3 Days Kathmandu Itinerary: Travel Like A Local

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Kathmandu in Nepal is a city of thousand things. Offering majestic landscapes and historical cultures, Kathmandu has been popular among trekkers and backpackers, now even tourists. However, the things to do and see can be overwhelming when you have limited time. Doesn’t matter if you’re backpacking Nepal, going for trekking or visiting as tourists, all you need is a Kathmandu itinerary.

Without further due, let’s dive into the topic. See what you can do in this 3 days Kathmandu itinerary!

Kathmandu Nepal World Map Himalaya

Kathmandu Itinerary: Day 1

Check into your hotel in Thamel

Take a cab outside the airport or bus to Thamel. Fix a fare with the taxi driver before you hop on the cab. Scams on travelers are quite common in Nepal when it comes to the taxi fare. From my experience, the taxi fare from Tribhuvan International airport to Thamel is around Rs400-600.

If you don’t feel like spending so much on your first expense in Nepal, you can take the local bus to get to Thamel, which I did.

With this option, you will need to walk all the way to the outside of the airport gate. There, you’ll find a bus stop where many locals are waiting. Join them and pay attention to the word “Ratna Park”. Once you found the bus, hop on, and the fare will usually be Rs25-30.

However, it could be tricky and overwhelming for travelers who have never been to Nepal. My advice is to take the taxi – but if you insist on taking a public bus, here’s the step-by-step guide for taking public transport in Nepal. This article tells you exactly how to do it by yourself.

Have A Walk in Thamel

Thamel has more to offer than you think. You can find the stuff you forgot at home, cinnamon rolls, trekking gears, and souvenir shops.

Take a walk around the area. Get yourself lost in the maze of winding back streets. Don’t worry, Nepal is generally safe for travelers despite the economy of the nation.

If you’re planning for some shopping in Thamel, then you will love these 5 shopping tips in Kathmandu.

Robberies are rare but beware of your belongings. Most of the time, if you forgot your wallet somewhere, you will never find it back anymore.

Treat Yourself with Nepali Cuisine For Lunch

You must have heard of the little dumplings in Nepal, Momo. Momo was the first food I put into my mouth in Nepal, and it was a pleasant experience. I’m sure you will like it too.

In Thamel, head to Momo Star for your Momo treats. The prices are average but the qualities are guaranteed. There are a wide variety of options on their menu as well, so pick one that suits you the most!

Nepalese Food Momo Kathmandu with Sauce

Head to Swayambunath Temple and Amideva Buddha Park

The best way to get to Swayambunath is by walking. It’s around 45 minutes from Thamel one-way but is an excellent way to really see the faces of locals and learn the way of life of ordinary citizens.

Install a GPS in your phone and download an offline map so you won’t get lost.

The entrance fee through the main gate is Rs250. Pay and hike up hundreds of steps of staircases then you will find yourself in Monkey Temple, a.k.a. Swayambunath.

It’s crowded most of the time especially weekends so as usual, beware of your belongings. Have a cup of Mango Lassi at a cafe, overlooking the Kathmandu city at the same level as eagles.

Take a photo of the iconic golden stupa before descending down to Amideva Buddha Park. You will need a GPS for this as it’s a little difficult to find.

There are three golden giant Buddha statues in Amideva Buddha Park. But there’s nothing much else to do there other than appreciating the crafting art of the statue bases.

You might come across giant prayer wheels built inside small temples as you walk from Swayambunath. That’ll a lot to see in a single trip in your Kathmandu itinerary.

Amideva Buddha Park in Kathmandu City

Dine in High-End Restaurants

Despite being “high-end”, the food prices are not very costly after all. A dish usually ranges between Rs250 to Rs350, sometimes more depending on your order.

Treat yourself with a candlelight dinner. If you have no restaurant in mind, go to Rosemary Restaurant. The atmosphere there is awesome, as is their food.

Have A Drink In A Bar

If that’s your thing, of course. But there’s one bar that’s extremely popular among both travelers and locals, Purple Haze. You might need a booking if you go on the weekend. If not, go early around 6 to 7 pm and secure your seat.

Live bands in Nepal are up to standard, which gives you a perfect end for the first day in Nepal.

Kathmandu Itinerary: Day 2

Start The Day With Great Breakfast

Need your daily caffeine dose? Head to Chikusa Cafe in Thamel, they serve great coffees and Masala milk teas. The breakfast menu is not packed full of choices but those appeared in the menu are great-tasting.

