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 to 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Al-Madina Halal Food North Thamel. Excellent value for money, and some of the best food you'll find in Thamel. Simple little place, but friendly and the quality is excellent. Typical Tandoori offerings, curries and wraps. Recommended.
- 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.
- BK's French Fry heaven in Thamel. Opposite Funky Buddha Bar.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Electric Pagoda is 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.
- Everest Steak House. Traditional pre- or post-trekking feast: massive steaks costing about NPR800 for a full portion. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Green Ice. Amazingly good Indian cuisine, Thamel Chowk upstairs with the green windows overlooking "Kukuri Crossroads".
- Happy Bubble Cafe - Taiwanese cuisine. Tel: +977-981-867-5088. First and only Taiwanese restaurant in Nepal. Menu include the famous Taiwanese bubble (tapioca) tea, lemon tea with Aiyu jelly and Basil seed, pork stew with rice or noodles, mince pork with noodles/rice, bubble cake and Taiwanese burger with pork or omelet. Off JP road (if you are at Thamel supermarket, it's on the opposite direction from Kathmandu GH, about 3-5min walk south), in a little ally across from Third Eye restaurant, next to Kizuna and Phat Khat restaurant; open space dining. Open 10am-9pm Sun to Fri.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Krua Thai, (Located at the outskirts of Thamel, take first the left curve after Pilgrims, then right.). Probably the best Thai food in Kathmandu edit
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Phat Kath - Located off the main street close to Helena's and Weizon Bakery. They have a really nice indoor outdoor setup which has a really nice organic vibe. They have really good breakfasts from R200. They have a decent lunch/dinner menu with good meals. Service is very good.
- 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. Beer: NPR400; Pizza: NPR500-600.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Thamel House Restaurant, (In front of Hotel Thamel), ☎ 4410388, . From the outside looks like a regular restaurant, but in the inside it has a beautiful garden, very cozy and calm. Good service. edit
- Third Eye. Indian food in a nice building and outdoor garden. NPR250-500.
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.
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
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.
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 too 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.
Avoid seeking help from random individuals on the streets who offer taking you to dance bars. There have been several cases of tourists ripped off once inside these dance bars.
Keep your travel documents safe and always keep a copy of them just in case. 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.
The tourist police station is situated near Tourism Bank branch in Thamel. They assist foreigners in case of emergency. Phone Number: +977-1-4247041 (Bhrikutimandap) & +977-1-4700750 (Thamel). Email: [email protected]