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Kathmandu is the largest city and capital of Nepal and the namesake of the Kathmandu Valley. Once thought to be the fabled and inaccessible Shangri-La, Kathmandu is now a hub for independent travellers as well as a growing vacation spot catering to all budgets. As a result of considerable urban growth in recent decades, it is now part of one continuous urban area together with Patan to the south.
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Points of Interest in Lalitpur
- Swayambhunath (स्वयम्भू). A site on a hill overlooking the city with a large stupa and other Buddhist and Hindu iconography, one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the country. Aside from the views over the city and the ancient carvings in every available space, it's crowded with monkeys mingling with the visitors. For this reason it's often referred to as the "monkey temple". It's a 20-30 minute walk from Thamel, or take a taxi or rickshaw. As with the Boudha Stupa, there's no shortage of Buddhist and Tibetan-inspired trinkets for sale. There are also drinks for sale at the top, and at least one small restaurant selling momos. For those that have their own transport or have difficulty climbing stairs there is a parking lot at the back entrance that significantly reduces the number of stairs that need to be climbed to gain access to the main compound. This is one of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kathmandu Valley. Foreigners NPR750 exchangeable for a multiple entry pass;.
- Boudha Stupa (Boudhanath)(बौद्ध), Boudha. One of the most sacred sites for Tibetan Buddhism. This huge stupa is one of the largest in the world. It is located to the north-east of Dwarikas' Hotel and just to the north of the airport area. This is another World Heritage Site.
- Narayanhiti Palace Museum. This is the old Royal palace which was turned partly into a Museum and partly into the Foreign Ministry in 2009 after the abolition of the monarchy. Now you can visit the splendid Halls of the main building of the palace. Giant fruit bats hanging from the tall trees and 20 foot-tall bamboo around the otherwise modern (and still well secured) former palace are a sight, especially around sunset when the bats depart en masse. Foreigners NPR500.
- Freak Street (south of Kathmandu's Durbar Square). Historic home of western hippies seeking enlightenment, but now just a few restaurants and hotels.
- Thamel Chowk. restaurants, crowds and shops.
- Pashupatinath (The temple is a short taxi ride, or 20 minute walk past several temples from Boudhanath). An important Hindu temple to Shiva in the form of Lord of the Beasts. It's the location of cremation ghats (steps) on the banks of the Bagmati River. You will also see sadhus, a busy market for religious items and a holy cave. Morning is a great time to go. While entrance to the temple is allowed for Hindus only, the surrounding forest area provides much to explore. NPR1,000.
- Garden of Dreams. Relax in this beautiful and peaceful walled garden close to Thamel and the former Royal Palace. Beautifully renovated in partnership with Austrian Govt. Currently has two pavilions depicting two of the six annual seasons in the Hindu calendar. It has several expensive cafes and a bar. Nice toilets. NPR200.
- Budda Neelkantha Temple, Budhanilkantha (5-6km from Main Bus Park, Kathmandu.). An idol of Bhagwan Vishnu in a sleeping position surrounded by water is an extraordinary cool and calm experience.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
The heart of the Kathmandu Valley this ancient square crowded with palaces and temples, including the current incarnation of the Kasthamandap or "Wooden house" that gives the city its name. The square has been in active use since the construction of a palace around 1000AD. This site is the most popular UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nepal.
The Square is particularly fascinating in the very early morning as all the various merchants set up their wares and when many devotees make their offerings at the various shrines and temples. There will be a number of young men who will offer to be "guides." Be firm with saying "no" if you are not interested. The entrance fee for foreigners is NPR750. If you plan to be in the area for more than one day, it's worth being directed to the Site Office where you can exchange your single-entry ticket with a multiple-entry pass allowing you to wander in and out as you wish. You will need your passport and one passport photo. The whole process takes only a few minutes. Your entry pass gives you access to all open parts of Durbar Square as well as the Hanuman Dhoka. In Nepali, Durbar means "palace" and this is where the monarch was crowned and from where he ruled.
