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[http://www.voyage.gc.ca/dest/report-en.asp?country=205000 Canadian Consular Affairs], [http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029390590&a=KCountryAdvice&aid=1013618386271, UK Foreign and Commonwealth office], and [http://travel.state.gov/travel/nepal_warning.html The US State department]
some years ago discouraged non-essential travel to [[Nepal]], including Kathmandu, due to military conflict between Maoist rebels and the government . But now Nepal has been a very safe and peaceful country after the Maoists joined the government. The maoist head is the new Prime Minister of the new Republic of Nepal. |+|
[http://www.voyage.gc.ca/dest/report-en.asp?country=205000 Canadian Consular Affairs], [http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029390590&a=KCountryAdvice&aid=1013618386271, UK Foreign and Commonwealth office], and [http://travel.state.gov/travel/nepal_warning.html The US State department] non-essential travel to [[Nepal]], including Kathmandu, due to military conflict between Maoist rebels and the government.
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while in Kathmandu, always keep an eye on belongings, violent crime is rare, but pickpockets are not, especially in crowded places. If your hotel room door doesn't have a good lock or safe windows, store valuables on your person or in a hotel safety deposit box at all times. As with any large city, avoid walking alone in unlit areas. |+|
in Kathmandu, always keep an eye on belongings, violent crime is rare, but pickpockets are not, especially in crowded places. If your hotel room door doesn't have a good lock or safe windows, store valuables on your person or in a hotel safety deposit box at all times. As with any large city, avoid walking alone in unlit areas.
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Revision as of 15:33, 21 September 2008
Kathmandu (काठमांडौ)  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 travelers as well as a growing vacation spot catering to all budgets.
Districts with own articles:
Visas are available on arrival for citizens of most countries, and one passport-sized photograph are required. To complete the process, you must pay a fee: Transit ($5), 15 day
($25), 30 day ($40) or 90 day ($100.) Make sure that you fill in all of the forms and keep your departure card for when you want to leave. Facilities for taking passport-sized photographs are available near the immigration desk, though it saves a lot of time if they are prepared before arrival. SAARC nationals are exempt from visa fees.
There are no trains to Kathmandu, renting a car without a driver is not a reasonable option. You can hire bikes in India and ride up, but you need to be brave. Alternatively, catch a bus. They run from Varanasi and Delhi on a regular basis. Check with other travelers to find a safe busline, some are quite dangerous and travel at stupid speeds through mountain passes. Many hotels will pick you up from the airport if you give them advanced notice. Otherwise, you can use a pre-paid taxi (the stand is on your right as you come out of baggage reclaim/arrivals.)
Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport (IATA: KTM),  is the largest, and only international airport in Nepal.
Most flights arrive via Delhi or Bangkok, and of the remaining only a few originate from outside Asia.
Airport service charge is not included in tickets for flights departing from Kathmandu, and a charge Rs 791 for SAARC destinations and Rs 1,130 out of SAARC destinations must be paid at Tribhuvan International Airport before check in.
Major airlines serving Kathmandu:
To and from airport
Many hotel and guest houses offer complimentary pick up and delivery from the airport. Taxis are also available. As always, negotiate the price beforehand with the driver. A taxi ride to Thamel or Boudha should not exceed 300 NPR. Otherwise, order a taxi at the pre-paid booth inside the airport, which costs 400 NPR. This is more than double the meter rate, but saves the hassle of long negotiations.
Try not to exchange money at the airport. Money changers at the airport not only charge service charge but also offer lower rate than that is offered in Thamel or other money changers within the town.
Kathmandu has frequent and cheap bus service to nearly all parts of Nepal, unfortunately due to poor roads and frequent delays the buses are some of the slowest and least comfortable in South Asia.
Connections include India (usually Gorakhpur, Varanasi or Lucknow) and other parts of Nepal such as Royal Chitwan National Park and the trekking hubs of Pokhara to the west, Langtang to the north and Jiri to the east of Kathmandu. For points of departure in India or Tibet see the Nepal 'Get in' section. Buses arriving from the Indian border, Pokhara and Chitwan terminate either at the bus station at Balaju at north of the city or Kalanki at the south of the city since large vehicles and long distance vehicles are not allowed to enter the city due to traffic congestion.
