Though most tourist-oriented hostels in Kathmandu are concentrated in Thamel, two other cities (Patan/Lalitpur and Bhaktapur) offer budget accommodations for backpackers.
Thamel, which lies at Kathmandu Valley’s urban core, is a shopper’s paradise. Hostels in the area are usually situated next or within three minutes walk to shops, travel agencies, convenience stores, bars and restaurants. From precious stones to Yak wool and pashmina shawls, Thamel offers a fine variety of local artifacts—though Bhaktipur is the place to go for Tibetan artifacts and artisanal finds.
Hostels at Bhaktipur are generally affordable but a bit pricey than those in Patan. The district is an hour away by bus from Kathmandu city proper. Artisans and skilled craftsman populate the district so expect first-rate articles from this area.
Patan hostels are concentrated near Patan Durbar Square, with shops for sari, shawls and jewelries surrounding the place. Tuktuks are plenty and can be found along the Square. It usually takes less than half an hour to go to the urban core.
Wireless internet access is available in most hostels and are provided for free. Cafes in Thamel offer free wi-fi and some have charging sockets for traveling professionals. Hot and cold shower is also a fixture. Though theft is not a common occurrence in Nepal as it is in India, high degree of caution is still advisable especially in Thamel.
A convenient stay in Kathmandu is a perfect start before you hit the Himalayas. Travel agencies and trekking shops abound in Thamel though trekking gears and permit can be obtained in Pokhara as well.
Kathmandu is still awesome, but Freak St. just isn't what it used to be. Bummer.
Kathmandu is a city filled with ancient architecture, culture, and just a small infusion of modern tourism. In this capital of Nepal, there is no lack of entertainment for the adventure-hungry traveler. There are also numerous hostels scattered throughout Kathmandu, although they might be referred to as an “inn” or “house” rather than a proper hostel.
As one of the most touristy locations of the city, Thamel district is a great starting point for your travel itinerary. In this spot, you will find bustling streets filled to the brim with restaurants, shops, as well as lodgings which should meet all your basic needs. Among the different hotels, there will be accommodations akin to hostels, including modern structures offering affordable, clean rooms and bonuses such as free wifi. Once you have gotten yourself and your belongings settled, you can easily visit many attractions within walking distance.
If your belly is starting to rumble, some Kathmandu hostels offer meals on their grounds. Otherwise, pick one of the numerous restaurants to satisfy your appetite for the richly flavored, spicy dishes of Indian cuisine. Another option is to participate in one of the cooking classes offered along the streets so that you can take the gift of Indian flavor back home as a souvenir.
Within a short walking distance of Thamel, you can visit the Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There you will encounter the intricate detail and astounding vision of 17th and 18th century Nepalese architecture and art. This is the place where monarchs were crowned. You will set your sights on several palaces and temples. Among the ancient architecture is Kashmandap, a temple built from the wood of a single tree, which is the inspiration for the city’s name. You will also be able to visit Kushmari Ghar, the house of the only living goddess of Nepal.
Just to the south of Durbar Square, you can walk the iconic Jhochhen Tole, otherwise known as Freak Street. It acquired its English nickname during the 1960s and 70s when hippies frequented the area to indulge in cheap fun. Nowadays, it has become a quieter street where you can see just remnants of the hippie culture as well as some more Kathmandu hostels.
Also within a short walking distance of Thamel, you will encounter the mesmerizing view of the Garden of Dreams. A beautifully kept wonderland of fountains, flowers, sculptures, gazebos, and even a cafe situated within a palace, this site has been restored to its current beauty with the financial assistance of the Austrian government.
If you happen to be visiting during the Holi Festival, a two-day event during spring sometime in February or March, then you are in for a colorful surprise. Known as the “festival of colors” and the “festival of sharing love,” this Hindu celebration has young and old alike running through the streets, throwing dry powder and colored watered onto each other. When you end up all covered in a rainbow of colors and completely exhausted, you will be glad to retreat to a hostel to rest up for the next day. You might want to make prior hotel reservations if you do choose to stay during the Holi Festival.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Kathmandu hostels. Welcome.