Want some Nepali experience for breakfast? Try out aloo naan at any local restaurants. Most of them serve great naan bread, but the one that got me addicted is aloo (potato) naan. There are choices of butter, vegetable, chicken and more.

Kathmandu Nepal Naan and Alu Pratha

Visit Boudhanath Stupa in Early Morning

Boudhanath is one of the largest stupas in the world and the holiest outside of Tibet. Visit in the early morning and you will be able to see the monks doing their prayers. Feel free to join in with respect.

Walk around the stupa in the clockwise direction. You will find stores selling singing bowls, craftings, mandala arts, etc along with restaurants offering rooftop views overlooking the stupa. The entrance fee is Rs250 and is payable at the main entrance ticket booth.

Did you know what Boudhanath was destroyed during the 2015 earthquake in Nepal? However, it was rebuilt within 18 months by the Buddhist society and was back to “business” in 2016.

Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu

By the way, check out Bandipur, the hidden gem of Nepal which is perfect for a post-trekking rest!

Walk to Pashupatinath Temple

Technically, Pashupatinath is not that far away from Boudhanath and is within walking distance. Pashupatinath is the holiest Hindu pilgrimage site in Nepal. It’s a large complex consisting of temples, shrines, cremation sites, and bathing areas.

Security guards are patrolling most of the time and ask you to show your ticket.

Sadhus, the Hindu holy men often spend their day in Pashupatinath. Note that you have to pay for a photo or a blessing. I was quoted Rs1000 ($10) by the Sadhu. I had no choice but to pay. But seriously?

The entrance fee is Rs1000 and is payable at the main entrance. Consider paying for a tour guide, which also costs Rs1000 to learn more details on these ancient structures. There are no information boards for whatever you see inside.

Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu Hindu Pilgrimage Site

Take a Cab to Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Now, this might be the highlight of your Kathmandu itinerary. Bhaktapur crowns among three durbar squares in Nepal. The other two durbar squares are Kathmandu Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square.

The durbar square took some minor damages during the earthquake in 2015 but still, most remain intact. It’s a little far from other destinations and the city center so the taxi fare will be higher.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square easily takes up your whole day to explore everything in detail. But if your time doesn’t allow it, spend a half-day is sufficient to take it in. Be sure not to miss King Curd outside the durbar square. A lot of people make Bhaktapur Durbar Square their Kathmandu day trip and spent an entire day in there.

The entrance fee into the durbar square is Rs1500, which is probably the most expensive entrance fee in entire Nepal. If you’re entering multiple times on different days, tell the guards. They will stamp on your ticket and permits that without charge.

Check out the best time to visit Nepal to avoid any unexpected weather issues!

Head Back for Dinner in Thamel

While there are not many restaurants especially in the evening hours, it’s better to leave Bhaktapur and have dinner in Thamel. Restaurants like Places and Or2K (vegetarian) are popular choices among travelers.

Find yourself in an Irish Bar, listen to the music while seeping the juices. The reggae bars are also one of the travelers’ choice and is crowded most of the time.

Day 3

Spend Half-Day in Patan

Taxi is the easiest way to Patan. If you think your trip in Nepal is not complete without experiencing the local bus, head to Ratna Park and find a pub heading to Patan.

Patan is one of the oldest cities in Nepal. The city suffered some severe damages during the 2015 earthquake. Restoration projects are ongoing everywhere in Patan but somehow seemed endless.

Have close look at the architectures and the wood crafting in Patan, you will appreciate all the details and attention by the artist.

There is also Patan Durbar Square but I personally wouldn’t recommend it. The entrance fee is Rs1000, but there’s literally nothing much to see in there. It could be finished within 10 minutes.

By the end of Patan, you probably need to go back to prepare yourself for the next destination. Be it trekking in Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp, taking the bus to Pokhara or flying to other countries. Consider buying some Nepali tea leaves to bring home with you, if that’s your thing.

What Do You Think About This 3 Days Kathmandu Itinerary?

I hope that this Kathmandu itinerary gives you some insights and ideas on planning your trip to the Kathmandu Valley. Check out these top 10 places to visit in Kathmandu and how to get there if you’re interested. Comment below and let me know what you think about these Nepal travel guide and tips. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Written by

Yen is a university student from Malaysia and a huge fan of Blues music and photography. His passion for travel can be traced back to 2016 when he spent 6 months traveling New Zealand. By blending into the locals and traveling long-term, he shares all the comprehensive and detailed travel ideas and guides for the countries with his footprints.

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