Nepal: Kathmandu in 2 days

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Yes, I finally got to Nepal, a country that seemed so far for me but yet I have always wanted to visit. Unfortunately, I was only able to stay 2 days, as I needed to get back home to Vienna to sort out some family issues. And I had my ticket out of Kathmandu to fly to Vienna. So I asked myself, why not spend at least 2 days to walk around and explore this place that’s completely new to me…

Thamel, Kathmandu_1

1. Walk around Thamel

I absolutely loved walking around Kathmandu. I was surprised to see how clean the city was compared to Southeast Asia or India. Thamel is a nice backpacker area with plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, hotels and travel agencies. If its your first time to Kathmandu, you most likely will end up going there. You can find everything you want in Thamel for your future adventures into the mountains as well as to satisfy your shopping needs and wants. Kathmandu is very dusty, my black nikes turned grey after an hour of walking around. Most streets do not have a concrete road, I am assuming due to the devastating earthquake that took place in 2015. But those streets…Its absolutely amazing to walk around and observe the life around: locals busy with their daily routines, children coming back from school, vendors trying to sell you all kind of items. I was also asked quite a few times, whether I would like something to smoke. On my second day, while coming back from Durbar Square, I got lost and ended up in a residential area with locals who were not used to seeing tourists around. It was truly an unusual experience. That is by far my favourite part of traveling – get lost in a non-touristic area and seeing, observing, feeling how local

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2. Swayambhu Stupa (Monkey Temple)

Ooooh, what a wonderful place, my first nepalese stupa, with a beautiful view over the whole Kathmandu, and I am in love. Swayambhu Stupa or Monkey Temple is within walking distance from Thamel district. If you want to experience and see the local life, do go for a walk there! My pace was set slow and it took me around 40 min. Stopping a lot for pictures and to enjoy the beautiful view of the city on the way, of course. The city is very dusty and many roads are under construction, so it is advisable to wear sneakers or closed shoes. I was using maps.me from my hotel to the Stupa, perfect app for travellers. To get to the top of the Monkey Temple, there are many steep steps to climb. And lots of monkeys, so be alarmed and hold on to your belongings. At the top, there is an entry fee of 200 Rupee to pay; you get a beautiful ticket and can enjoy the Stupa, and the view from there.

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3. Durbar Square

Durbar Square is one of the 3 Durbar (a term to describe plazas and areas opposite the old royal palaces in Nepal) Squares in the Kathmandu Valley and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Earthquake left a lot of destruction to that place, several buildings have collapsed. Many other buildings are supported by massive wooden bars to prevent them from collapsing. The square itself did not impress me as it is a closed squared area surrounded by buildings. But I absolutely loved the way there. On my way, one young guy (he told me he is a student from India learning arts in Kathmandu) started talking to me. ‘Surprisingly’ he was walking the same way that I was headed so he volunteered to show me the way to Durbar Square. I do not mind young people earning money as tour guides, and I did not want to be unfair by not paying at the end. So I openly told him I do not have any cash with me (which was true at that time) and I would like to explore on my own. He wished me all the best and disappeared. So be prepared to meet so-called volunteer tour guides, who would not ask for money straight away but might ask for some contributions for their studies at the end. To get inside the square, there is an entrance fee, and from my memory, it was quite high fee for foreigners. So I decided to walk around and see if I find something interesting besides this square. At the end, I found another unofficial entrance without any guards or entrance fees.

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4. Rooftop hotel/bar

When I was looking for a hotel in Kathmandu, I specifically wanted a roof-top terrace or a restaurant. And guess what, I was actually given a room on the highest floor of the building with a beautiful view over the city and gorgeous mountains at the background. Ah, that was the best two mornings to wake up! I got to observe the sun rising above the city, see locals waking up and start getting busy with their daily routines. I highly recommend to look for a hotel with a roof-top terrace, its absolutely worth it!

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5. Shopping

Kathmandu is a shopping paradise to those who loves scarfs, shawls and all kinds of cute decoration details. If you came to Nepal for trekking (what most people do), and you don’t have trekking gear, don’t worry. Kathmandu ist full of goose jackets, trekking pants, shoes, hats, backpacks and much more. Prices?! Not too bad, if converted to euros or Australian dollars. Since I am a big shawl addict, I  must admit, I left Kathmandu with 7 different shawls. No, not all for me! I got 6 as presents, and one big shawl for myself, which could be mistaken for a blanket. Nepal is also famous for its teas, which is widely available to buy in Thamel. There are many tea shops where you can smell and taste different kind of tea and of course Masala Tea.

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Few tips and infos about Nepal

>> Visa for Nepal could be easily obtained on arrival at the Kathmandu airport. You would need your passport, filled-in application provided at the airport and 1 passport-size photo. But do not worry if you forget the picture, there are application machines wich cameras where you can take your picture and fill in application for the visa. Visa charges are USD 25, USD 40 and USD 100 for 15, 30 and 40 days respectively. It is possible to pay in different currencies, pretty much all major currencies are accented at the airport. There is also an exchange point right next to visa counter in case you do not have those accepted currencies with you.

>> Best month to visit Nepal and go tracking to the mountains is October. The weather is dry and mild with lots of sun during the day. Evenings and nights get cold, so take warm hoody or puff jacket with you. No problem if you do not have one: you would be able to one in Kathmandu for sure.

*** Loved Kathmandu, coming back soon again ***

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