The first thing many visitors may notice about Kathmandu is the general lack of street names (except for major roads such as Tri Devi and Ring Road) and address numbers. In most cases directions are given relative to the nearest chowk or tole (an intersection or square, often with a market) or a noteworthy building such as a temple or restaurant. In the tourist district of Thamel, the Kathmandu Guest House and Hot Breads bakery are two main landmarks.
It is possible to get across the city by foot, but it is not always a pleasant walk and you may want to consider a rickshaw for anything more then wandering around a specific area. Rickshaws are bicycle driven; the motorized ones have been banned from the valley in a bid to check rising pollution. Rickshaws can hardly be found outside the tourist area of Thamel, however, since they are mostly only used by the tourists. Negotiate on a price before you get in, if you can't agree, just look for another driver. Prices go up after dark and in less busy areas. Taxis are easy to find; they park near all major streets and have fare-meters.
There are also buses and taxis for longer trips (see Kathmandu Valley for information on getting to Patan and Bakhtapur), and can be used for trips in town. For longer trips and to hire them by the day negotiate with the driver.
- Swayambhunath (स्वयम्भूनाथ) - A large stupa, highly revered in Nepal, and one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the country. It offers great views over the city, and no lack of monkeys. It's a 20-30 minute walk from Thamel, or take a taxi or rickshaw. Pay Rs 100 to enter at the front steps or slip in free on the ramp on the south side. 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 amount of stairs that need to be climbed to gain access to the main compound.
- Boudha Stupa (बौद्धनाथ) in Boudhanath. One of the most sacred sites for Tibetan Buddhism. It is a must see in Kathmandu.
- King's Palace - Giant fruit bats hanging from the tall trees and 20 foot-tall bamboo around the otherwise modern (and well secured) palace are a sight-- especially around sunset when they depart en masse.
- Thamel Chowk - lots of restaurants and shops.
- Freak Street - Historic home of western hippies seeking enlightenment, but now just a few restaurants and hotels.
- Nasal Chowk Statues, temples and the Rana museum.
- Pashupatinath - An important temple to Shiva in the form of Lord of Animals. See monkeys, cremation, sadhus and a holy cave. Morning is a great time to go.
- Garden of Dreams - Relax in this beautiful and peaceful walled garden close to the King's Palace. Entry Rs 200.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
The heart of Kathmandu 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 1000 AD. This site is the most popular UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nepal.
There is a charge of Rs 200 (Around 3 US Dollars) to enter this area. Magical in the very early morning and evening, Durbar Square can be an exhausting experience due to the overwhelming number of young men offering to be "guides." Be firm with saying "no" if you are not interested, but realize that looking at a map, or even standing still for a moment will be an invitation to a dozen other would-be "helpers". A place not to be missed is a visit to Kathmandu Durbar Square Museum.
There are more than a dozen buildings and statues of note in this small areas. 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 Statue shown only during the Indra Jatra festival.
- Kal Bhairab
- Indrapur Temple
- Vishnu temple
- Mahendreswar Temple
It is possible to climb the steps of many of the temples for a better look, or to join the people sat at the top watching the bustle below.
Kathmandu 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 (two or more) 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.
Draped along the greatest heights of the Himalaya, the kingdom of Nepal is a land of sublime scenery, time-worn temples, and some of the best walking trails on earth. It's a poor country, but it is rich in scenic splendor and cultural treasures. The kingdom has long exerted a pull on the Western imagination and it's a difficult place to dislodge from your memory once you leave. This is why so many travelers are drawn back to Nepal, armed the second time round with a greater appreciation of its natural and cultural complexity, a stout pair of walking boots and a desire for improved leg-definition.
Trekking is the emphasis of many visits to Nepal on account of the wide range of geographical features. The country nurtures a variety of vegetation and landscape. In addition to the natural environment is the rich Himalayan culture. Thousand of visitors trek to different parts of Nepal every year to experience its rustic charm, nature and culture. Most treks go through areas between 1000 to 3000 meters, although some popular parts reach over 5000 meters.
