Thinking about how to spend a day around Kathmandu Valley. If so, this blog will be useful for those who want to explore the wonderland city of Kathmandu Valley. There are a sufficient number of exciting and enchanting places within the main city of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur.
This can be accomplished within a short span of time and is accessible from anywhere within the Kathmandu Valley. There are seven UNESCO Heritage Sites in Kathmandu Valley, namely Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swyambhunath Stupa, Patan Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, Bouddhanath Stupa, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, and Changunarayan Tempe.
All these carry religious, cultural, and historical significance and depict the true picture of ancient Nepal. Now, let us talk about these relevant sites in Kathmandu Valley.
Table of Contents
Short Day Tours around Kathmandu
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the popular sites of Nepal and used to be a popular kingdom before the unification of Nepal in the 18th century. There are numerous combinations of Hindu and Buddhist sites around the square.
Some of the popular never-to-miss spots are Kastamandap, Kalbhairav Temple, Maju Deval, Shiva Parvati Temple, Taleju Bhawani Temple, Jagannath Temple, Nine-floor Temple, Gaddi Baithak, and the Kumari Gar.
Kumari Gar is a residential building of the living goddesses Kumari. One can have a glimpse of the Kumari in the morning and afternoon.
Apart from all these Kathmandu Durbar Square also used to be a popular destination for hippies and the freak street in one to hang out for a short time.
Swyanbhunath Stupa also known as Monkey Temple is one of the 4th most popular Buddhist pilgrimage sites, but the spectrum is filled with both Hindu and Buddhist temples, stupas, monasteries, Chaityas, etc.
This spot lies on the top of a hillock and is a fabulous destination to explore the entire Kathmandu valley, surrounding hills, and the magnificent Himalayas.
Early in the morning and evening devotees flock around the Swyanbhunath Temple to perform ritual ceremonies. But make sure there are thousands of monkeys around ready to snatch edible stuff. So, take good care of your belongings.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square lies in the Lalitpur district of Kathmandu Valley and is one of the oldest settlement areas of the valley as well. The history of Patan Durbar Square can be traced back to the 2nd century BC.
Patan Durbar is famous for art and artifact and is one of the cleanest cities, with hundreds of temples, stupas, monasteries, Baha, and Hitietc Patan has well-preserved history, culture, and religion.
There are popular temples around the main square. This includes the Golden Temple, Bhim Sen Temple, Keshav Narayan Temple, Taleju Temple, Sundari Chowk, the Palace, Bhisnu Temple, Krishna Mandir, etc.
Pashupatinath Temple is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site dedicated to lord Shiva. The history of the Pashupatinath temple can be traced back to 4000 years but the present structure of the main temple is from the 11th century.
The temple is one of the most visited sites in Nepal and lies on the bank of the river Bagmati. On the other side of the river, open cremations are conducted regularly according to Hindu and Buddhist practices.
Every evening on the other side of the river Aarati is conducted and devotees take part in the ceremony. Moreover, non-Hindus are strictly prohibited to enter the main temple square but the temple can be viewed from all the surrounding areas.
Every year during the Shivaratri Festival, thousands of devotees from around the world flock to the temple area to take part in one of the important days of lord Shiva.
Bouddhanath Stupa is the center of Tibetan Buddhism and is also one of the four pilgrimage sites in Nepal for Buddhist followers. The history of Bouddhanath can be traced back to the 5th century AD and the Stupa is one of the biggest.
There are different Buddhist monasteries around the Bouddhanath area related to different sects of Buddhist followers, where children come to practice monastic life.
Every day in the morning and evening all monastery performs ritual ceremonies giving the entire area a spiritual touch. You can take part in the ceremony as a devotee and observe the monastic offerings and chanting of mantras.
Apart from this devotees flock around the stupa clockwise spinning the praying wheels for eternal peace and well-being.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one of the biggest kingdoms, self-sufficient with all the necessities for its citizen. Bhaktapur also known as Bhadgoun and Koopa is one of the oldest Malla kingdoms.
The Bhaktapur Kingdom itself lies in the Bhaktapur district of Kathmandu Valley and is mainly inhabited by the Newari community. There are different communities following Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim as their religion.
With majestic temples, Bahas, Monasteries, and ponds, Hittisetc Bhaktapur is one of the open living museums. You will be stunned by the majestic structure of the palace, Natapola temples, Dattatarai Temple, Char Dham, Narayan Temple, Taleju Temple, Siddhi Laxmi Temple, Pashupati Temple, etc.
One can visit four different squares around the city and explore the rural lifestyle in the urban city.
