Few, if any, people make the trip to Nepal without visiting Kathmandu. Kathmandu Nepal is the social, political and commercial center of the country and is famous for possessing two very distinct faces. Once its own kingdom, Kathmandu now has three areas all part of the city that visitors can explore: the legendary cities of Bhaktapur, Patan and Kathmandu. On Kathmandu tours throughout the three cities, visitors can explore seven cultural heritage sites that make up an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site. These include Sagarmatha National Park, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swyambhunath, Boudhanath and Pashupatinath Temple. The city is also a top spot as a base for the more adventurous interested in Nepal trekking.
Aside from the many fascinating, beautiful places to visit in Nepal, Kathmandu can also serve as a welcome breath of fresh air from tours through India. Visitors instantly feel welcomed to this friendly, laid-back city. If you haven't made prior plans for accommodation, you're in good hands--most guesthouses offer budget-friendly transportation from the airport to downtown. This can be a very welcome convenience when you're coming off the road exhausted and ready for some relaxation. With a tourist visa available upon arrival and reasonable prices, Kathmandu travel is possible for a maximum of sixty days with one visa. For the very curious and intrepid, a five-month visa is also available to tourists.
In Kathmandu Nepal a long, rich and colorful history means there are many things to see and do in and around the city. Situated on the Vishnumati River and lying more than 1,300 feet above sea level, the city's geographical location is simply stunning. With a religious history laced with Hinduism and Buddhism, Kathmandu is home to myriad palaces, temples and monuments. Travel to Kathmandu means taking the time to relish in the old and the new of the city, two elements that offer a fascinating and vibrant contrast. The testaments which still stand in homage to the past stand side by side with the smog-filled roadways and busy streets filled with cars, vendors and people. Accelerated urbanization over the last decades has changed much of the city, much like many ancient cities around the world---an inevitable product of modern times.
During Kathmandu tours the Thamel area is a top place to visit--one full of liveliness and spirit. It offers tourists a large network of interlocking shops, restaurants, hotels and more, accommodating most tourists' needs. The Nepali Royal Palace is also high on the list during Kathmandu travel, as is the most popular Kathmandu temple, the Swayambunath Stupa, or Monkey Temple, which is a stunning Buddhist shrine. Considered the most sacred of any Kathmandu temple, this ancient edifice is set on the city outskirts and is home to countless Columbus monkeys. Saffron-robed monks, brightly dressed Hindu women, plus hundreds of devoted worshipers and curious tourists gather on the thickly forested hilltop to take in beautiful surroundings and panoramic views. The temple's highlights include a steep, carved stone staircase, dozens of radiant copper prayer wheels, argent-painted statues and a mammoth prayer wheel inside the gatehouse.
Though the Swayambunath Kathmandu temple is one of the most popular attractions, there are several more notable ones not to be missed. Durbar Square, once a place reserved for distinguished kings, brims with temples, courtyards and palaces all built between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries. The Walkabout is also a route to explore during Kathmandu travel. On the Walkabout, you'll be introduced to the true essence of Kathmandu along a path that passes ponds, clock towers, markets and shops, vibrant squares, temples and monuments.
Kathmandu tours covering the south of the old city include the Heritage Walk, a route that takes visitors past many of the most beautiful, yet seldom visited, historic sites that encompass the true soul of the city. Bouddhanath monastery, Budhanilkantha temple and Changu Narayan Temple are only three of the hundreds of sites to see throughout Kathmandu Nepal. With Bhaktapur and Patan also offering endless choices for sightseeing, travel to Kathmandu can be some of the most gratifying and captivating of all travel to Asia. Awakening all senses and emotions, a journey through this scared valley is unlike any other in the world.