Three regions are famous for teahouse trekking in Nepal, which is Annapurna (3 to 28 days), Everest (6 to 30 days) and Langtang/Gosainkunda/Helambu (5 to 18 days) and between these regions, Annapurna is the most well-known teahouse route in Nepal.
Festival just outside Kathmandu
Kathmandu and Dubar Square is the center 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.
- Tihar, Festival of Lights (Also called Diwali) 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 (literally) 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 New Year's (April) A day of pilgrimages (often from Kathmandu to the holy Bungmati 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 nigh 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.
- Rangjung Yeshe Institute, . An international institute for Buddhist higher studies in Boudhanath - modeled on a traditional Tibetan Buddhist College. The Institute is affiliated with Kathmandu University, and located on the premises of the monastery Ka-Nying [short for "Kagyu and Nyingma"] Shedrup Ling. It offers bachelors and masters degrees in Buddhist Studies with Himalayan Language (Tibetan, Nepali, and Sanskrit), as well as six week stand alone intensive courses in each.
- Kopan Monastery, . Founded by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa as the core of what has become an international network of Gelugpa dharma centers, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). Located near Boudhanath, Kopan offers ten-day meditation courses regularly throughout the year, and a month-long course (for which it is famous) every November-to-December. Reservations are necessary.
- Nepal Vipassana Centers, . Vipassana Meditation (a popular Buddhist Meditation) as taught by S. N. Goenka.
- Osho Tapoban Forest Retreat, . Nagarjun Forest (Raniban).
- Patanjali Yoga Center, . The first residential school of Yoga in Nepal.
- Satyananda Yoga Centre, . Group and individual courses. Yoga Camps.
- The Healing Hands Center, . Classes in Ancient Massage / Thai Massage. Five-day course, ten-day course and one-month professional course every month.
- TU Central Library, . It is one of the largest library of Nepal situated within Tribhuvan University premise at Kirtipur. You can get there by regular bus or micro-bus for Kirtipur. It has a large collection of old and new books, journals and newspaper.
- British Council Library  It is in Lainchaur beside British Embassy.
- KEEP  Kathmandu Environmental Education Project have a centre in Kathmandu (behind Kilroy's), which provides environmental information about Nepal. They provide books for trekkers to record their experiences in for others to read before they set off. You can ask to see a BBC film entitled "Bearing the Burden" about Nepalese porters. They also provide a water bottle refill service that is also cheaper than buying new bottles.
- Silver Note that jewelers 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 labor 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 trancewear, hemp clothings, dozens of elegant silks and 'suiting and shirting' are available in all qualities and prices. Tailors can be hired at reasonable fees and quality is high. Handwoven Nepali fabrics are $1-3/m and available in endless patterns and colors. 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 sq., have dozens of fabric shops and tailors, much more dedicated to customer satisfaction than the hurried and expensive shops in Thamel. 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!
- 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) had 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 you get that clear during the pricing process.
- Cultural artifacts Be advised that there are a lot 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 book stores, if you are.
- Pashmina (the South Asian word for cashmere) 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 organizations.
- 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.
Kathmandu is a great place to stock up or trade in reading material. Used bookstores cover everything from backpacker favorites, to classics, to local history and culture.
- Vajra Books, Jyatha, Thamel (very near to Chikusa Café) - 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 (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) - 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, Kantipath, Tel: 4227711 . 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 center for most scholars visiting Nepal and patrons are encouraged to take part in the lively and informative discussions that frequently occur within the shop every 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
One of Thamel's Many Rooftop Cafes
Traditional Tibetan dumplings, momos have been borrowed to become tourist tapas. Try them fried or steamed stuffed with buffalo, chicken, or veggies with a Tuborg or San Miguel beer. In a local place expect to pay 25 NPR for a dozen momos, 45-75 NPR in a tourist place. Also a good place to sample Newari and Tibetan dishes.
