Do you only have a few days to spare in Nepal? Although this may not be sufficient to see everything Nepal has to offer, a one night in the country is just enough to see the capital city called Kathmandu. The Kathmandu Valley is only 49 sq. km. and surrounded by mountains soaring to at least 2500m. If you actually have two hours, you can drive from east to west of the city. Yes, it is not a huge city and is just a tenth of the population of New York City. Yet it is a bustling city that wakes up as early as 6am and as you walk on the tiny and old (some) cobbled streets, tea and freshly cooked Roti fill the air! And that is a good way to start your journey...
Seriously speaking, a good way to know the city is just to walk its past and amongst its people. There are several world heritage sites just within the walls of this city and you would be amazed by these centuries-old temples. Aside from the world heritage site day tour
, no one would want to miss the opportunity to see the mother of all mountain ranges, the Himalayas and the highest mountain of all, called Everest. And the most convenient and time efficient way is to take the Everest mountain flight
. This is probably the most scenic one-hour flight you could have taken in your life and the closest you could be to seeing these mountain ranges.
Here are suggested itineraries from us on how you can enjoy the city with only two days. In addition to these suggested trips, please also read more about the recommendations and things you should not miss in Kathmandu scroll further down or click the link on the table.
Option 1: History and Mountain Flight (More expensive option)
Kathmandu is home to several world heritage sites and old temples, and for approximately 6-8 hours, you can take a full day tour of these 5 great sites such as Kathmandu Darbar Square, Shyambhunath, Patan, Pashupatinath, and Buddhanath.
We also recommend adding to this the Everest mountain flight. This is only available in the early morning and albeit expensive, you wouldn't want to miss the Everest, would you? The one-hour flight takes you around the ranges on a small plane, where everyone gets a window seat (isn't that sweet!). More details about the flight, including cost, can be found here
Option 2: Bhaktapur and Mountain Views (Less expensive option)
A walled city within Kathmandu, Bhaktapur is one of the favorite heritage sites in Nepal. It was an old kingdom which still houses remnants of the royal palace - one dating back from the 15th century! The intricate designs and architecture have been preserved so well that the temples built many centuries ago are being used still for religious purposes by the people of Bhaktapur. As you walk through this cobbled stone city of Bhaktapur, please also pass by the Pottery Square to get a glimpse of how the pots and other ceramics were made many centuries before and marvel at the traditions kept alive by residents of this city. Allot around 2 hours of your day to spend in this historical place.
While two days is not enough to head to base camp, a 60-90 minute drive to a city called Nagarkot allows you to see the mountain ranges in Nepal for a fraction of the price of a mountain flight or a trekking package! Due to the expensive Mountain flight cost in Nepal
, many budget-conscious travelers prefer this option. You can also opt for an overnight stay in Nagarkot instead of just as a day tour. There are several sleeping lodges in the area offering a good view of the mountains from your room! You will be rewarded with a wonderful sunrise and dramatic sunsets with the white mountains as your backdrop if the sky is clear. And even if not, a sea of clouds is also highly likely and trust me, as the sun makes its way through the clouds, the only word that could describe it closely is 'heavenly' and a heads up that it could bring tears to your eyes! And if you want a bit of adventure, hire a motorbike (and a driver!) and enjoy the winding road and the scenery along the way!
Option 3: Local Village Hike
What defines a country are its people and its culture. And what a better way to know a country than to meet and greet its people and experience their everyday lives. A short side trip or hike from a place called Changunarayan allows you to experience the local village life even for a couple of hours! To reach Changunarayan, it is approximately an hour drive from Kathmandu and the hire is another 3-4 hours up to Nagarkot
. This can be combined with Option 2 above and the Bhaktapur sightseeing
could be done shortly after or just before heading to Changunarayan.
All the above are suggestions and depending on the timing of your arrival and departure, you may be able to combine and redefine your trips. Hopefully, this article gave you a sense of how much you can see within or near Kathmandu valley
if you only have limited time. Some people may spend generally a week or two in Nepal, but only a few days are allotted to sightseeing and exploring Kathmandu. And no matter how less time you may have in Nepal, you shouldn't absolutely miss the walk stroll through the streets of Thamel. Of course, try the staple foods in Nepal, namely dal-bhat (lentil and curry rice), dahi (local yogurt), chiya (Nepali tea), Momo (Dumpling) and many others!
If you have any questions regarding the above itineraries, please let us know. We would be happy to help you plan your trip if you wish! Feel free to also comment if you have other suggestions that we should consider here. And finally, if you enjoy reading our article, please don't forget to click our rating box on the right-hand corner!