There are more than a dozen buildings and statues of note in this small area. They include:
- Taleju Temple One of the oldest temples in the square, this three-roofed temple with its pyramid shaped bases, is an example of the typical Newari architectural style.
- Ashok Binayak
- Shiva Temple
- Maju Deval
- Narayan Temple
- Shiva-Parvati Temple
- Kumari Palace- home of "the Kumari", or living goddess, a young girl. South side of Durbar square,
- Bhagwati Temple
- Saraswati Temple The Goddess of Knowledge and Learning
- Krishna Temple
- Sweta Bhairab - the "White" Bhairab, a large mask shown only during the Indra Jatra festival.
- Kal Bhairab - the "Black" Bhairab, a fearsome visage of Shiva with some ancient legends about its power.
- Indrapur Temple
- Vishnu temple
- Mahendreswar Temple
- Nasal Chowk. Statues, temples and the Rana museum. Located in the Hanuman Dhoka former palace complex, the courtyard was used for royal coronations as recently as 2001.
It is possible to climb the steps of many of the temples for a better look and to join others seated near the top watching the activity below.
Kathmandu city itself has limited activities for visitors beyond the amazing sightseeing and general experience of being there, but it is the starting point for numerous adventures in the rest of the country including trekking, rafting, jungle adventures, and more extreme sports.
If you would like to see some of the Himalayas, but do not want to go on a trek it is possible to spend a few days walking from Kathmandu out of the valley. This is less intense than the trekking available in the rest of the country, but can still reward you with some great views of the mountains. For instance, the walk up to Nagarkot, which offers a great spot for watching surrounding mountain ranges at sunrise or sunset from atop the hill, can be done in a couple of days. Any of the trekking companies in Kathmandu will be willing to organise this for you.
- Hidden Journeys Nepal, ☎ +977 981 803 9645, e-mail: email@example.com. Organizes tours that take guests to visit and learn from Nepal's change makers, eg, social entrepreneurs, artists, activists and other innovators. There are prearranged tours (usually 2 days including a networking session in the evening) on specific issues - or you can design your own.
Kathmandu and Dubar Square is the centre for many of Nepal's festivals. Note that many businesses are closed for all of these holidays—and often a few days before and after. Dasain in particular tend to shut down much of the city for October.
- Dashain (Dasain) Dashain, the most important of Nepal's religious festivals takes place over fifteen days, between September and October each year. Dashain celebrates all of the manifestations of the goddess Durga, it is marked by animal sacrifices and feasting. It serves to renew family and community ties. Due to many residents of Kathmandu returning home to their villages during Dashain, the city takes on a more peaceful atmosphere.
- Tihar, Festival of Lights (Also called Deepawali) A five day festival which takes place each year on the fifteenth day of Kartika, around the end of October/start of November, celebrated by all Hindus with ritual house-cleaning, lanterns, candles, and fireworks. The Nepali version tends to be more picturesque and less explosive than those celebrated in India.
- Holi is celebrated in March with splashes of water and colored powder that is both good luck and very messy.
- Bikram Sambat's New Year's (April) A day of pilgrimages (often from Kathmandu to the holy Bagamati river that separates it from Patan)
- Teej, the most important women's festival, is celebrated in September with married women dressed in their red marriage saris visiting male relatives and unmarried women and girls staying up all night to celebrate and pray for their future husbands.
- Indra Jatra Harvest festival held in Kathmandu's Dubar Square for 8 days each September. The Goddess Kumari is paraded in her sacred chariot.
- Himalayan Blues Festival, Kathmandu, ☎ +977-9841297451. Himalayan Blues Festival is one of the most acclaimed music festival in Kathmandu. It takes place in the months of October–November in Kathmandu. It boasts of having the best venues like the Garden of Dreams and Patan Museum. It also happens in many bars and different hotel venues. It features musicians from all around the world.