Besides the aforementioned momos tibetan cuisine includes a variety of other dishes, some based around a noodle soup, like a thukpa. A Nepali set meal will usually include rice, dhal, vegetable/meat curry, a vegetable dish, chutney and curd. Expect to pay around 120-280 NPR at a tourist place, much less at local places. Chia (similar to the Indian chai), a milky spiced tea, is ubiquitous and good for a break to calm one's nerves.
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 best priced. Don't hesitate to state your preference for spiciness. A good place to sample Korean food. Travelers who venture into smaller places are often rewarded with better prices and friendlier staff. Inspect your bill and count your change at the places frequented by short trip tourists.
- "La Dolce Vita" probably the first italian restaurant and the best you can find in Kathmandu serves great pastas, deserts and speciality coffees all at a very reasonable price.
- Tashi Delek. Tibetan restaurant with extensive menu and good Mexican/ Italian dishes. Open late. Across the street from the postcard shop, near hotbreads corner. 100-300 NPR.
- Northfield Cafe. Basic pub grub and Nepali attempt at Mexican. Popular with English teachers and expats. A few doors up from Kathmandu Guest House. 100-300 NPR.
- Third Eye. Indian food in a nice building and outdoor garden. 250-500 NPR.
- Green Ice. Amazingly good Indian cuisine, Thamel Chowk upstairs with the green windows overlooking "Kukuri Crossroads".
- Just Juice and Shakes. Popular with Israelis and Longtimers. Great coffees and , yes, juices and shakes. Two eggs on toast: 20rs. 10m down the alley across the street from the music shop, near Pilgrim's bookstore curve.
- Everest Steak House. Traditional pre-or post-trekking feast: Massive steaks cooked just right, about 300 NPR will stuff you. Just off Chhetrapati, the pagoda-cum-roundabout.
- Helena's Rooftop Restaurant. Excellent food, great service, and modest prices. Apparently it's the tallest rooftop restaurant in Kathmandu, and the views from there of the city (especially at night) are fantastic. Serves Western and regional cuisine - chicken tikka massala will set you back around 250 NPR. From Chhetrapati, pass the Everest Steak House on your right, and turn the next left. Helena's is about 2 minutes walk up this road on your right. Claims to have the best breakfasts in Kathmandu.
- Fire & Ice. A popular western haunt, and for good reason. Serves traditional Italian-style stone-baked pizzas, which are delicious. Certainly pricier than most, however - a cheese & tomato pizza will cost around 250 NPR, whereas a hawaiian will cost 350 NRP. Chocolate ice cream with added chocolate on top is definitely to be recommended, and will cost about 145 NPR. From Chhetrapati, go past Everest Steak House on your right, and then turn first left. Pass Helena's on your right, and then turn first right. Continue up this road to the end, and go right, then immediately left to basically continue in the direction you were going. Fire & Ice is not far before a fairly major road junction (by Nepalese standards), on the right-hand side. You should be able to see the white sign pretty high up on the building as you're walking in this direction. Alternately, if you come from the traffic light at Lazimpat and Kantipath, near the Royal Palace, it is in the first major building on the left hand side along with Himalayan Bank, just after the Western Union. If you get lost, just ask.
- Himalayan Java. Wonderful pizza and some of the best (if not the only) paninis available in Nepal. See below for detailed coverage. Located across the street from Fire & Ice on the second story of the building nearest the palace wall.
- 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 should be signposted, though the sign's fairly small). Everest summiters can eat here for free!
- Hot Breads. Past Helena's, opposite the right-turn junction towards Fire & Ice, Hot Breads sells fresh pastries (pan au chocolats, cinnamon bakes) from about 30 NPR each, which you can eat on the roof along with a selection of drinks. The place to go for breakfast at least once.
- 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 desert, but an entre', 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, similar to(better than?) Fire and Ice. Fantastic Decor. Good coffee and hot chocolate. Draught Everest beer, when available. A very relaxing, upscale place for when you need to escape from Kathmandu for an evening. Free WiFi between noon and 5pm.