Changunarayan is one of the oldest temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is also the center for Vaishnavi’s followers. Changunaryan temple lies on the hillock and is a magnificent spot to explore the valley and the Himalayas.
The history of the temple can be traced back to the 4th century with a beautiful structure of wood and stone craft. Different incarnations of Vishnu can be seen around the temple courtyard.
Short Hikes around Kathmandu
Apart from day tours, there is numerous popular day hike destination around the hills of Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu Valley comprises three different districts, this includes Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur.
These are surrounded by evergreen hills with rural villages. Hiking around the hills will be one of the best activities for those who prefer nature and a rural lifestyle. As you hike through the woods one can easily explore nature and the fabulous view of the snow-capped Himalayas.
Some of the popular day hiking trails which are easy-going with warm-up activities around the Kathmandu Valley can be:
Nagarkot Day Hike
Nagarkot is a short and easy hike taking us to the highest altitude of 2175 Metes. This hike mainly starts from Changunarayan all the way to the tower of Nagarkot for the magnificent sunset view and thrilling view of the Himalayas.
The hike will take you through the forest, passing by rural villages with the magnificent view, and also you can explore the Bhaktapur Durbar Square which is on the way to Nagarkot.
This will be around 5 hours hike but can be customized according to the physical well-being of the individual and limited timeframe.
Phulchowki day hike is an easy and accessible hiking trail near Kathmandu Valley. Also known as Godavari/Godabari Hills will take to the highest altitude of 2762 meters. This trail is famous for diverse vegetation, flora, and fauna, thus famously also known as Hills of Flowers.
Phulchoki is a solitary trail carrying religious and cultural significance. As the hill point is a popular destination with a temple and majestic view of varied landscapes, Kathmandu Valley, and the Himalayas.
Shivapuri- Sundarijal Day Hike
Shivapuri-Sundarijal is a short hike to one of the well-conserved Sundarijal Conservation Forests. Sundarijal is also a popular water reservoir for drinking water supply to Kathmandu and a source of water for the Bagmati River.
The trail will take you through a stony staircase, passing by waterfalls into the deep wild forest until we reach Mulkharka.
Mulkharka is a rural village inhabited by the Tamang community mainly popular for local alcohol and marijuana.
Namobuddha Day Hike
Starting the Namobuddha Day Hike from the ancient and well-preserved Panauti Bazaar, this hike will take you to one of the four pilgrimage sites of Buddhists, known as Namo-Buddha.
The trail mainly passed by ancient rural villages and the daily activities of the locals through the ancient Panauti Bazaar, famous for artistic temples.
Further, crossing the popular orange farmland, you will hike uphill toward the Namobuddha. Namobuddha is a typical village, inhabited by the Tamang community, with a superb monastery and numerous stupas around.
Chapadevi Day Hike
Champa Devi Hike is a moderate hike into the hills of Kathmandu Valley. This short hike starts from Pharping, a popular touristic destination with two popular holy sites Dakshinkali and Pharping Cave.
Champadevi hike starts with a visit to Guru Rimpoche cave and monastery, followed by a rural trail uphill towards the hill point through the temple. This trail is blessed with a majestic view of the hills, the Himalayas, and the Kathmandu Valley.
Descending through the Chobar Gorge will drive all the way to Kathmandu through the Newari settlement area.
Chisapani-Nagarkot is a fabulous 2nights-3days trek into the wild of hills. This trek starts from Sundarijal, passing by the Shivapuri conservation area with nature. Filled with diverse vegetation, flora, fauna, waterfalls, and a water reservoir area to reach the typical Tamang community area at Mulkharka.
Further hiking through the jungle, and encountering the wilds you will be in Chisapani for an overnight stay.
Chisapani is a popular rural village, blessed with views of the Himalayas. Then, heading further through the woods, passing by forest with some ascend and descend, you will be in Nagarkot.
Enjoying the magnificent sunset view and the Himalayan ranges, the very next morning will be a time for a sunrise view over the Himalayas. After breakfast descends downhill for 2-3 hours to reach Changunarayan or can drive all the way from Nagarkot toward Kathmandu.
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Kumar is one of the Co-founders and Managing directors of Discover Altitude holding 18 years of experience in the tourism sector of Nepal. He has trekked to almost all the popular regions of Nepal and is an authorized trekking and tour guide.
Started his career as a porter to support his study, now holds MPhil and LLB degree, and is doing his Ph.D. in religious studies. He loves traveling to the Himalayas and has deep knowledge about religion, culture, and history.
Kumar is also involved in the teaching sector as a part-timer to deliver his research related to the cultural and religious diversity of Nepal and is the one who mostly answers your queries giving them his personal touch through his decade-long experience.