The most popular food in Kathmandu could be the momo, a dumpling which has its roots in the Tibetan mountains. They are available fried or steamed and stuffed with buffalo, chicken, or veggies. Prices can vary depending on the location and what they are filled with, but expect to pay between NPR150-250 for a dozen. Kathmandu is also a good place to sample traditional Newari and Tibetan dishes.
A Nepali set meal will usually include rice, dhal, vegetable/meat curry, a vegetable dish, chutney and curd. Expect to pay around NPR140-280 at a tourist place, much less at local places. Chiya, a milky spiced tea similar to the Indian chai, is ubiquitous and good for a break to calm one's nerves.
- Ratomato Organics BBQ Bistro, Jhamsikhel, Patan, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ratomato Organics BBQ Bistro is a continental restaurant which caters an array of nutritious and flavourful delicacies. Most of the produce is sourced locally from an organic farm in Kirtipur and other local farmers. NPR100-500.
- Just Pass, Jyatha, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal (on jyatha street (near the chikusa cafe)), ☎ +97714253178. 0900. great Indian food at affordable prices, situated near the Chikusa Cafe on the Jyatha street. friendly staff and a tummy full of Indian food (including naans) and cheap tea for NPR125. NPR125..
- The Lazy Gringo, Jawalakel Chowk, Patan (near the zoo, across from the German bakery), ☎ 2210527. Tu-Su 11:00-21:00. The only Arizona style Mexican food in KTM. Serves burritos, chimichangas, nachos, fried ice cream, thick shakes, and sopapillas. A party of 10 or more gets free chips and salsa. Thursday nights kids eat free with the purchase of one adult size entree. NPR200-300.
There are dozens of tourist restaurants clustered in the Thamel district serving everything from Middle Eastern to Mexican food. Indian and Nepali dishes are always the best tasting and the best priced. Don't hesitate to state your preference for spiciness. Visitors venturing into smaller places are often rewarded with better prices and friendlier staff.
- Shree Lal Pure Veg Restaurant*. Tel 00977-1-4250417. On Thamel Road, look out for the red scrolling neon letter sign. Some will claim it has the best Indian food in Kathmandu at excellent prices (Indian meals with chapatis NPR150-200), plus very friendly owners. No rooftop seating area.
- Helena's Rooftop Restaurant. Tel: 4266979 Excellent food, great service, and modest prices. It is claimed to have the tallest rooftop restaurant in Kathmandu, and the views from there of the city, especially at night, are reported to be worth the climb up. Serves Western and regional cuisine - chicken tikka masala will set you back around NPR350. From Chhetrapati, pass the Everest Steak House on your right, and turn the next left and walk a few minutes north on JP School Road. Helena's will be on your right. Claims to have the best breakfasts in Kathmandu.
- Thamel House Restaurant (In front of Hotel Thamel), ☎ 4410388.
- "Aqua Java Zing" A new restaurant in Thamel dining scene. Serving excellent international cuisine, including risottos, pastas, Thai curry and Five-spice exotic vegetables. The dessert range and quality is excellent, and so is the coffee. They also serve Hookahs/Shishas with over 100 flavours. Cost NPR200-350. They are located just next to Helena's and opposite Galleria Cafe.
- Ace Cafe And Bar. Good mix of Indian, Nepali and Western. Costs generally NPR50-120. Located on the first non-touristy street West of Thamel, across from the People's College.
- Krua Thai (Located at the outskirts of Thamel, take first the left curve after Pilgrims, then right.). Probably the best Thai food in Kathmandu
- "Cafe Kaldi" has a small menu with drinks, salads & snacks as well as free Wi-Fi for customers (please refrain from downloading anything as the connection is limited.) On Mandala Street, behind OR2K.
- "OR2K" is at one end of Mandala Street, opposite the Pumpernickel Bakery & K-Too Steakhouse. It is Israeli run and has a wide variety of good, safe vegetarian food, especially good if you are craving a salad.
