This post's overview:
- 1 Useful information about Nepal and Kathmandu Valley:
- 2 Our experience in Nepal: is Nepal worth it?
- 3 Where to stay in Kathmandu?
- 4 4 days in Kathmandu Valley: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan
- 4.1 Day 1: arriving at Kathmandu, overnight in Bhaktapur
- 4.2 Day 2 out of 4 days in Kathmandu Valley: Bhaktapur and Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu
- 4.3 Day 3 in Kathmandu: Prashupatinakh and Boudha Stupa
- 4.4 Last day in Kathmandu Valley: Patan, massage and the Freak Street
- 5 Summary of our Kathmandu Valley itinerary
In this post, I will share with you our itinerary for 4 days in Nepal: what to see in 4 days in Kathmandu Valley including Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan (Lalitpur).
Heading to Nepal and planning to spend 4 days in Kathmandu? Well, there are plenty of the things you can do in a Kathmandu Valley! We visited Kathmandu in November and had great weather and a great time overall.
Useful information about Nepal and Kathmandu Valley:
Currency: Nepalese Rupee, NPR. $1 = 115 NPR, £1 = 150 NPR
Time zone: GMT + 5:45
Prices: low, however, entrances to the landmarks (e.g. Durbar squares are a bit pricy 1000-1500)
Female safety: pretty safe
Dress code: according to the weather, I recommend bringing or buying harem trousers
Plug type: (you can buy an international adaptor for all counties here)
Air pollution: significant, some people might need a respiratory protective mask like this one
Risk of getting food poisoning: medium. Try to avoid fresh salads (unless they have been washed with bottled water) and always use hand sanitiser
Our experience in Nepal: is Nepal worth it?
I found people in Kathmandu genuinely very friendly and helpful. There were so many people who just wanted to help us to have a great time in Nepal and hoped that we will like their country. I published some videos from Nepal to TikTok (you can find me as tripsget) and got an overwhelming response – people were so welcoming and friendly and genuinely happy that tourists come to visit Nepal. Not even once anyone was rude to us or tried to scam us. As a female (although I was with Pepe), I felt very safe in Nepal and felt like we didn’t draw any attention even when crossing the entire city by foot.
We had a completely different experience in India, where everybody was trying to scam us (read my post about 10 scams in India to avoid), and I expected Nepal to be a bit similar, however, it couldn’t have been more different!
Nobody, not even once, asked us for money and when kids were approaching us, they were just coming to say hi and ask how are you in English. I loved Nepal and would return there to trek and see more places besides Kathmandu Valley. If you’re wondering, whether Nepal is worth it, well, it certainly is!
Where to stay in Kathmandu?
Kathmandu is a very affordable city and you can find decent and cheap hostels as well as luxurious hotels available for less money.
If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend staying at Big Tree Hostel or Hotel Himalaya Hub.
We stayed at a mid-range hotel called Kathmandu Suite home – it has a great location (in the middle of the city, in Thamel, yet it was very quiet) and a good breakfast.
If you’re looking for something very nice, you can check these hotels out: Arushi Boutique Hotels or the Dwarika’s Hotel.
Without further ado, let’s get started with the itinerary for 4 days in Kathmandu Valley.
4 days in Kathmandu Valley: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan
A quick overview of our itinerary for 4 days in Kathmandu Valley:
Day 1: Bhaktapur
Day 2: Bhaktapur & Kathmandu
Day 3: Kathmandu
Day 4: Patan & Kathmandu
Day 1: arriving at Kathmandu, overnight in Bhaktapur
Your first day entirely depends on your arrival time. Our flight landed around 3:30 pm, so we didn’t have an entire day to see Kathmandu. Besides, Kathmandu airport is a bit slow – the immigration can take up to 1.5 hours and the flights often get delayed. Moreover, if you decide to change money and buy a SIM card at the airport as we did, it will take even longer. In the end, we left the airport around 5:15 pm.
Buying a SIM Card in Nepal (with data)
If you decide to buy a SIM card, go for NCell – they have great coverage and costs very little. Data speed is very fast as well. If you’re planning to travel to other countries after Nepal, Ncell has affordable roaming packages for just $1.3 per day and works in 8 countries (including Malaysia and Sri Lanka).
