Nepal had been on my hit-list of places to go visit for a long time after many friends and travellers told me I MUST go.
You can trek the popular Gorepani and Poon hill in the Annapurna region. With beautiful scenery, challenging but accesible trekking, its easy to understand why Annapurna is referred to as a photographers paradise
This trek boasts spectacular views of the Himalayas, including Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Annapurna II, III, and IV, Dhaulagiri, Lamjung Himal, Gangapurna, and Manaslu ranges among others.
After spending some time visiting the capital Kathmandu, I went on a 8 day yoga and meditation trek, in conjunction with Purna Yoga (Pokhara, Nepal) and Himalayan Yoga & Trek and it was life changing…
Venture on a journey of mind, body and spirit… 7 must sees when trekking & practicing yoga around Kathmandu
– Eat, Sleep & Enjoy Kathmandu –
Whilst in Kathmandu, I stayed in the Thamel Grand Hotel, in the backpacker and trekkers hot spot of the Capital. It hosts a beautiful cafe known as The Black Olive Cafe, with wonderful and friendly staff.
Popular with lone travellers, couples and groups, the Black Olive Cafe serves a big range of food and is good for socialising. You can organise day trips from here to go to the temples or to catch the sunrise early in the morning in Nagarkot. Additionally, it is an excellent place for catching up with online coursework and blog writing!
You can visit one of the many bars, restaurants, cafes and shops as well as a really good yoga centre in Thamel. People often only left the yoga centre to go to visit the temples, watch the sunrise and visit the garden of dreams.
You can pretty much pick up anything in Thamel and can haggle for good prices, from trekking gear to prayer flags and souvenirs.
Most people only stay 2-3 days, but if you want to see all the sites, 5 days is a good length of time to really explore Kathmandu properly.
As a single, female traveller venturing into the world alone, Nepal was somewhere I was keen to go, but a bit afraid. I bit the bullet anyway and never felt unsafe whilst in Kathmandu. The people and places are amazing. I met many lone travellers here, some which I keep in touch to this day.
Some people posing as ‘tour guides’ will be happy to over charge you, also street hagglers, so it is best to get informed of how much you should be paying for something before haggling and be aware of tour guides over charging!
These are the only times I felt uncomfortable, but is common place. Just have an awareness of how much to spend and this should be OK. Usually the going rate is $10-$20 for tour guides. Definitely worth it, as they are very knowledgeable and everyone has to make a living somehow right? I never paid over $10, but as a group it might be nicer to contribute more.
– Must see places in Thamel –
Some of my favourite places in Kathmandu, Thamel to check out include:
1. The Cafe with No Name
Hidden off the main streets of Thamel, this is a lovely little place run to help an NGO which supports rural children in Nepal. They do good teas, coffees and a good range of food, including plant based and they also have pug puppies! Not probably so little now, but i’m guessing still really cute.
The cafe also boasts one of the strongest Wi-Fi connections in Kathmandu, so its a good place to get connected and catch up with folk back home.
2. The Garden of Dreams
Built in the 1920’s this beautiful garden is definitely worth a look, especially to get an ice cream or coffee and sit out in the sun. Perfect to sit out and read a book, or chill and catch some rays, or just to relax with a friend or loved one.
3. Charak Yoga
Here is a great place to experience your 1st yoga class or drop in as a more experienced practicioner and deepen your practice. Charak Yoga is a wonderful place with regular classes, where you can enjoy classical hatha or hatha vinyasa classes, the teachers are lovely and it’s a brilliant place.
Visit http://www.charakyoga.com for more information.
– Temples –
My favourite part of my time in Kathmandu was experiencing the temples. The three I visited in my time were very interesting, awash with culture and history.
As a lone traveller, or even in a group, be aware of tour guides and their insistence of showing you around for a lot of dollars.
Do your research, haggle immensely and do not go if you do not feel comfortable.
After a discussion with a few, I always found someone to take me round for a reasonable price. Usually the going rate is $10-$20. You can go around by yourself, but these guides are very knowledgeable and its nice to give something back to the local community by using them.