- "Cozy Restaurant" The best buffalo steak and chocolate banana pancakes in the city. New place, relatively unknown, but great food. Chef trained in the US, and is one of the friendliest people in town. As you walk down Tridevi Marg from Thamel Chowk, it's on the right, on the second story by an internet cafe. Meals NPR200-300.
- "La Dolce Vita" probably the first Italian restaurant and the best you can find in Kathmandu serves great pastas, desserts and speciality coffees all at very reasonable prices.
- Tashi Delek. Tibetan restaurant with extensive menu and good Mexican/Italian dishes. Open late. Across the street from the postcard shop, near HotBreads corner. NPR100-300.
- Northfield Cafe. Basic pub grub and Nepali attempt at Mexican, often with live traditional music. Popular with English teachers and expats. A few doors up from Kathmandu Guest House. NPR100-300.
- New Orleans. A good variety of well-made food, including pasta, Nepali and salads. Pleasant Newari courtyard setting almost opposite Kathmandu Guest House. NPR200-400.
- Third Eye. Indian food in a nice building and outdoor garden. NPR250-500.
- Green Ice. Amazingly good Indian cuisine, Thamel Chowk upstairs with the green windows overlooking "Kukuri Crossroads".
- Just Juice and Shakes. Popular with Israelis and long-timers. Great coffees, fruit juices and shakes. Two eggs on toast: NPR80 in 2012. It can be found 10 m down the alley across the street from the music shop, near Pilgrim's bookshop curve.
- Everest Steak House. Traditional pre- or post-trekking feast: massive steaks costing about NPR300. Just off Chhetrapati, the pagoda-cum-roundabout.
- Fire & Ice. Popular with westerns for the excellent traditional Italian-style stone-baked pizzas, which are delicious (probably better than Roadhouse). Certainly pricier than most, starting from around NPR580 for a cheese and tomato pizza. Chocolate ice cream with added chocolate on top is definitely to be recommended, and will cost about NPR300 in 2012. Located on the south side of the main road into Thamel (Tridevi Marg) coming from the Palace Museum, next to a temple under Himalayan Bank.
- Himalayan Java. Beyond the coffee (see below) there's breakfasts, paninis and pastries. Located across the street from Fire & Ice on the second story of the building nearest the palace wall.
- Fu Ru Sato. Just past The Roadhouse, beside the second Pilgrim's bookshop, this quiet Japanese restaurant, with Japanese trained chefs offers great food. From Sushi to Udon to Teriaki Chicken, this awesome little restaurant offers amazing food at super low prices. Expect to pay 200rs for a set meal, or 400 for fresh Sushi. Fish is brought in frozen.
- Rum Doodle. Excellent food at modest prices, including live music on most nights. Carry on straight past Helena's, around the "chicane", where the road bends then straightens out again, and turn the next right. It is signposted but the sign's fairly small. Everest summitters can eat here for free.
- Hot Breads. Past Helena's, opposite the right-turn junction towards Fire & Ice. They sell fresh pastries from about NPR60 each, which you can eat on the roof along with a selection of drinks.
- KC Across street from "Helena's Restaurant", & 1/2 block toward King's Palace from KTM Guest House. Safe salads, vegetarian & Brown Rice dishes, sizzling steaks, and 'Pumpkin Pie' - not a dessert, but a main meal made with pumpkins & almonds. Outdoor balcony overlooking the street, and indoor dining on 2 or 3 levels.
- BK's French Fry heaven in Thamel. Opposite Funky Buddha Bar.
- Roadhouse Cafe Excellent wood fired pizza. Pleasant decor with good coffee & hot chocolate. Draught Everest beer, when available. A very relaxing, upscale place for when you need to escape from Kathmandu for an evening. Free Wi-Fi. One location is about 200 m north on JP School Road in Thamel, another near Bhat Bhateni supermarket and one in Patan.
- Sandwich Point is a small sandwich bar with a wide range of fillings including beacons, ham, chicken and sausage. To get there, turn left on the second intersection of thamel arriving from Himalayan Java. It is on the left just a few metres down the road.