Staying overnight in Bhaktapur
We decided to spend the first night in Bhaktapur because it’s quite close to the airport. We reached Bhaktapur in about 30 minutes by taxi and paid 1500 NPR.
During the first night, we stayed at the Inn Sangrahalaya located just steps away from Durbar Square and to get there, we had to buy an entrance to the Durbar Square. The entrance cost 1500 NPR per person per day, but the ticket officer was very kind and gave us tickets for 1500 NPR for both days, as it was already very late.
We checked in and picked a place for dinner. There were plenty of restaurants located on the Durbar Square, however, most of them didn’t have a great rating. We found a very well-reviewed one – it was located on the ground floor of the hotel Vajra Guesthouse. It was a bit overpriced (most of the restaurants in Bhaktapur are), however, the food was really good!
We tried a traditional Nepalese dish called dhal bhat and a traditional soup called thukpa. If you want to read more about the best dishes to try in Nepal, check this article.
Day 2 out of 4 days in Kathmandu Valley: Bhaktapur and Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu
Exploring Bhaktapur at sunrise
Because of the jetlag, we went to sleep and woke up very early – around 5 am. We had a chance to go to Nagarkot to watch a sunrise over Himalayas (you can also buy a tour from Kathmandu to do that), but if you’re staying in Bhaktapur, the easiest way is to find a taxi and get there. It shouldn’t take longer than 40 minutes driving.
However, our morning was a bit cloudy and the sunset wasn’t so impressive, so we decided to stay in Bhaktapur and meet the sunrise there. Sunset at the Durbar Square in Bhaktapur was magical – even though it was just 7 am on Sunday, the square already had some people walking around – mostly locals praying. Then the bell started ringing and it was a very unique experience. Finally, we saw a procession of baby monks, accompanied by the teacher and unique local music – that was even more impressive.
I would recommend staying overnight in Bhaktapur and getting to Durbar Square very early. It’s convenient to do so either of the first day or on the last day in the city, as Bhaktapur is close to the airport.
We also had breakfast outside and visited one of many touristy coffee places, where we tried a traditional Nepalese Masala tea. That tea was foamy and the taste was quite unique and I would also recommend you to try it. It’s different from Indian chai, by the way.
After breakfast, we decided to walk around Bhaktapur and explore it a little bit, checking out other squares including Potters square.
Bhaktapur was severely damaged in the Earthquake of 2015 and many beautiful buildings were destroyed. Unfortunately, many parts of Bhaktapur are still very damaged, but all the money collected at the admission fee to the Durbar Square goes to the restoration fund.
Bhaktapur is very walkable and also quite compact. There are many souvenir stores, However, all of them open around 10 am.
Heading to Kathmandu and Swayambhunath temple
At noon, we decided that it’s time to head to Kathmandu. Finding a taxi was easy – we just exited our hotel with the bags and were approached by the driver. He was ready to bring us to Kathmandu for 1500 NPR. I’ve heard that the taxi drivers in Kathmandu often over change tourists, but the prices we were always given were maybe just 20-30% higher than the local prices and we didn’t mind paying that. The prices were quite low anyway and our taxi rides always took nearly an hour – due to the heavy traffic conditions in Kathmandu.
We stayed at the hotel called Kathmandu Suite Home located very close to Thamel – the location was great, so was the price! Moreover, it had good internet, nice breakfast and was located on a quiet street. However, as there are many stray gods in Nepal, I needed my earplugs a couple of times, but maybe it was just me – I generally have very sensitive sleep.
After checking it and refreshing a bit at the hotel, we decided to walk to the Swayambhunath temple. The temple was located just 30 minutes walking and the walk passed mainly through the residential areas. It was very interesting to see how the locals live in Kathmandu and what do their days look like.
Swayambhunath temple is one of the best temples in Kathmandu. To get there, you need to climb around 250 pretty steep steps. However, as you can imagine, the views from the top are marvellous. Also, on the way up, you will see a lot of monkeys, but be careful – they like stealing glasses and bottles of water.