- Sandwich Point is a small sandwich bar with a wide range of fillings including beacons, ham, chicken and sausage. To get to Sandwich point, turn left on the second intersection of thamel arriving from Himalayan Java. It is located on the left just a few meters 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' (not local?) coffee, and some great deserts - brownies to die for. Less exciting but good sandwiches.
Yes, there is a whole world waiting outside Thamel!
- Freak street has a few good eats, too, such as the Ganesh restaurant halfway along the street next to a small shrine. Try the cakes at the tiny, bright blue "Snowman" cakeshop. Sit and check out the walls while you eat. Sensational.
- Angan (on the corner behind the King's statue roundabout) A great place to have sanitary ice cream (35 NPR), Indian traditional sweets, or try out a delicious freshly prepared Masala Dosa (curry in a crisp savory crêpe, 55-65 NPR) or other South Indian food alongside Kathmandu's Bourgeoisie. Sweets in the front, Fastfood restaurant in the back. 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 St., the outdoor craft market, the old 'Red Palace', and the many temples of Durbar square.
- Bakery Cafe There are several outlets of this chain restaurant all around Kathmandu and Patan. A great place to have momos, beer and sizzlers (steak with butter sauce and noodles). It is essentially 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 (momos are best).
- 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 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 (fried flat bread wrap with spicy meat, paneer or veg filling). Great for lunchtime snacks or evening meals. Their two locations can be found opposite the Ambassador Hotel on Lazimpat and on the Maharajgunj, near the UNHCR and American Embassy. 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.
the taste of nepali coffee
Nepal is also a coffee producing country, though the people are famously tea drinkers. Most often coffee comes as a dishwater-colored cup of instant; however, good coffee IS available. The first thing to remember is that people who don't drink coffee don't understand coffee. When ordering, try ordering "Strong coffee", as opposed to just "Coffee", to minimise those dishwater blues. Also note that cafes here don't follow the equal espresso, milk and froth rule. 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 ground coffee, either drip or espresso, are:
- Chikusa Café, Jyatha road, Thamel . Nepali coffee, Sandwiches and crêpes. Strawberry lassi is a specialty.
- 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 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 at Thamel, Bhat Bhatteni or Pulchowk, Coffee drinks, espresso, Cappuccino, along with good wood fired pizza and pasta. See 'Eat' above for location.
- La Dolce Vita at thamel as great coffees (don;t forget to order their chocolate mousse when you are having coffee here).
- 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 (8km). Peace, no air or noise pollution. Recommended by Lonely Planet for its good food. In natural setting, surrounded by flower & sculpture garden. 20 min away
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, Carlsburg, and Tuborg beer are the principal conventional beers served in Kathmandu. Everest, being locally produced rather than shipped in from Turkey (the source of the Danish name-brands), tends to be more reliable than the available imports.
- 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.
- 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, 4-8PM in this friendly spot. Next to Star Hotel.
- Maya Pub. Laid back sports bar version of Cocktail Bar. 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. Full Moon is one of the more happening spots in Thamel right now. The crowd is a convivial mix of young Nepalis and expats. Occasional live music
Virtually all tourist accommodations are located in Thamel, near the Kathmandu Guesthouse. Upscale hotels tend to be a few blocks away on Durbar Marg near the Royal Palace. A few guest houses still remain on Freak Street below Durbar Square, they tend to be somewhat cheaper, and a bit less well cared for than Thamel, but the neighbourhood is quieter and there are fewer touts.
Prices can range from 1 - 350 USD for a double room.
- Hotel Downtown, 9771 4700471/4700150. Friendly and very helpful staff, safe and clean and centrally located in the Satghumti area of Thamel (just around the corner from the Kathmandu Guest House), doubles and singles (they even have family rooms!) with and without attached showers - USP is that they never run out of hot water! nice rooftop with ample sunshine, moderately priced from 2 USD for a single and 5 USD for a double with ensuite shower. It's a favorite of many regulars; one should book ahead. Unfortunately as most hotels in Thamel are - its surrounded by dance bars!
- The Star. Made famous among travellers and expats in the book "Escape from Kathmandu" but otherwise your basic budget accommodations. Double and single rooms with or without private bathrooms. Friendly staff. Mail drop for repeat/longterm clients. Gate locks around midnight. 2 - 5 USD.