- Café Mitra Serves excellent European meals. It is expensive for Kathmandu, but the standard of the food more than makes up for this. 250/13 Thamel Marg.
- Galaria is a very smart upmarket coffee shop, above a bookshop. Serves fantastic 'Illy' coffee, and some great desserts. Less exciting but still good sandwiches.
- Ciao Ciao this newer place is in Bhagawan Bahal Road, just behind the Hotel Malla. The Italian owner Francesco offers wood-fire pizzas and some very good Italian delicaties.
- Electric Pagodais a very eclectic bar on Satghumti Road. Specializes in Mexican cuisine and also offers local and continental dishes between NPR100-300. Easy going atmosphere with well rounded music and very friendly staff. Tuborg/Everest beer approximately NPR350.
- Alchemy a newly opened Italian restaurant. On the upper pricing in Thamel, but same as price is for the food. Excellent Italian dishes and nothing else. Pizzas from NPR300 and pastas from NPR280. You get wine in 1/4 or 1/2 litre so suitable for dining alone or in two. It's about 100 m before Chetrapati Chowk.
- Freak street has a few good places to eat, such as the Ganesh restaurant halfway along the street next to a small shrine. Try the cakes at the tiny, bright blue "Snowman" cakeshop.
- Angan, 'on the corner behind the King's statue roundabout. A good place to have ice cream (NPR35), Indian traditional sweets or freshly prepared Masala Dhosa which is curry in a crisp savory crêpe, NPR65-75. Sweets in the front, fast food restaurant in the back. The bhel poori is spicy. This is the heart of the Nepalis' upmarket shopping district, where New Road and Dharma Path meet. Walk west from here on the pedestrian street to Freak Street, the outdoor craft market, the old 'Red Palace' and the many temples of Durbar square.
- Wunjala Moskva Tucked away in Naxal district, delicious Newari food in a beautiful setting; performances on the courtyard of the restaurant, and unlimited shots of local booze.
- Bakery Cafe There are several outlets of this chain restaurant all around Kathmandu and Patan. A great place to have momos, beer and sizzlers which is steak with butter sauce and noodles. Can be considered "the McDonald's of Nepal" due to its popularity. Although it isn't fast food, you can find great food here that is prepared within 15 minutes. Most of the staff are deaf, so your money is going to a good cause.
- Mike's Breakfast is a brisk 15 minute walk from Thamel Taxi Stand, but confusing with one-way streets. Take a rickshaw or taxi the first time, & mark it on one of the free hotel KTM maps. The best pancakes in Nepal, and now other meals, too. Mostly outdoor tables under bamboo shelters + available indoor screened dining.
- Chez Caroline The place to be seen in Kathmandu, set in Babar Mahal revisited, just off the main Thapathali junction, near the old parliament building. Excellent French food and salads. 700-900 for a main. Ask a taxi driver to find it.
- Bawarchi Superb Indian and Chinese food, specializing in kathi rolls which are a fried, flat bread wrap with spicy meat, paneer or veg filling. Great for lunchtime snacks or evening meals. Their three locations can be found opposite the Ambassador Hotel on Lazimpat; on the Maharajgunj, near the UNHCR and American Embassy; and in the Barryo Fiesta foodcourt next to Mike's Breakfast. One of the few expatriate-friendly restaurants with delivery.
- New Natraj Tandoori Cheap, plentiful and delicious Indian food. Not to be confused with the Natraj tandoori a few doors down. Opposite the Shangri-La hotel on Lazimpat.
- Roadhouse Cafe maintains locations outside of Thamel in Bhat Bhatteni, one block north of the Bhat Bateni supermarket, and Pulchowk.
- Pizza Express While not quite on par with Roadhouse Cafe or Fire and Ice, Pizza Express makes a tasty product from their locations in Lazimpat (216-1212) and in Basantbur Plaza (423-2777). They are unique in that they are the only mainstream pizza shop with delivery in Kathmandu. The fast-food style decor and focus on delivery and take-out are reflected both in their prices and quick service.
