Introducing guest blogger Lieze from Glitter Rebel
Kathmandu is a gorgeous city nestled in the Himalayas. Although the city still attracts many yogis and hiking enthusiasts, the recent modernisation of Kathmandu has made Nepal’s capital city a great family holiday destination!
Whether you have a layover in Kathmandu or are just stopping by to head to Pokhara and Bandipur on a trekking holiday – this guide will help you to plan your 24 hours in Kathmandu!
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of locals
Stop 1: Swoyambhunath Stupa
Are you planning on visiting the Swoyambunath Stupa with your family? Then, I would recommend heading out early. This way, you can get a glimpse of the monks walking clockwise around the stupa. When visiting Nepal in summer or early autumn, you will also want to make your way up the hill when the temperatures are still in the low 20’s, as they are known to rise to 30 degrees by noon.
Swoyambunath Stupa is also known as the Monkey Temple. This makes Swoyambunath the perfect family destination. Not only will your little rascals be able to learn about Buddhism, but they can also meet the cheeky monkeys playing in and around the stupa grounds.
From Swoyambhunath you will have a gorgeous panoramic view over Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Kirtipur. If it is clear, you might even see the white-topped peaks of mountains such as Ganesh 2.
Stop 2: Kathmandu Durbar Square
The very first time I visited the Kathmandu Durbar square it brought a tear to my eye. The Durbar Square in Kathmandu is probably one of the most famous places in the city as it contains some of the most beautiful temples in the country.
There is a lot to do in and around the Durbar Square and it is recommended to hire a guide to take you around the square. A guide should not be more than 1000 NPR per group for a tour of an hour. Guides will be standing around the ticket counter and you can easily negotiate a price.
When on Kathmandu Durbar Square you should also not forget to visit the residence of the Kumari. The Kumari is a child that is thought to be the representation of the goddess Durga. The Kumari cannot touch the ground and can only leave the house on special religious holidays. Once the girl gets her first period, a new Kumari will be chosen to take her place.
Although you cannot meet the Kumari herself, visiting the courtyard of the house (free) can allow you to talk about differences in childhoods and cultures with your kids – an important learning opportunity!
Stop 3: Boudhanath Stupa
Boudanath Stupa is a large stupa in the East of Kathmandu. It should only take you 15 minutes by taxi to get from Kathmandu Durbar Square to Boudanath Stupa. You should only walk clockwise around the stupa.
Next to the Stupa you will also find a beautiful Tibetan monastery you can visit. Kids are more than welcome to join you and can learn about Buddhism and Tibetan culture. In fact, all around Boudha you will find Tibetan handicrafts and Tibetan shops as many people from Tibet fled to Nepal when the Chinese occupation began.
Another reason why you should visit Boudha with your family is because there are many great restaurants with beautiful roof terraces on the Boudhanath Stupa square. You can take your lunch here.
Some recommendations are:
- Himalaya Java Coffee: This is the Starbucks from Nepal. They do a great pasta, and their sandwiches are amazing! They have a small kids’ menu and besides well-brewed coffee, they also serve iced teas, juices, and milkshakes. From Himalaya Java Coffee you have a great view of the stupa.
- La Casita: La Casita serves great wine and lots of different Spanish tapas at a great price. You will be able to sit on the roof terrace from which you have one of the best views of the Stupa – especially when it is clear since you can see the Himalayas in the distance!
- Café Caravan: Café Caravan is a Tibetan, Nepali café serving amazing food and coffee. You can order both local foods such as MOMO (Steamed dumplings your kids will LOVE!) and Sukhuti, but also international dishes such as pasta. Café Caravan also sells Tibetan handicrafts in its little shop.
There are loads of great restaurants nearby, and I personally love exploring the streets around the temple because they are so full of life!
Stop 4: Patan Durbar Square
Kathmandu city, as we know now, actually consists of two old kingdoms: Kathmandu and Lalitpur. The Bagmati River forms a natural border between the two. When traveling to Kathmandu, I would recommend visiting Lalitpur as it is often overlooked.
Just like Kathmandu, Lalitpur has a Durbar Square (Durbar means royal – it was the square where the royal palace was based). Albeit smaller, the Durbar Square in Patan is often considered the most beautiful one of the two.
As Patan is not as busy as Kathmandu, walking around in the little streets surrounding Durbar Square is a lot more pleasant as a family. You can also easily walk to Mangal Bazaar, which is a bustling market selling everything you could ever dream of. Mangal Bazaar is located just over the big road next to Patan Durbar Square.
If you and your family love visiting museums, head to Patan Museum. Although museums in Nepal are not as family-friendly or child-orientated as most museums in the west, it still is a great experience seeing old relics and clothes that belonged to the royal family of Nepal!
In Patan Museum, you will also find a small café in a beautiful yet secluded inner square. I would recommend sitting down here and having a coffee or a milkshake for some prime quality time and to talk about what you have seen so far today!
Stop 5: Golden Temple and Mahabuddha
When in Patan, you can easily walk to the Golden Temple and Mahabuddha, two gorgeous temples I would highly recommend visiting.
The Golden Temple is – as its name suggests, a temple that has a gold look to it. It is probably one of the most beautiful Hindu temples in the Kathmandu valley – not in the least because of the many statues and stone carvings.
Not too far from the Golden Temple, you can visit Mahabuddha. This beautiful off-the-beaten-path temple contains hundreds of small Buddhist statues.
Walking to both the Golden Temple and Mahabuddha will take you past other gorgeous temples and down small little streets teeming with life.
As the day is coming to a close now, you will probably want to start thinking about dinner. Some of the best places to eat in the area are:
- Of Silk and Salt: One of my personal favourites in Patan. This restaurant is run by a French lady who also runs a boutique next door where you can find the most amazing locally made clothes. Of Silk and Salt serves food inspired by the silk route. Perfect for families who love to eat healthily. They also have vegan and vegetarian options. Mom can drink a saffron gin and tonic while the kids can nom on delicious MOMO!
- MoMo King: A nice little restaurant with a rooftop looking out over the Durbar Square. Although known for their MoMo, they also serve other dishes. A good place to have breakfast too!
- Dhokaima Café: Although a bit of a walk (10 minutes), Dhokaima Café is a great place to eat as a family! Serving both Newari-style food such as Thakali and Dahl Baht, and international dishes such as pork chops – they have something for the whole family. The café itself is located in an old Newari building with a beautiful courtyard. You will be far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Dhokaima Café also has an art gallery and a book shop and is incredibly popular with both Nepalis and ex-pats living in the area. Great food and even better cocktails!
About the Blogger
My name is Lieze, and I live with my husband in Nepal. Josh became a British international teacher so we could travel the world together. So far, we have lived in London, Dubai and now Kathmandu.
I fell in love with Kathmandu during a holiday and still need to pinch myself every now and then to make sure I am not dreaming. We hope to travel the world together for many more years and to inspire people to visit the countries (and roads) less traveled!
With thanks to Lieze for her contribution to our guest series. You may also like to read about travelling with kids in Delhi, India, or Chiang Rai, Thailand. Or how about experiencing Everest Base Camp by helicopter, taking a tour from Kathmandu?
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