- Hotel Great Wall, aka Hotel Victoria, is a friendly, comfortable hotel in Thamel, with rooms for USD4-8 a night. A very friendly owner and staff who are very helpful and even run a travel agency inside the hotel for all your trekking needs. Comfortable good sized rooms with excellent views over Thamel and the Kathmandu valley from the roof.
- Cozy Corner. Just next door to the Star. A very basic double room with shared bathroom and cold shower. Safety deposit boxes at the front desk. No lock out time. 1 - 5 USD.
- Thorong Peak, Thamel. (+997 1 4253458). Rooms for 250 NPR (Double) and up. You get much more than in other just houses for that price.
- Nirvana Peace Home, , Paknajol, near Thamel. Tel+977 1 438-3503 - highly recommended
- Hotel Impala, , For discount lodging and economic accommodation in Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal. Tel+977 1 470-1549 - cool place in town!
- Budget Hotel Nepal, . Unique in Kathmandu suburbs. 20 minutes from the center of the capital. No noise, fresh air and panoramic views of the Himalayas, city and atop Chobhar ancient village hill (1420m)
- Hotel Blue Horizon. Nicely decorated rooms for about 400-500, let down a little by the bathrooms. Friendly staff, and good room service breakfasts. Good location down side street opposite Himalayan bank
- Student Guest House, [[email protected]], friendly staff who will allways try and help you out, although you might have to tell Suraj about the non-working lamp a couple of times before he remembers. On the edge of Thamel, easy to find and close to the chowk where you can get a taxi or rickshaw.
- Kathmandu Guesthouse, Thamel, +977 1 4700 004 / 4700 977, . The original guesthouse now with rooms ranging from basic to almost-fancy. Restaurant and bar. The axis on the compass of Thamel, all other addresses are given in relation to this hotel. Rates from 2 - 55 USD. Wifi internet access (semi-reliable) from lobby, garden and some rooms. Otherwise, 4 computers with internet access until midnight, 60 R/hour. The guest house has a sister concern in Pokhara. Those who wish to visit pokhara can book for the Pokhara view garden hotel at Kathmandu Guesthouse.
- The Garuda. Private bathrooms, sheets, towels, etc. Some rooms with AC and balconies. Located near Kathmandu Guest House in Thamel. 10 - 25 USD
- Hotel Harati, 977 1 4257907 / 4257758, . Located on the main street from/through Tamel into Durbar Square (which is about 5-10 minutes away on foot, or a 50 NPR rickshaw or taxi ride). Clean, hygienic and comfortable rooms, including en-suites with hot showers most of the time. The website quotes rooms from 50 USD, but this is almost certainly negotiable.
- Hotel Utse, Jyatha - Thamel, 977 1 4257614 / 4228952, . The hotel has a quaint and homely Tibetan theme and rooms are also clean, hygienic and comfortable. The hotel has a restaurant on the ground floor that serves Tibetan/Chinese/Continental cuisine (open 6AM to 10PM), in addition to a rooftop terrace. There are standard/deluxe/super deluxe rooms from 15 - 35 USD. Deluxe rooms include attached shower/bath with 24 hr hot water and cable T.V. Great value for the money.
- Kathmandu Budget Hotel , 977 1- 4333555, . Located 20 minutes from the center of the city, in Chobhar, just past the University. In fully renovated 200-year old stonebuildings, with American standard comfort. Unique & no air, noise pollution.
- Hotel d'Annapurna, PO Box 140, Durbar Marg, ☎ 977 1 422 1711 ([email protected], fax: 977 1 422 5236), . - Four-star international hotel with all the amenities. Located on Durbar Marg. Very good conference facilities at reasonable rates. Wifi and business center very expensive, though (for copies, etc.) Starting at $140/night.