- Near the Airport If you're looking for a quick cheap snack of tasty curry or momo check out the small roadside stand across the ring road right at the airport. With your back towards the airport its just 200 m left of the Airport Hotel, at the junction of a small dirt road.
Nepal is also a coffee producing country, though the people are famously tea drinkers. Most often coffee is of the instant-type, although fresh coffee is available. When ordering, try ordering "strong coffee", as opposed to just "coffee", if you don't want instant coffee. Expect your cappuccino to be anywhere from very little froth in large cup to something laced with whipped cream, and there is little difference between latte and cappuccino. Places to look for fresh, ground coffee are:
- Alchemy, Chetrapati, Thamel. Good cappucinos and espressos from Nepali coffee. They serve also other Italian specialities such as pizza, pasta and superb "gelato" (Italian ice cream).
- Aqua Java Zing, thamel (opposite Nepal Investment Bank). 10-10. - resto-lounge- global gourmet cuisine- specialty coffees- refreshing cocktail-free wi fi -scrumptious desserts
- Chikusa Café. Jyatha road, Thamel. Nepali coffee, Sandwiches and crêpes. Strawberry lassi is a specialty. Now they have Wi-Fi too; just ask for the password.
- Just Juice and Shakes. Coffee drinks, espresso, Cappuccino, and juice and shakes, sweet rolls, etc., too. See 'Eat' above for location.
- Himalayan Java. Everything you ever wanted in a coffee shop, great coffees, meals, desserts, newspapers, sofas, Large screen TV, even a guitar on the wall that says, "Play me!" Meet the teenage elite of Kathmandu here. Upstairs, the last building on the left as you leave Thamel heading for the former Royal Palace, near a sign for an Apple computer shop. One floor above it is a bar and pizza shop from which you can also order Himalayan Java's coffee. Also has an outlet near Ravi Bhawan, opposite Lincoln School.
- Roadhouse Cafe in Thamel, Bhat Bhatteni or Pulchowk, cappuccino, cafe Mocha, etc. Accompany your coffee with the selection of desserts. See 'Eat' above for location.
- La Dolce Vita at Thamel.
- Mike's Breakfast Get unlimited refills of fresh ground drip coffee for Rs.75.
- Bakery Cafe Also serves good coffee at some outlets. The one in Sundhara (near Dharahara) has the best. The chain also has one of the best espresso equipment around, hence the good quality.
- Chobhar Cafe-Restaurantwith panoramic views of the Himalayas, in Kathmandu suburbs, on the road to Daskshinkali (8 km). Peace, no air or noise pollution. In natural setting, surrounded by flower & sculpture garden. 20 min away
- Higher Ground Cafe, Jawalakhel, Patan. Excellent lattes and fresh cinnamon rolls.
- Galleria Cafeat thamel. Relaxing lounge serving illy coffee and wine.
- Magic Beans at Kingsway. There's an open lounge called Sherpa Mall and when you enter it, Magic Beans is on the first floor to the right side. A lot of varieties, and quick service. Accompanied by soft music, mostly pop and soft-rock.
- Red Mud Coffee (formerly The Coffee Point) at Thapathali Road. On the east side, within the Trade Tower Nepal (TTN) complex, opposite the Rashtra Banijya Bank, before Nepal Rastra bank and beside Khadya Sangsthan (Nepal Food Corporation). Offer different coffees. Wi-fi and a calm atmosphere.
Beer and mixed drinks are available at almost every bar and restaurant. For a quick drink and cheap cultural experience try the local 'Nepali wine' (raksi) or 'Nepali Beer' (chang) neither of which taste anything like their namesakes. Ask for these at local places. San Miguel, Everest Beer, Nepal Ice, Carlsberg and Tuborg beer are the principal conventional beers served in Kathmandu. Everest, being locally produced rather than shipped in from Turkey, tends to be more reliable than the imports. Gorkha Beer, a local brand is lately popular and even exported to Belgium, Japan and Hong Kong.
