Make no mistake, Kathmandu is a dirty, polluted, packed full of salesmen, and still reeling from the last big earthquake. It is also the gateway to what could be the best backpacking paradise in all of Asia, easily one of the top in the world. The people here are a little less friendly then the rest of the country, but still welcoming and helpful. The night time markets are fun and the bars aren’t half bad, plus several historic sites are within a few miles easy walking trek.
- Stay at Alobar1000, the staff goes above and beyond, waters hot, food is cheap, WiFi works, and place is clean ($3.50/night). My last day in Kathmandu I ran out of cash, my travel notice on my cards expired, and I was about to walk a few miles to the airport with both my packs in 90 degree heat and crazy humidity. The staff stopped me, made a phone call, and got me a free cab to the airport. Great people. And they have a domesticated bird that flies around
- Walk to the monkey temple for a great view of the city and the chance to see dozens of monkeys roaming freely around the site ($1 USD entrance fee)
- Please respect the culture and only walk around a temple or spin a prayer wheel clockwise
- Do not be afraid to haggle, it is expected by locals and tourist alike
- Walk around Thamel, the backpacker’s ghetto, at night for a vibrant nightlife, just don’t walk down any dark alleys or stay out too late alone
- Many young Nepali will try to sell you Nepali hash, and if you acknowledge them they will keep pushing a new price or offer, just ignore them and keep walking
- Fellow backpackers did have some respiratory/sickness issues if they spent more than a day or two in the city, heaping piles of garbage line the edge of the road and at night there are many burning piles adding to the smog.
- When it rains, it pours. Highways close, the power outages are more frequent, and crossing the street can feel like wading a stream
- Take the local buses for cheap travel with less stops, I took several at the recommendation of an Aussie trekking guide and had no problems but I should say as a disclaimer that the Nepali at my hostel warned me they were unsafe