We kicked off our 10-day trip to Nepal in its capital, Kathmandu.
Many of you have asked – how did you come up with the idea to travel to Nepal? I do get why someone would ask this question, and it’s also partly the answer – Nepal is a little off the beaten track. Scrolling through my Instagram feed this summer, it seemed a little as though every single person on social media traveled to either Positano, Cinque Terre, Santorini or Bali. While I love all of these places (how could you not), we are currently craving for traveling to a little more exotic, slightly less frequented places and explore cultures entirely different to our own. And oh boy, there is still so much to see, and so little time before the masses arrive!
After getting married in June, we did a minimoon in Provence (where we got married) – just to relax for a week and enjoy married life before going back to work, and to process all these emotions and impressions from the wedding weekend. We had booked our honeymoon for January (for multiple reasons, more on that in another post) – but not traveling for 6 months just felt a little long, especially as newlyweds. So we looked into this Lonely Planet book that sorts worldwide destinations by the best month to travel there. We decided on October and scanned the list. We immediately got stuck on Nepal, since we had always wanted to go there and it was a great place for everything from experiencing a foreign culture, cities and food to doing some wildlife watching on a jungle safari to relaxing in a mountain resort overlooking the Himalayas.
So this is exactly how we structured our 10-day trip – we started with Kathmandu and Nepali city life, then continued to Chitwan National Park for some more nature and wildlife, and finished it all off with a few days in a mountain resort (picturesque views included). As you might imagine, putting all of this in one post could easily become a bit overwhelming, so I’m starting off my Nepal travel review with a post on Kathmandu and the valley around. Scroll down to see some (okay, a LOT of) photographic impressions and all the details below…
- Check in to Dwarika’s hotel in Kathmandu after arriving in the afternoon (plan for an hour at immigration)
- Take a night-time stroll through the old town (beware of the potential culture shock)
- Dinner at Mul Chowk Restaurant (a lovely quiet courtyard setting and great service)
- Visit Lalitpur / Patan Durbar Square, golden temple & around
- See Pashupatinath water temple & Boudha stupa (sunset drinks at “La Casita“)
- Dinner at Tukuche Thakali Kitchen (so so so yum!)
- Watch the sunrise at Swayambhunath temple (monkey temple)
- Sightseeing in old town Kathmandu
- Lunch at Shavi’s (Berlin currywurst)
- Garden of Dreams & Kaiser café
- Stroll in Thamel
- Last dinner at Krishnarpan at Dwarika’s hotel (Nepal’s best restaurant)
- Spend a day or at least an afternoon in Bhaktapur (probably the most authentic Nepali town in the valley)
- Lunch at Nyatapola Café with gorgeous views on the pagoda
We had two full days to see Kathmandu and the closeby towns in the valley – if you have more time, you could go further and see Bandipur on your way to Pokhara, both of which we had to leave out.
On our first day, we took a cab to Patan to visit the pagodas, the museum and – a highlight – the golden temple. One thing we loved throughout our trip was the fact that, aside from Thamel (the trekking area), we didn’t encounter too many tourists. Instead, we were able to get a good impression of what life looks like in this part of the world. As tall Europeans, we stood out for sure, but Nepali people are probably the nicest in the whole universe, so we always felt safe and welcome.
Before the sun set, we visited Pashupatinath water temple (hinduism) and then the famous Boudha stupa (buddhism), which also happens to be the largest stupa in Asia. If you want a sunset views on the stupa with a good drink in hand, go ahead and check out La Casita’s rooftop terrace.
On our second full day, we watched the sun rise over Kathmandu from Swayambhunath temple (otherwise known as monkey temple for obvious reasons). After that, we enjoyed breakfast in our hotel and then continued to explore old Kathmandu. Lonely Planet’s Nepal guide has a good walking tour from Durbar square up to Thamel. After ending in Thamel, we just had to try the Berlin style “Currywurst” (traditional German sausage with spicy sauce and fries) at Shavi’s, a hidden little diner a friend of ours opened as tribute to his German roots. And you wouldn’t believe how authentic it was! We then headed into the “Garden of Dreams” and to “Kaiser Café” for a relaxed drink after exploring the bustling city all day.
The best dinners we had in Kathmandu were at Tukuche Thakali Kitchen and at Krishnarpan. Both are very authentic, the former serving Takhali food (amazing if you like spicy) while the latter provides a full Nepali experience with waitresses wearing traditional dresses from every region in Nepal. If you don’t believe me – trust the dozens of celebrities and politicians who have enjoyed dining there. It’s a must-do if you ask us. For us, it was especially convenient too since we stayed at Dwarika’s hotel, which is home to Krishnarpan as well. Dwarika’s is a little oasis in-midst of all the noise and dust of the surrounding streets. Also, it’s practically a living museum, which a very traditional interior design and countless antique pieces in every corner. If you can’t get a room there, be sure to visit for dinner and a drink at their bar.
On our actual day four, we headed to the domestic airport and onto a plane to Bharatpur in the South of the country to see some jungle wildlife. More on that to follow in my next Nepal post! But when we came back from Chitwan a few days later, we made another stop in a beautiful little town in Kathmandu valley that was right on our path to Dhulikhel and that we just couldn’t fit in our three first days – Bhaktapur. I’m so so so glad we didn’t miss out on a visit after all! We told our driver to wait for us in the car for two hours and went on to explore the streets. In comparison to the other towns we visited, Bhaktapur is probably the least destroyed (from the earthquake in 2015) and the most authentic, with the least tourists. I could have stayed all day and watch the locals go by. My camera’s memory card was nearly smoldering!
Speaking of photography – I’ve received quite a few messages asking about our camera equipment. On this trip, I took all the photos (unless I’m in them), while my husband shot video material. I’m using a Nikon D750 for all my pictures, and on this trip, I used either of two lenses: The 24-70mm lens and the 28-300mm zoom lens (I’d always recommend buying just the body without a kit lens, and separately adding the good lenses). The 24-70mm is great with people photography and low light situations, while the 28-300mm gives you the zoom you need when traveling. Also, it’s quite light to carry around. If you want to know more about that topic, leave a comment or email me!