- House of Music is largely frequented by locals and expats for its focus on original live Nepali music - from rock to reggae, himalayan blues to jazz (rarely covers). Artists featured are up-and-coming and popular Nepali bands. Food (bar snacks/asian fusion) and drinks served.
- Everest Irish Pub a newly opened Irish Pub where you can have Guinness, foods and music along with friendly and excellent ambience.
- Irish Pub Lazimpat, (next to Shanker Hotel). Irish dishes, a great variety of beer (also Guinness) and whisky (international and local), Irish Coffee (also Creamy Irish Coffee) cocktails, mocktails, energy cocktails, summer cocktails, shooters (try "Irish Flag"). During the cold season, you can also find "hot winter drinks". Friday nights live music, dart. Well trained, friendly staff. Run under German management.
- Tom and Jerry's Pub. A busy, fun bar with pool tables, a wide selection of cocktails and beers as well as friendly staff. Very much a tourist hang out. However avoided by local expats after several incidents with aggressive rats.
- Sam's A cozy nook upstairs with years of wisdom or random song lyrics scrawled on the walls. The usual drinks and usual ex-pat crowd.
- Maya Cocktail Bar. 2-for-1 specials on mixed drinks at happy hour, 16:00-20:00 in this friendly spot. Next to Star Hotel.
- Pub Maya. Laid back sports bar version of Cocktail Bar. They have one decent TV with lots of channels so good place to watch sporting events. Free popcorn and 2-for-1 happy hour drinks.
- Jump Club. Locals and ex-pats as well as tourist crowd; one of the few dance clubs in Kathmandu.
- J Bar. The place to be seen for young and hip Nepalis. Entrance varies but is often 500-1000 on Friday nights with 2 free drinks. Live DJs, sometimes from India or abroad. Behind Himalayan Java.
- Tongues and Tales. Chilled, smoke-friendly cocktail bar with comfortable seating and good music. Upstairs, (look for the sign at the doorway) halfway downhill on the road between Hot Breads corner and Steak House street. A good place to hear about parties.
- New Orleans Cafe. Opposite Kathmandu guest house, live music on many nights. Described by its manager as "the most happening place in Kathmandu". Make of that what you will!
- Full Moon Club. Above Just Juice and Shakes. A mix of Nepalis and expats. Occasional live music
- Celtic Manang Irish bar, run b
There are a number of ATM machines in Thamel. These typically have a charge of NPR400 and maximum withdrawal of NPR10,000. All shops will accept Nepali rupees and quite a few will also accept US dollars.
- Thanka Thanka are traditional Buddhist paintings available all over Nepal. Prices and quality can vary a great deal. Good sellers will be able to describe the provenance, meaning and history of your chosen thanka. You may also be able to watch thanka being created at some galleries. For example, one gallery near the Boudnath Stupa often has thanka trainees at work so you can see the kind of detail that goes into each painting.
- Statuary Hand crafted statues from Nepal are famous all over the world, especially metal statues of god and goddess such as Buddha and Tara. You can easily find various statue shops in Thamel, although these are mainly manufactured in the Patan area. If you want to get closer to the source, Patan is a good place to buy such items. Be aware of items that might be antiques. The Nepalese government does not permit real antiques older than 100 years to leave the country, so if you are unsure of the age of the item you're interested in it is advisable to get it checked and certified by the Department of Archaeology to avoid problems on your departure.
- Silver Note that jewellers from Bangkok come to Kathmandu to buy wholesale silver with Indian-processed semiprecious gemstones. The wholesale price of silver is published on the front page of the "Himalayan" newspaper (1 tola= 11.6 gm) so buyers can get an idea of the metal cost of the piece, apart from the labour cost. Silver is almost invariably near the stamped "92.5%" sterling, as claimed.
