It was my first time in Nepal – or the Indian sub-continent for that matter – and I was filled with a mix of apprehension and excitement as the plane embarked on its final approach into Kathmandu airport. I’d seen many photos of Kathmandu (map) before and they always gave me the impression of an overcrowded city, with horrible roads, clouds of dust, chaotic traffic and the odd cow – not exactly a place that would be high on my list to visit. After several days there, I concluded that my initial impressions of Kathmandu were spot on, however, there was something extraordinary about this city that made me enjoy my trip way more than I thought I would. Scroll down through my photos of Kathmandu to see what it was about this city that I truly enjoyed.
36 photos of Kathmandu
Flying into Kathmandu
My impressions of Kathmandu
I stayed at the Fairfield by Marriott, a comfortable 3* hotel tucked away in a quiet lane in the district of Thamel. Thamel is where most tourists congregate in Kathmandu, perhaps because of its central location and a plethora of historic gems scattered throughout its maze of streets. The hotel staff were absolutely lovely! I was greeted with genuinely big smiles and friendly chatter – something I experienced again and again at other Kathmandu hotels and restaurants. I checked in, freshened up and went for a stroll – I couldn’t wait to explore Kathmandu!
Thamel is packed with shops selling all sorts of souvenirs, from handicraft to clothing, carpets, paintings and gemstones, as well as small hotels and hostels, restaurants, bars and cafés. I carefully paid attention to every step I took, wary of stepping into a pothole filled with mud, but every so often, I looked up and I was always met with a splash of bright colours! Another thing that caught my attention almost immediately was the constant scent of spices in the air.
The photo above was one of the first Kathmandu photos I posted on my Instagram account. Along with the photo, I wrote:
Strolling in the streets of Kathmandu is a crazy, multi-sensory experience. The colours, scents of spices, temples, shrines, flags, honking taxis, cyclists, rickshaws and the odd cow greet you as you explore the city.
And then there were temples! Lots of temples!
After two days, I was quite literally ‘templed-out’. Haha!
Colours, street scenes and ancient monuments
There was always a surprise around every corner: a bustling market, an ancient monument and most of all, a burst of colour! The bright colours in the streets simply blew me away!
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Kathmandu Durbar Square
The Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the city’s main historic attractions. Home to the old royal palace and various temples, the square is one of three royal squares in the city, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The story of the Kama Sutra and bird poo
The Indrapur Temple is one of the many temples in Durbar Square. It’s especially famed for its intricate wood carvings depicting the Kama Sutra. Its rooftop is also a favoured resting spot for the hundreds of pigeons that can be found in the square. As I looked at the explicit sexual scenes carved into the wood, a big blob of bird poo landed on my shoulder. A local couple who saw it happen smiled at me. They clasped their hands together and greeted me with “Namaste!”. The guy added, “You have been blessed!”.
I guess I have. 🙂
The Great Boudha Stupha
I didn’t have much time to see more of Kathmandu but one place I didn’t want to miss was the Great Boudha Stupa, or Boudhanath, one of the largest stupas in the world, and a true Kathmandu icon. Situated on the ancient trade route from Tibet to the Kathmandu Valley, the stupa was the resting spot for Tibetan merchants and a pilgrimage site for centuries. The stupa suffered severe damage during the 2015 Earthquake but it has since been restored.
The stupa is surrounded by smaller temples and buildings which house art galleries, cafés, hotels and restaurants. I recommend having lunch or dinner on the rooftop of one of the buildings to get this beautiful panoramic view of the stupa.
A serene, spiritual feel
I guess because of the countless Hindu and Buddhist temples and shrines, I sensed, despite the madness of the traffic and the chaotic streets, a somewhat serene, spiritual feel in the city. It could also be the many smiles I encountered. I’m not sure how to explain it – another place I can think of that exudes this same feel is Bali. And it’s this feel that keeps drawing me back to a certain place. I was enraptured by the vibrant colours in the streets, the wonderful people, the fascinating history and architecture, and that calming feel. After several days in Kathmandu, I knew I wanted to return one day and see more of Nepal.
I hope you enjoyed my Kathmandu photos! Before I left Kathmandu, there was one more thing I knew I had to do: see Mt. Everest from the air! Read about my flight tour to Everest.