1. Boudhanath Stupa (Buddhist temple in heart of Kathmandu)
Boudhanath is one of the largest Stupa’s in the world and popular to visit. There is a lot of Tibetan influence around here as a lot of Tibetan monks and their families fled here to seek asylum. There is something magical about the architecture and the surroundings of the Stupa, with its heritage and history.
You can take the opportunity to visit one of the many shops, cafes or temples. There really is a lot to see and experience here.
2. Pashupatinath Temple (Hindu temple and cremation site)
The temples here are beautiful and as the river flows into the Ganges, it is used as a cremation site, with as many as 10 bodies being cremated at a time. The sight and smell can be a bit of a shock if unexpected.
Out of respect it could be a good idea to take a guide, so you don’t wander into preparation areas by accident. There are a lot of Sadhu’s (Hindi Holy men) around, who are very friendly (as you can see by my photos). They will happily pose for a picture or two with you, they do ask for a donation: a few dollars should suffice.
There are many little details of these temples which you will miss if you do not have a guide to take you around, like the symmetrical almost mirror like Linga and Yoni Peethas in lines.
Linga (Male sexual organ) is mounted on a Yoni Peetha (Female sexual organ) which is believed to be a symbolism of sexual union and resulting in the cosmic creation of all life forms. People often leave offerings here or touch the Peethas, as it is meant to help to bring fertility to both men and women.
Also the guides offer a brilliant insight to the landscape, architecture and some stories of the Hindi Deities, such as Shiva and Hannuman, the monkey god, which is depicted in a lot of art in the site.
I really enjoyed my time here, as a Yogi, I learnt so much about Hinduism, different traditions and the way other cultures handle passing over, which is very humbling.
3. Swoyambhunath Stupa (Buddhist temple with lots of monkeys!)
This Stupa, sometimes known as monkey temple (due to the amount of monkeys!) is set on a hill in the centre of Kathmandu and offers some wonderful views of the City.
If lucky, you can actually see the Himalayas on a clear day, but I wasn’t so lucky to see them here. Still… the views of Kathmandu and the surrounding hills are stunning.
I didn’t take a guide here, but didn’t feel the need to, as the place is pretty self explanatory. It’s wonderful to have a look round and look at the statues and architecture, spend some time socialising with monkeys, and as there is a lot of tourism here, pick up a souvenir or two! Enjoy the views and take in the thousands of prayer flags scattered all over.
When you climb the 100’s of stairs and make it to the top, the Stupa has a lot of beautiful architecture to take in, as well as the views!
– Sunrise at Nagarkot –
I organised to go up and a car took me and a guide up, where we walked back down and hopped on a local bus back to Kathmandu. A weird experience, but a lovely walk through some amazing countryside. I bumped into a man who used to live in my home town in England and we remain good friends to this day! Its a small travel world…
Although not much of a sunrise, the sun did appear briefly…
The countryside and views were worth the day out, though.
This mini trek can easily be booked in Kathmandu at accommodation or online, which includes breakfast.
– Kathmandu – Worth a visit! –
As you can see, Kathmandu is definitely worth visiting for keen travellers, trekkers and spiritual folk alike. It offers something for everyone and you can learn a lot more about Buddhism and Hinduism whilst here, as well as enjoying local cuisine and indulging in the culture. There are a lot of good yoga centres, but the one that stood out for me was Charak Yoga.
Kathmandu is a good stop gap for trekkers and spiritual folk as they move to the more rural parts of Nepal. Although there’s a lot of hustle and bustle, Kathmandu is worth exploring for definite.
Nepal is often described as magical, Kathmandu has its own little piece of magic and although can be chaotic, once you get out of the hustle and bustle, it is a wondrous little place with a lot of charm.
If you haven’t been already, I would recommend Nepal as somewhere to get on your hit list!
Are you planning on going? Have you been? I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences…
About The author:
Aimee is a Yoga, Meditation and Move It or Lose It! teacher in located in Middlesbrough, England, UK.
To find out more, visit www.amalateesside.com