- Clothing Kathmandu is a great place to shop for clothes. Flowing hippie gauzes, Monk's robes in saffrons and maroons, funky neon trance-wear, hemp clothing, dozens of elegant silks and 'suiting and shirting' are available in all qualities and prices. Tailors can be hired at reasonable fees and the quality of work is high. Handwoven Nepali fabrics are USD1-3/m and available in endless patterns and colours. Anything, from bags to mountaineering equipment to cocktail dresses can be made to order and tailored to perfection. The alleys around Indra Chowk, between Thamel and Durbar Square, have dozens of fabric shops and tailors, much more dedicated to customer satisfaction than the hurried and expensive shops in Thamel. Bishal Bazaar near the corner of New Road and Durbar Square is a mall-like experience which also boasts several fabric shops and tailors. It is acceptable to buy fabric from one place and get it stitched in another. Expect to pay around NPR250 to stitch a Western-style men's/ladies' shirt. Feel free to take an existing item of clothing with you for the tailor to copy. Warning: if having clothes made to wear later at home, get measured before trekking if you want them to fit when you return to your normal size after your privations on the trekking trail!
- Carpets and Rugs, Thamel has a number of carpet shops that have quality silk and wool carpets. Royal Collection (Shop 13, L.P. Jyoti Line) has a nice selection and good prices, after some aggressive price negotiations. Some places will charge a service fee on a purchase with a credit card, so make sure to clarify this during price negotiations.
- Cultural artefacts Beware that there are lots of counterfeits, sly salesmen, and plastics presented as wood. Most real antiques are illegal to export. Genuine antiquities may have been looted from temples. Patan, sister city of Kathmandu, is known for the quality of her bronzes. Read "Shopping for Buddhas," available in bookshops.
- Pashmina scarves and shawls can be purchased for a fraction of the price of those in Europe or North America. Look for those produced by the Tibetan refugee camp just outside of Patan or other charitable organisations.
- Electronics A lot of people find Kathmandu a good place to buy a camera or other electronic device due to the lack of sales tax and import duty on electronics. There are shops in Thamel, and around New Road.
- Shop Right Supermarket (near Kathmandu Guest House). Large mini mart style supermarket in the heart of tourist Thamel.
- Repairs. As well as being an excellent location to buy inexpensive new clothing, Kathmandu is also a great place to have clothes and shoes repaired.
- Passport photos. It is easy to use quite a few passport photos while in Nepal. There are numerous places around Thamel where you can get more prepared. NPR300 for 8 photos.
Kathmandu is a great place to stock up or trade in reading material. Used bookshops have stock including backpacker favourites, classics, local history and culture.
- Vajra Books , Jyatha, Thamel - close to Chikusa Café, has huge selection of books on Buddhism, Nepal and Tibet studies.
- Pilgrims in Thamel (next to the Kathmandu Guest house) is the largest and most well established English language bookshop in Kathmandu. They have great sections on Buddhism, including a whole room devoted to vajrayana, as well as an encyclopedic selection on books devoted to subjects on Nepal.
- Tibet Book Store, Thamel, on the road leading in from the palace has a good selection of books on vajrayana and Tibet studies.
- Second Hand - The alleys of Thamel are full of second hand book shops. Check around for a good price, as they do vary immensely. Return read books for 50% buyback or store credit.
- Ekta Books - Huge collection of almost all types of books is found in Ekta Books which is in Thapathali near Norvic Hospital.
- Mandala Book Point, ☎ 4227711. Kantipath. Probably the best for all types of reference, academic texts, tourist books and maps. Mandala also publishes books on sociology, anthropology, culture, politics and history of Nepal. It also a centre for most scholars visiting Nepal and patrons are encouraged to take part in the lively and informative discussions that frequently occur in the shop in the evening. The most reliable shop for The Economist and International Herald Tribune. Located on the east side of Kantipath just south of the Mountain Hotel and Nabil Bank building
- Quixote's Cove: the bookshop, ☎ 553-6974. Jawalakhel. Located next to New Orleans Cafe in Jawalakhel, this bookshop is housed in an old 1930s building and combines a great collection of fiction with a marvelously cosy environment.
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