Thamel is in Kathmandu. It is a haven for tourists visiting the city. It contains numerous hotels, restaurants, and shops that cater specifically to western tourists. It is located in the northern region of Kathmandu past the government district on Tridevi Marj. Although some consider it to be overcrowded it has been used by westerners since the 1970's when hippies in the region discovered it. Although now it has become quite commercial. Thamel is an easy walk from anywhere in central Kathmandu. Though the roads can be quite busy during the day, and traffic can be quite heavy.
Getting into Thamel is easy as any taxi driver will know exactly where it is. It is about a 20 minute taxi drive from Tribhuvan International Airport or about a 15 minute drive from the city bus station. Both will cost you around NPR 500 (around $5). You can also take the local bus from the station on Tridevi Marj next to Ratna Park. This costs as of June 2014 NPR 400 for tourists.
The streets of Thamel are fascinating, though beware of the hash dealers and the violin sellers as they will try to rip you off. Most of the actual tourist draws are outside of the district, this is a good place to set up a home base to see the city from.
There are lots of shops selling everything from glass pipes to Tibetan Singing Bowls. Make sure you haggle the price to about 2/3 of the original price, also never state your price first always let the seller ask for a specific amount of money. There are also a few quiet courtyards that you can find if you look that show why this place attracted peace loving hippies 40 years ago. There are also many nightclubs that open at 10PM.
This is the shopping Mecca in Nepal you can buy most of the things you want here. Some favorites are the incense sold almost everywhere, prayer flags, and Kukri swords. There are also a number of bookstores, outdoor outfitters, and banks in this district. ATMs can be easily found and will give you 100, 500, or 1000 rupee notes.
And don't forget to bargain as foreigners are always charged 2\3 times the actual price.
There are numerous restaurants all throughout Thamel. A good rule is that if its busy its probably okay, and if its empty be very aware of the cleanliness of the restaurants. Thamel is known for having better hygiene than other parts of the country. Most hotels will have good restaurants in the same building. The food is more expensive here than in Chhetrapati and elsewhere in the city and you can expect to spend around NPR 450-650 a plate (around $5-7). This does not include tea or beer. tea will usually cost NPR 50 and beer can cost from NPR 200-350. If you eat at a restaurant more than once it will be remembered and the proprietors will most likely engage you in conversation. This is a good way to meet local people.
There are bars everywhere in Thamel. The best bet to order is beer as several good lagers are available including Carlsberg (brewed under license) and Everest which are both very good. Hard liquor often is very expensive (as much as NPR 400 a drink) and usually do not taste very good. However Kukri Rum is good in mixed drinks and in classier bars western imported liquors (such as Jack Daniels). You can also buy liquor without an ID at any food store which are in abundance in Thamal.
There are literally dozens of hotels within Thamel. They vary from first star dives all the way to western style. A budget room with cost you NPR 500 or $5 a night, mid-range will cost around NPR 1500 or $15 a night. Higher end hotels such as the Kathmandu Hyatt can cost up to $150 a night.
Budget: Marco Polo Hotel- near the ecotrek on Tridevi Marj. Has small but clean rooms. The quietest are at the back. NPR 500 a night. Hotel Prayer Flag also offers a clean, comfortable and cheap stay in Thamel
Mid-Range: Yambu Guesthouse- has a very friendly staff and a good restaurant as well as a courtyard away from the street. The rooms are nice and include a TV that works when the power is on. It also has a roof area that is very pleasant to hang around in. $15 a night. They charge extra (as many hotels in Nepal do) for you do pay in Nepali money. It can add up to 40% onto your bill, so it makes sense to change your money over to American dollars before you check-out.
Kathmandu Guesthouse- the original hotel in Thamel. Has a very good restaurant and varying sized rooms. The staff is friendly and the rooms are clean. The rooms start at NPR 1200 a night.
High End: Kathmandu Hyatt- a western quality hotel with an extremely good restaurant. Is not technically in Thamel but is a short distance away. Rooms start at $80 a night.
The American Embassy in next to Ratna Park which is around a 15 minute walk from central Thamel.
There are many scams that are run in Thamel, almost none include violence but you will lose a lot of money. One of the ways the scams are run is someone will offer to guide you around the city and then demand an exorbitant sum. Another is selling you wares for entirely to much money. There is also a scam where mothers stand outside of stores selling milk with their babies and will say they do not have money for milk. After you buy it they will sell it back to the store. Also don't give money to beggars are many Nepalis find begging demeaning.
Keep your travel documents safe and always keep a copy of them just incase. There are incidents where foreigners were robbed of all their valuables including passport. Also make a note of local police's number (100) and your embassy's to be on a safe side.