- Yak and Yeti.  A five star hotel located in a converted palace on Durbar Marg. This is a landmark since Nepal first opened to tourism at the end of WW ll. At that time the King was living in exile in Kolkata and was ask to return to govern the nation. He asked Boris Lesonavich, a Russian also in exile to come to Nepal and establish tourist accommodation in Kathmandu. He established the Palace Hotel in a large Rana's palace that was available. He named the nar "The Yak and Yeti". Early Everest expeditions put up there and used the grounds to organise their gear for the climb. The present downtown Hotel is also located at the site of an old palace that was at one time the foreign post office for Kathmandu. The beautiful present day hotel was built up around and incorporating the old buildings.
- Hotel Soaltee Crowne Plaza is a five star hotel in Tahachal, western side of Kathmandu. It also has Al Fresco, the most authentic Italian restaurant in Kathmandu. Although the hotel is rated as a 5 star, it takes a generous person to give it that rating, however that is relative to the other hotels. Double confirm your rooms for preferences (smoking or non-smoking) and do not get a ground floor room. Suggest not staying at this hotel if the Hyatt is available.
- Dwarika's A three-star hotel - advertised as "a museum-hotel with 5 star facilities" - in Battisputali. It also is considered a heritage site. Clients include those who come specifically for it from around the world. Truly one of a kind. After turning right from Tribhuwan International Airport, turn left in Gaushala. The hotel is located furthur on the road on the left side. You can't miss the very traditional looking builing which seem to emerge from no where.
- Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, PO Box 9609, Taragaon, Boudha (10 Km from the city centre of Kathmandu, on the road to Boudhanath Stupa), ☎ +977 1 449 1234 ([email protected]), . 5 star hotel with 290 rooms and suites. The hotel offers a health and beauty spa, swimming pool, wading pool for children and an outdoor whirlpool. The hotel is 4 km from Tribhuvan International Airport and within walking distance of Bodhanath Stupa.
Domestic flights also leave from Tribhuvan International Airport. There is a 170rs airport tax.
- Suman Vehicle Services For local trips (inside and outside of Kathmandu) it is a good idea to hire a local car and driver, Suman Vehicle Services, Suman Shanjel (98510-51658 [email protected]), was quite good, just make sure you negotiate the price up front. He also can help with trekking, hotels, mountain flights and other services.
- The Kathmandu Valley'. Home to a number of sacred sites and historical cities.
- Pokhara. 5-8 hours by bus, is a pleasant little city on a lake (though quite overrun with backpackers). Many visitors stop here for a few days on the way to or from treks and rafting trips. You can't go past the "Pushkar Guesthouse" for value and service. (Just past the crossroads, Lakeside, on the right.)
- Royal Chitwan National Park. Jungle low-lands of western Nepal are a popular place for safaris, complete with Elephant rides, rhino and tiger spotting, and jungle walks.
- Everest region. Within a short flight from Kathmandu, you can be trekking under the protective gaze of snow capped peaks and watching yak caravans carrying goods over mountain passes from Tibet.
- Mountain Flight. These flights from Kathmandu Airport offer an opportunity to see the magnificent Himalayan range the easy way - from the air. It's always a good idea to book early, especially in the 'Tourist Season' from August to October. Flight costs are variable as to where you book them, as of Feb 2008, they quoted rates from US$156 to US$180. The travel agents in Thamel can give better prices than the hotel agents. Also, there is an airport fee that you must pay before you board (about RS 200 for domestic, RS 2,500 international). Best to get the first flight of the morning as the later flights get delayed more and more as the day moves on.
- Shivapuri Hill. North of the city and the nearby Bishnu Muhan, a small spring from where river Bishnumati originates. Stay for a night at the Shivapuri Heights Cottage.
- Nagarkot (altitude: 2,000 m). Approximately 30 kms away from Kathmandu by car. It is just the place for a quick getaway from the bustling capital for some relaxation and outdoor activities. A great place to watch the sunrise, however plan on leaving early (5AM) as traffic jams can happen anywhere and at anytime. Also, The Club Himalaya, has a great viewing point however the last 5 kilometers is VERY narrow, with lots of curves. Car-sickness is a distinct possibility. An overnight at the Club Himalaya is your best best.