Once you get to the top, the temple complex is very beautiful. It has both Buddhist and Hindu parts and it has plenty of beautiful buildings. It was our first temple in Nepal and we were astonished by its beauty and uniqueness.
We also walked all the way to the Durbar Square. Again, it was a good 30-minute walk without many cars, so it wasn’t very stressful. We came to Durbar Square just in time for the golden hour when the light was great. The Durbar Square was very crowded, however, we managed to get into the Ghar to see the living Goddess, Kumari.
I’m not sure how many times per day does she have to show up, but we were lucky to see her. Kumari is a goddess represented by a girl that hasn’t yet reached puberty. The current Kumari in the Durbar Square Ghar is just 4 years old. There are 8 Kumaris in Nepal. If you want to read a bit more about Kumari and why does this tradition exist, read this article.
After we were done with the Durbar Square, we decided to walk to Thamel for dinner. We picked the best-rated momo restaurant in Kathmandu – Newa Momo. When we arrived, it was absolutely empty and didn’t look like a great place (we were even a bit uneasy at the beginning), however, the momos were great and the prices were so low. Prepare to pay around 250 NPR for a portion of momos. Depending on your appetite, you can ask for 3 dishes for 2 people.
We arrived at the hotel around 8 pm and went to sleep, as we woke up very early that day, however, if you still have some energy left, you can explore one of the best bars of Thamel.
Day 3 in Kathmandu: Prashupatinakh and Boudha Stupa
Pashupatinath – the most unique temple in Kathmandu
On the third day of our 4 days in Kathmandu, we had two main temples on our itinerary. We started with Pashupatinakh – a very famous Hindu temple located somewhat close to the airport.
The taxi rose took us about 45 minutes and we arrived at the temple around 10:30 am. In front of the temple, there is a huge market, that looks pretty surreal. We were the only foreigners, but no one was paying any attention to us, which was amazing.
Once we reached the gate of the temple, a guide welcomed us and kind of started a tour without asking us if we want a tour, however, honestly, this was for the best, as we would have felt lost in the temple and wouldn’t know what was happening all around us. Our tour lasted for 1.5 hours and our guide was the best and the friendliest person we met. And we learned so much from him.
Burning ceremony at Pashupatinath
He told us everything about the burning ceremonies – people still burn the bodies of their deceased family members right at the designated spots inside the temple and then throw the ashes to the holy river. Pashupatinath was probably the most unique and unusual place that I ever visited in my life. Some people might find it disturbing – especially if you witness bodies being burned and then kids walking around in the middle of the river with a magnet – trying to find some coins people throw there as an offering. We learned that Nepal has more gods than population and what the “normal” offerings are.
Pashupatinath temple also has beautiful views from the top, when you climb some stairs. It also has a sacred temple that you can’t enter. No one that isn’t Hindu and wasn’t born in Nepal can enter this temple. Also, during the Earthquake of 2015, this temple stayed intact!
We exited the temple around 12:30 pm and visited the office of NCell nearby. I got a strange message from the SIM card that we bought stating that I have used all my data, however, as it turned out, I used only the free data available for everyone who buys a SIM card. However, during this visit, we discovered that we can use this SIM card in our next destinations – Bangladesh, Malaysia and Sri Lanka and just pay 130 NPR per day for unlimited data.
Afterwards, we caught a taxi and headed to the Boudha stupa – probably my favourite temple in Kathmandu.
Boudha stupa – my personal favourite temple in Kathmandu
The taxi ride took about 20 minutes and cost us 400 NPR. Boudha Stupa is probably my favourite temple in Kathmandu. That’s because not only the stupa itself is beautiful, but also the buildings surrounding the stupa closing a perfect circle – with a stupa in the middle. The buildings also look very photogenic and in most of them, you can find cafes, hotels and souvenir shops. Boudha Stupa is one of many stupas in Nepal that have eyes drawn on them – it seems like the stupa is watching you everywhere, regardless of where you’re standing.
We spent good 2.5 hours exploring the shops, walking around the stupa and taking photos and videos and having lunch in one of the cafes. When we caught the taxi back, it was already 4 pm and by the time we got back to the hotel, it was already 5 pm, as the traffic was insane. It took us an hour to get back to the hotel.
