Tag Archive for: Kathmandu

The biggest city in Nepal and the capital of the country, Kathmandu is not just the political, historical, artistic and cultural center of the little country hidden at the base of the Himalayan Mountains, but also the access gateway to Nepal’s diversity of experiences.

The city did not look like it evolved much in the past decades. Streets were as dusty as they probably always been. There was little order in the traffic, but drivers always showed good reflexes so we never witnessed any accidents.

The largest part of Kathmandu is represented by its urban agglomeration across the Kathmandu Valley, which includes the towns of Lalitpur, Kirtipur, Madhyapur Thimi and Bhaktapur. The most chaotic part of Kathmandu, but also the most colorful and the most alive is its touristic center, the Thamel. The streets here are filled with stores, supermarkets, restaurants and coffee places offering an exotic atmosphere that attracts both regular tourists and backpackers.

We chose to be far from the boisterous streets of Thamel and spent our first night in Kathmandu at a homestay. Still, the entertainment and the good coffee that we always found in Thamel called us back here several times in the following days.


The Swayambhunath Temple

From the group that we were part of during the journey in Tibet, few of us planned a longer stay in Nepal. So, we decided to reunite with the others for the last evening and visited together the Swayambhunath Temple (known also as the Monkey Temple). It is a large Buddhist temple on one of the hills that surround the city. Several statues and stupas mark the entrances into the temple. But the most impressive part is found at the end of the long staircase that leads the path towards the top of the hill, where a large stupa decorated with praying flags is part of the impressive landscape that visitors can admire.


We decided to remain for dinner, as a few restaurants up there offer the chance to enjoy tasty food while marveling at a spectacular sunset.


The ancient streets

The city offers access to a high number of Hindu and Buddhist temples to both tourists and pilgrims. Tourism is probably the most important and fastest-growing industry in Nepal and more and more tourists are expected to visit the country each year. So do not expect to experience much enjoyment for free. A small entry fee will is requested for most attractions and much higher prices are being paid for food in the touristic areas. We tried both touristic and local restaurants and, while we couldn’t feel the difference of taste, we surely felt the difference in price.


The best examples of architecturally notable buildings of the recent era can be seen in Durbar Square, as well as in Patan Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square.


The view from many rooftop bars will add to the enjoyment of a refreshing drink. Just always remember to ask for the source of the water when having iced drinks, as the quality of the water in Nepal is bad and people are advised to not consume it. Bottled mineral water is usually available in most stores.


Minivans are part of a complex transportation network in Kathmandu. While routes are not indicated on any website or application that tourists can use, it is enough to know where you are going. The “cashier” of each one of these vans always screams out the direction that the car is going in. Prices for the ride are low and convenient (we usually paid between 15 and 20 Nepalese rupees, which was less than 15 euro cents), but most of the time it can get really crowded inside the vans. Sometimes you might even see people hanging outside.


Kathmandu is diverse and offers a range of exciting experiences, but as well do other places in the country. We tried to see also some of the wilder parts of Nepal, so we decided to reserve some time for visiting the National Park Chitwan. Read more about it here.

For more pictures from Kathmandu click here.

The Sunrise Farm in Kathmandu Valley is a really tiny one. It covers only the space around a house where, many years back, a Nepalese family of farmers started practicing permaculture. Their desire for a sustainable lifestyle motivated them to develop a system that would allow them to harvest most of the crops they need for daily use.

Permaculture is a widespread practice in Nepal, as the relief of the country creates the proper environment for it. There is even an association that brings all these little farms together, offering support and training for the farmers that are interested in upgrading from normal agriculture to a more sustainable way of living.

We stayed with the family at the Sunrise Farm for a week, together with other volunteers. The work happened to be little as the time when we were there was less busy for farmers. But we got to help a bit in the garden and understand what permaculture is about, interact with the other workawayers and get to know the family.

The best part of the experience was probably the food. The owner’s wife, a mother of three children, cooked wonderful and tasty local food for us every day of our stay. Occasionally, we helped in the kitchen and sometimes were invited to cook dishes from our home countries.

We got a deeper understanding of permaculture when a small reunion of farmers visited the Sunrise Farm during the time when we stayed there. The visit was part of an organized tour that included visiting other farms and we were invited to join them.


The one week at the little farm passed quickly, but we were happy to have experienced the time with a local family and share moments of their daily lives.


In the following days, we would explore more of the surroundings and get a chance to walk for longer on the old streets of Kathmandu.

We admired breathtaking landscapes and met beautiful people during the 30 days that we spent in China till the day when we reached the other end of the Himalayas. And everything was left behind us, as we passed through the customs control at the Gyrong border and made our first steps into Nepal.

The Nepalese Visa

The visa for Nepal, at the time when we were there, in May 2018, was 25 USD for 15 days. We planned a longer stay, so we paid 40 each for the one month visa. A passport size picture was required for the visa application form and needed to be prepared before the arrival in Nepal as there was no option to make one at the border.

While the visa procedure went quite fast and easy, the custom control on the Nepalese side took a while. The emigration officers weren’t using any technical equipment for checking the luggage, so the whole process was done in the traditional way and their fingers went through every small corner of our backpacks. After packing and unpacking everything three times in a row, our carefully organized luggage looked totally messed up. But other members of our group had an even unpleasant experience. Their nicely wrapped presents for the loved ones at home had to be carefully inspected as well.

The long drive to Kathmandu

Not just the custom control happened to be different, but also the landscape changed dramatically. We climbed down the white mountains in Tibet and continued driving through deep green valleys, during a 13 hours long ride that ended in Kathmandu. Gigme, our Tibetan guide, organized a jeep transfer for all of us and doing so was probably the best option as organizing a spontaneous transfer would have been an impossible task.

Nepal is well known for its poor infrastructure and the earthquake that struck the country in 2015 made things even more difficult. One of the two main access gates from Tibet into Nepal, Zhangmu Port, is still dangerous to travel through and the one that we arrived at, Gyirong Port (Rasuwa Port on the Nepal Side), reopened only in August 2017.



While driving through these valleys was indeed beautiful and fascinating, most sections of the road were quite crowded and dangerous to drive on. If you are an adrenaline junkie, this might be a destination for you. But there are of course many other reasons to visit Nepal. The kindness of the people here will make you feel welcomed and the food will excite any traveler in search of exquisite flavors.

It was already dark when we finally saw the lights of Kathmandu. Busy, crowded and dusty streets formed an image that would continuously repeat itself during our whole stay in the country. A warm “Namaste” from our host made us feel happy again, knowing that we could finally enjoy a warm meal and a comfortable bed.

We wanted to start our experience in Nepal with a deeper look into the local lifestyle, which brought us at the Sunrise Farm in the Kathmandu Valley, where we did our second Workaway project.