- Chobhar "Le Village" Resort A hidden paradise only 8 km from the center of Thamel, Kathmandu. Perched on top of Chobhar village, altitude 1420 m, enjoy sunrise and panoramic views of all of Kathmandu valley and Patan. 20 min by car on the road to Dakshinkali.
- Dhulikhel Is a village about 40 km from Kathmandu, Dhulikhel Lodge Resort, is a nice place for lunch and a view of the mountains. The village offers a nice quiet setting to wander the streets and see the 'non-tourist' side of Nepali life.
Canadian Consular Affairs, UK Foreign and Commonwealth office, and The US State department discourage non-essential travel to Nepal, including Kathmandu, due to military conflict between Maoist rebels and the government.
At present, the Maoists and government have reached an agreement to solve the problem of conflict permanently. However, visitors should avoid public demonstrations and may want to register with their consulate on arrival. Although tourists haven't been directly targeted with politically motivated violence, it is possible to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The frequent strikes are a major inconvenience for most tourists as all transportation stops, and shops and restaurants close.
It is however a great time to have a glimpse of Kathmandu before cars where introduced and walk at ease everywhere, if you don't need to go further than you can walk and have your own food. Following the news and government warnings is important, be sure to check on current road conditions before leaving Kathmandu.
While in Kathmandu, always keep an eye on belongings, violent crime is rare, but pickpockets are not, especially in crowded places. If your hotel room door doesn't have a good lock or safe windows, store valuables on your person or in a hotel safety deposit box at all times. As with any large city, avoid walking alone in unlit areas.
- Water in Kathmandu borders on being lethal, and water borne diseases are rife. Do not, under any circumstances, drink directly from the faucet or take salads and ice unless you have absolute proof that the water used in their preparation has been filtered and boiled. Also, use boiled and filtered water for brushing teeth and avoid swallowing water when taking a shower. Circumstances may differ in private locations or one of the better hotels in Kathmandu.
- Animals such as the monkeys at Swayambhunath and other places may be carriers of rabies and other diseases, as can the bats and other animals. Animal bites should be followed by a prompt trip to Ciwec . Even if you've had the foresight to be vaccinated for rabies prior to travelling in Nepal, treatment following possible exposure is still necessary to prevent infection. No cases of avian influenza have been documented in Nepal to date, but it has been confirmed in nearby countries. Birds live in extremely close proximity to humans, both in the market and the home.
- Vaccinations for rabies, tetanus, typhoid, and hepatitis are recommended prior to arriving in Kathmandu, and can take several months to complete. Tropical diseases such as Japanese encephalitis should be vaccinated against if you plan to travel outside of the Kathmandu Valley, towards the lowlands in the Terai. You may wish to take a malarial prophylaxis. 
- Clinics. A hygienic and efficient place to receive medical attention is the Shechen Clinic in Boudhanath. They have some very potent Tibetan medicine that is effective in the treatment of food poisoning. Ciwec Clinic Travel Medicine Center caters to western travelers and the ex-pat community. It is one of the few places you can get health care at par with western countries in Kathmandu. Located centrally in Lazimpat, across from the British embasy, it is well appointed, but at $50 just to be seen by a Doctor is rather overpriced. Another clinic run by Dr. Upendra Devkota also comes at par with some of the western hospitals. Norvic isn't so heavy on the check up charge as Ciwec is. For dental problems Dent Inn (Website) offers international standard service at good prices.
- Hospitals Bir Hospital in Kathmandu is home to one of the few ENT departments in the country, but should otherwise be avoided. It is a government hospital and is run down and chaotic at best. Patan Hospital is the easily the best public hospital in Nepal. It also has a private clinic.
Internet cafes and are almost stacked on top of each other in Thamel and around the stupa at Boudha, and you can surf to you heart's content for about 15Rs to 20Rps an hour (10Rps in Putalisadak). Though not adequate for video conferencing the 128-256kbps NTC backbone often used by the cafes is more than adequate for VOIP calling. ISD and STD telephone services are available in almost all internet cafes, and services such as Skype are available at some in Thamel. Roadhouse Cafe has free WiFi internet service between 12PM and 5PM, that and the great coffee makes it a great place to catch up on emails.
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