Visit Kathmandu on a Nepal Trekking Holiday
With its’ central position in the Himalayas, Kathmandu is where many tourists start and finish their travels through Nepal’s Annapurna circuit. As the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is the ideal place to set-off for a trekking adventure. The city was once assumed to be the mythical sanctuary of Shangri-La, from the 1933 Lost Horizon novel by James Hilton.
Kathmandu’s bustling centre is always filled with backpackers and tourists. While some of them are happy to spend time in the city relaxing and basking in the tranquil atmosphere, other visitors use Kathmandu as a base for a much larger trekking expedition of Nepal. These expeditions can include the Annapurna Circuit and Mount Everest as well. Fortunately, Kathmandu has loads of amazing areas to see, which makes it perfect for staying in for a few days, either before or after your trek.
Thamel Chowk is Kathmandu’s main square and the area where most of the city’s restaurants and gift-shops are found. There are several excellent restaurants here that serve authentic Nepalese cuisine, which will fill you up nicely before you begin trekking. Nonetheless, if you will be returning to Kathmandu after your trek, then you might prefer to wait till then before you start shopping for souvenirs. Obviously, you do not want to fill your rucksack up just before you set-off.
The Swayambhu, which is among Nepal’s most esteemed Buddhist monuments, is a half hour drive away from the centre of Kathmandu. Frequently, tourists to this area refer to this attraction as the “Monkey Temple”, because of the large quantity of monkeys that live in the grounds. There are Buddhist works of art and prayer wheels inside the temple, as well as 365 steps which take you to the top. Just be sure you look out for any monkeys on your descent! This video shows some monkeys on the move in the temple area, causing a bit of a scene:
Alternatively, if you like bats more than monkeys, you might wish to pay the King’s Palace a visit. While this palace has a modern appearance (it was built during the latter part of the nineteenth century), it is still a big draw for foreign tourists, due to the giant fruit bats that hang on the trees outside. It is best to attend the King’s Palace shortly before the sun sets, when the giant bats create a wonderful spectacle by swarming round the city square en masse.
Freak Street is another popular part of Nepal. This area was all the rage throughout the swinging 60’s, when kaftans and overland tours were in fashion. The shops on this psychedelic street hark back to a bygone era, but they still purport to sell everything from enlightenment to incense. The spaced out ambiance of the street makes it ideal for some relaxation before you start your trek.
Undoubtedly, the Boudha Stupa is Kathmandu’s most recognisable landmark, and it is a very important site for Tibetan Buddhists. Purportedly, the golden tower represents Neru, or the World Mountain, which is the centre of the cosmos and home of the Gods. Although the 2 eyes are immediately recognisable, if you look closer you will notice an extra 3rd eye in between these, which represents knowledge.
The huge range of amazing attractions in Kathmandu makes the city ideal for both starting and finishing a trekking expedition in Nepal. Certainly, you will require the 2 visits to the capital to have time to see everything on offer.
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