As the day was pretty tiring, we decided to have a rest in the hotel, work a bit and head to the dinner around 7 pm. This time, we decided to check out a restaurant located steps away from the hotel – a Tibetan restaurant called Yangling specialising in a traditional soup, Thenthuk. As the restaurant was pretty crowded, we got a sharing table and met a fellow traveller from London. We had a chat, shared some travel stories and parted our ways. By the way, the food was amazing, and I would recommend you to try beef thenthuk there.
The prices were also very low – for two lassis and 2 soups we only paid 700 NPR. After dinner, we decided to walk around the pedestrian areas of Thamel – a place, where you’re safe from the cars and can finally walk in peace. Walking in Nepal can be pretty challenging – the hardest walk for me was the one from Thamel to Durbar Square – it’s full of people, bikes and cars and the roads are so narrow! Sometimes, cars and bikes pass just a couple of centimetres away from you, which is pretty scary!
Last day in Kathmandu Valley: Patan, massage and the Freak Street
Exploring Beautiful Patan (day trip to Patan)
On our last day of Kathmandu Valley in 4 days, we headed to the third city of Kathmandu Valley “Triangle” – Patan, also known as Lalitpur. Patan is about 30-40 minutes driving from Thamel (or significantly less if there is no traffic, which is highly unlikely). It’s perfect for a day trip from Kathmandu or simply a 1/2 trip. However, you can also stay there overnight.
The entrance to the Durbar square costs 1000 NPR per person and also includes the ticket to the museum also located on the Durbar Square. Already at 9:30 am the square was very crowded, however, it still looked spectacular. There were also many pigeons and street vendors selling food for pigeons, so I felt like feeding pigeons is some sort of national activity in Nepal. Pigeons were everywhere and sometimes they would all take off and fly a circle before returning to the same stop – in these moments, the square looked especially magical.
We also entered the museum – the exposition mainly featured small figures and statues of Nepalese gods including some very valuable ones. It’s not a bit museums, however, it’s worth checking out.
Finding decaf coffee in Kathmandu
After sightseeing in Patan, we decided to walk around the city centre for a bit and then walk to a coffee store called Top of the World coffee roasters that was around 26 minutes walking from the Durbar square. This coffee place is probably the only coffee spot in Kathmandu valley that serves decaf. When I was asking for decaf in other places, people were just staring at me not understanding what is decaf, so it’s not a very common thing in Nepal. Finding a place that serves decaf in Kathmandu was great.
Experiencing Ayurvedic massage in Kathmandu
Later on, we decided to experience the traditional Ayurvedic massage in Kathmandu. During previous days, when we were walking around Thamel, we saw plenty of ads for massage in Kathmandu and we decided to have a massage on our last day in the city. We picked Mount Heaven spa and even got a leaflet with a very good deal on the street. A 1-hour back massage + facial + feet massage was just 2000 NPR, while Pepe paid 2500 NPR for his 1-hour long Ayurvedic massage. They even had a couples room, so 2 people can massage you at the same time.
The place was not luxurious, but not bad either. The procedure rooms were clean, however, the waiting room and the toilet weren’t, so I had mixed feelings after the massage.
For a late lunch, we picked the best-rated restaurant on Tripadvisor – Fusion Himalaya restaurant. The prices were very affordable and the food quality was great. However, I must say that I liked the Tibetan restaurant from the previous day a bit more.
After lunch, we made a small break at the hotel and then walked to the Freak street – a famous street close to the Durbar square full of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. Later on, we decided to explore another area – a bustling place, where most locals do their shopping. We also stopped by the Garden of dreams.
Finally, we went buying the remaining souvenirs to Thamel again and bought some local tea, spices and honey.
Summary of our Kathmandu Valley itinerary
Overall, I was very happy with our itinerary for the Kathmandu valley – I felt like we managed to see most of the highlights of the city and even had a bit of time to relax. We wouldn’t have spent 3 days in Katmandu (I think that 3 days would be perfect for Kathmandu Valley), however, we are tied to our flight to Bhutan that doesn’t fly every day. I hope that this post was useful for you and know you know a bit more about the main landmarks and attractions of Kathmandu.
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